How to Power Raspberry Pi with Solar Panels: A Practical Guide

As technology enthusiasts, we often find ourselves seeking ways to integrate our devices with sustainable energy solutions. One of the most popular projects in this realm is powering a Raspberry Pi using solar panels. The idea of harnessing the sun's energy to run our favorite mini-computer is not only eco-friendly but also opens up possibilities for remote or off-grid projects. In this guide, I'll share my real-world experience and insights on how to effectively power your Raspberry Pi with solar panels.

Before we dwell into how to power Raspberry Pi with solar panels with solar panel we recommend the following previous tutorials on solar panel.

a. How to Choose a Solar Panel for Your Electronics Project

b. How to Make a Solar Power Supply with Battery

c. How to Make a DIY Joule Thief Circuit for Powering Batteries

d. How to Make a DIY LiPo Charger

e. How to estimate Battery life?

The Challenge

Imagine you're out in the wild, working on a project that requires continuous power for your Raspberry Pi. However, traditional power sources are out of reach, and you need a solution that's both reliable and sustainable. This was the exact scenario that led me to explore solar powering for my Raspberry Pi.

The Solution

After some research and trial and error, I found a solution that worked wonders. Here's what you'll need:

  1. 12V Solar Cell: Start with a 12V solar cell as your primary power source.
  2. Charge Controller: Invest in a reliable charge controller to regulate the charging process efficiently.
  3. SLA Battery: Pair your solar setup with a sealed lead-acid (SLA) battery for storing energy.
  4. 12V to 5V Power Adapter: Use a 12V to 5V power adapter to ensure compatibility with the Raspberry Pi.

See the following typical setup circuit diagram of Raspberry Pi with Solar Panels and battery.

raspberry pi solar panel circuit diagram

Understanding the Power Requirements

At first glance, this setup might seem excessive. However, consider this: a Raspberry Pi, especially when equipped with a WiFi adapter, can easily consume up to 600mA of power. Adding peripherals like a 12V HDMI monitor can push the power consumption well over 1A. This is where the 12V to 5V power adapter comes into play, ensuring that the Raspberry Pi receives the right voltage.

Calculating Solar Panel Size

To run your Raspberry Pi continuously, you'll need a solar panel with a capacity of at least 20W. This calculation takes into account the power requirements of the Raspberry Pi and ensures that you have enough energy to sustain operation even during periods of low sunlight.

Choosing the Right Battery Size

The size of your battery will depend on how long you want your Raspberry Pi to run during periods of darkness or low sunlight. It's essential to strike a balance between battery capacity and the duration of operation you require. Refer to the previous tutorial How to Choose a Solar Panel for Your Electronics Project for detailed guidance on selecting the appropriate battery size for your project.

Considerations for Alternative Platforms

While the Raspberry Pi is a versatile and powerful tool, it's worth considering alternative platforms based on your project requirements. If power efficiency is a priority, an Arduino might be a better fit, as it consumes significantly less power compared to the Raspberry Pi. Refer to the tutorial How to Power Arduino with Solar Panel for guidance on this. Alternatively, for projects requiring network connectivity, platforms like the Particle Photon or ESP8266 module offer lower power consumption options.


Powering your Raspberry Pi with solar panels opens up a world of possibilities for remote sensing, monitoring, and automation projects. By understanding the power requirements, choosing the right components, and optimizing your setup, you can create a sustainable solution that meets your project needs. So, grab your solar panels, charge controller, and Raspberry Pi, and embark on your journey towards green, renewable energy solutions!

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