Battery Powered Sensors

created by hek , updated

The following tips will reduce the power consumption of your Arduino Sensor allowing it to run on batteries for a longer period of time.

Note: When programming using FTDI adapter on modified 3v3 Pro Minis with removed regulators. Make sure to supply a stable 3v3 power source to the VCC pin yourself.

  1. Use the 3.3V version Arduino Pro Mini with the lower CPU clock speed (8MHz)
  2. Sleep whenever possible by powering down the Arduino and radio. The sensor node can periodically wake up by either triggering a timer interrupt or by an attached sensor registering a reading on one of the Arduino interrupt enabled io-pins. Most of the MySensors example sketches implement sleep mode. When powered down, the CPU, DS18B20 temp sensor and radio consume (very roughly) 120 uA - which is similar to the self discharge rate of a battery.
  3. Disconnect the Arduino's power indicator LED by cutting the track between the LED and the resistor in series or simply desolder one of them. Saves about 1.5 mA
  4. Disconnect or desolder the 3.3 VDC regulator because it is not needed. Cut the Vout pin with a sharp fine wire cutter. See images to the right on how to locate regulator. Saves about 220 uA.
  5. Power the device with two AA batteries connected in series to the PCB. You can power 5 VDC sensors using an ultra low power step up converter (see the Buying Guide below). Power regulators will reduce the battery life due constant power consumption.

Short video showing how to desolder LED and regulator:

Theoretical Battery Life

The battery life (for a hypothetical temperature sensor) can be calculated by determining the average current for the circuit, using the following general equation:

Iavg = (t0I0 + t1I1 ... + tx*Ix) / (t0 + t1 ... + tx)

Note these figures are for illustration purposes - your results will certainly vary. Current is measured at the battery with a battery Voltage of 3.0V.

Idling: I0 = 28 mA, t0 = 0.65 sec (using the delays I set up in the sketch) Transmitting: I1 = 31 mA, t1 = say 50 mSec (time is just a guess) Sleeping: I2 = 120 uA (very roughly), t2 = 15 minutes (the temperature sampling rate)

Using the above figures the effective current = 0.142 mA. The sleep current is difficult to measure accurately, so this figure may vary and will affect the lifetime calculation.

Assume the batteries are good for 2000 mAhr, that gives a lifetime of 14,101 hours, which equals to 19.6 months. The lifetime is dominated by the sleep current and sensor sample rate. Assuming the figures and calculations are correct (let us know if they aren't), it's likely the batteries would die from old age rather than through actual usage.

Boost your batteries

The Arduino 3.3V 8mhz can handle down to roughly 2.8V and the Nrf24l01+ down to 1.9V.

To be able to suck as much juice out of the batteries as possible you can use a DC-DC Step up booster. This booster will convert everything from 0.8V back to 3.3V. Note that a booster can be a bit noisy (and disturb the radio).

It can help to connect a 0,1uF ceramic capacitor from GND to VOut. To avoid noise to the radio (NRF24l01+) you can power it directly from the batteries since it can operate down to 1.9V and only power the arduino through the booster.

Measuring and Reporting Battery Level

Use a 1MΩ (R1) and 470KΩ (R2) resistor in series, connected to the positive terminal on the battery and ground and then connected the tap point to the A0 input on the CPU.

The tap point could be bypassed with a 0.1 uF capacitor to keep the noise level low, at this otherwise high impedance point.

The ADC is set to use the internal reference value of 1.1V - so Vmax at ADCmax = 1.1*(16+4703)/4703 = 3.44V

The battery power value must be converted to a percentage compatable with your Controller.

See the following example on how to measure battery level on A0 and report it to the Controller.

Last updated by web-flow, 7 Dec 2016, "Repo restyled using astyle (#683)"

 * The MySensors Arduino library handles the wireless radio link and protocol
 * between your home built sensors/actuators and HA controller of choice.
 * The sensors forms a self healing radio network with optional repeaters. Each
 * repeater and gateway builds a routing tables in EEPROM which keeps track of the
 * network topology allowing messages to be routed to nodes.
 * Created by Henrik Ekblad <[email protected]>
 * Copyright (C) 2013-2015 Sensnology AB
 * Full contributor list:
 * Documentation:
 * Support Forum:
 * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
 * modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
 * version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.
 * This is an example that demonstrates how to report the battery level for a sensor
 * Instructions for measuring battery capacity on A0 are available here:

// Enable debug prints to serial monitor
#define MY_DEBUG

// Enable and select radio type attached
#define MY_RADIO_NRF24
//#define MY_RADIO_RFM69

#include <MySensors.h>

int BATTERY_SENSE_PIN = A0;  // select the input pin for the battery sense point

unsigned long SLEEP_TIME = 900000;  // sleep time between reads (seconds * 1000 milliseconds)
int oldBatteryPcnt = 0;

void setup()
    // use the 1.1 V internal reference
#if defined(__AVR_ATmega2560__)

void presentation()
    // Send the sketch version information to the gateway and Controller
    sendSketchInfo("Battery Meter", "1.0");

void loop()
    // get the battery Voltage
    int sensorValue = analogRead(BATTERY_SENSE_PIN);
#ifdef MY_DEBUG

    // 1M, 470K divider across battery and using internal ADC ref of 1.1V
    // Sense point is bypassed with 0.1 uF cap to reduce noise at that point
    // ((1e6+470e3)/470e3)*1.1 = Vmax = 3.44 Volts
    // 3.44/1023 = Volts per bit = 0.003363075

    int batteryPcnt = sensorValue / 10;

#ifdef MY_DEBUG
    float batteryV  = sensorValue * 0.003363075;
    Serial.print("Battery Voltage: ");
    Serial.println(" V");

    Serial.print("Battery percent: ");
    Serial.println(" %");

    if (oldBatteryPcnt != batteryPcnt) {
        // Power up radio after sleep
        oldBatteryPcnt = batteryPcnt;


Shopping Guide

10pcs Arduino Pro Mini Compatible 3.3V
10 is cheaper!
1255 available - $16.87   Buy
In stock - $16.72   Buy
3V AA Battery holder
For powering 3.3V Arduino.
115 available - $0.79   Buy
Stock unknown   Buy
Arduino Pro Mini Compatible 3.3V
If you are planning to build a battery-powered sensors, the 3.3v pro mini is a good choice. You won't need a regulator for the radio when using this version. Make sure your attached sensors also can run on 3.3V or buy a step-up regulator
13674 available - $1.87   Buy
In stock - $1.60   Buy
DC-DC Step Up Boost Module 3v3
Input 0.8-3.3V, Output 3.3V. Sucks the juice out of your batteries.
2052 available - $2.99   Buy
In stock - $1.48   Buy
DC-DC Step Up Boost Module 5V
Input 1-3V , Output 5V. Use this if you need to power 5V sensors from a 3.3V Arduino Pro Mini
327 available - $0.99   Buy
In stock - $3.00   Buy


Sensors & Actuators

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