$2 USB “18650 Battery Shield” Powers Arduino, ESP32, and Other Low Power Boards with a 18650 Battery

If you’re looking for battery power for one of your projects, you may consider a “18650 battery shield” – going for just above $2 on Aliexpress or eBay  – for powering Arduino boards, Espressif ESP8266 or ESP32 boards, or any board that can be powered by 5V up to 2A via USB or headers, or by 3V up to 1A via headers.

Specifications listed on eBay/Aliexpress:

  • Power Input – 5 to 8V via micro USB port up to 0.5A charging
  • Power Output
    • 5V via Type A USB port
    • 3V up to 1A via 3x 2-pin header
    • 5V up to 2A via 3x 2-pin headers
  • Misc – 1 switch control USB output, LED for charging status (green = full, red = charging)
  • Battery protection (Over-charge or Over-discharge)
  • Dimensions – 9.8 x 2.9 cm

You’ll need to add your own 18650 battery, and be careful about polarity while installing it, since putting it in the wrong direction would destroy the charging chip. Some sellers also stuff “Raspberry Pi” keyword in the product title, and they often do this for search engine optimization (SEO), but at least some people have shown it to work with a Raspberry Pi board too. It’s unclear whether it can act as a basic UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) without status. Has anybody tried?

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

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Jonathan
Jonathan
2 years ago

re: UPS use, it looks like this board is a TP4056 and a boost converter, both directly connected to a battery, so it would work, kind of, for a low-power load. If that is the case, I’d recommend against it for two reasons: first, the TP4056 has a 1.2A absolute maximum battery output current at battery voltage, which would be shared between the battery and the loads, so don’t expect to draw 1A through the shield continuously, let alone 4A. Second, the heat put off by a linear charger such as the TP4056 is significant and, being placed directly under… Read more »

willy
willy
2 years ago

Wow that’s pretty cool! I have built countless battery-to-5V adapters using a wide range of DC-DC converters myself. Some of them are unable to power an Attiny85 which doesn’t consume enough to keep them running. Others fried some devices because they don’t react fast enough to current variations. Others are not able to power an ARM SBC. And others fry from time to time. Each time I have to pick the iron to fix something. This one looks very very interesting, especially for the form factor and the fact that it provides a 3V output, instead of seeing 5V turned… Read more »

Sander
Sander
2 years ago

So this is about the same as a powerbank you buy at the MediaMarkt, without the 18650 battery, and with a 3V output?

Harley
Harley
2 years ago

I too would like to see a smaller one for 14500 batteries. Jonathan : re: UPS use, it looks like this board is a TP4056 and a boost converter, both directly connected to a battery, so it would work, kind of, for a low-power load. If that is the case, I’d recommend against it for two reasons: first, the TP4056 has a 1.2A absolute maximum battery output current at battery voltage, which would be shared between the battery and the loads, so don’t expect to draw 1A through the shield continuously, let alone 4A. Second, the heat put off by… Read more »

Bob
Bob
2 years ago

Ordered 3. Should be good for some projects, will see how much magic smoke I let out

Tof
Tof
2 years ago

Oh great ! I’ve ordered a couple to test them.

I’ve changed the battery on my Thinkpad which didn’t charge anymore. Out of 6 cells, 5 of them are perfectly working and only one was dead.

So I’ve got some 18650 batteries to recycle on ESP projects (a couple of them are already converted into power bank) but here I like the 3V output 😉

zoobab
2 years ago

@Tof
Is it 3V or 3.3V output?

Tof
Tof
2 years ago

@zoobab I’ve not tested it yet personally, as I made the order yesterday on Ali. But I think it won’t be 3.3V. Do expect 3V – 3.1V, not more. Here is a reading on multimeter at 3.15V on the V2 module: In my opinion v3 module does not differ in output voltages, but rather in battery protection functions. This shield while not powerful enough for standard Pi boards, should suffice for Pi Zero W 🙂 That could be a cheap solution for “always-on” (I mean : can survive short term power outages), or portable PI Zero projects. So I’ll test… Read more »

willy
willy
2 years ago

So I received mine. They’re not bad, but nothing impressive at all either. I can respond to some of the questions asked above : – the 3V output is indeed 3.0V – the 5V output is 5.0V, but the chip employed (FP6298) uses resistors to match a 0.6V reference and supports up to 12V output, so those wishing to modify it to output 5.2V to improve stability of micro-USB powered boards could easily do it by adding one resistor on top of an existing one. – the so-called 2A output (or 4A as written on the board) is overrated. I… Read more »

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