Not so clever when they are off: standby power use in smart lamps (2024)

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Panel: 7. Appliances, product policy and the ICT supply chain

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Erik Page, Erik Page & Associates, Inc., USA
Steven Beletich, Beletich Associates, Australia
Stuart Jeffcott, Jeffcott Associates
Eamon Kummert, USA


Smart lamps, or wirelessly controllable lamps, represent one of the fastest growing residential lighting market segments, as well as one of the first products in the category of the Internet of Things. The rapid growth of smart lamps can be traced to the convergence of two market developments: (1) the emergence of LED lighting, which can readily offer dimming as well as enhanced control features such as colour tunability and (2) the ubiquity of wireless networks and smart phones, which allow consumers to easily send control signals to the lamps. Today, dozens of manufacturers have smart lamps on the market.

During normal operation (or active mode), smart lamps can be expected to be efficient devices. The lamps rely on LEDs, which continue to post impressive improvements in efficacy, and add features, such as dimming and scheduling, that could decrease energy use even further. However, smart lamps risk compromising much of the energy they save because of their standby losses. Unlike traditional lamps that use no power when turned off, smart lamps use power for their communication systems when they are off (or in “network standby” mode). Initial measurements indicate that energy use of smart lamps in standby mode varies from less than 0.25W to over 2.5W per lamp.

In this study, we present the results of laboratory research looking at active mode and standby mode energy use of 11 commercially available smart lamp models. Active mode testing includes measurements of lamp efficacy at full output as well as documenting how efficacy changes as the lamp is dimmed. Standby mode testing includes documenting the power consumption of smart lamps (and any associated control gear, such as wireless bridges) when the lamps are turned off. We explore how the design parameters of the smart lamps (e.g., Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi, etc.) may impact standby energy use. We also discuss how much energy smart lamps can be expected to consume while in active mode and in standby mode, given typical residential usage patterns.


Download this presentation as pdf: 7-107-15_Page_pre.pdf

Download this paper as pdf: 7-107-15_Page.pdf

Not so clever when they are off: standby power use in smart lamps (2024)


Do smart bulbs use power when they're off? ›

Unlike traditional lamps that use no power when turned off, smart lamps use power for their communication systems when they are off (or in “network standby” mode).

How much power does a lamp use when off? ›

A standard lamp equipped with an on/off switch typically does not consume energy when turned off; as its use acts as a barrier between it and a power source preventing electrical flow from passing freely when switched off. As there's no flow, no energy consumption occurs during its off-state.

Does a switched off lamp use electricity? ›

We'll tell you! Basically, a lamp does not consume electricity when it is switched off. However, it is different with lights in standby mode, which have a power consumption of about 0.50 watts per lamp even when switched off.

Do smart bulbs use electricity when off Reddit? ›

If you turn the bulb off in software, then there will always still be some power draw to run the wireless connection so that you can turn the bulb on, as long as the physical switch is also in the on position. No power can be drawn as no power is going to the light if the switch is off.

Is it safe to leave smart lights on? ›

Fire Safety: Smart bulbs, especially LED bulbs, generate very little heat compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are designed to dissipate heat efficiently, reducing the risk of fire hazards [2]. Therefore, leaving smart bulbs on all night is unlikely to pose a fire risk.

Do smart light bulbs raise electric bill? ›

Philips Hue can draw a maximum of 0.3 watts which will cost 1.6 cents a month. When your entire home has smart bulbs, then the vampire power draw will be more. Even with 20 or 30 smart bulbs, you can expect to have an additional power bill of a dollar per month. It is not much but can affect in the long run.

Does leaving chargers plugged in use electricity? ›

Are those chargers consuming electricity when they're not charging devices? Does it make sense to pull the plug if you're not using it? Yes, say the energy experts! A charger that is not charging continuously consumes about 1 watt in the socket.

Does unplugging things save electricity? ›

While unplugging appliances can reduce your energy costs, you have to decide whether the savings are worth it. The United States Department of Energy estimates that you can save $100 per year on your energy bill by unplugging your appliances. That comes out to $8.33 per month (or about 27 cents per day).

Does keeping things plugged in raise the electricity bill? ›

When your devices are plugged in but not in use, they consume electricity, known as the phantom effect. As a result, unplugging those devices can save electricity. Do not worry about unplugging every gadget; simply plug what you can into a power strip so you can unplug less.

Does a TV use electricity when off? ›

Do TVs Use Electricity When They're Turned Off? Like other electronics, TVs remain in standby mode when not in use. This means that any device that is plugged in will continue to draw a small amount of electricity from the outlet because it is always ready to be turned on.

Does leaving a plug on use electricity? ›

In other words, does leaving a plug socket on use electricity? An empty plug socket does not use any electricity, because the current has nowhere to flow unless there's a plug completing the circuit and an appliance switched on. So you do not have to go round turning every socket to the off position.

What appliances should I unplug when not in use? ›

Leave toaster ovens, coffee makers, food processors, blenders, air fryers, and stand mixers unplugged until it's time to use them. Leaving things like toaster ovens and air fryers unplugged also lowers the risk of fires.

Do smart lights still use electricity when off? ›

Since smart bulbs are vampire devices and powered by electricity, they will still draw power when switched off or in standby mode, which could add up to a significant amount of energy consumption over time.

What happens to smart lights when the power goes out? ›

Smart Lights

That being said, while these lights are smart, they are essentially the same as any other lights during a power outage, meaning they will go off.

What are the disadvantages of smart bulbs? ›

The biggest disadvantage of smart light bulbs is that they're much more expensive than regular lightbulbs. As of this writing, a standard incandescent bulb costs about a dollar, while a non-smart LED light bulb costs around $5. A smart bulb costs around $15 each, and that's not counting additional hub expenses.

Do smart plugs draw power when off? ›

In most cases, a smart plug uses approximately 1 watt of energy when it is in standby mode. This wattage also depends on the type of connection it uses. Since a smart plug is connected to something else in your household, it is always active.

Do smart bulbs need to be on all the time? ›

That's because in order to work, a smart bulb needs constant power even if the light itself is turned off.

What happens if you turn off switch smart bulb? ›

You can only change the light's colors, access the dimming features, or use voice control when your regular switch is physically flipped 'on. ' If your regular switch is turned 'off,' no electricity is flowing to the bulb, so it will not fully function.

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