How much does it cost to charge a laptop?

The purchase price is always a major consideration when it comes to buying a new laptop. But what about the ongoing costs? It might not be something we often think about, but charging a laptop uses electricity, and electricity costs money – but how much exactly?

Canstar Blue seeks to answer that question in this guide. We look at some leading laptop models, break down how much electricity they require to charge, and explain what this adds to your electricity bill.

How much does it cost to charge my laptop?

Completely charging a laptop will cost around 1 to 3 cents in electricity consumption, depending on the size of the specific laptop’s battery, as well as your electricity usage rate. Small laptops, such as notebooks, generally have a 30-50Wh battery capacity, costing 1 to 1.5 cents to charge. On the other hand, larger laptops with greater processing power requirements, or HD displays, often have batteries in excess of 70Wh, costing upward of 2 cents to fully charge.

The below table lists the battery capacity and associated charging costs of popular laptops if we assume an electricity usage rate of 28.7c/kWh.

The cost of charging your laptop

Laptop Model Battery Capacity (Watt-hours) Cost to 100% charge Annual charging costs
Macbook (2016) 41.4 Wh 1.19c $4.34
13” Macbook Pro
(With retina & touch bar)
49.2 Wh 1.41c $5.15
13” MacBook Air 54 Wh 1.55c $5.66
Dell XPS 13 60 Wh 1.72c $6.28
Lenovo Yoga 900 66 Wh 1.89c $6.90
Lenovo Thinkpad T450s 95 Wh 2.73c $9.96
14” HP Chromebook 14 51 Wh 1.56c $5.69
HP Pavillion 35 Wh 1.01c $3.69
Microsoft Surface book 70 Wh 2.01c $7.34
Toshiba Chromebook 2 44 Wh 1.26c $4.60
Asus Zenbook 45 Wh 1.29c $4.71
Asus ROG G751JT 88 Wh 2.53c $9.23
The Razer Blade QHD+ 70 Wh 2.01c $7.34

Assumes battery is charged from 0% to 100% once per day, 365 days a year.

Bear in mind that a larger battery does not necessarily mean it will have longer battery life. For example, the Asus ROG laptop boasts a battery capacity double that of the Toshiba Chromebook 2. However, the Asus ROG is a gaming laptop which consumes considerably more power compared to a basic notebook. This means the Asus ROG may or may not have a longer battery life depending on how it’s used.

Other things that affect laptop battery life:

  • Stress – The harder your laptop has to work, the more electricity it consumes. Activities such as streaming TV content and playing video games are particularly notorious for chewing through a laptop’s battery charge.
  • Battery condition – Lithium batteries deteriorate over time meaning its maximum storage capacity falls with age.
  • Temperature – Extreme temperature can accelerate charge loss and capacity deterioration. Avoid leaving laptops in hot cars or directly in the sun.
  • Aging components – Depending on the type of laptop and your computer savviness, upgrading your components may reduce your laptops overall demand for electricity. Adding more RAM or upgrading to an SSD make it a lot easier for your laptop to pull stored data which reduces its power consumption.

Remember, the more frequently your laptop battery needs charging, the more you will spend on electricity to charge it. If your laptop battery is only lasting a few hours and needs to be recharged repeatedly throughout the day, you can find yourself spending a lot more on electricity in the long run than the above table indicates.

What if I use my laptop while it’s charging? 

What if I use my laptop while it’s charging?Provided your laptop or charger is in reasonable condition, you will still be able to charge your laptop while using it, albeit at a slower rate. If you’re using your laptop while it’s on charge, it will continue to charge as usual with the associated costs being set out in the earlier table. However, some of this charge is now being immediately used. This means it will cost you more in electricity and take longer to charge.

To illustrate, let’s take a 40Wh laptop battery. This battery charges at 10 watts per hour, meaning it will then take four hours to completely charge the laptop. While using the laptop on charge, let’s assume you’re consuming 6Wh of the laptop’s power. That means the laptop is only really charging at a rate of 4Wh, and it will now take 10 hours to fully charge.

Laptop vs Desktop: What’s cheaper to run?

Laptops use much less electricity to charge than a desktop computer requires to run in virtually all scenarios. The majority of laptops on the market have battery capacities between 30Wh and 80Wh, providing hours of laptop use. As the table above shows, keeping a laptop charged daily comes at a cost of mere cents. But the costs do add up over a year.

Desktop computers require a constant electricity feed to both the tower and at least one monitor. A standard 24” monitor uses 275 watt-hours, at a cost of 7.9c per hour – that alone is more expensive than fully charging a laptop.

It is more difficult to calculate the electricity consumption of a PC tower, as you must consider the electricity consumption of individual components (e.g. processors, video cards and cooling fans) which vary considerably across models. Electricity consumption will also fluctuate with the stress the PC is put under. As a general rule, most desktop computers will have a minimum idle consumption of 80Wh, costing around 2.3c per hour. When a PC is under strain, however, it consumes up to 300Wh at a cost of 8.6c per hour.

To summarise this, a desktop computer (including the monitor) will cost at least 10.2c per hour in electricity to operate. Meanwhile, a laptop will generally only cost 1 to 3 cents for several hours of use. Laptops might not be as powerful as desktops, but they’re undoubtedly less burdensome on the electricity bill.

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