Microcontrollers are the heart of every electronics project. They control by giving instructions to each component and taking inputs from them to take further actions. So, an entire project can depend on the microcontroller’s ability to process information and execute commands in a limited time.
But, are Arduino boards reliable? Yes, Arduino boards have proven their reliability due to its diverse and practical applications. Arduino is used not just by hobbyists, but in industrial applications as well, where one can control heavy machinery through microcontroller programming.
Here I’ll talk about the scenarios under which Arduino boards can be used practically and can prove their reliability. Is your investment in Arduino boards going to be worth it for your projects? Let’s dive in!
What Makes Arduino Boards Reliable?
Before we talk about what makes Arduino boards reliable, lets first define what a reliable microcontroller means.
A reliable microcontroller functions according to the programmed commands and executes correct output values, without any errors.
Arduino is one of the most popular microcontroller boards among students, hobbyists, and industries all around the world.
Arduino boards consist of an ATmega chip, which serves as a handy processor since the boards are used to building a wide variety of complex projects ranging from home automation to robotics, and these tiny chips are the backbone of such projects.
One can consider Arduino boards as reliable because of the 5 following capabilities:
1. Arduino Can Stay on For a Long Time
A must-have feature to consider a microcontroller as reliable is the capacity to stay on for a long time or 24/7 so that the project keeps on running flawlessly.
Arduino boards can undoubtedly function for a very long time if provided with a continuous power supply. Genuine Arduino boards won’t heat up or burnt out quickly.
Still, in case you’re using an Arduino clone, I can’t guarantee that they’ll stay on for a long time because heat dissipates when current flows through the microcontroller board for a long time.
Only the original electronic components of a genuine Arduino board can withstand the heat and give their best performance.
2. Arduino has Multiple Power Options
Arduino boards offer multiple power options, including the USB port, the barrel connector, and the Vcc pin, as I explained in detail in this article.
Apart from the USB port, you can use either a DC adaptor or a 9V battery to power the microcontroller board. Having such options increase the reliability of Arduino boards since users in case your preferred power option fails.
For a more detailed guide on power options for Arduino, check this article.
3. Arduino Has an In-built Voltage Regulator
Fluctuations in voltage can cause electronic devices as well as microcontrollers to malfunction and eventually fry your Arduino.
Arduino boards have an in-built voltage regulator that controls a consistent voltage of 5 Volts through its I/O pins, making sure there are no dips or spikes.
Thanks to this in-built voltage regulator, the components in Arduino boards very rarely get damaged due to voltage fluctuations.
Using fake Arduino boards might cause this issue to pop up.
4. The Protection Diode Makes Arduino Boards Reliable
Protection circuitry is essential in electronic design because it provides an extra layer of security against power surges. Arduino boards come with a protection diode that guards them against overcurrents.
Moreover, the voltage regulator also protects the board in cases when we supply 9 Volts or 12 Volts. The voltage regulator brings the excess voltage down to 5 Volts – the operating voltage of Arduino boards.
So, as you can see, Arduino boards have two layers of protection against voltage fluctuations.
5. Arduino is Compatible with Many Modules/Shields
Arduino’s compatibility with many modules/shields such as LCD, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and many other highly useful ones is of great advantage.
This compatibility feature expands Arduino boards’ capability and adds to the reliability because one can use the boards in a wide variety of projects and even in various industrial applications.
To check out a list of Arduino-compatible shields, check out this article.
How Can Arduinos Be Used in Industries?
Using Arduino boards in industries sounds a bit strange because they’re usually popular among hobbyists and students to build basic projects. So, many people believe one cannot use these small boards with heavy electrical machinery, and neither can they survive in harsh environments.
The truth is that Arduino boards can work with industrial machines, and they’re also capable of surviving in harsh environments. If you’re using a genuine Arduino and not a cheap Arduino clone, of course.
Here are a few tips to consider when using Arduino boards for such practical applications and harsh environments.
Never Compromise on Protection Circuitry
External protection circuitry is essential when it comes to using Arduinos in practical applications and industries because they usually involve high voltage and current requirements.
The protection circuitry is straightforward to design. It involves the use of different types of diodes and relays. Diodes protect against reverse currents and overvoltage while relays allow you to drive heavy loads through a small voltage.
Therefore, when you connect a heavy load to your Arduino board, always make sure to use a relay, or else you’ll end up destroying the microcontroller board.
Always Consider Your Board’s Power Ratings
One often ignored the Power ratings when working on Arduino projects, but it’s essential to know them, as well as the voltage and current requirement of every component that you wish to connect with your Arduino board.
If the voltage and current ratings are compatible with Arduino, then you can continue to connect them. Otherwise, it would be best if you used external circuity to connect two elements with different voltage and current requirements.
Casings Are Important
Not only do casings protect the project components and keep them in place, but they also add beauty to them. A transparent plastic casing can keep your Arduino board and other modules and PCB boards safe from the external environment conditions.
For instance, if you’re deploying an Arduino project in a closed kitchen with poor ventilation, you need to protect the Arduino board from oil fumes and water vapors that form while cooking. These fumes and steam can easily stick to your project components and destroy them.
Therefore, placing them in a plastic casing can increase the reliability of your project and protect it from damage.
Do Your Research on the Board Reliability for Industrial Applications
Before using Arduino boards in industrial and practical applications, make sure to read up on some useful articles and datasheets to save yourself from the hassle of dealing with damaged project components.
There are plenty of projects available on the internet that you can refer to while designing your project.
Click here to look at a comprehensive list of exciting Arduino-based projects.
Industrial and Practical Applications using Arduino
As you can see, it’s a fact that Arduinos are reliable to the extent that one can use them even in industrial and practical applications, now let’s see some more areas where Arduino boards can prove to be a reliable microcontroller.
You can use Arduino to incorporate robotics into industrial applications. Conveyor belts, robotic arms, and robocars are some typical applications that we can implement through Arduino.
The use of sensors and actuators, along with Arduino boards, can prove to be useful in industrial automation projects.
For instance, if a fan has to turn depending on the temperature and humidity levels, then Arduino is useful in these cases. All that’s needed is an Arduino board connected to a fan, a temperature sensor, and a humidity sensor.
You can find these sensors as shields or as separate ICs. Still, their function remains the same, and that is to record the surrounding temperature and humidity level and inform the microcontroller so that it can take the required action.
This example is just a small-scale application of using Arduinos in industrial processes, but you can use this idea to design innovative industrial solutions.
Another practical field where you can use Arduino is home automation. You can automatically power on the lights of your room as soon as a person enters through the door and switch them off as the person walks out, through a simple Arduino project.
Similarly, you can design other Arduino based home automation projects, and you’ll find Arduino to be very reliable in these applications.
So, you’ve seen just some of the most common and possible ways you can use an Arduino. I leave it up to you to decide whether Arduino boards are reliable or not.
I’m sure your answer would be affirmative because if Arduinos weren’t reliable, then why would they gain so much popularity and acceptance among electronic apprentices, hobbyists, and engineers?
So, if you now think the same, then go ahead and use an Arduino board in that practical project you’ve always dreamt of making but weren’t sure if Arduino was a reliable choice!
What project do you have in mind to build? Let me know in the comments, and let’s share some ideas!
1. Can the Arduino Uno R3 be Used for Industrial Solutions? (arrow.com)
2. Three Real World Practical Uses for Arduino (macobserver.com)