Using Arduino over a long period without turning off

Hi all,

So I've built a couple of projects that have a purpose of automating tasks while I'm away (eg. automatic fish feeding machine). So far, all of them have been working off 9V batteries and AA batteries connected in series.

My idea now is to have these run while I'm away on holidays (which could be months at a time). The Arduino boards will simply be powered via USB to the mains.

So my questions are:

  1. Will there be any issues if I leave the Arduino running on for that long (eg. overheating, running out of memory space, etc...) and if so, how can I avoid them?

  2. How could I power components that require an external power supply (eg. high torque servos that require min 6V) without having to use a battery?

  3. Is there a fail safe way I could be notified (eg. via SMS) in the event that one of the devices stop working? I don't want to come home to my fishies being dead :sob:

Thank you so much!

  1. Arduino is very simple device. If you will keep it under reasonable conditions, there is no electrical risk. Here I can say, I have home device based on Arduino in uninterrupted operation more than a year. Not even restart. Thing like running out of memory depends on your program. It is not easy to create 100% reliable program and it getting worse as the program is more complicated. Problems can be avoided by testing and again by testing but you must know, life is full of surprises.
  2. External power source? Of course! I think, internet provides lots of examples include schematics and with detailed information. Also here on this web.
  3. Imagine that something went wrong and system sent you a notification. How can this help to your fishes? Are you willing interrupt your holiday and travel back let say 1000 miles? Careful consideration is needed here.

I monitor my home (remote log cabin in Vermont) when I travel.. If the furnace stops I can turn on electrical heat.

If things are really messed up, I have FRIENDS who are electricians and plumbers and FAMILY who are Arduino experts. You can't do this totally alone...

I'd suggest you get someone to keep the fish for you, or sell or give them away if you are going to be away for a long time. If you want to do the project, then build it and let it run a while. Interrupt the power supply and see if it recovers and starts working again. Some years back someone posted an aquarium project that was very detailed. You might use the forum search tool and search for "aquarium" to see how it was done.

Arduino can run longer than any holiday, provided you are sensible about keeping power up to it.

I'm sure you can work out how much memory you need. Nobody else can, although I imagine that a 2Gb SD card would hold more fish-feeding data than you would need for a long holiday.

SMS would be a reasonable way to get remote warning. IoT would be another option.


Thank you all for your great advice!

From what I understand, there shouldn't be any problems with leaving the Arduino on for a long period of time. As for the case in which the device stops working, I think I will go for some sort of notification through IoT. That way I can ask a neighbour or friend to come over and check the problem out :)

Thanks again!

I had an Arduino running for several years without significant issues, only getting rebooted every month or two when the power went out.

Initially, it had a problem with its Ethernet library that would crash the system daily with a buffer overflow. Once that was fixed, it ran fine. So beware of whatever libraries you are using and test for a while.

Dynamic memory allocation can be problematic and remember that String objects use it behind the scenes. It's especially troubling because the code may run for a long time before the problem reveals itself. Worse, the memory eating issue may only occur in special infrequent circumstances, dealing with an error condition perhaps. Consequently, you never really know when you've done sufficient testing.