The Ultimate Guide to Feeding Power to Arduino

Arduino is an open source platform that is used to build electronic ventures. Ever since the rise of open source hardware that paved the way for the beginning of Arduino, one question has been asked every when and then: “what type of DC adapter can be used to power the Arduino”. Each Arduino board needs connecting to a source of power. The platform is either externally powered from a wall power supply that is terminated in a barrel jack or powered from a USB cable originating from a computer. The power is automatically selected. The first and main problem you will face when using this open-source platform is how to power the Arduino. This article clearly explains the correct way to power it and the adapter to use when powering the Arduino boards.

12v power supply

What adapter for Arduino

So what’s the best adapter for Arduino?

The board can function on the external power that supplies about six to twenty volts. If the power supply is less than 7 volts, the 5-volt pin can be affected and cannot provide the required volts leading to an unstable board. When more than 12V power supply is used, it may cause overheating of the regulator and ultimately damage the board. Therefore,  it is advisable to use a 7 to 12V power supply. You need a DC adapter i.e one that outputs DC and not AC, it should be between 9 and 12v power supply. The adapter must be rated for a minimum of 250mA current output. But it’s advisable to go for a 500mA or 1A output because you will probably connect another thing to the Arduino, i.e. LCDs, servos and LEDs. Therefore you require the necessary current to power each component of the circuit for reliably functioning.

12v power supply

The adapter must have a 2.1 mm power plug on the end of Arduino, and the plug should be centre positive, i.e. the middle of the plug has to be the positive (+) connection. Additionally, the external (non-USB) power can either come from an Alternate Current -to- Direct Current but the adapter used must be plugged into a 2.1 mm centre-positive plug to the board’s power jack.

12v power supply


The important requirements are available on the Tech Specs tab on the Arduino board product page. You will find the input voltage limit. It is not recommended to power the board at the minimum or maximum range because the upper limit will result in overheating while the minimum limit will make the board unstable. Therefore it’s advisable to stick with a 7V or 12V power supply adapter.

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