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

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    Brilliant answer without getting into technical details that can confuse members that are not experienced in electronics.
    – alexan_e
    Mar 17, 2014 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, ie the nominal voltage of the batteries, eg 6 x 1.5V = 9V.

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

  • 2
    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. Mar 18, 2014 at 12:03
  • I've edited your text to clarify that you mean to aim for a nominal* voltage between 7 and 9V. I assume thats what you meant? Oct 4, 2014 at 18:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.