Best Arduino Kits

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
640 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Arduino kits

Last Updated October 2019

Have you ever been struck by inspiration to create a much-needed gadget that would simplify the lives of millions? Many people are, but they don’t pursue turning those ideas into products because it's too complicated and costly to make a prototype. An arduino kit allows you to take a brilliant idea and create a fully functional gadget — even if you have limited knowledge of engineering or programming.

The best Arduino kits come with a vast assortment of components, so you are not limited in any way. You get sensors, displays, motors, and more. Additionally, you will want to look for a kit that includes a large number of projects and tutorials, so you can learn how to get the most out of all of your components.

If you're curious, we're here to help. Following is a guide that will hit all the bullet points so you have a solid grasp on how incredible these little kits are.If that entices you to want to dive in and start building your own gadget, consider the highly rated Arduino kits we've spotlighted in this article.

An Arduino kit is designed for all levels of users. Beginners can follow tutorials and experienced users can create original prototypes.

Four main elements

If you are just learning about Arduino kits, they can seem overwhelming and intimidating. Think of each kit as its four main elements: a microcontroller, software, components, and tutorials. It's the variations within the last two elements (components and tutorials) that allow you to do so much and make the most of your kit.

Microcontroller

The microcontroller is the heart of your kit. This is where you physically build your gadget. The microcontroller is typically the Arduino UNO R3 board. If for any reason that is not what is included, be sure that the board in your kit is fully compatible with the UNO R3. This board will contain digital inputs/outputs, analog inputs, a timing crystal, power connections, a power regulator, a USB input, and more. The UNO board features a standard design so it can be effortlessly updated.

Software

What makes Arduino kits remarkably easy to use is that you can do all of the coding on your computer and simply connect it to your microcontroller via a USB connector to make it work. All the starter kits come with the needed software. And, if for any reason you get a kit that doesn't, it's free to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Alternatively, you can do your coding online.

A starter kit with all the essentials

This affordable Arduino UNO R3 clone kit is fully compatible with the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment), which means you can integrate official Arduino software, sensors, and codes. This kit includes 24 lessons, a 7-segment LED display, a stepper motor, a breadboard, and more. If you are looking for a reliable yet affordable starter kit, this is a great entry point.

Components

This is where kits begin to differ. The components are the parts that allow you to create in a variety of ways. Possible components include LEDs, resistors, a breadboard, a dot matrix display, motors, and much more. If you are interested in creating a prototype that uses a light sensor, for instance, be sure that the kit you are considering has a light sensor included, or you will need to purchase it separately.

Tutorials

This is how you learn to use your Arduino kit. Even if you've never built a prototype or written code, the tutorials are there to help you gain a working knowledge of all the components in your kit.

DID YOU KNOW?

Anyone is free to copy the Arduino UNO design and market their own version of the board.

Features

There are only a few other factors you'll need to understand in order to have a solid foundation on how to choose the Arduino kit that is best for you.

Original or clone

Because Arduino kits use off-the-shelf components, there is no functional difference between an original brand kit and a clone kit. In fact, oftentimes the only way you can tell the difference is by a single, specially commissioned component that is gold in color. This component is located right next to the USB input on the UNO R3 board. If it is not gold, you know you are dealing with a clone. When you purchase an original brand Arduino kit, you are paying a premium that goes to support research and outreach programs, which make the original brand kit cost a little more.

Project variety

Some of the Arduino kits are designed to create a specific project such as a robot or a remote-controlled vehicle, while others are general kits that can be used to create a wide variety of projects. Choose the type of kit that best reflects your interests.

An expansive starter kit

With over 200 components, this is one of the most comprehensive Arduino starter kits on the market. It is compatible with the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment) and includes components not found in other kits. You get sensors, LED diodes, resistors, a potentiometer, a large breadboard, an RFID (radio-frequency identification) module, an LCD display that can display 2 rows of 16 characters, and more. Whatever you can imagine, this kit can help you bring it to life.

Type of components

The type of components included in your Arduino kit go hand-in-hand with the project variety. You should choose the kit that features the components you would like to learn about. For instance, if you want to learn how a light sensor works, look for an Arduino kit that includes that specific component. If you prefer a broad education, there are Arduino starter kits that include over 200 components, which will give you a more comprehensive understanding of electrical engineering and coding.

Shields

Arduino expansion kits are called shields. The shields are specialized boards that add extra hardware capabilities to your projects. For instance, if you like working with motors, you should get the Arduino shield that allows you to better control motors. There is also a shield that lets you connect to the internet, one that increases RAM, and another that has a built-in camera. Whatever your needs are, there is probably a shield that can help you. Typically, the shields just stack together — the way you would build a sandwich — making them extremely simple to use.

If you need more memory or more inputs, the Arduino UNO boards (including the clone boards) feature a standard design so they can quickly and easily be upgraded.

Arduino kit prices

Arduino kits can be categorized into three general price brackets.

Inexpensive: In the $5 to $15 price range, you get a kit that is limited in versatility. It may not even include all the parts you need to complete a project, just specialized components such as a box of LEDs. Many of these kits are only of value if you already own other, more extensive, Arduino kits.

Mid-range: In the $15 to $45 range is where you strike gold. Almost anything you want is available in this range, if you don't mind using a clone kit. There are comprehensive kits that allow you to learn, build, and create whatever you imagine. Or, there are sets that are designed to build one specific item, such as a dancing penguin robot.

Higher end: Once you move above $50, you are looking at original brand Arduino kits. These kits cost more than clone kits because a portion of the price is funneled back into research and outreach programs. The most expensive Arduino kits cost up to $100.

DID YOU KNOW?

Arduino software works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Tips

If you've never dabbled in electrical engineering before, don't fret — you can still enjoy an Arduino kit. Following are a few general tips to help you progress smoothly from novice to master.

  • Start small. Don't try to learn everything at once. Focus on mastering a single element, then gradually add to that element.
  • Take little bites. Learn new skills and techniques one at a time. Don't attempt a project that introduces several new-to-you elements at once.
  • Tutorials work. Practice each tutorial not once, but several times. Do the tutorials backward and forward until you understand not only what you are doing, but why you are doing it as well.
  • Copy and modify. Whenever possible, copy someone else's design, then make it your own by modifying it until it is something completely new.
  • Learn by doing. Reading is great (and necessary), but you really learn by doing.
  • Ask for help. Arduino has an incredible support community. If you ever get stuck, simply ask for help.
  • Learn C/C++. When you are ready, you can take it to the next level and learn how to create a program from scratch using C/C++. There are some differences but learning this language will teach you the core of how Arduino coding works.

Other products we considered

If our top recommendations weren’t for you, we have a few other kits we think are worth considering. UCTRONICS has a Smart Bluetooth Robot Car Kit that is based on the UNO R3 board and can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can control the vehicle you built with an Android app.

If you want to grow plants but don’t have a green thumb, there’s a solution for that. Elecrow's Arduino Plant Watering System includes a soil moisture sensor and pump so your plants will always be perfectly cared for — even when you forget to water them.

The main differences in Arduino kits are the components you get and the tutorials that use those components. If you'd like to learn about biometric scanners, for instance, look for a kit with a scanning component.

FAQ

Q. I still don't get it. What is an Arduino kit?
A.
Arduino is the brand name of the largest open-source hardware platform in the world. A starter kit comes with the hardware needed to build an actual physical gadget and the software required to make that gadget work. You can use the kits and the tutorials to learn how to make specific projects, but if you already understand the basics, you can create inexpensive prototypes of complex gadgets rather effortlessly.
 

Q. What can you do with an Arduino kit?
A.
The beauty of an Arduino kit is it is only limited by your imagination and ingenuity. It comes with components that you can assemble to make anything from a motion-triggered nightlight to a robot that responds to hand signals. or maybe you have an idea for something that's never even existed before. If so, an Arduino kit is a great place to try out your ideas.
 

Q. If an Arduino uses off-the-shelf parts, can't I just build my own UNO?
A.
Well, yes, you could. And, many individuals and companies do — that's part of the plan. But what makes Arduino special is the integration. A kit doesn't only include the hardware and software, but it also connects you to a vast community of like-minded individuals. If you purchase an original unit instead of a clone, you are helping to support the Arduino community. The choice is yours, however. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a clone kit.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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