Chromecast idle power consumption concerns

ChromecastSo you’ve just purchased a fancy new Chromecast and have now discovered that you have a device with no off switch, that’s running sucking power non-stop 24/7/365. Shall we brand Google’s new device an electric vampire menace? Probably not.

Inspired by a question over at XDA, I went and did some research into the electric cost of an idling Chromecast.

I’m editing this article a year later after some people have been dropping in bashing how I did the testing, name calling (deleted), and not providing any constructive feedback or differing results, in any tests I’ve run the draw and the cost of running it are negligible. If you have run a Chromecast and metered it and find that it’s going to run over a dollar a year, please feel free to comment. I’m not claiming I’m the authority on power consumption based on the equipment I have available to me. I’ve cleaned up some of the nasty and just rude comments, but seriously, just say I’m wrong and run your own test to disprove.

The test equipment

For the power draw test, I enlisted the aid of a Kill-A-Watt power usage meter, a stock untouched Chromecast running the most current firmware, and the AC/DC power converter that shipped with the Chromecast.

Testing the Chromecast idle power draw

I plugged the Chromecast into the Kill-A-Watt and let the thing idle for a day. At the end of 24 hours, the Kill-A-Watt registered that two watts hours of electricity had been consumed by the power converter feeding the Chromecast.

That’s 730 watt hours a year in electricity that’s going to a device that’s just sitting there doing nothing. That’s if I read the Kill-A-Watt right which people seem to think I didn’t.

But how much is that?

Not much, actually. Let’s say you are paying 37 cents per kilowatt hour, which is the absolute highest I could find in the US. I personally pay under ten cents, but I’ll go for the Hawaii worst price scenario here.

At that rate you’re spending $0.27 a year on electricity to power the Chromecast, or in other words sometime in 2032 you will have wasted $5 in electricity from the Chromecast idling.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

It appears the Chromecast uses a lot more juice when it’s turning on than it does idling, so turning it off and on probably will work against your power saving intentions and may jack your electric bill up to $0.40. Turning it off also disables some of the features the Chromecast has (such as the ability to turn on your TV, change the channel, update the OS in the background, etc.).

Chromecast active use power draw

Unfortunately this is one of those things that appears to vary based on distance to the wireless router, amount of WiFi traffic, resolution/definition of the stream the Chromecast is handling, and I’m sure some other factors.

Should I worry?


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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

25 thoughts on “Chromecast idle power consumption concerns

  • December 31, 2013 at 4:56 am

    That isn’t much power usage at all. Now I know to just leave it plugged in.
    In other news there is a “bar” on the left side of the page now that stays in the same spot even if you scroll. Can that be not there anymore. If I wanted to share or tweet this I would click the buttons. I don’t need to have it in the direct line of sight at all times. It would be better suited to the top of the page near the headlines or else on the right side where it isn’t covering the article itself.

    • December 31, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Looks like either John or Grahm fixed it…

      In the words of the great Shaggy, it wasn’t me.

      • January 2, 2014 at 5:03 am

        Thanks to whomever fixed it. It is a lot better.

  • December 31, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Great article, Paul. I’ve had two Chromecasts since their release in July and haven’t had an issue with them.

    My solution to the “always on” thing was to just power it via the USB service port on my TVs instead of the AC adapter. When the TV is shut off, so is the Chromecast. You DO lose the ability to turn your TV on when turning on casting, but 99% of the time my TV was already on when I wanted to cast something anyway. Cheers.

    • December 31, 2013 at 8:14 am

      N.B.: Even if powering on the Chromecast uses a little more power than just leaving it idle, the fact that it’s entirely off WAY more of the time than it’s on probably outweighs that handily.

      Either way, I like these types of articles. I also own a Kill-A-Watt tester and I check stuff with it on occasion.

  • December 31, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Great Article Paul! I had wondered about the idle power draw myself but was too lazy to conduct my own test so thanks a lot.

  • January 1, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Paul

  • January 2, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Excellent details.

    much thanks

  • January 2, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I probably should be concerned about wasting electricity, but in this case it doesn’t seem to be a concern. What I question is whether always being on will shorten the life of the Chromecast or would repeated on and offs do more damage. Any thoughts on that angle?

    • January 2, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      The Chromecast sits idle most of the time it’s plugged in doing next to nothing. You can pull CPU temp info from it if you’ve got one rooted. The CPU is chugging along at about 110 degrees according to mine during idle. I’m actually betting it’s less than that and we’re dealing with meh CPU temp sensors, but that’ll work.

      It heats up under use, which it gets when it’s booting up or running.

      I’d say it probably stresses the system more to have power applied and yanked just from lightbulb dynamics, but due to it being solid state technology you’re probably not going to notice much of a difference either way.

    • January 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

      My guess is the Chromecast will probably outlast the life of your TV. Like Paul said below, it’s solid state and probably not going to be beat up much with power cycling or just sitting idle for long periods of time.

      My Chromecasts actually get turned off everytime my TV is shut off because they’re connected to the TV’s USB port. I doubt they’re any worse for wear.

  • January 3, 2014 at 2:06 am

    Thanks for the input and prompt response. I wasn’t sure which way to go on this one.

    Again…. thanks!

  • January 3, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Are there any concerns with the heat it does produce while it does sit idle?

    • January 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

      it produces 110 degrees idling on CPU according to sensors. I see two heatsinks in the thing. Touching it it doesn’t seem hot.

      Looks like each watt is 1 joule/sec, which is what’s required to heat one gram of dry, cool air by 1 degree Celsius.

      With my exceptional math skills and a watt to joule to heat calculator it appears leaving it plugged in for more than two hours will cause a supernova and destroy the planet. I think I’m wrong on this however.

      Only concern I can think of is if you have no ventilation it will add to the heat.

      If you can get this to work for you, here’s the formula for how much heat could possible be produced:

      My best guess is significantly less than having a hamster in the room.

  • February 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Does the chromecast suck up wifi when it is idling? I have a limited amount of wifi each month, and it is important for me to not waste it, or go over my limit.

    • February 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Since it’s constantly pulling new hi-res background pictures from the internet that change every minute or so, it is definitely using up some WiFi. I’m not sure how much, but my router has some monitoring settings I could probably play around with and find out.

  • March 19, 2014 at 1:15 am

    “At the end of 24 hours, the Kill-A-Watt registered that two watts of electricity had been consumed by the power converter.” Sorry but that makes no sense. Surely you mean watt-hours?

Comments are closed.