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Power Microsoft Nintendo Sony The Almighty Buck

Measuring How Much "Standby Mode" Electricity For Game Consoles Will Cost You 198

An anonymous reader writes: Modern game consoles have a "standby" mode, which you can use if you want the console to instantly turn on while not drawing full power the whole time it's idle. But manufacturers are vague about how much power it takes to keep the consoles in this standby state. After a recent press release claiming $250 million worth of electricity was used to power Xbox Ones in standby mode in the past year, Ars Technica decided to run some tests to figure out exactly how much power is being drawn. Their conclusions: the PS4 draws about 10 Watts, $10-11 in extra electricity charges annually. The Xbox One draws 12.9W, costing users $13-$14 in extra electricity charges annually. The Wii U draws 13.3W, costing users $14-$15 in extra electricity charges annually. These aren't trivial amounts, but they're a lot less than simply leaving the console running and shutting off the TV when you aren't using it: "Leaving your PS4 sitting on the menu like this all year would waste over $142 in electricity costs."
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Measuring How Much "Standby Mode" Electricity For Game Consoles Will Cost You

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28, 2015 @07:03PM (#49362921)

    So about a dollar a month for standby. What would the author consider to be trivial?

    • This is the new ars, almost entirely unlike the old ars.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28, 2015 @08:39PM (#49363179)

      So about a dollar a month for standby. What would the author consider to be trivial?

      That isn't trivial at all. 10-13 watts are ridiculous. It should be 0.5 watt or less. Take that one 13 watt appliance and then multiply it by a household of appliances. Suddenly, have a 100 watt incandescent lightbulb running on 24/7 in every household in America souds like it would be frugal in comparison.

      I just found out my DVR STB is using 30 watts electricity whether on or not, just so I can turn on a show, and if it happens to be on a channel I like with a show I like, I can go back up to 15-30 minutes and not miss a thing. You know how often that happens? 0. And yet I'm paying in my area nearly $5 a month for this "feature".

      Now multiply that by a household of people with a household of appliances, and it will add up to real money. I loved it when things had a hard switch. Now too much shit has a "soft" power shit, initially so it can sense a remote or do something at some time, but in the meantime too much shit has "convenience" few people use.

      Here's a list of typical shit that's running constantly (obviously some is useful to have 24/7, but just to get an overview):
      -Coffee Machines/many kitchen appliances
      -Microwaves, Ovens, Induction Stoves (sorry, I have enough watches in my life, don't need another one to program and be on all the time)
      -computers/cell phones/tablets/phones
      -wireless landline phones
      -stand top boxes / cable boxes for TVs
      -video game consoles
      -dvd/blu ray
      -security camera
      -anything with remote, including standing fans and what not
      -alarm clock
      -refrigerators
      -water heaters
      -water pump
      -sump pump
      -ac
      -ac/heat controls
      -anything with nonstandard on/off feature - motion activated, solar activated, etc

      There are obviously a lot of essentials (fridge, etc), but a lot of the countertop appliances and electronics tend to be just energy vampires and if it matters to you, should be put on a outlet which can be turned off completely (without running to the fusebox). It's also wise to switch off all the nonessentials at outlet or fusebox at vacation time (also will help prevent the odd electrical fire).

      And companies should be encouraged to cut down the rates via an energy star program and provide that info of offtime usage to the consumer so they can decide at purchase instead of being surprised at home.

      • Now too much shit has a "soft" power shit, initially so it can sense a remote...

        If you really want that stuff to turn off and stay off, don't plug it directly into the wall. Plug it into a power strip with a real on/off switch and turn it off there.
        • by fisted ( 2295862 )
          Or even better, use one of those USB switchable power strips!
        • Sounds cool. Can you get one of those with a remote?

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

            You can get one with a foot switch so you don't have to bend down. I use a few of those.

            I've seen devices that use less than 1W in standby and have remote power control, but only in Japan. Given a few years the technology will filter down to the west. In Japan energy saving is a big selling point. People feel like they want to contribute to the country's efforts to save energy, particularly after Fukushima and because energy is expensive.

            Are you really that lazy that you need a remote control for power on/o

            • I think that was a joke, because any device with a remote would have a standby mode, and would therefore be soft-power-down rather than hard-power-down.
              • But a standby to listen for a remote need not take more than a few 10s of milliwatts.

                The reason they have a stupid standby draw is because it's cheaper to just use the 200W power supply and not put in the extra components for a standby power supply.

    • by dalias ( 1978986 )
      In comparison, my systems use about 10W when powered up and running, and the Minnowboard uses about 3W running. So using 10-15W in sleep/standby it utterly ridiculous. A reasonable amount would be something like 100mW.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      it's pretty fucking trivial if the standby means doing some background work, network downloads or whatever.

      if it's just a standby led and remote control wakeup, then it would be pretty bad.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      So about a dollar a month for standby. What would the author consider to be trivial?

      For a prototype, thats trivial.
      For specialist equipment that sells a few thousand units, its a bit sloppy, but still tiny.
      For consumer equipment with 70 million units sold, it is fucking obscene.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28, 2015 @07:20PM (#49362971)

    WTF? "Sleeping" should draw way less. It doesn't take a lot of power to keep a couple of sticks of SDRAM alive. Okay, probably also the NIC and a MCU to monitor the remote. I bet your console is reporting to the mother-ship or something.

    • No question they could build something that uses a minuscule amount of standby power but consoles themselves are a loss leader. That wasted standby power is probably consumed by the power supply itself.

      • There was a movement at a college not long ago, a green movement to be exact (have to be specific with the /. demographic), and the average electrical savings for various infinitesimal lifestyle changes was quite remarkable.

        Leaving the phone charger plugged in, for example, uses an average of .26 watts versus 2.24 when your link to the civilized world is charging... and, don't get me started on the cost of leaving a single DVR cable box plugged in year round. According top the 1st random study google provi

        • Ok, 0.26 watts. Let's pretend you never have to charge your phone (or you got a new charger and forgot to unplug the new one). There are about 8766 hours/ year. (This takes into account that one out of four years is a leap year.) So that charger is using about 2200 watt hours/ year, or about 2k. The average price for electricity in the US is 12 cents/ kw-hour (http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/10/27/141766341/the-price-of-electricity-in-your-state). So we're talking 25 cents per year to keep this ch

          • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

            It's still not a good reason to waste something that is trivially easy to avoid wasting.

            So, 0.26W would be somewhat over 0.1% of my house's mean grid consumption (1700kWh gross ignoring my solar PV). I have a family of four.

            I still make an effort to charge devices off grid because it helps me think about my energy use for the bigger items too.

            tl;dr: an efficient charger not doing anything isn't a killer, but 900kWh/month is a travesty.

            Rgds

            Damon

            • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

              It's still not a good reason to waste something that is trivially easy to avoid wasting.

              Plugging and unplugging a device 730 times for $0.25, really isn't worth it, the wear and tear could end up costing you more.

      • That wasted standby power is probably consumed by the power supply itself.

        No modern power supply is so inefficient that it would leak 10W when not loaded.

    • I'm pretty certain the linked article's numbers are simply wrong [nrdc.org].
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      WTF? "Sleeping" should draw way less. It doesn't take a lot of power to keep a couple of sticks of SDRAM alive. Okay, probably also the NIC and a MCU to monitor the remote. I bet your console is reporting to the mother-ship or something.

      First off, a power supply is less efficient at the low end than at the high end. A 200W power supply may be 80% or 90% efficient when running at its design load of 150W, but when you want 5W in standby mode, you can easily get into the 50% or lower efficiency range.

      And 5W is

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        A 200W power supply may be 80% or 90% efficient when running at its design load of 150W, but when you want 5W in standby mode, you can easily get into the 50% or lower efficiency range.

        For a few bucks more, they can add a separate standby power circuit, optimized for low power and high efficiency.

        And 5W is probably perfectly reasonable for keeping SDRAM alive and refreshed

        My phone, with 12Wh battery can easily stay alive for 48 hours, so that's 0.25W. Admittedly, it has less RAM, but on the other hand it's still connected to wireless networks, and running various apps in the background.

        • Computer RAM is optimized first for storage size and second for speed. It's dynamic RAM and has to be refreshed. That's a recipe for high power; that's why computer RAM has heat spreaders / heatsinks. Phone RAM takes power into consideration during design, and might even be static CMOS or flash: low power.
      • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

        My MacBook Air draws http://www.earth.org.uk/saving...

        Rgds

        Damon

        • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

          Sorry, the input parser appears to have eaten the post.

          My MBA uses much less than 2W with maxed-out RAM in sleep mode.

          So 10W is tragic.

          Rgds

          Damon

    • I bet your console is reporting to the mother-ship or something.

      This much is plainly obvious. They don't even try to hide it. An update for the Wii-U added quick load to the console, but the same update also added adve... .I mean "special offers". I could walk past the Wii one day and see no signs of life. Walk past it the day after and the home key on the remote is flashing blue telling me that there's an adve.... notification from the console.

      I would be very surprised if the PS4 and Xbone didn't also call the mothership.

  • What all these articles about appliance waste ignore is the fact that if you use electric heat, your Xbox waste heat is just as efficient as any other electric heater (ignoring heat pumps). If its cold outside, running your xbox 24/7 as long as the heat is in a necessary area isn't being wasted.

    • Re:Waste is heat! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @07:31PM (#49363003) Homepage

      Yep, media pans a game console, ohhh, look at the power it consumes when you a playing with a pretend mega yacht but when it comes to the sheer insane waste of an actual mega yacht not just lost resources, a corrupted economy necessary to pay for it but the sheer volume of pollution generated in say one minute consuming the energy of a game in stand by mode for a year and this the quisling shit heads celebrate. Ever hear of main stream media picking on private jets, now how much energy do they waste not only during run time but during operation in year, what something like 10,000 game consoles and TVs to watch the output, again the whine about the energy use of us nobodies but when a somebody consumes at rates 10,000 times the average they through parties and celebrate. Want to see real waste, that is us, letting the 1% exist.

      • Want to see real waste, that is us, letting the 1% exist.

        It sounds as if you're proposing murder.

    • Re:Waste is heat! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by toejam13 ( 958243 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @07:50PM (#49363059)

      That's fine when you live in an Arctic wasteland, but a good portion of the world population lives in an area where the climate requires active cooling during the summer months. So that waste heat must either be removed using fans or air conditioning, which costs money.

      When I lived in a cool city, my Core i7 930 and my wife's Phenom X4 955 were fine. But when I moved to a city where summer temps can exceed 40C, I replaced them with low power (S series) Haswell systems. My July electric bill went down 10% from the previous year. After selling the old equipment, the upgrades will pay for themselves in under 2 years.

    • Re:Waste is heat! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @08:02PM (#49363091) Homepage

      It's very inefficient to turn electricity into heat directly. If you wanted heating you'd be better off using a heat pump or other indirect means.

    • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

      And electric resistance heating is usually *terrible* compared to any number of available alternatives.

      It represents a *huge* waste of exergy, when a heat pump (as you allude to) can produce several units of heat for one unit of electricity.

      So, in summer it's all bad and in winter it;'s at least 75% bad. And that's ignoring (eg) CO2 and other emissions from the generation mix.

      Can we stop with this "waste is good" meme?

      Rgds

      Damon

  • waste? (Score:2, Funny)

    less than Starbucks on Standby.
  • Not a whole $12.
    Wait.
    "ANNUALLY" YOU SAY?

    What is this treachery!? Laws must be past. Children need to be protected. This electric menace will rape your wife* and spend your childrens** college fund on beer and pot.

    It's game over guys. We need to populate Mars and the get the hell out of here.
    Bring the consoles though. Barren wastelands can be pretty boring.

    *Husband/wife/extraterrestrial lover
    **Children and/or favourite pet
    • *passed
    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      Not a whole $12.
      Wait.
      "ANNUALLY" YOU SAY?

      Per device.

    • by drayath ( 158040 )

      As an individual you may not care much, but at a wider scale can be a noticable impact on power usage.

      If every household in the US (~120m) draws an extra 10w average power, total requirement is arround 1Gw or 1 extra mid/large size coal/nuclear plant (E.g. Three mile island).

      If you start adding all the devices you have on standby (inclucing some of the nasy cable boxes that drew upto 50w standby) it starts adding up. This is esentially where the EU regulations for standby power came from in conjunction that

  • Standby mode can be convenient because (I think) all of the consoles will download updates/newly purchased games while in standby (maybe a slightly elevated level).

    But, if you are truly concerned with power usage from consoles (and other devices) on standby, here's my advice: Get an outlet adapter that has a remote. These can be had for super cheap shortly after Christmas, as they're mainly used for switching external or Christmas tree lights on/off at will. I have one between the outlet and my entertainmen

  • Their calculations are ludicrously incorrect.

    All of that energy is dissipated as heat. Which means in the winter months when you are paying to heat your house the cost of sleep mode is the difference in price between heating your home with electricity which the console uses and heating your home by whatever other means you have, wood/gas/coal, whatever. In the summer months if you are running your air conditioner then the price is the sum of the console electricity and the added amount which running your a

  • You really should get a whole house monitor and get ready for an eye opener on how much power draw all those little " trivial " devices can have. Believe me, they do add up quickly. Also great for showing your significant other why you don't set the thermostat to 75+ in the Winter. My heater pulls 11Kw when running :|

    The one I use is called TED ( The Energy Detective ). It's not the current generation model, but it gets the job done. The newer one is more accurate and has a few bells and whistles I don't

  • This was probably a US-based test - I'd like to see an EU-based test as well. EU regs insist that standby uses 0.5 watts, so all these consoles would be breaking EU law if they used the standby power in the article.

    • Do the EU regulations specify gaming consoles? Or are they like the USA - TVs, DVD players, and VCRs are specified, but DVRs and consoles aren't (yet).

    • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

      1) I thought that the EU limit was now 0.1W.

      2) I think that if the manufacturers don't call the mode 'standby' then they may be able to draw what power they like: cue unholy mix of engineers and marketing bods gaming the regs with euphemisms...

      Rgds

      Damon

    • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

      IIRC units are shipped in the EU with the 'instant-on' mode disabled by default, which would meet regs.

      So it's superficially a software issue pandering to a chunk of their consumers being by default happy to waste lots of energy all the time (or never realising what's going on) rather than press a button. And we wonder why some places have an obesity and a power-consumption problem!

      Rgds

      Damon

  • Not sure if that should be +12V, +18V, or +48V, but it's time to have an integrate power management for all your home, avoiding power supplys on standby.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The reason for electricity mains operating at a dangerously high voltage is that it reduces the current flowing through the wiring which therefore reduces voltage drops and wasted energy due to heat dissipation in the wiring.

      IMHO the best way to maximise power efficiency is to use a decent quality switching power supply, either a wall wart or built in, which is correctly matched to the requirements of the equipment. I think manufacturers are getting better at this, for example my Virgin Media "Superhub" whi

    • Not sure if that should be +12V, +18V, or +48V, but it's time to have an integrate power management for all your home, avoiding power supplys on standby.

      Great idea for those who own or have stock in copper mines. Counterproductive and pointless otherwise.

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