Tindie Blog | Solar Power Your Next IoT Project Leave a comment

If you are thinking about your next IoT project and wondering how you can make the batteries last, solar panels are a great option. But this requires a separate solar charger and battery management IC, making a prototype or hand-made board difficult as those chips typically come in small surface mount packages. The ESP32-S3 PowerFeather is a great option for both prototypes and completed projects! It can accept up to 18VDC directly on the solar input, and like all Feather-compatible boards, it has onboard battery management chips that take care of charging for you.

A fuel gauge IC is also present, meaning your application can tune its behaviour based on the state of charge. If the charge is very low, then reduce the update time to once an hour, for example. But if the sun is shining and the battery is full, you can update every 5 minutes or even maintain an active connection to a server and feed live data. The seller also has a recommended solar panel to go with this board, so you can get started very quickly.

A benefit of being in the Feather footprint is the huge number of Feather-compatible add-on boards that can make prototyping a snap. Grab the sensor boards you need, add some headers, and you are off to the races. The application firmware can also communicate directly with the TI BQ25628E charge IC and change things like charge current, disable or enable charging, enable or disable a 3.3V rail and much more! So if you’re looking for an ESP32 board with lots of easy prototyping options and solar charging, this is an excellent place to start. Check out the video below for more information!

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