Battery Equivalents and Replacements

WiFi Router Wattage: How Many Watts Does a WiFi Router Use?

In today's digitally-driven world, WiFi routers have become an indispensable part of our daily lives, providing wireless access to the Internet for a wide range of devices, from smartphones and laptops to smart home gadgets.

Understanding the power consumption of these devices is crucial not only for managing household energy usage but also for those interested in minimizing their environmental footprint, powering them during blackouts and emergencies, etc.

Published: February 15, 2024.

 wifi router

Introduction to WiFi Routers

A WiFi router is a device that connects to your home or office's Internet connection and transmits data wirelessly using radio waves. This allows multiple devices to access the Internet simultaneously without the need for wired connections.

Routers can vary significantly in terms of speed, range, and functionality, with some offering additional features such as guest networking, parental controls, and integrated smart home capabilities.

Power Needs of WiFi Routers

The power consumption of WiFi routers can vary widely depending on the model, manufacturer, and technology used.

On average, a typical home WiFi router uses between 5 to 20 watts of power, with more advanced models potentially consuming slightly more due to additional features or stronger performance capabilities.

Factors Influencing Power Consumption

Several factors can influence the power consumption of a WiFi router, including:

  • Router Specifications: High-performance routers designed for gaming or high-speed Internet connections may consume more power due to their enhanced processing capabilities and additional features.
  • Connected Devices: The more devices connected to a router, the harder it has to work, which can increase power consumption. However, this increase is generally minimal.
  • Activity Levels: Routers consume more power during periods of high data transmission (e.g., streaming video, large downloads) compared to when the network is idle.
  • Router Age and Technology: Older routers or those using outdated technology may be less energy-efficient compared to newer models that incorporate energy-saving features.
  • Additional Features: Features like USB ports for device charging or RJ-45 network ports for physical networks can also contribute to higher power consumption.

Estimating Power Consumption

To estimate the power consumption of a WiFi router, you can look at the power specifications listed on the device or its power adapter. This is usually expressed in watts (W). For a more precise measurement, a power meter can be used to monitor the router's power use over time.

To calculate the router's energy consumption, you can use the formula:

Energy Consumption = Power (in Watts) * Hours of Operation

For example, if a router uses 10 watts of power and operates continuously, its daily energy consumption would be:

E (kWh) = 10 W * 24  hours =240 Wh/day = 0.24 kWh/day

Over a month, this adds up to about 7.2 kWh, which can be multiplied by your local electricity rate to determine the cost; for example, if your average electricity rate is $0.15/kWh, then your WiFi router's monthly electricity cost is:

$$$ = 7.2 kWh * 0.15 $US/kWh = $1.08

Off-The-Grid: How to Power WiFi Router?

When you are off the grid, regardless of whether you are camping or there is a blackout, having a powered WiFi router shouldn't be too problematic.

Practically any solar generator/power station, with or without attached solar panel(s), can provide enough AC power for the wall adapter that is used to power the WiFi router.

Even stronger and larger WiFi routers rarely require more than 20W, which means that, for example, Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station (Amazon link, opens in the new window), with its 240Wh battery and 85% energy efficiency, can power 20W WiFi router for ~10h.

jackery explorer 240

When such a power station/solar generator is combined with a 60W or 100W solar panel, such a WiFi router may run almost indefinitely.

Powering WiFi routers directly from portable inverter generators with very low THD (Total Harmonic Distortions) is also an option, but personally, for powering such sensitive devices, use solar generators/power stations and use power generators to charge the solar generators/power stations. Just my 2c.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most common questions about WiFi router wattage and energy consumption:

How many watts does a cable modem use?

A cable modem, which provides internet access to a home or business by translating the signal from a cable line into a digital format, typically uses between 4 to 10 watts of power during normal operation. Like WiFi routers, the exact power consumption can vary based on the model, manufacturer, and specific features of the modem.

Some advanced models with additional functionality, such as built-in WiFi routers or voice call capabilities, may use slightly more power.

It's important to note that while in standby mode, the power consumption of a cable modem may decrease, but it generally remains powered on continuously to maintain an internet connection, resulting in constant energy use.

To get a precise measurement of a specific cable modem's power consumption, you can refer to the device's technical specifications or use a power meter to monitor its usage directly.

How many watts does a WiFi router use?

Again, actual wattage depends on the model and use, and on average, a WiFi router consumes 5-20 watts, with some models with more functions (USB charging ports, RJ-45 net ports, etc.) consuming even more.

How much power does a 12V WiFi router use?

12V WiFi routers are typical (smaller) WiFi routers consuming 5-20W.

How much power does an 18-19V WiFi router use?

18-19VV WiFi routers are typical (larger) WiFi routers consuming 10-25W. 

Does turning off WiFi save electricity?

Yes, if they and their wall adapters are unplugged from the wall sockets. But, their energy consumption is very low compared to larger devices and appliances.

How big of a UPS do I need for the WiFi router?

Practically, even the smallest UPS can power WiFi router regarding its output power. However, smaller UPS devices don't store much energy - if you need longer runtimes during blackouts and in emergencies, solar generators/power stations with at least 500Wh batteries may power WiFi routers for a day or two (or even more), depending on the exact WiFi router model.

And when such solar generators are combined with solar panels, WiFi routers can be powered practically indefinitely.

rv jackery solar generator


Few Final Words

While WiFi routers are not typically major energy consumers in a household, understanding their power needs can contribute to more informed energy usage and efficiency improvements.

Also, thanks to their low power requirements, they can be easily powered for a longer period of time, even using entry-level power stations/sun generators.