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I'm planning on using a RPi 3 as security camera, so naturally it would be running 24/7. My OS is Motion Eye OS and I believe it's fairly hard on the CPU. Summers can be relatively hot where I live (40° Celsius/ ~100° Fahrenheit).

So my question is: Should I be worried about the Raspberry Pi overheating? The mix of the outside temperature and the CPU running hot seem worrisome to me.

Should I add heatsinks or maybe a fan? Has anybody here already tried doing something similar?

Edit: I should add that I plan on putting both the RPi and its camera into some sort of case, possibly a CCTV dummy.

  • Related (probably not a dupe, as it is not covering the Pi3) raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/7827/… However my guess would be that you need not worry. – Ghanima Apr 14 '16 at 9:56
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    Probably right. I think it's about 85C that the CPU starts to throttle performance back to prevent thermal problems. Difficult to predict what will happen in any given setup (humidity, air flow, air volume, etc). If you're worried about it, heatsinks and fans are pretty inexpensive items. – goobering Apr 14 '16 at 10:50
  • I added a completely superfluous fan to one of my long-running (1 year +) Pis and controlled it via a Python cron script. You have access to the system temperature so it's pretty straight-forward and cheap. "I should add that I plan on putting both the RPi and its camera into some sort of case, possibly a CCTV dummy." What prevents a would-be burglar from running off with the Pi instead? :D – jDo Apr 14 '16 at 11:51
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I've tried using a small fan to cool my Pi 3, the fan itself is only about four times the bigger than the main Broadcom chip. I have found that alone, at best has knocked 10°C off the CPU temperature. If your interested in that, you can buy the case and fan here. The fan plugs into the GPIO, so its powered by the Pi. Therefore, be sure to use a decent power supply because the CPU under load and a fan connected is going to require a lot of current to run.

As well as temperature you need to think about exposure to UV, electronics and UV are not the greatest combination. So the Pi is going to need to be protected by a UV proof enclosure along with the camera.

The main Broadcom chip is not the only consideration with regards to cooling, I have heard the Ethernet/USB controller can get hot under load. As well as the power delivery circuitry on the Pi. You can get a heatsink set that will cover anything that as the potential to get really hot, for example this set.

Whatever enclosure the Pi is you need to think about airflow, heatsinks will not work effectively unless there is a current of air passing over them. Also given you are leaving the Pi outside you might want to consider some weather proofing.

Be aware that the Pi is designed to run without active cooling, it will only start to thermal throttle at 85°C. However given the Pi could be under a lot of load with the whole camera set-up, I do recommend cooling.

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    +1 So long as the RPi housing is in the shade, I don't think it needs active cooling, but heatsinks are cheap. If nothing else, they could potentially increase the lifespan of the RPi. – Jacobm001 Apr 14 '16 at 17:18

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