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Why is the Arduino able to accept ~5V from the USB, but requires a min of 7V when using an external power supply?

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3 Answers 3

The design assumes USB provides a regulated 5v so no further regulation is necessary. The power connecter is meant to accept a wider range of voltage and regulate it to 5v, and the kind of regulators used on the Arduino board need that much higher voltage to provide regulation. If you already have a regulated +5v source you can supply it to the 5v pin. You'll bypass the on-board regulator this way, so just know that it will then be up to you to provide clean power.

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Brilliant answer without getting into technical details that can confuse members that are not experienced in electronics. –  alexan_e Mar 17 at 20:03

AA Battery

Above is an AA Battery voltage curve. Many people assume that 5* 1.5V AA batterys would be enough to power the Arduino. As you can see the 1.5 is the maximum voltage and it quickly drops. Different brands have different values and sometimes this can drop below the value of the voltage regulator input. I usually tend to aim between 7 and 9 Volts for running from batteries.

For wall socket charges, Buy a cheap one and hook it up to a volt meter, Many that say 5V actually have a range of values. Raspberry Pi users often have problems with power caused by manufacturers saying its 5v and it actually delivering something like 4.85 and fluctuating beacuse of the power demand of the pi

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If you want to run from batteries, using the built-in voltage regulator is a really bad idea. Best case you are dropping 2.5V when the batteries are fresh - at 0.5A this is 1.25W wasted. The regulator will start to drop out at 6V, which is 1.2V per battery. This isn't very far into the discharge at all. Bypass the regulator and design the system to deal with varying voltage, or use a good boost converter. –  Cybergibbons Mar 18 at 12:03

As JRobert stated, the barrel jack provides regulation to support higher voltages. The to this regulatory circuit, even if the supply is 5v, there will still be a voltage drop across the power supply components. This is why the rating is higher.

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-1 A)as you say JRobert has already stated that, so there is no need for a new reply that states the same thing. B) The second part of your reply is not easy to follow but again seems to repeat what JRobert wrote about the voltage drop on the regulator. –  alexan_e Mar 17 at 20:02

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