The GPS has a built in real time clock, which can keep track of time even when it power is lost and it doesn't have a fix yet. It can also help reduce fix times, if you expect to have a flakey power connection (say you're using solar or similar). To use the RTC, we need to attach a battery. There is a spot on the back for a CR1220 sized battery holder. We provide the holder but the battery is not included. You can use any 12mm coin cell - these are popular and we also carry them in the Adafruit shop.

Normally, if the GPS loses power, it will revert to the factory default for baud rates, configuration, etc. A backup battery will mean that those defaults will not be lost!

The backup real-time-clock circuitry draws 7 uA (0.007 mA) so a CR1220 will last 40mAh / 0.007mA = 5,714 hours = 240 days continuously. The backup battery is only used when there's no main 3V power to the GPS, so as long as it's only used as backup once in a while, it will last years

If you have a v1 or v2 module ONLY:

Before inserting a battery into the battery holder, first cut the trace between the two solder pads on the back, labeled RTC (this disconnects the VIN pin from the battery input) Use a multimeter with continuity checking to verify the two pads are no longer tied together.

V3 modules do not have a trace to cut, they have a built-in diode!
Remember, the GPS does not know what time zone you are in (even though it knows your location, there is no easy way to determine time zone without a massive lookup table) so all date/time data is in UTC (aka. Greenwich Mean Time) - You will have to write the code that converts that to your local time zone and account for Daylight Savings if required! Since that's pretty complicated, most people just stick to keeping everything in UTC

This guide was first published on Aug 23, 2012. It was last updated on Jul 17, 2024.

This page (Battery Backup) was last updated on Jul 30, 2012.

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