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How Much Power Do Systems Draw When Turned Off?


Tempest

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I've been in the habit of having all my game systems plugged into a power strip that I turn off when not using to save electricity. Unfortunately this has some negative side effects with systems that use batteries for memory back up (Saturn, Dreamcast, etc.) because they batteries don't get charged constantly. I know modern game systems still draw considerable amounts of power when off because they do all kinds of things in standby mode, but what about classic game systems like the NES, SMS, Genesis, SNES, Saturn, DC, N64, etc.? What kind of power do they use when turned off but still plugged in?

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Most use a minimal amount for the power transfomer inside. Not sure which all consoles actually break the connection between the power cord and power transformer though. Of course any console such as a 2600 or PSOne with an external power "brick" will be drawing that tiny bit of power even when off.

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I've been in the habit of having all my game systems plugged into a power strip that I turn off when not using to save electricity. Unfortunately this has some negative side effects with systems that use batteries for memory back up (Saturn, Dreamcast, etc.) because they batteries don't get charged constantly. I know modern game systems still draw considerable amounts of power when off because they do all kinds of things in standby mode, but what about classic game systems like the NES, SMS, Genesis, SNES, Saturn, DC, N64, etc.? What kind of power do they use when turned off but still plugged in?

 

Not certain, but I think most of those physically break the connection when powered off, and draw no current. I guess you could open them up & trace the power and power switch wires to their connection points.

At any rate, you're talking about power consumption somewhere in the range of a hot egg fart. It likely costs more to heat one bath than to keep a heap of pre-PS2 consoles plugged in for a year.

Edited by Rex Dart
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Practically nothing. Wall wart transformers do leak a little bit of power, whether they have a device attached to them or not. Plug a wall wart into an outlet and nothing else, and come back later. It will be slightly warm to the touch. But we're talking about less than a Watt here.

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the Saturn definitely draws power because when not plugged in, the internal 2032 cell battery, which usually lasts 1-2 years with normal use, dies much faster unplugged.

That's exactly what started me down this road. I got tired of replacing Saturn batteries every few months when I turned the console on so I started doing some investigating.

 

 

Practically nothing. Wall wart transformers do leak a little bit of power, whether they have a device attached to them or not. Plug a wall wart into an outlet and nothing else, and come back later. It will be slightly warm to the touch. But we're talking about less than a Watt here.

Is it really that minimal? Over the course of a year are we talking a buck or two or is it more?

 

The systems I'd have plugged in are:

 

NES

SMS

Genesis/Sega CD

SNES

Saturn

Dreamcast

Turbo Duo

Neo Geo CD

Xbox (original one)

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So probably around $20 a year? That's good to know.

 

Is is better for the console to be permanently plugged in or unplugged? I'd think plugged in (so caps and things dont dry out), but I'm not an electronics expert by any means.

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That's exactly what started me down this road. I got tired of replacing Saturn batteries every few months when I turned the console on so I started doing some investigating.

 

i just modded my Saturn last week with a CRV3 lithium battery. if i keep it plugged in i'll be fine until around 2024. here's that very thread.

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i just modded my Saturn last week with a CRV3 lithium battery. if i keep it plugged in i'll be fine until around 2024. here's that very thread.

Yeah my soldering skills aren't so hot and I'd hate to damage my modded saturn. I think keeping the Saturn and DC plugged in all the time will work for now.

 

Do any other consoles use batteries that need to be constantly plugged in?

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I pulled out my Kill A Watt, and my 5200 power supply draws 2W with the machine turned off (12W while playing Moon Patrol ;) ).

 

So, we pay about $0.11 per KWh, so that means that leaving the power supply plugged in 24/7 will cost $1.93 per year (not counting energy used by CRT). ($11.56 per year to play Moon Patrol nonstop.)

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A couple of things I would consider:

 

1) Don't transformers wear out faster when power is applied? So maybe replacement cost/availability is also a factor...

 

2) A big power spike on the main line can damage a device that is plugged in; if it's big enough, even through a power strip or a surge protector.

 

3) I've never seen it happen, but I'm told a power brick can catch fire, especially the older ones, and it seems like several together would just multiply that possibility...

 

The cost of electricity wouldn't be the only consideration for me.

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I've been in the habit of having all my game systems plugged into a power strip that I turn off when not using to save electricity.

 

I do the same thing with my old systems (the ones in use) - I keep them plugged into a power strip. I only turn the main power strip switch on ("Reset") when I play games, and turn it back off after turning off the console. That way, I figure the systems plugged into the strip will be fine and not use much - if any - current, since the main power strip is shut off. I think a power strip or surge protector adds a layer of protection for your consoles/systems from the main outlet in case of spikes. A power strip also adds additional outlets for other systems to be plugged in. Keeps the wear & tear down on your console power plugs, too. :!:

I will try to unplug the whole power strip if I know a big storm is on the way, though.

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So probably around $20 a year? That's good to know.

 

Is is better for the console to be permanently plugged in or unplugged? I'd think plugged in (so caps and things dont dry out), but I'm not an electronics expert by any means.

Most consoles physically disconnect the power, so keeping the PSU plugged or unplugged doesn't make any difference.

It's better for the caps to turn your console for like 15 minutes a month to keep them in working order, especially if you have a model know to have capacitors aging bad.

 

But PSU aren't disconnected themselves, so they still draw out a bit of power. Nothing much, but keeping them plugged permanently MAY end up in them aging faster.

IMO, the best advice would be to keep your "non-batteries" systems on a power strip with a power switch, and keep the recent ones like the Saturn on a power strip without power button so the batteries doesn't run dry.

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IMO, the best advice would be to keep your "non-batteries" systems on a power strip with a power switch, and keep the recent ones like the Saturn on a power strip without power button so the batteries doesn't run dry.

That's what I'm going to do. What consoles other than the Saturn and Dreamcast have batteries?

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Most of the modern consoles use less than 3W on standby. The bigger ones, like PS2 fat, PS3 fat, and Xbox 360 are 2-3W. The Slim versions, Wii are closer to 1/1.5. However, if you leave Wii Connect 24 on, it's closer to 9W! PS3 Slim is pretty efficient, under 1. The old stuff, that really do little to nothing like GameCube, Dreamcast, PS1, and even the old Xbox use like 0.1 or 0.2 watts. Can't imagine the old stuff uses much more, although I figure their wall warts are far less efficient.

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($11.56 per year to play Moon Patrol nonstop.)

Best stat I've heard all year.. ;-)

 

Personally, I bought a power strip that has separate on/off switches for all (minus 1) of the receptacles it has.

I also got a batch of 6-inch extension cords so I can plug the wall warts into them.

 

desiv

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It would depend on the system and how it was hooked up. Like the 2600 has a switch after the power supply so the power supply probably draws roughly the same power weather the system is turned on or not. But some games had the PSU built in, and could probably have had the switch wired in before the PSU and would draw no power when turned off (like Early INTV or PSX systems) Don't hold me to that, while the PSU is built in, the switch doesn't necessarily come before the PSU, so it could still be sucking power.

 

If you want to save power, the best thing to do is get you a switch, like s surge protector or an old power bar, plug your stuff into that, and then turn the bar off when you're not using it. You can even buy a "smart" power bar that turns off all the outlets when an item plugged into a certain one is turned off (like a TV)

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Don't forget to add your TVs when calculating power draw. "Instant on" CRTs work by keeping some of the components constantly charged which draws more power than the older models that took at least several seconds to warm up before the CRT would show a picture. I've got one that draws 20W when off, so it is on a outlet strip that gets turned off.

 

I have all of my TVs and systems on outlet strips that are turned off when not in use. The first year I did this in 2010 I noticed a drop of over $10 a month in our electric bill, although that was for 18 systems and 4 TVs. I'm less concerned about saving $120/year than I am about saving $120/year for things that weren't even turned on and being used.

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And TV also cut the power AFTER the PSU, so older TVs, even the one that need to "warm up" may draw some power when off. It's also a cause of failure of the PSU so it might be good to incluse them on the switch off power strip. Even mroe for the "fast powering" TVs because what need to have current to power the tube are the pieces most likely to fail over year, meaning that keeping such TV's powered might shorten their life more than an older model.

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So probably around $20 a year? That's good to know.

 

Is is better for the console to be permanently plugged in or unplugged? I'd think plugged in (so caps and things dont dry out), but I'm not an electronics expert by any means.

You need to turn the system on so that current is running thoughout the board for the caps to be active. From what I have read 30 minutes or so at least once a year helps save caps from going bad.

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Great tip, Yurkie. Thanks.

I have a game gear that just crapped out, but that's common with electrolytic caps.

 

You need to turn the system on so that current is running thoughout the board for the caps to be active. From what I have read 30 minutes or so at least once a year helps save caps from going bad.

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