Cheapest (but effective) platform to run NR

HI mates, I'm considering future projects, there are lot of boards around with different I/O abilities, those should be chosen according to the needs, but about basic features a board should have to run decently NR, what doyou recomend?
These are my considerations:

  • As prices with new stuff like Cortex-A7 processors and RAM speeds I suppose evaluating old boards such Raspberry1-2, etc are not convenient now more.
  • Which about of RAM you suggest? Of course it depends on number and types of modules loaded in a flow, but can 256MB be enough? I'm runnng NR on a RB3b and it uses 20% of 1GB of RAM (with temp folder mapped on RAM), so it looks enough, but I need avoid swap to SD to keep it longer live.
  • Choose processor, I've seen boards mounting Cortex-A5 or Cortex-A7, considering running NR only does they make differences? Does NR take advance of multi core?
  • Board reliability and stability: a NanoPi NEO 512Мб and an Orange Pi One costa lmost the same, in terms of reliability/stability they are equal? Or power device is better designed, PCB better done, etc?
    Box: availibilty of box is also considerable, maybe it's not available for some boards
  • Power consumption: considering not using HDMI and GPU, there are differences in terms of power usage between for example NanoPi NEO 512Мб and an Orange Pi One? There is any way to power off thise devices by linux?

I run Node-red on a raspberry pi zero 2, headless.

I doubt if it would be happy with mysql, grafana, mosquitto and browser too.

Take a look at this suggestion

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...if you already have a NAS or are planning to deploy one in the near future, I'd recommend looking into that.
After I had my NAS up and running, all these little Gizmo Boards with their countless power plugs, different Linux kernels needed to keep up with security and support and often WiFi issues have been decommissioned since.

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I run Node-RED on headless Pi4 2GB along with MQTT, InfluxDB, Grafana, Telegraf running from a USB Disk. I have run a similar set up on a Pi3B without the external disk and it did start to do weird things at times that started to make it unreliable as a server.

thank you to reporting it, as I see headless means "stupid" or foolish, but I don't understand the meaning here, the Cortex-A53 is better than A7 and it looks good for NR only..
On my Pi3b NR keep processor at average 2% only, jet a bit slow when installing/upgrading modules.

Will A7 be enough too?

Mate, can you please telel me shortly how InfluxDB, Grafana, Telegraf are useful to you? I've neaver deal with them, interesting. Thanks

Sure, Data from my Home control system is stored in InfluxDB and then Grafana is used to display graphs on the Dashboard. Telegraf is something new I am using to get the status of various things on the network. As it is new, I still haven't checked all of the possibilities, but it does seem very powerful with ease of configuration and sending results to MQTT to be read by NR. e.g.

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Headless just means that a reduced version of the OS is installed, this means that there is no Monitor or Keyboard and that means less resources are used, so you effectively get a faster computer as there are are more clock cycles and memory are available for use, so a less powerful computer can be used.

Interactions with the Computer are done using SSL and the 'Command line' (CLI) needs to be used, it sounds daunting, but is easy for simple tasks.

Of course, if you choose, you can run a full version of the OS with the Monitor and Keyboard available. This laptop I am using is a 'normal laptop' with NR installed and it is the one I do my development on as I can search the internet while working on my flows.


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By headless I mean that the Pi has RPiOS Lite installed, no X Windows desktop.
I view the Node-red editor and dashboard from a Windows laptop.
If you have a PC, this way of using the Pi as a server with command line only access is a big advantage. Your PC provides the memory and procesor power needed to display the editor, Presumably some/all/most of the flow processing is done in the browser too - I'm ignorant of this.

I used to run InfluxDB and Grafana on my Pi 4 but I saw performance issues. Combining that with my dislike for Influx' version of SQL convinced me to switch to MySQL and drop Grafana.
For sure other people's experience is different and Influx is supposed to be much less demanding than MySQL.
I'm happy to run Node-red and Mosquitto together on a Pi Zero 2, wouldn't recommed this for heavy commercial or industrial use.
I do have a Pi Zero W which will run Node-red but it's noticably slow and I only put a couple of small flows on it.

Mr Spiess' review of thin client PCs as Linux Node-Red servers is interesting but I have not tried this myself. My simplistic view of it is that any device with only 8GB disk space is too low powered to be much use.

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Thank you for all your comments. Yes I absolutely refer to a platform without monitor and keyboard capabilities, a pure small server to install NR. Onesly I don't need databases and graphics on charts too.
So the question is now reduced to:

  • Experiences with A7, does NR can take advance of all 4 cores? How is the average performance when installing modules or deploying a "medium" flow? I this processor worth or definely better to buy a A53?
  • RAM: is 512MB necessary? (supposed to kill reduce all useles services)
  • Can be GU and HDMI support be killed on Orange to reduce tasks/RAM/power?
  • Realibility: considering a good power adapter, is Orange less stable than NEO about PCB and components around CPU?


I've happily run Node-RED, mosquitto, InfluxDB, Grafana, Telegraf and some other stuff off an old Pi2 (a little slow if you allow the data to grow too big). And a Pi3 which was fine for years and I would still be using if it weren't for the fact that I had an old laptop lying around.

You can also get low-cost tiny PC's (Dell or Lenovo for example) refurbished for very low prices in many countries and these are more than up to the job.

Any of these suggestions can be run on <20W so running costs are low and generally can be configured so that any fans never trigger to keep the noise down.

Well, about the power, I would use a Pb 12V battery for IR sensors, video camera, router internet and Node Red, for me an old laptop is not a solution.
I'm tinking about A7, as the cheapest and light powered way (Orange Pi zero), this should be enough, I'll test it. GLad to read other comments about other staff

Your questions are pretty much impossible to answer objectively, as they all depend on the actual use case :slight_smile:

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I uderstand there is a variety of cases, but I think it's possible to share considerations about a platform, for example the Orange Pi zero:
is the A7 not that slow to install NR modules and deploy? (these are the most frequent actions), is the board reliable running 27/7? Are 512MB recomended? is it preferable in terms of power consumption (in case I run all with a backup battery).
Or is it bettere a NEO? I suppose it's possible to answer :slight_smile:

It's not really clear if you have a Node-red system yet or not, nor how complex your flows will be.

Does the entire system have to run off batteries?

I suggest you buy whatever small system you can get hold of just now. I personally would aim for 1GB or more memory. Try it and see how it performs.

Allegedly Raspberry Pies will be available again later this year so you will have the opportunity to go more or less powerfull as required.

Expect everything to go more smoothly with a Pi than the Chinese SBCs; the Pi folk have put a lot of effort into the hardware and OS

I used to have a PI before as well, but it got too slow when using serveral Grafana dashboards and databases

I'm now running an old laptop with Ubuntu and docker.

  • 4GB ram, Small 250GB SSD ==> survives any power outage :wink:
  • Ubuntu and Docker with Portainer
  • NR docker
  • Influxdb docker
  • Grafana docker
  • mqtt docker
  • all running in headless mode
  • stable for 2yrs with 20% CPU Utilisation

"Cheapest (but effective) platform to run NR"

A free for life cloud server from Oracle??

4 core, 24GB RAM AMD server, fixed IP address, plus lots more features.


Hi Paul,
I assume you have one of their FREE accounts?
Sounds like a really good offer, I'll have to look into it in more detail.

Yes, I've run one for the past 2 years without any issues.
When the were first released they were pretty low spec, but they've since upgraded them, and I've just updated mine to the current spec, which is very fast & well equipped.

It is pretty complex to set up and you really don't get help from Oracle if you have issues. Several of us have had issues and I think someone couldn't even get it working.

It is also Internet based so probably not ideal for a home automation setup since your Internet connection is another point of failure.

However, Yes, you can do that. Microsoft also have some decent free tiers if you dig enough to get to them. I've run Node-RED off a free tier web service before now for example.