Raspberry Pi attached storage options for Iot

I’m looking for low power consumption storage options for a raspberry pi controlled, off-grid, time lapse camera rig.

With battery life a premium off-grid, I hope for the lowest power consumption possible.

Searching for comparison between spinning disks USB flash drives and SSD didn’t provide definitive results other than the newer the technology and the higher the capacity, the more the cost.

I need at least 300 GB but would prefer 1TB if possible. I thought I was onto a winner with the WD Pi Drive series but it seems to be a discontinued product.

Open to Suggestion


RPi uses a fair amount of energy when powered, it’s hard to say “how much” as it fully depends on how you set it up. You’ll likely just have to measure the energy usage and make some sensible decisions for battery/solar.

Most 2.5 inch HD external drives with a USB2.0 interface will work. Grab an external case with a USB-Powered interface (just the one cable that both powers the drive and manages data).

I believe you’ll need a full 2.5Amps for some use-cases with the above setup. Daily usage would vary entirely on how you manage power - sleep modes, etc.

Here’s a decent guide for attaching your drive:

You’d be able to reduce the energy draw significantly with a dedicated microcontroller doing the heavy lifting (no RPi). But you’d be in for tens or hundreds of hours bit-banging that code. RPi will quick-start you straight into functional projects, which is often worth it in the end for most people.

Hi Graham,

Thanks for your email.

I actually just managed to snag the last unit of a 375 GIG WD Pi Drive this morning. At least I know someone at Western Digital put some effort went into it being a low power Raspberry Pi focused storage option, so it should work.

However my plan is to build many off-grid time lapse rigs so I will check out the guide you linked me to for sure.

Power consumption is a tricky thing to calculate because it depends, as you say, entirely on actual usage and optimization. I’m having a solar system designed to power my rigs off-grid and the designer is wanting to base it on ‘rated’ power consumption as a highest possible usage scenario but I think that’s rather over engineering it. I prefer Henry Ford’s build-it-to-fail approach -

then improve the engineering gradually until it meets all requirements - at least while developing, not in production mind you.

I am considering using a micro-controller to manage an overnight sleep state, so the Pi can be powered down completely but I definitely need the Pi’s functionality for managing files and web serving my client facing control interface.

Have you any experience with getting a Pi connected to 3/4 G via a USB data dongle? I just bought an Optus kit with a Huawei E3372 but I’m staring up at the learning curve and thinking I might need ropes!



Sounds like a great project underway! It might be worth checking out the Particle Electron to handle both the ultra-low-power tasks along with occasional 3G data

I’m sure you’d be able to do wonders between RPi and Electron. Not that you’d be using it in this project, but Particle recently extended support for their cloud services to RPi as well, which is a big deal (called Particle Pi).