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What Is No Load Power?

Marco Sumayao
Marco Sumayao

No load power refers to the energy consumed by chargers and adapters that are plugged into electrical sockets, but not to their respective devices. The energy is effectively wasted, since none of it actually powers or charges the device. No load power consumption has recently been estimated to account for nearly two-thirds of a mobile phone's energy use. Energy experts regularly conduct research on how to limit or eliminate no load power consumption and create more energy-efficient devices.

The term is used almost exclusively for the chargers and power adapters of mobile gadgets such as cellphones, handheld gaming devices, and laptop computers. Other electronics usually enter standby mode which, unlike no load power consumption, consumes energy, but does not waste it. Standby power consumption usually facilitates minor operations in electronics, such as the clock functions in television sets and desktop computers. Although the energy drain is continuous, it serves to fuel processes necessary for the device's proper function.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Handheld device chargers, on the other hand, are power supplies that remain separate from the devices themselves. When plugged into an electrical socket, the chargers begin to drain energy to transfer into the devices' power supply and continue to do this regardless of whether or not the device is connected. In the event that the charger has no load, the drained energy has no other outlet but to escape as heat, rendering the electricity used by the charger virtually useless.

Studies have found that energy loss due to no load power consumption is fairly common, as there appears to be a tendency to leave the chargers plugged into sockets when not in use. Cellphone chargers, for example, consume up to 2 watts of power when disconnected from the phone. Although the amount is relatively small, the usage accumulates over time into significant figures.

This had led to the development of devices that minimize zero load power consumption in order to achieve maximal energy efficiency. There has been a marked improvement on no load power consumption over the years, with some chargers boasting energy usage as lower than 0.03 watts. International standards committees continue to identify the no load power consumption of all released electronics, with numerous manufacturers opting to display their figures in support of consumer education. Energy experts, however, still recommend that all electronics users practice the habit of unplugging all their power supplies for two specific reasons: to conserve power and, subsequently, to save money on energy costs.

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