Can I install an IR receiver on my Raspberry Pi 3 B+?

Best answer: Absolutely! A Raspberry Pi can make for a great media center computer, so attaching some sort of interface for a remote is a must. The good news is that there are several ways to get it done, and none of them are expensive. For most people, the best and easiest way is to use a FLIRC USB Universal Remote Control Receiver.

Amazon: FLIRC USB Universal Remote Control Receiver ($23)

Works with any remote on any computer

OK, so the FLIRC USB Receiver isn't a "regular" IR receiver you would wire in, so why is it our best answer? Because it's even better for almost everyone.

You'll probably be wanting a way to use a remote control with your Raspberry Pi to use with media center software like KODI. That means the important part is that you can use a good, full-function remote to watch your movies and shows; not how the signal zaps from your hand to the enclosure the Raspberry Pi is in. And that's where the FLIRC Receiver shines.

It's compatible with almost every remote you can buy, including super-functional models like the Harmony 650 and it's simple to set up. You plug it into a computer and run the setup software (and yes there is software you can run on the Linux-based OS you have on your Raspberry Pi as well as Windows and Mac) and walk through a few steps to tell the receiver what you're doing with it and what remote you're using. Then, it just works.

If you're looking for a way to use a good remote with your raspberry Pi-based media center PC, the FLIRC USB Universal Remote Control Receiver is the best way to do it.

A DIY option

Maybe you need an actual IR diode for a different sort of project, like a controller for an RC car. Or you could just be one of those folks who love to do-it-yourself. We have you covered, too. The Geekworm IR Control Kit for Raspberry Pi includes a control board you connect to the GPIO pin header and a companion remote. The board has an IR receiver, IR transmitter, and two buttons that can be programmed through the GPIO on your Raspberry Pi.

It works as-is with LIRC if you want to use it as a media center remote, and you can also use it to receive commands via IR then pass IR commands to another device or send IR commands when the buttons are pressed manually or virtually through software. If you would rather tinker or need an IR receiver for a different project, this is what you want.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.