When it comes to purchasing a television, there are a lot of factors to consider – size, resolution, brand, and more. But one important factor that often goes overlooked is the amount of power the TV uses. Specifically, how many amps does a television use? You may want to know this because you need to manage the power circuit, or because you need to know the overall cost of operation, or both.
Modern smart TVs, whether OLED, LED, LCD, as well as many projectors, will use ~0.5-1.5 Amps during operation. Divide the TV’s watts by 120 (US electrical voltage) for an idea of the amps your unique model uses. Minimizing amps can only stand to save you a few dollars a month in electrical costs.
Of course, the answer to this question can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size and type of TV you have. For most modern smart TVs, the conversation is really simple, but beefier Plasma TV’s or, indeed, home theater projectors, can star to pull a lot more juice. Let’s dive into the details so you can make an informed decision!
Understanding Amps, Watts, and Volts
When it comes to understanding the power consumption of electronic devices, it’s important to know the basic concepts of volts, amps, and watts. These three concepts are essential to understanding how much electricity an electronic device is using.
- Volts measure the electrical potential difference between two points in a circuit. What does that mean? We don’t need to care. The bottom line is that in the world of US home electric, there are “120 volt” outlets–the normal wall sockets you use for most things, and “240 volt” outlets for things like washers and dryers, hot tubs, etc.
For the purpose of this conversation, all you need to know is that, in the US, your TV is 100% going to be using a 120 Volt plugin, so this number is not different from model to model, or situation to situation.
- Watts is where things get more interesting. This is the amount of power being used by a device, and it’s the thing that is changing from model to model. A bigger TV uses more watts, and a smaller one uses less. The wattage of a TV is on the product page or stamped directly on the device itself, maybe printed on a label near the input/output options.
- Amps measure the electrical current flowing through a circuit. The higher the amps, the more electrical current is flowing through the circuit. And so now we know what we’re really asking when we ask the amperage of a TV: how much power does it use overall, running at X wattage on a 120 volt circuit.
And real quick: for readers who are here because they’re looking for resources on speaker amperage, that’s a pretty different conversation that we’ve detailed in a few realated posts. If that’s what you need, head over to our guides on how much power speakers need (in terms of amperage and watts), and this article unpacking Receivers vs. Amplifiers in the audio context.
How To Calculate Amperage
So, this is a bit of an oversimplification, but in the case of home theater TV electric, we can get away with running a simple calculate here for amperage. If you broke out your math textbook, or maybe physics, it would at some point explain that the relationship between these numbers is that the Amperage always equals the wattage divided by the voltage.
In math letters, we’d write that like: A = (W/V), Amps = watts (divided by) volts.
And this number is going to vary. A lot. We’ll look at the things that affect amperage more below, but suffice to say that the typical smart TV will almost never be using more than 1 Amp of power, and only larger Plasma models or projectors pulling 400 watts or more will pull more than 3 amps.
Pro-Tip: Don’t get too fixated on the final Amperage number. In the US, the 120 volt system actually fluctuates from 115 to 125 volts, so the final figure isn’t very precise anyways if you’re dividing by 120.
So How Many Amps Does A Television Use?
Now that you know what the number means and how to calculate it, it should be pretty simple for you to pull up any TV’s product page and divide it’s wattage by 120V to get the amperage.
Most Modern TV’s operate in a range of 50-150 watts, which means they operate anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 amps. Larger plasma screens that report usage of 400 or more watts, they obviously use more amps too, but you’ll need to look at your model directly to figure out how much it uses and run the quick calculation.
And, while this does very by type of TV, you should know it doesn’t very that much. Although we’ve called out plasma panels for being especially power hungry, there are 32in plasmas screens that use 120 watts (1 Amp) too.
So, just remember, it doesn’t really matter if it’s LED, LCD, Plasma, OLED, a Smart or Dumb TV, or even a bulky old CRT – almost all modern smart TV’s operate between 0.5-1.5 amps, and only larger edge case models (plasma and maybe very old CRTs) that pull more. And no matter what, if you need this number, you need to just look at the wattage on your model to calculate it directly.
What About Projector Amperage?
We’re big fans of home theater projectors here, and they use power in a very different way: powering a bulb, laser array, or some other light emitter instead of a panel. It seems like this might use less power, but because of the added brightness needed, it really doesn’t. After all, much of the power going to a TV panel is generating brightness, so that makes logical sense. Most of the time, we see the typical home theater projector using about the same as the typical big-screen TV: 0.5-1.5 Amps.
However, some larger format projectors are rated for as much as 420 watts, such as the Panasonic PT-VMZ71-WUXGA Projector (on Amazon). There are projectors that go up to 800 watts, 1000 watts, heck, we’re sure there are big-venue projectors that go up to about as many watts as you can imagine. But for the normal home theater enthusiast, those are edge cases you don’t need to care about really.
The conversation is the same though: assume 0.5-1.5Amps for your home theater projector, and if the number is really important to you for managing circuits, just calculate it directly based on your equipment.
What About Those Electrical Circuits?
We’ve mentioned this a few times now, so we’d better explain it! If you’re planning an electrical circuit for your home theater, the stakes are a little higher. Just keep in mind the simple calculation we handled above, and note that a big projector or plasma TV is probably going to pull a few more amps than a normal TV. But still, we’ve never seen a projector install over 1000 watts, which is still just 8 amps.
Understanding The (Small!) Effect Of Amperage On Electrical Cost
Look, we could bore you with examples of how to calculate how many exact dollars and cents you’d use if you swapped from this or that TV, but believe me, it’s so not worth your time.
Just consider this: if you go to a simple energy calculator like this one, and plug in 100 watts at the US average electrical cost of 0.23 $/kw-hr, and assume you run that TV 4hrs a day, it costs $33.60 across a year.
If you get a bigger TV, say 300 watts, pulling 2.5 amps, and use the same figures, you get an annual cost of $100.81, or ~$6/mo.
What’s our point here? That your chasing dimes at the end of the day. If it’s really that important to you, yes, minimize all costs my getting a modern, eco-friendly smart TV with a 32in screen, and don’t use it much. But just know if you get a 70in OLED behemoth, it’s only going to use a few more dollars per month probably.
To Ampfinity And Beyond
So, to sum it all up, when purchasing a television, it’s important to consider the amount of power it uses, which is measured in amps, watts, and volts. The amperage of a TV can be calculated by dividing the wattage by the voltage, but it’s important to note that most modern smart TVs operate between 0.5-1.5 amps, while larger plasma screens and projectors may use more.
While amperage can impact the cost of operation, it’s not a significant factor for most consumers, and chasing small savings may not be worth the effort.