Optimizing Raspberry Pi Energy Consumption

raspberry pi power consumption
Illustration: © IoT For All

When the Raspberry Pi single-board pc was first announced back in 2012, I doubt many individuals had been contemplating the utility of a Pi in a completely off-grid setting, particularly contemplating the state of battery expertise on the time.

Quick ahead to in the present day. Whereas we haven’t exactly made-at-home nuclear reactors an possibility (but), we do have entry to strong battery and photo voltaic tech together with new causes to deploy Raspberry Pis in edge computing scenarios.

Why Raspberry Pi?

There are quite a few microcontrollers and stripped-down single-board computer systems (SBCs) just like the Raspberry Pi Zero that's extra energy-efficient than a full Raspberry Pi 4. However that effectivity comes with a price of its personal by way of decreased options and performance.

Maybe the query we needs to be asking is, “Why on earth would we need to deploy a Raspberry Pi remotely?”

The reply? Normally, you wouldn’t!

Nevertheless, there are some respectable exceptions to this:

CPU Energy

When you’re running Machine Learning models remotely that have to be processed with minimal delay, the ARM Cortex-A72 CPU operating at 1.5GHz is hard to beat. Particular TinyML workloads can run in milliseconds on MCUs, but when your venture must do machine imaginative and prescient work, an SBC is a greater match.

Ease of Growth

The Pi HAT ecosystem is mature and offers production-ready growth choices for practically each situation. Working example, the Notecard and Notecarrier Pi HAT from Blues Wi-fi permit for drop-in mobile communications (at a power-sipping 8mA when idle) for situations the place distant knowledge relaying is a key requirement.


The Raspberry Pi OS ships with a whole Python distribution. Whereas CircuitPython and MicroPython are acceptable for many IoT initiatives, some Python libraries don’t help these two derivatives.

Energy Optimization Ideas

The anchor across the neck of the Raspberry Pi is its estimated 600mA active current consumption.

Listed here are a couple of strategies we will use to trim that right down to a manageable worth with some easy configuration modifications:

Disable the USB Controller

Estimated energy financial savings: roughly 100mA.

When you’re operating your Raspberry Pi in a headless configuration, you possibly can seemingly get away with not powering the onboard USB controller. Word that even in the event you aren’t utilizing a mouse or keyboard, they're nonetheless powered!

To disable the USB controller in your Raspberry Pi, execute the next command:

echo '1-1' |sudo tee /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb/unbind

After which to re-enable the USB controller when it’s wanted once more:

echo '1-1' |sudo tee /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb/bind

After a reboot, the USB controller shall be enabled mechanically.

Disable HDMI Output

Estimated energy financial savings: roughly 30mA.

When utilizing a Raspberry Pi in a headless configuration, you additionally, by definition, don’t have to hook up a monitor. If that’s the case, you possibly can disable the HDMI output as nicely.

To disable the HDMI output in your Raspberry Pi, execute the next command:

sudo /choose/vc/bin/tvservice -o

After which, to re-enable the HDMI output whenever you want it again once more, use this command:

sudo /choose/vc/bin/tvservice -p

As with disabling the USB controller, HDMI output is enabled after a reboot.

Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Estimated energy financial savings: roughly 40mA.

In case your resolution isn’t utilizing Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you possibly can seemingly disable them as nicely. Please observe, nonetheless, that in the event you disable HDMI, USB, and Wi-Fi concurrently, you’ll have hassle interfacing along with your Pi!

To disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, open /boot/config.txt, add these parameters, and reboot:


To re-enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (or simply one among them), merely take away the parameter(s) from the file and reboot.

Clock Down the CPU

Estimated energy financial savings: variable based mostly on functions.

When you don’t require the complete energy of the Raspberry Pi CPU (which is overkill for a lot of distant monitoring conditions anyway), you would possibly save a couple of mA by underclocking the CPU.

For instance, to set the CPU clock velocity to a most of 900MHz, you possibly can replace /boot/config.txt and alter the next parameters:


You too can mess around with the core_freq_minover_voltageover_voltage_min and plenty of different parameters which might be nicely documented within the Raspberry Pi overclocking options.

Please observe that you could be not see energy financial savings in sure situations. For instance, when you've got a course of that runs longer at a slower clock velocity versus shorter at a quicker clock velocity, you’re not going to see a internet change in energy consumption.

Disable Onboard LEDs

Estimated energy financial savings:  roughly 10mA.

We are able to disable the onboard LEDs on the Pi by once more modifying the /boot/config.txt file, including the next, and rebooting:

# Disable the PWR LED
# Disable the Exercise LED
# Disable ethernet port LEDs

Please observe that these configurations are particular to the Raspberry Pi 4 Mannequin B; documentation on variables usable within the /boot/config.txt file might be discovered here.

Making Adjustments Everlasting (or Resetting to Default)

Any modifications made to your /boot/config.txt file will persist after a reboot. When you’d prefer to situation the USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth disabling instructions upon boot, edit your .bashrc file and add these instructions.

Likewise, deleting the modifications you made and rebooting will reset your Raspberry Pi again to its default state.

Supplemental Energy

Possibly the obvious tip of all of them for distant deployments is to source additional power from the sun. By including a reasonably-sized photo voltaic array to your Raspberry Pi, you possibly can considerably prolong battery life (even making it a theoretically totally sustainable resolution in full solar environments).

Utilizing the PiJuice HAT is a straightforward means so as to add a photo voltaic array to your Raspberry Pi. It additionally offers mechanisms for swish shutdowns (and boot-ups) at pre-defined battery cost ranges.

You may see a PiJuice used on this Hackster venture: Solar-Powered Crypto Mining with Raspberry Pi.

Alternatively, you should use a USB energy financial institution with pass-through charging. This permits the facility financial institution to energy the Pi and a photo voltaic array to cost the battery concurrently.

This association was examined in one other Hackster venture: Remote Birding with TensorFlow Lite and Raspberry Pi.

Energy-Optimized Mobile for the Raspberry Pi

Distant monitoring options are sometimes outdoors the vary of conventional community communication choices like Wi-Fi. That is one motive why Blues Wi-fi created the developer-friendly Notecard to offer cost-effective mobile for IoT options.

The Notecard is a tiny 30mm x 35mm System on Module (SoM) and ships able to embed in a venture through its M.2 connector. To make prototyping simpler, Blues Wi-fi additionally offers a collection of growth boards (referred to as Notecarriers).

The Notecarrier-Pi acts as a bunch HAT for the Notecard. It offers an interface between the Raspberry Pi and the Notecard. With pass-through headers, it matches proper in with no matter different Pi HATs you're utilizing (just like the PiJuice HAT pictured above).

The great thing about the Notecard might be boiled right down to:

  • The simplicity of the API (JSON in and JSON out).
  • The agnostic nature of full SBC and MCU compatibility.
  • The pricing ($49 for 10 years and 500MB of knowledge).
  • The baked-in safety mannequin with encrypted visitors touring by VPN tunnels.
  • The power-sipping 8mA when idle

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