Do Guitar Amps Use a Lot of Electricity?


Guitar amps, obviously, use electricity. But do they use enough of it to affect an average electricity bill at the end of each month?

Do guitar amps use a lot of electricity?

No, they don’t. Guitar amps do not affect monthly electricity cost significantly.

You may have asked yourself this question when you got your unusually high electricity bill. Or maybe your roommates, or a family members, complained about your guitar playing raising the bill?

To find out whether guitar amps use a lot of electricity or not, I took my time to find a definite answer. Here’s what I’ve found.

If you compare the power consumption of an average household guitar amp to other household devices, it’s clear that guitar amps do not contribute to the electricity bill as nearly as vacuum cleaners, LCDs, fridges, ACs and many other devices do.

Guitar Amp Monthly Electricity Cost Estimation

In the most states in the world, electricity rates are measured by the amount of electric energy transmitted or used over a period of time (kWh). In America, the average electricity rate at the moment is 13,19 $ per kilowatt hour (kWh). Check out the Electric Choice site for more details, including electricity rates by state and movements of cost as well.

Now, having that in mind, let’s take a guitar amp of 40 W for this example. That guitar uses 40 watts of power in one hour of working. That means that over an hour of playing your guitar, an amp will consume 40 W of electric power (or 144 000 joules of energy).

40 W per hour are 0,04 kilowatts per hour. Now, let’s say the amp is working 3-5 hours a day. (That’s a lot of time for playing!) Over a month, an electric energy transmitted (and consumed) by that amp will be from 3,6 to 6 kWh.     

Is that a lot? Considering what an average electricity rate is at the moment, that guitar amp will contribute from around 0,5 to 0,7 dollars to your electricity bill.

Now that’s ridiculously small!

Of course, that price comes from the speakers only. Usually guitar amps use more power to light LEDs, heat tubes, and so on. So you can multiply the cost by two.

Power consumption also depends on the class your guitar amp is in, efficiency, and so on. Anyway, the next time your roommate starts to blame your guitar amp for a high electricity bill, show him this calculation.

Check Out The Back Of Your Amp

If you want to know the power output your guitar amp have, to calculate the  cot every month, check out the specifications on the back.

Here’s the example from the back of my guitar amp.

Here, in my case, this guitar amp delivers 40 watts of power to the speakers. To calculate the approximate cost, check out the specifications on the back of your guitar amp, and then multiply the power with the average hours your guitar amp is on.

In this case, I just need to multiply 40 watts to one hour (that’s the average number of hours my amp is on per day) and then multiply it to 30 (days in a month). Here, I got 1200 watts of power each month. That’s 1.2 kWh each month. Using the average electricity rate in America, 13.19 $, that’s about 15,3 cents each month.

If You Want The EXACT Estimation…

Usually, the method described above is not exact. As it’s been said already, there will be more electric energy transmitted to your guitar amp, due to other factors. For example, guitar amps consume energy to light LED’s, fuse, tubes etc.

It would be very hard to estimate the exact amount of energy consumed by a guitar amp just by looking at the specifications in the back.

If you’re perfectionist who wants to know what EXACT amount of money your amp contributes to the monthly bill, you need to measure the voltage and the current every time your guitar amp is on.

For this, you’ll need an ammeter. Ammeter (or an ampermeter) is a device that measures an electric current in a circuit.

WARNING: Connect an ammeter in series with an amp. You don’t want to connect it parallel, as it will destroy the ammeter.

Now, it would be much easier if you’d have an ammeter connected to an interface with a computer. Usually those computer interfaces have an AVG/MIN/MAX functions that will calculate the average, minimum and maximum current over a period of time, in an instant time.

Find out about the voltage in your area (usually it is from 110 to 125 V). To calculate the joules (energy) consumed each second, multiply the voltage value with the current value.

We’re using this formula for calculating the power: P = V * I

Power is a physical quantity that tells us how much energy is transmitted each second. To find out how much electric energy is consumed by your guitar amp, you’ll have to sum up all of the current values your ammeter showed. After that, multiply that sum with the voltage (again, check the voltage value in your area).

Add those values together and you’ll get the total amount of joules, meaning energy consumed over a period of time when amp was on.

One kWh equals 3.6 million joules. Divide the number you came up with in by 3.6 million to find kWh consumed for the period of time you were playing. Multiply that number by the number of hours you run the amp in a day and you can determine how many kWh were consumed.

If you did this for less then an hour, multiply the number by the time period to figure for one hour. For example, if you ran the test for 20 minutes, multiply this result by 3. If you ran the test for 30 minutes, multiply this result by 2, and so on.

Power Consumption By Amp Classes

There are different power amplifier types out there, and they are differentiated by letters. Therefore, there are Class A, Class AB, Class C, Class D, and a few more amp types.

Are different power amplifier types using a different amount of electricity? In short, yes.

To find out about the type of your guitar amp, just check what the manufacturer says.

How do those types differ from each other in terms of power consumption?

As the Wikipedia says:

The classes are related to the time period that the active amplifier device is passing current, expressed as a fraction of the period of a signal waveform applied to the input.

You can check out the Wikipedia page for more details, but let’s now focus on power consumption. You want to check out the efficiency of the amp. Efficiency tells us what part of the overall energy used by the amp is delivered to the speakers.

So, for example, if the amp is 50% efficient, that means that only half of an energy consumed by the amp itself is delivered to the speakers.

When we talk about classes, keep in mind this. Class A amps are highly inefficient when it comes to utilizing electric energy. For every watt (energy delivered each second), the amplifier itself has to use at least an extra watt.

Final Words

As you can see from this article, guitar amps do not use a lot of electricity. If your electricity bill is unusually high, it is probably due to some other electrical devices being used.

Usually electric bills get higher when it’s hotter outside, so keep that in mind. Air conditioners may consume electric energy a lot more during those periods. On the other hand, when it’s cold outside, many heating devices consume a lot of electric energy, too.

Anyway, if this article gave you an answer to a question you’ve been interested in, I’m more than happy about it.

Great & Affordable Guitar Amps in 2020

In case you’re interested, check out the article where I picked and reviewed 8 great and affordable guitar amps.

Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles I wrote on this site!

Cheers, and rock on!

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