If your appliance usage habits are as bad as mine, chances are you often leave the speaker on when not in use. However, with rising electricity prices, I was forced to reevaluate whether this bad habit may contribute to the dent in my wallet.
Speakers, on the whole, do not consume a lot of electricity compared to other electrical appliances, i.e., they only use 100 watts. But even with the little electricity they consume, many factors, such as speaker SPL, affect its consumption.
To our surprise, there are even ways to calculate the electricity consumption of your speaker (and it’s fairly easy to do so!)
Factors for Speaker Electricity Consumption
When in use, a speaker doesn’t need a constant amount of power. The amount of energy that it uses varies and is primarily influenced by three things. Let’s look at the three main factors that influence how much electricity a speaker uses.
The amount of power required by the speakers is dependent on the audio transmission’s volume. Everything else being equal, a speaker will require significantly more current for a louder audio signal than it will for a quieter audio signal.
In general, the amount of power a speaker uses determines how loud it may be. This means that in order to accurately reproduce the audio’s dB level, it pulls current based on how loud the music is.
Speaker power usage also directly relates to volume. The speaker uses more electricity the more you dial up the volume level.
The amplifier feeds more power (or current) to the speakers as you increase the volume. The speaker then plays louder because the speaker cones move much farther back and forth than they did before.
This suggests that if you like to crank up your amplifier’s level, you should be aware that your speakers will require a few extra watts in order to play loudly. In principle, the more power a speaker receives, the louder it sounds.
Speaker Sensitivity or Speaker SPL
The sensitivity rating of a speaker measures how many decibels it can generate at a distance of one meter per one watt of power. The sensitivity rating of a speaker is often indicated on its specification sheet. Additionally, you can locate them online on speaker product sites.
Each speaker has a unique rating for sensitivity. Moreover, the amount of power the speakers need will depend on both how loud you want them to play and how sensitive they are.
In general, a speaker’s electricity consumption decreases with an increasing sensitivity rating.
Should You Leave the Speaker On When Not in Use?
Well, the short, obvious answer is no.
But to elaborate on why:
Mean Time Before Failures (MTBF)
Let’s talk about something called the Mean Time Before Failure or MTBF. The mean time between failure (MTBF) of most capacitors/motors in the market is set at 2,000-2,500 hours. This means that you can keep your appliance on for a limited time of 2,000-2,500 hours before the electronic or mechanical system fails/collapses.
Hence, by keeping your speakers on when you don’t need to, you are wasting those hours only for the sake of convenience.
You’ll also be avoiding heat when you turn off your powered speaker monitors.
It’s still best to turn off the speaker or amplifier when not in use, even if it’s unlikely that they will burn out or blow while no audio impulses are going through them. This form of harm typically results from excessively loud audio signals overloading the speaker.
However, leaving speakers on when not in use adds extra heat to the situation for no apparent reason. Additionally, you stop them from cooling down after each use, which would safeguard their circuits.
When there are electrical surges or power outages, there will be a quick disengagement of power and significant transient spikes.
Electrical surges are risky and could seriously harm the circuitry of the speakers, even though many amplifiers will have safety mechanisms to reduce them.
Power surges won’t do this harm if the power is switched off. Why not completely avoid the issue by turning the speakers off when they aren’t in use rather than depending on the protective features of the speaker (assuming there are any)?
Naturally, power spikes can occur when the speakers are running too. We often take this risk. Expensive audio equipment in studios and home entertainment systems alike might benefit from the additional layers of protection provided by power conditioners and uninterruptible power sources.
Then there is also the risk of a fire and safety hazards. Sure, there are many safety measures today to prevent such accidents, but why take the risk?
Do Speakers Use Power When Not in Use?
Yes, to answer simply. Electricity is used when speakers are on but not being used. It only requires minimal electricity, though. Speakers draw more power when playing audio. And as the volume is increased, the power consumed also increases.
Class A amplifiers were incredibly common for a while but consumed a lot of power. They were not designed with energy conservation in mind. These amps need the same amount of electricity regardless of whether they are running or not. Because they consume energy even when not running, these amps heat up quickly. Class A amplifiers are still made, but fewer people are familiar with them.
Class B amplifiers are about 50% more efficient than Class A amps, however as the two transistors turn on and off, distortion is created. There are very few, if any, manufacturers who supply or create an amplifier with a pure Class B design since this “crossover distortion” is so terrible.
Class AB amplifiers are up to 60% more efficient than Class A amplifiers and have significantly lower distortion than Class B amplifiers. The majority of audio and home theatre amplifiers are Class AB.
Up until recently, the only reasonable choice for achieving high-fidelity, full-range amplification was to use an AB amp, but now equally accurate Class D amps are being produced.In short, all speaker amplifier classes other than Class A amplifiers are significantly more energy efficient. They will nevertheless continue to use some power.
In fact, as per a study conducted by Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 50 electrical appliances in the typical American household are always drawing power, even when turned off. This translates into an annual cost of $19 billion.
This means that even if you turn off your speakers, it’s probably not enough. You must also unplug them from the power outlet. This probably wasn’t the answer a lot of readers were hoping for, but the truth is sometimes inconvenient.
How to Calculate Electricity Consumption of Speaker?
There are mainly two ways to do this:
The quickest way to know the amount of electricity your speakers are consuming is to use a Kill-A-Watt Meter. The Kill-A-Watt Meter is a portable metering device that allows us to accurately measure how much electricity a device is using. It is also not too difficult to use.
You only need to plug the Kill-A-Watt Meter into a power outlet before inserting your speaker or amplifier. And bingo.
The meter will start measuring the amount of electricity the speakers are using. Then it will continue to track the speaker’s electricity consumption for whatever amount of time you leave it plugged in. The speaker’s overall power consumption, while it was in operation, will then be calculated instantly.
To find out exactly how much your speaker’s electricity bill will be, multiply the kWh number from the Kill-A-Watt meter by the cost of electricity per kWh.
The Kill-A-Watt Meter has the advantage of allowing you to check the power usage of any electrical or electronic appliance or device, including your TV, refrigerator, air conditioner, and anything else you can think of. If you are concerned about the power consumption of your home, they can prove to be really useful.
Manually Calculate Speaker’s Power Consumption
You’ll need to do some math in order to use this technique. Furthermore, it’s likely that you won’t be aware of the speakers’ exact power ratings. Even so, you’ll discover approximately how much power it uses. Here’s how you go about doing it.
- The speaker’s power ratings should be determined. The user manual, the label, or the product description for the speaker all have this information available.
- Find out how many hours a day you usually use the speakers.
- Multiply the speaker’s power ratings by the number of hours the speakers are used to get the kWh figures.
When you determine the kWh data, you may multiply them by the electricity price/kWh to determine how much power your speakers are using. Even though you won’t get the exact numbers you need with this measurement, it will be approximate.
How Many Watts is a Good Speaker?
Somewhere between 15 and 30 watts should be enough for a home speaker. The majority of homeowners consider 20 watts to be sufficient.
A speaker of 50 watts or 100 watts should be suitable for larger audiences. But such high-wattage speakers won’t be suitable for use at home.
Speaker wattage presents a difficult problem in that there is no clear definition for it. You can think of it as either the total amount of amplifier power that a speaker is capable of handling or the amount of power a speaker really requires. Some users equate a speaker’s wattage to its loudness.
You do not need to be concerned about the power rating of your speaker if you listen to audio at a moderate volume. 20 watts should be suitable for most individuals. Some manufacturers sell loudspeakers with a lot of power but poor audio quality.
Although 110-watt speakers are common, their quality degrades when played loudly. Others with a rating of 10 watts or less but higher quality can be found on the market. Wattage is inexpensive, but quality comes at a cost.
The loudness and audio quality are impacted by the speaker’s efficiency, the number of speakers connected to the amplifier, and the proximity of the speakers.
Even with all of these considerations, anyone who hosts gatherings at their house or elsewhere requires additional power. More amplifier or speaker power translates to louder, distortion-free playback from your speakers. If the volume is important to you, choose a speaker with a high wattage, up to 100 watts, as this enables you to listen to clear audio.
If a speaker is highly sensitive, it will only need a little power to make a loud, clear sound. High-wattage speakers that are less sensitive or less effective may nonetheless provide low volume and distorted sound. You don’t absolutely need speakers with large wattages, but you do need speakers with better sound quality.
Although speakers on the whole do not consume a lot of energy, there are many factors that go into how much electricity they do consume. These include loudness, sensitivity, speaker SPL, volume, etc.
It is also important to remember to not only turn off the speakers when they are not in use but to unplug them from the power outlet as they may still draw power. Leaving a speaker on when not in use may damage equipment, pose safety hazards in the face of power outages, and may even slightly increase your electricity bill.
Speaking of electricity bills, it’s easy to calculate the exact amount your speakers are costing you via your bill. This calculation may be done either by using a Kill-A-Meter or manually (which would require some math).
Lastly, if you’re looking for a speaker with good sound quality, there are factors other than wattage that matter more. A speaker with lower wattage may have better sound quality than say, one with 110 watts.