Powerline Adapter Energy Use & Running Cost Guide

I already did a guide on the expected power usage of Wi-Fi extenders, and I wanted to do another one on the power consumption of powerline adapters. They’re similar home networking gadgets that need to be plugged into a wall socket in order to work, and do use some power. But how much power?

As it turns out, not very much, and in fact likely less than even Wi-Fi extenders/boosters.

Powerline adapters don’t use very much electricity. Depending on the model, you can expect them to use 3-12 Watts per hour when being used, but only 0.5 Watts per hour or less when on standby mode.

Compared to other household devices, that’s next to nothing. So you don’t really need to worry about how much power they’re using or how much they’ll cost to run.

Most modern powerline adapter models are also designed to be very energy efficient and revert to a super low energy use power saving mode when not in use.

Some Research Into Power Consumption

Like I did in my Wi-Fi extenders energy use article, I trawled through the user manuals of some popular powerline adapter models to find some power usage statistics to present here as a rough guide.

See the table below for what I found.

Powerline ModelPower Usage (Watts)Maximum Daily Power Usage (Watts)Source
Zyxel Models12.0W (0.5W when on standby).288WSource
Netgear PLP Gigabit Models6.5W (0.5W when on standby).156WSource
TrendNet AV500 Nano3.0W (0.5W when on standby)72WSource
Tenda Nano Powerline3.5W (0.5 W when on standby).84WSource
Average6.25W150W

 

Basically, powerline adapters use very little energy. The average comes in even less than it did for Wi-Fi boosters, at around 6 watts per hour and 150 watts per day.

However, this figure assumes you’re using the adapters literally 24/7, which most people don’t. If they’re not being used, most newer ones go into a standby mode which uses even less power.

Therefore, you’ve not got much to worry about in terms of powerline adapter energy usage; it’s really minimal. For comparison, a fridge uses about 180 watts, a washer about 500 Watts, a dryer about 3000 Watts, a dishwasher about 1800 Watts, a hairdryer about 1200 Watts and a laptop about 60 Watts (see here).

How Much Do They Cost To Run?

Although energy use of powerline adapters is low, let’s take it a step further and actually do some calculations of how much they might cost to run.

Let’s assume you’re actually using it for internet for 12 hours each day at the average rate of 6.25 Watts (75 watts total). Then the other 12 hours it’s on standby mode at 0.5 Watts (6 watts). That leaves a total of 81 Watts per day use.

Watts need converting to kilowatts and kilowatt hours (kWh), so here are some calculations:

  • Daily usage = 81/1000 = 0.081 kWh
  • Annual usage = 29.565 kWh (assuming 12 hours on/12 hours on standby)
  • Average electricity cost – using the most up to date US figures of $0.16/kWh at the time of writing.
  • Annual cost = $4.73 for US based users.

Basically next to nothing. Even assuming it’s a higher end model like the Zyxel one quoted in the table that uses 12 watts per hour instead of 6, you’re still only looking at less than 10 bucks per year to run it on full use 12 hours per day.

Of course, another factor to take into account is the differing cost of electricity in different countries, so let’s make these calculations for the other major English speaking countries:

  • UK – At an average electricity cost of £0.28 per kWh, an extender using 10.9 Watts on average would cost £8.27 each year to run
  • Canada – At an average electricity cost of CAD 0.174 per kWh, an extender using 10.9 Watts on average would cost CAD 5.14 each year to run
  • Australia – At an average electricity cost of A$ 0.357 per kWh, an extender using 10.9 Watts on average would cost A$ 10.55 each year to run

You can use this energy calculator to make your own calculations if needed – just put the Watt Power consumption of your device, plus the hours used and the average electricity cost, and it’ll spit out an overall cost of running for you. The average cost figures I used are up to date at the time of writing, but subject to change.

Saving On Running Costs

Most newer powerline adapter models advertise prominently in their promotion material and product pages that they have “power saver” modes that reduce energy use when they’re not actively being used.

That means that after a certain time period has gone by without any adapter being used to supply an internet connection, they go into a kind of “standby” mode where they use a lot less power. They do this by themselves – you don’t need to configure them.

If you want to save on running costs more, also go for the smaller, compact “Nano” powerline models, which are the most energy efficient.

Larger, more advanced “gigabit” models with multiple ethernet ports and/or Wi-Fi capability will naturally use more power.

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