How Much Energy Does My Baby Monitor Use?

By Vernon Trollinger, March 15, 2016, Energy Efficiency, Family

Saving energy (and money) is always easier when you know how much you’re using. But because many of our smaller appliances draw little amounts of power, we often discount how their combined impact contributes to your home’s energy usage. With our “How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use?” series, we”ll examine what’s watt to learn approximately how much they use. To help you understand very basic electrical consumption calculations, keep this simple equation in mind: Volts (V) x Amperes (I) = Watts (W). What you’ll discover is how just how these little conveniences can make big differences on your bill.

How Much Energy Does Your Baby Monitor Use?

How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use? Your Baby Monitor

There are all kinds of baby monitor systems available. Newer systems, such as the Sproutling baby monitor, use wearable or Internet of Things (IoT) technology that connect to your smart device. There are also ways to turn your smart phone into a baby monitor.

Still, if you’re looking for a dedicated baby monitor system, there are essentially two basic types: audio and audio/video. While audio-only systems can be analog or digital, audio/video systems are virtually all digital.

When it comes to battery usage, battery life varies wildly with some models devouring battery life faster than your newborn snarfs down milk or formula. Consequently, a little research can save you time and aggravation.

About That AC Adapter

Almost all baby monitor systems use some form of AC adapter as either an accessory to battery power or main power supply that plugs right into a wall socket. An AC adapter works by converting AC wall current into low voltage DC current used by the system’s electronics. The adapter does this with a transformer or a solid state circuit (a diode bridge rectifier, for example because it’s very small).

Broadly speaking, different systems will use different amounts of energy (wattage). Audio/visual systems have a higher wattage because they run sound and video cameras and transmit a digital signal to a receiving station, such as a base station or your home’s wifi. Audio systems have a lower wattage because they only handle an audio signal and so use less energy.

Comparing the AC Adapters of Some Popular Systems Baby Monitor Systems:

How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use? Your Baby Monitor

D-Link digital audio/video:

  • DCS-820L – 5.1 watts (no break down provided)
  • DCS-825L – 7.5 watts (no break down provided)

Motorola digital audio/video:

  • MBP33S – Uses 100 Volts of AC Power (VAC) x .15 Amps (A) = 15 watts
  • MOTO-BLINK1-B – Uses 100 VAC x .3 A = 30 watts

VTech digital audio system:

  • DM222-2 (one monitor and two parent intercom units) uses 100 VAC x .15 A
  • 15 watts per each of 3 units, 45 watts total.

NOTE: These manufacturers provide power information in their user manuals. Others do not. Be sure to research models carefully from several sources before you buy.

How Much Energy is My Baby Monitor Using?

How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use? Your Baby Monitor

When you consider that you will probably keep your baby monitor turned on continuously for a year (or more), that amount of energy use can add up. Depending on your budget, it’s a good idea to keep the energy consumption in mind – even turning it off when you leave the house for any extended period of time.

For example, we can roughly calculate the monthly energy cost of the Motorola MBP33S:

Modern baby monitors do use more energy, but they give you LOTS of extras, including such things as less signal interference to cause problems with cordless phones, computer peripherals, and other wireless devices. In comparison, a California Energy Commission 2004 report shows infant monitors consuming 1 to 2 watts for transmitters and receivers and may likely reflect the prevalent use of analog audio-only radio systems.

One More Thing

Depending on the type of baby monitor you purchase, AC adapters can use electricity continuously (also known as “vampire load” or standby power leakage), even if the monitor is unplugged from the adapter. An easy way to tell if the adapter is on is to feel it to see if it’s warm. A baby monitor AC adapter can leak from .7 to 1.6 watts without being connected to anything.

As with all vampire or standby loads, the best way to stop this waste is always unplug the AC adapter when it’s not being used.

Does your bill squeeze your bank account until it’s dry and shriveled? Next up “How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use?” series, we’ll try to help refresh your energy savings with a look at humidifier systems.

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About 

A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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