Phantom Power - Charging your BlackBerry

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How much electricity does your BlackBerry (insert your PDA here) really use each year?

To answer this question we need to understand and measure three components of energy use.

The first component is the electricity consumed by the charger to recharge the battery. This will depend on how much the BlackBerry was used. I chose a Friday, where I had been somewhat busy, and the BlackBerry showed 50% charge remaining.

The second component is the electricity consumed by the charger doing trickle charging. This depends on how long the BlackBerry is left connected to the charger once charging is complete. If you are like me you plug the BlackBerry into the charger when you get home and leave it there until you set out the next day. I did ask a few friends if this was a typical use, and it was. There was one surprising answer "I am cheap he said, I only charge my BlackBerry at the office". I did wonder if this "being cheap" was worth the effort?

The third component is the electricity consumed by the charger while plugged into a live wall socket during the day. This phantom electricity (known as vampire effect or vampire power) can be observed by feeling the warmth of your charger. My wall socket is under the desk so I tend not to reach down and unplug it after use! I am surely a pinhead for this. If not for the wasted energy, for being so idle!

Equipped with this understanding of the 3 electrical components I plugged in my half charged BlackBerry Curve and began measuring.

Update: August 2012 - the new Blackberry Torch charged using similar amounts of electricity as the curve below. But, the charger used ZERO electricity when the Blackberry was not connected, and the electricity used dropped to ZERO once it was fully charged. This is our new legislation in practical effect.

Charging commenced at 6/7 watts Real Power (Power Factor was 58%) and dropped progressively to 1 Watt as the battery approached its full charge. The time taken to reach fully charged was 61 minutes. The total electricity consumed was 8232 joules.

During trickle charge the charger consumed approximately 1 watt, which is 3,600 joules in an hour.

With the BlackBerry unplugged the charger consumed approximately 0.75 watt, which is 2,700 joules in an hour.

Using the typical consumer energy rate of $0.15 per kilowatt-hour (see Wikipedia for details) I was ready to calculate the costs.

Cost to re-charge BlackBerry: 0.034299 cents per day.
Cost of trickle charge (assuming left for 11 additional hours): 0.165 cents per day.
Cost of phantom power (assuming left for 12 hours): 0.18 cents per day.

Well there you have it, 12.5 cents per year for charging, and $1.26 (10 times as much) for being a pinhead.

Now you may say "so what", and to the cost of $1.26 you probably have a point. But it is in this attitude, multiplied by all the devices, multiplied by our population of vampire power hogs that the real issue becomes clear!

Here is a table of consumer devices and the phantom power they typically consume.

I have started this series of articles looking at our smallest computing device, a typical PDA. I hope that like me, you will examine your attention to these energy losers.

Yes I am looking down at an unplugged BlackBerry charger! There are 27 million small businesses in the US. Over the next months we are going to explore different components of Green ICT, and see how much energy we truly are "attituding" away!

Update: August 2012 - the new Blackberry Torch charged using similar amounts of electricity as the curve below. But, the charger used ZERO electricity when the Blackberry was not connected, and the electricity used dropped to ZERO once it was fully charged. This is our new legislation in practical effect.

 

Open4Energy - Get Smart about Energy™

Greener to charge your blackberry in the car ?

This is a really interesting article and it prompted me to think :

Which is greener – to charge your mobile / pda at home, or to charge it in the car as you travel?