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Is there a 5 V rechargeable battery and cables compatible and comparative in size with Raspberry Pi Zero?

I don't want to have to plug my Raspberry Pi in every time and nonrechargables get expensive. Power banks seem so much bigger than the Zero and aren't viably wearable.

Update: I plan to put a bounty on this question soon, so I would like to clarify a bit more so as to fit the rules. I am not trying to ask for shopping advice, although an adafruit link would be nice. I am just wondering compatibility and what is out there. If you would like me to target a specific battery, I could reword the question as "How can I power my Raspberry Pi Zero with a Samsung Galaxy battery", but I thought there would be a better source. Please let me know how I can fit the rules even more. The answers given are good except many do not include the cables/connectors needed to use them.

  • 2
    Battery for recharging phones work raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/11721/… . You can get small batteries (modmypi.com/raspberry-pi/breakout-boards/pi-modules/…), but the capacity may be too small to be useful, and some may not be powerful enough. – Wilf Dec 29 '15 at 20:48
  • @Wilf The modmypi link gives a small source that lasts "up to 8 hours." That would be perfect, but the connector doesn't look like it goes in a Pi. How would you connect it? – Seth Kitchen Dec 29 '15 at 21:06
  • You need to apply a little logic here. The cellphone battery and powerbank market are worth billions and billions of dollars, and of course people want to buy things that are as small and light as possible. Conversely, the "5V dev board market" is totally irrelevant. No one is going to make a special R&D effort there. They could never even re-coup the costs. – goldilocks Jan 4 '16 at 14:59
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    @SethKitchen Any power bank with a standard USB output should work. Just use the same cable that you would use to change an android phone (USB A to Micro USB). I am using such a power bank and cord in a project right now, so I can verify that it works. – Patrick Cook Jan 5 '16 at 1:18
12
+50

I took a quick look at some light and powerful lithium polymer batteries, and it looks to me like a battery similar in scale to the Zero is not going to provide much capacity. Let's keep in mind that the computer only weighs 9 g. A LiPo of similar size [1] contains a about 1.3 W*h of energy, which won't power the Pi Zero for a full 3 hours, even idle. [2] To use that battery (or any LiPo single cell) you'd need a wee boost converter as well, such as the PowerBoost 500 Basic. [3] (It weighs another 3 g.)

Frankly, I think our expectations have been knocked askew by the tiny computer -- what would our "comparable in size" battery have looked like a year ago? What about 5 years ago? Right, now ask yourself whether you expect batteries to somehow follow Moore's Law (or whatever outrageous improvement trend you see in silicon [4] in the last 10 years.)

TL;DR: Batteries can't and don't get better as fast as computers do. :)

[1] https://www.adafruit.com/products/2750

[2] http://raspi.tv/2015/raspberry-pi-zero-power-measurements

[3] https://www.adafruit.com/products/1903

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennard_scaling

  • Thank you all of this is very good information. I love the [1] link you posted because it not only gives a great solution, but links to an entire spread of batteries. The only thing missing from this answer is how to attach it to a Pi Zero. If you can elaborate on that I will accept your answer. Thanks! – Seth Kitchen Jan 5 '16 at 3:19
  • I also like how you brought size in context. This is a great answer. – Seth Kitchen Jan 5 '16 at 3:32
  • I'd like to apologize for the fact you got downvoted here, Tai. I know it is a superficial thing but it is still not appropriate -- for an explanation of what happened see here. – goldilocks Jan 5 '16 at 16:09
  • Tai, I propose you make an edit, format the answer a bit and I can undo my down vote. I wanted to apologise personally for this, you did not deserve that. – Piotr Kula Jan 6 '16 at 16:30
  • No hard feelings. I see the issues now but they hadn't occurred to me; my concept of the answer specifically had to do with a size comparison between the Pi Zero and a gumstick-sized LiPo, so the redundancy concern didn't appear on my radar. So it goes. – Tai Viinikka Jan 15 '16 at 3:30
6

You can use:

  1. A USB battery pack like this one from Adafruit.
  2. Others have used powerbanks like this one these allow charging the battery and powering the Pi simultaneously (more info on using these can be found here).
  3. You could use 6 AA rechargeables (this may require additional components).
  4. A desktop UPS (this will be significantly bigger than the other options - and hence a not ideal solution).
  • Thank you these are great solutions. Just wondering if there is anything smaller or comparable to the zero – Seth Kitchen Dec 29 '15 at 2:15
  • You can only go so small, Any reduction in size is going to mean a corresponding decrease in run time. – Steve Robillard Dec 29 '15 at 2:18
  • I understand and my question is probably too broad the way it is. If you know of anything really small, I don't care so much about runtime. – Seth Kitchen Dec 29 '15 at 2:21
  • A 9volt battery will probably get you 30 minutes or so – Steve Robillard Dec 29 '15 at 2:22
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    5. A RPi specific UPS like this. Though you may have to wait for them to make it in a Pi0 format. – SlySven Dec 31 '15 at 23:20
4

Yes, they are called powerbanks and they are available in a wide variety of capacities and form factors from any electronics retailer. What they have in common are 5V USB outputs; most of them likely also have a (micro)USB input for recharging. You want one with a 2 A out, but it would be unusual for them not to have this.

The mAh capacity ratings may often be idealized, but obviously the larger the better. A Pi will consume at least 1 A in relation to this rating, and perhaps closer to 2, so if you want more than a few hours, do not bother with anything under 5-6000 mAh.

  • I saw those. They look a little big compared to the rasp pi zero. I should've been clearer – Seth Kitchen Dec 29 '15 at 2:11
  • 1
    Oh you want a magical power source! Note it isn't "low power" in this sense. – goldilocks Dec 29 '15 at 2:12
  • Yes :) I was just curious what was out there – Seth Kitchen Dec 29 '15 at 2:12
  • 1
    Sorry for being a bit snarky ;) An issue with the Pi is that it doesn't have sleep, etc. modes, which means it will guzzle as long as it is attached (unlike a phone). I don't know why all the power banks are so hefty, actually, since the batteries themselves needn't always be so big -- e.g., a 4500 mAh tablet or phone battery is quite a bit smaller than a similar capacity powerbank. But I haven't shopped around much. I have a deck-of-cards sized 8400 mAh battery, it might last 4-5 hours with a B (the zero is apparently be better despite the faster clock). – goldilocks Dec 29 '15 at 2:18
  • That's okay! You're helping me answer my question :) and it would be great if I could conjure up a battery. I guess I need to do more shopping. If you find anything smaller let me know :p – Seth Kitchen Dec 29 '15 at 2:22
3

Rechargeable powerbanks are great for this. They are made to recharge mobile phones, so they have standard USB output. I use them in a few of my projects with different Raspberry Pis including the Zero. The size really depends on how long you need it to stay on battery power. For reference, the Zero uses about 200mA max, so if you want it to run for 10 hours, 200 x 10 = 2000mah. But, there is a weird conversion rate due to the batteries within the bank, so always buy more than you need just to be sure.

Some good options:


To connect any one of these to your Pi, you would need a standard USB type A to micro USB, like this one here:

enter image description here

Chances are, since you own a Raspberry Pi, you already own a cable like this. Just plug the USB type A side into any of the USB ports on the powerbank.

enter image description here

And the micro USB side into the power in port on the Pi Zero.

enter image description here

Good to go, the Pi should begin to boot once you've plugged it in!

Below is a picture of my Pi Zero, which I power from a 50000mah power bank.

enter image description here

  • Thanks, your answer is great because it includes the power supply and relevant connecting cables. I am just looking for something smaller – Seth Kitchen Jan 6 '16 at 0:41
2

I have been looking at this combination. Should be all you need.

PowerBoost 500 Charger - Rechargeable 5V Lipo USB Boost @ 500mA+

  • Yes this is great! I think this goes perfectly with some of the other answers. – Seth Kitchen Jan 5 '16 at 3:45
  • Great find! Will grab one soon from ~cough~ebay~cough~ – PNDA Jan 5 '16 at 9:20
1

If you don't mind adding some size to your Zero (comparable to Pi A+) and soldering some pin headers on the GPIO pads, then you could grab the Pi UPS and a Li-Poly. It takes care of charging the battery for you when the Pi is powered on and kicks in when the power is removed/goes out. The size of the battery is your decision but the bigger it is, the longer it will last.

Take a look here.

  • Thank you for this solution. I like that it takes care of charging and kicks in when power is removed. However, I am not trying to increase space. This will probably be viable for someone else. – Seth Kitchen Jan 5 '16 at 3:25
0

You may consider choosing this one here.

Aukey 3600mAh Portable External Battery Charger Power Bank

3600mAh, slim fit with USB charging cable included.

Product Dimensions: 4.88in/124mm x 1.79in/45,5mm x 0.45in/11,5 mm

Item Weight: 2.98oz/118g

0

I was playing about with a £1 Signalex 1200 mAh (Poundland) pack yesterday. I ran my Zero W for nearly 3 hours before I shut down and went to bed. I was accessing Pi via VPN and running various Python scripts to test (working on a halloween build amalgamating others ideas into a bigger single project). I had some banks of LEDs testing, also testing a Blinkt at one point, and a USB keyb/mouse connected. I was shipping stuff to a pen drive for backup and also testing a USB sound card playing sound files.

Battery pack still seemed to be going strong, showing a blue light, I expected it to turn red when battery was getting low.

I'll do some more testing tonight as I gradually pull the project together with my 5 year old son.

0

If you have old cell phones gathering dust you could repurpose their batteries. Make sure the voltage is right. Mine seem to have 3.7V output but with an upconverter to could up that to 5v.

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