How to run your ESP8266 for years on a battery


Here’s a detailed article on how to run an ESP8266 for a long time on a battery by Marco Schwartz:

For most of the projects I am building with the ESP8266 WiFi chip, I usually don’t care too much about the power consumption aspect. I for example build data loggers that are constantly connected to the mains electricity, and appliances controller which also have an easy access to power. However, in some cases, we want to build projects that are only powered by batteries. This is for example the case for a motion sensor that you will install in your home, or a data logger you would put in a remote location.

More info at Open Home Automation.

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  1. The solution discussed in the linked article is wrong.

    It’s a largish Lipo (2500mAh) and he thinks 77uA is acceptable… ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, calculated 3.7 years for *deep sleep*. Add in sensor load and data logging load, one will most certainly not be able to claim ‘years’ for that method any more. So, bunk.

    Just gate the whole module off with a PFET. One will never get years of working life using a high-leak MCU like ESP8266, you need a supervisory MCU with a low sleep current.

    1. You are a smart person and absolutely correct. That kind of current needs a lead acid car battery behind it. Still, it does have its place as an easy solution.

      1. I should point out something… well, lead acid car batteries are designed to be well-charged all the time. The plates (which are patterned and thin) will corrode and break quickly if subjected to deep cycle. Commercial use are in applications where it is kept charged and then loaded rarely. Running a setup with such batteries alone entails high risk of breakdown.

        I have seen many academia sensor units take the lazy way out and leave sleep current high. Poor work, that. Cutting it down to <5uA makes battery choices very flexible, or one can trade it off with size, weight, cost parameters.

        For some folks who find this thing and think they have found The Solution, not A Solution, well, they may have just shot an arrow into their own thighs…

  2. Any lead-acid has to high of self-discharge for any multi-year application without charging.

    LiFePO4 prismatic cells are nice and have a flat discharge. Would a single 100Ah one do? (You can get them from 10 to1000 Ah.)

  3. No, no and once again – NO! If you want to run something wireless for years you take something that’s designed to work that way. My favs – MSP430FR or any of Gecko series will be much better solution for such a task. If you really want to use ESP2866 – use it as it’s designed to – do the data gathering on low power MCU then turn on WiFi, send what you need, turn ESP2866 off.

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