Low cost solar power board for any Raspberry Pi

January 13, 2017 // By Julien Happich
PiSolMan is an integrated electronic module designed to continuously power the Raspberry Pi Zero from a 12V battery and a solar panel. Matching the Raspberry Pi Zero dimensions, the 65x30.5mm board is also capable of providing key information in terms of current, voltage, power and overall power efficiency, while running itself at an overall efficiency of up to 90%.

Proposed as a Kickstarter project starting at 59 Euros, the add-on board is compatible with any of the Raspberry Pi models with the 40 pins header and also compatible with any 5V device like Arduino or BeagleBone. Research Assistant at Italian university Politecnico di Torino, Abel Rodríguez de la Concepción envisages his board could help others implement solar powered projects with the Raspberry Pi and keep an eye on their overall system power consumption. The electronic engineer cites wireless camera applications as an example.

"Although the Raspberry Pi Zero energy consumption is relatively small, when adding the Pi Camera module and a wireless modem (3G/4G or WiFi) the situation changes drastically. PiSolMan is capable of powering such a system from solar energy while continuously monitoring and optimising the energy consumption. A weather station in itself does not consumes too much power. However, if a Wi-Fi or 3G module is needed, the majority of the power is consumed by these devices. With a simple script running on the Raspberry, the connection could be disconnected and used only when needed based on the power level information provided by PiSolMan", he explains on Kickstarter.

PiSolMan powering Raspberry Pi Zero + Pi Camera + Wi-Fi + 11.1 V Li-Poly Battery + 10 W Solar Panel

Such an add-on module could benefit many remote automation systems including for irrigation or industrial IoT.

Visit the project's page at www.pisolman.com