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Portable 5V power for my projects - I was about to get the necessary parts to wire up an OEM LiPo battery (3.7V battery, boost circuit, charging circuit) when I took a peak at pre-built "power banks". From all the sources I see the LiPo batteries alone cost more than the power bank, at much lower capacity. For reference:

  • a 10400 mAh power pack (max output 3A @ 5V) is 26$ on Amazon
  • a 10000 mAh power pack (max output 2.1A @ 5V) is 9$ on Hobby King
  • a 2500 mAh LiPo is 17$ on Amazon
  • a 5000 mAh Lipo is 8$ on Hobby King

The power packs already have charging and voltage regulation circuitry! The price difference makes me think I am missing something.

Reading around I notice issues with power packs auto-shutdown at low current draws. But other than this power packs seem cost optimal and technically equivalent - at least within the output amperage range of the power banks.

Questions:

  • Are there any technical differences in output voltage, lifetime, or otherwise I am missing here?
  • Are there any "surprises" I'm going to face by using a power pack?
  • Can you recommend a solid power pack that doesn't shut down at arduino level draws. (My app will draw 800mA @ 5V max, but during sleep, the draw of an Arduino Nano)

Thanks!

closed as off-topic by gre_gor, sempaiscuba, per1234, VE7JRO, MatsK May 5 '18 at 16:28

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about Arduino, within the scope defined in the help center." – gre_gor, sempaiscuba, per1234, VE7JRO, MatsK
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • This would be better posted at electronics.stackexchange.com - perhaps someone can move it? – SDsolar May 5 '18 at 1:44
  • fwiw, i've bought about 10 power banks and diy shells. All of them want at least ~70ma to stay away. You can get creative with supercaps or watchdogs to work around that. Or KISS: don't use sleep and they are great. Also, some battery charging modules have the same feature, so check your datasheet. – dandavis May 6 '18 at 4:36
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The thing to remember with power banks bought on places like eBay and Amazon is:

  • THEY LIE ABOUT THE CAPACITY

A typical power bank you would expect to get around 3600mAh from, even though it may say 10000mAh, 50000mAh, 1,000,000,000,000mAh, etc.

The only technical difference between rolling your own circuit and a power bank is the low-current switch-off that many (but not all) of them have. That switch-off is fine if you are always drawing a good amount of current, but once your device goes to sleep and the current drops right down you'll find the power bank will switch off and your device will never wake up again.

However, with rolling your own system you know what you are getting. You know the capacity of your battery.

One further thing to consider: Do you really need 5V? The majority of electronics run from 3.3V nowadays, and the Arduino is no different. There are Arduino boards designed to run from 3.3V, and even 5V boards can be tweaked to run at 3.3V (albeit slower than normal).

So the ideal solution would be:

  • A single-cell Li-Poly / Li-Ion giving nominal 3.7V
  • A Li-Ion charger circuit
  • A low-dropout or switching regulator with max 400mV dropout.

And no boost circuit needed. Also, no logic level shifting when communicating with 3.3V devices.

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