Given that switches are typically left powered on and running 24/7, some people may be concerned about how much power they consume and whether they will see their electricity bill skyrocket. So, how much power does a network switch use and what does this mean in terms of cost to run?
Switches don’t actually consume too much power, which may be surprising given how capable of a device they are. It does vary depending on the manufacturer, the model, and how many ports are available and in use, but you can typically expect a switch to use between 15 and 30 watts to operate.
How Does a Network Switch Work?
Knowing how much power a network switch uses is all well and good, providing you know how they actually work in the first place.
Switches are considered a key component in many home networks but are often essential within business-orientated networks as they allow you to connect multiple devices to each other over a Local Area Network (LAN).
They allow information to be sent and received, such as the sharing of files or access to a resource like a printer, in a quicker and more efficient way compared to relying on Wi-Fi.
Network switches fall into one of two categories: unmanaged and managed. There are several differences between unmanaged and managed switches; they essentially come down to the ease of setup and use, skill and knowledge required to manage, and the security, features, and flexibility available.
In the case of a home network, a switch will typically connect into one of the available LAN ports on the router via an Ethernet cable. They essentially turn one LAN port into many, depending on the number of ports the switch has.
How Much Power Does a Network Switch Use?
I’ve done some research into the power consumption of some switches made by different manufacturers and found that they will typically use between 15 and 30 watts of power.
A difference of 50% can seem like a lot, but there are a few factors that come into play that result in some switches using more or less power; the number of ports that are actively in use, for example.
In reality, though, even 30 watts isn’t a huge amount when you consider TVs and game consoles can use several hundred watts of power.
Yes, network switches are typically left on and connected 24/7, but when you do the math you’ll see they still don’t use too much power and they don’t cost the earth to keep running.
Here is a handy table that compares some of the different models of switches by different manufacturers to compare how many watts of power they typically use.
|Manufacturer||Model||Number of Ports||Maximum Power Consumption|
How Much Does a Network Switch Cost to Run?
We now know roughly how many watts of power different network switches will use, but how does this translate into how much they will cost to run?
Let’s do some simple math to find out how much it will cost to run a typical network switch that uses 30W of power for 24 hours a day.
A switch using 30W over a 24 hour period will use 0.72 kWh (Kilowatt Hours). The average cost of electricity in the United States is around 13.31 cents per kWh.
Therefore, our example switch which uses 30W and is in use 24 hours a day at a cost of 13.31 cents per kWh will cost $0.32 per day.
How much will it cost to run for an entire year? Around $116.
$116 to run for a year may seem like a lot, but for many people, it is a small price to pay when you factor in the benefits they bring over using the limited number of ports on the back of the router, or having to rely on a Wi-Fi connection.
You do have to factor in the cost of the switch itself also, but these are pretty affordable, especially if you are after a basic unmanaged switch to simply extend your LAN.
Given that the cost of electricity does vary depending on where you live, here is another useful table which shows roughly how much you can expect to pay to run our example switch which uses 30W of power.
|Country||Power consumption||Hours of use per day||1 kWh cost||Cost per day||Cost per year|
|United States||30W||24||13.31 cents||$0.32||$116|
|United Kingdom||30W||24||14.37 pence||£0.34||£126|
As you can see, the cost per year to run the switch doesn’t vary massively whether you are in the US, UK or Canada, but Australia does stand out costing more than double all of the other countries.
Do bear in mind, though, that this is the cost per Australian dollar; 1 AUS is converted to roughly $0.70 in the US. Still, over the course of the year, a switch running in Australia does cost a fair bit more due to their higher electricity costs.
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The power consumption on a network switch can vary quite a bit dependent on a number of factors:
- Personal or Business use
- Number of ports
Some very powerful fully managed switches intended for use in large enterprise environments can use upwards of 400W, but for you and your home network, you can expect a basic unmanaged switch, or even a smart-managed switch, to use between 15 and 30W of power.
In terms of the cost to run a 30W switch for 24 hours a day, you are looking at $116 in the United States.
I personally think this is a worthwhile investment into a home network given how a network switch offers more flexibility, better control, and improved performance.