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Bradley Mitchell

How Much Power Does a Network Router Consume?

By June 11, 2009

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Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router Everyone is interested (hopefully) in conserving electricity and saving money on their power bills. Any gadgets around the house that tend to stay on 24 hours a day, like network routers, are obvious suspects to question when looking for sources of wasteful energy consumption.

Fortunately, routers don't consume a lot of power. Wireless routers use the most, particularly those newer models with multiple Wi-Fi antennas, because these radios need a certain level of power to stay connected. The Linksys WRT610 (see right), for example, utilizes two radios for dual-band wireless support, yet it draws just 18 watts of power.

Assuming you leave the WRT610 running in dual-band mode 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, it will result in 3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per week added to your electric bill. Costs vary depending where you live, but typically the WRT610 and similar wireless routers cost no more than $1-$2 (USD) per month to run.

See also - Finding / Fixing Home Power Hogs
See also - 802.11v Wi-Fi Saves Power

Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router - Photo: www.linksys.com
Comments
June 18, 2009 at 10:05 am
(1) Amit Asthana says:

Nice Article, but it is still good to power off these equipment when not in use to save electricity (read Global Warming) and life of equipment.

June 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm
(2) Joshua White says:

Wireless routers and networks use the little amount of power they do because they are supposed to be left on. The vast majority of people -do- leave their routers on, but some people turn theirs off, thinking they are saving money, when actually they are throwing it away.
When your wireless router is connected to your local exchange, they automatically monitor your connection, and allocate you a set amount of bandwidth. Bandwidth costs a lot more money than the electricity needed to run a router.
For example, if you only connect for 5 hours out of 24 each day, and turn your router off in the meantime, the exchange will allocate you *less* bandwidth than you pay for each month, in order to give it to the customers who stay connected.
This means your internet speed will be considerably slower than if you had left your router on (and I mean considerably- my internet speed fell to between 1500-1800kb/s from the 8Mb I paid for, simply because I began to turn off my router at nights – that’s down to below a quarter!).

Global warming is an issue, of course it is – but it is the fault of the exchange, rather than your own personal fault, if they insist on taking away a service that you have already paid for – effectively punishing you for saving electricity.
Pressure should perhaps be put on exchanges to provide 100% of the internet speed they promise you when you sign a contract.
Until then, however, you should always leave your router on.

June 30, 2010 at 7:35 am
(3) Michael says:

Great article.

Josh, however, is quite wrong. While some ISPs use on demand throttling; it is exactly that….ON DEMAND. Any long term fluctuations in banwidth are not related to turning a router off or leaving it on at night. In fact; in the long run, turning off a cable or DSL modem at night and having it reestablish its connection with the ISP could actually be beneficial to your connection.

-Michael

March 12, 2011 at 6:14 am
(4) Stuart says:

I work for virgin technical support & you should always leave it switched on, unless your out of the country for a week or so. By constanty switching on & off you are causing the router to re sync with the exchange & within a few months you’ll be spending 30+ on a new router. In respect to the speed slowing down this shouldnt happen unless it’s within the first 10 days as the line fluctuates to find the best stable rate, but switching off & on can cause intermittent problems down the line which also causes issues with speed. If your router is switched on at all times your ISP can tell if there’s an intermittent problem but if you switch it off at nights you’ll need to monitor for 48 hours before your ISP can determine a fault.

July 16, 2011 at 12:53 am
(5) Bill says:

Global Warming?

Don’t think it is caused by human activity. And hundreds of climate scientists are now beginning to agree. A Phd in Physics at Princeton wrote a great article in First Things about this recently.

Thousands disagree I know but politics is involved here folks – big time.

wsa

July 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm
(6) Atanas says:

Hi Bradley,

Very useful article … but a small correction some three years later – the correct units are not kWh per week but kW per week, IMHO.

- Atanas

October 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm
(7) Mister Router Guru says:

Wow all the commenters are Horribly wrong on what they know. The guy that claims he works for Virgin knows nothing at all about networking.. Really? I have limited amount of resync in my router and I must buy a new one to get it refilled?

Please people post only when you actually know something and dont make up really silly things and pass them off as fact.

I got a massive laugh out of the post by Josh White… That one is as funny as the “internet cleaning day” jokes that run around the net.

December 18, 2012 at 11:06 pm
(8) Will says:

Atanas,

Actually, the correct units are indeed kwh (kilowatt-hours) per week. A watt is a unit of power, which is the rate at which energy is used. One watt is equal to one joule of work per second. A kilowatt is 1000 watts. One kilowatt-hour (kwh) is 1000 watts applied for one hour, which, if you do the math, would equal 3600 kilo-joules.

Therefore, the 3 kwh per week referenced in the article would be the equivalent of running a 1000 watt light-bulb for 3 hours each week. The kwh unit is useful because your electric company charges you a cost for each kwh you consume.

To clarify, a watt is a “rate” of energy used, just like the speed you travel in your car is the “rate” of distance traveled. The amount of energy (kwh or joules) used is the power (watt), or rate applied over a given time (rate x time) just like the distance you travel is equal to your speed applied over a given time (rate x time). Your electric company charges you for the amount of energy used (rate x time or kwh). A hypothetical transportation company similar to your electric company will charge you for the total distance you travel, not the rate, or how fast you travel.

I hope that helps.

February 17, 2013 at 5:02 pm
(9) Climate Change not global warming says:

Not about global warning; it is climate change. Why is it hard to find a wireless device not made in China that does not suck a bunch of electricity (imho)?

April 23, 2013 at 1:31 am
(10) Andy says:

Somehow I don’t believe that router consumes 18W. Have you measured it yourself or just going by the numbers on the power adapter? My WRT160N router only uses 4.4W and Asus RT-N66U uses 9W and the latter is a very high end router with great performance. My TP-Link 5 port Gigabit Switch uses just around 2W with 2 computers connected and maxes out at 3W with all ports active.

Routers and switches use ARM boards, so its like keeping your smartphone on 24×7. I think people are likely to save more money by concentrating on their desktop’s power consumption. I personally have a very low power desktop (~20-30W) for 24×7 usage and a separate high end desktop (~200-400W) for gaming which is rarely used.

June 23, 2013 at 6:36 pm
(11) Eric Gold says:

Disclaimer: I strive for the lowest power devices I can find that meet my uses, so there is no such thing in my house as “not much.”

Overheating of a Qwest labeled DSL modem (ActionTec M100) that has been drawing ~ 4.5 watts ) led to its replacement with an ActionTec GT701D that has improved the pwer draw down to ~ 2.5 watts. It is used in bridge mode to a Linksys ‘G’ Wireless router. The two devices together draw about 4.5 watts now.

I have been tempted by higher power routers in hopes of improving wireless range in the far corners of my house, but playing around with router placement has sufficed instead.

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