Standby Power Use of Set-top Boxes

In February of 1999, we measured over 60 new and used set-top boxes. Our results show that the average set-top box uses a considerable amount of power in standby mode. At around 12 watts on or off, each set-top uses about 100 kWh of electricity per year. Video game consoles use much less, only about 10 kWh per year.

  Cable Boxes Internet Terminals Satellite Receivers Video Games
On (W) 12.4 13.8 12.9 8.8
Standby (W) 11.4 10.6 12.3 1.0

The charts below show histograms of the standby power consumption of cable boxes and satellite receivers. See the two spikes at 24 and 26 watts on the Cable Boxes chart. Those belong to the new digital cable boxes that are quickly becoming the norm. If every cable customer used a set-top box, the total standby use would be about 18TWh per year, the size of two nuclear power plants.

Cable Boxes (Chart)
Satellite Receivers (Chart)






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