Do you have a 3D printer at home that you run a lot? Since you’re already paying for the print materials, you’ll want to know how much electricity it uses. The amount of electricity used depends on how hot the machine is, how long you run it, and how large it is.
3D printers use between 50 and 150 watts of electricity on average while running. 3D printers with a hot end of 401°F (205°C) and a heating bed of 140°F (60°C) use an average of 70 watts. If you run it for an hour, the printer would use 0.07kWH, which wouldn’t cost you much.
While you might think they use a lot, 3D printers use less electricity per hour than expected. Everything you need to know about printer energy consumption is in this article.
How Much Power Does a 3D Printer Need?
Each 3D printer will use a different amount of electricity, depending on the size and model. Some printers need to get hotter to melt the material, thus using more power. In addition, those printers with more extensive heated print beds usually require more energy to keep the larger surface warm while you print.
3D printers need 125 watts of power per hour, on average. This power consumption level results in the printer costing you 1.58 cents an hour to run. However, many small home 3D printers can use 50 watts an hour, costing only about 0.63 cents per printing hour.
Remember that these numbers can vary greatly depending on where you live – the above is just an estimate. If you want to figure out exactly how much your printer costs to run per hour, you’ll need to look up the electricity rates in your area. Once you have it, multiply that number by the kWh your printer uses.
Let’s do an example together. Say your 3D printer uses 100 watts in an hour, and you live in Ohio. First, convert the watts into kWh, which would be 0.1kWh. Then, take the kWh and multiply it by the power cost in Ohio, which is 11.89 cents per kWh. You’d spend about 1.19 cents to run the printer for an hour. Here’s what that would look like:
- 100 watts = 0.1kWh
- 0.1kWh x 11.89 = 1.189 per hour
If you need help converting the watts into kWh, you can use a handy calculator online. If you don’t know how many watts your 3D printer uses in an hour, you can also figure it out fairly quickly. Let’s go through the steps!
How To Measure a 3D Printer’s Power Consumption
You may first want to check your 3D printer’s owner’s manual for details about its energy consumption. Sometimes, you’ll find information about power there. However, you can always determine the power requirements on your own.
You’ll need an electricity usage monitor – they’re straightforward to use and should give you accurate results. I recommend the Poniie PN2000 Meter Tester from Amazon.com. It gives you a precise watt reading, a good warranty, and is of professional quality.
Plug the power monitor into the 3D printer and run a complete print – it doesn’t need to be too detailed. The monitor will give you an accurate watt reading after the printer runs for a while. Then, you can use the formula above to figure out exactly how much you’re spending to run the 3D printer.
Getting the reading directly from your device will be more accurate than finding the general power consumption in the manual or online.
Does the Nozzle or Heating Bed Use More Power?
Most power usage goes to heating the nozzle and the machine’s printing bed (the build plate). A small remaining portion of power goes to running the rest of the parts. However, you might be wondering which of the heated elements uses more electricity.
The heating bed uses more power than the nozzle in your average 3D printer. The hotend needs to reach 392°F (200°C) to melt PLA, requiring 30 to 50 watts. When you turn it on, the heating bed uses 260 watts, and then it consumes 80 watts to stay up to temp.
Suppose you want to lower the printer’s power consumption. In that case, you can reduce the temperature of the heating bed since it uses most of the power. However, you won’t want to lower it too much, or your print won’t turn out very well.
Overall, the heating bed requires more electricity than the nozzle. The rest of the 3D printer doesn’t take much power to run, usually about 15 watts.
Increasing 3D Printing Power Efficiency
If you have concerns about how much power your printer uses, you can also increase the electrical efficiency in a few different ways. These methods won’t lower the power consumption much on their own, but your printer already doesn’t require much power to run.
Here are a few easy methods to make your printer use less power:
Add a Printing Enclosure
When your printer is in a cold room, it will need to use more power to heat the nozzle and printing bed and hold them at that temperature. Simply placing your 3D printer in a special enclosure will keep it warmer.
An enclosure keeps your printer out of drafts in a temperature-controlled environment. You can easily make an enclosure or purchase one online.
You can make print enclosures of plywood, plastic, carbon fiber, or glass panels. If you want to make a DIY 3D printer enclosure, you can follow along with this YouTube video:
Lower Print Times
Next, you can reduce the time that your printer needs to run. It’ll use less power if the printer doesn’t take as long to make the object. You can make a few small changes to reduce print times drastically, including:
- Increasing the layer height.
- Lowering wall thickness.
- Reducing infill.
- Raising print speeds.
- Using fewer (or no) supports.
- Changing the infill design.
Remember that these print setting changes can impact the final quality, so you won’t want to use them in every circumstance. It can be okay to make personal objects, but you wouldn’t want to do this for anything you sell.
If you have a large printer that uses too much power, you can also always downsize. While buying a new printer, you’ll save on electricity costs over the years if you print frequently.
Reduce Printing Temperatures
Lastly, reducing the printing temperatures causes the machine to use less power. When you use very hot temps, the printer needs to use more electricity to heat up and stay up to temp.
Try lowering the hot end and printing bed by a few degrees. You can do it by 5 to 10 degrees without harming your print quality. It works well as long as you make sure the printer’s hot enough to melt the material.
If you can combine these three methods, you’re sure to see the power consumption of your 3D printer drop.
How Your Filament Affects Power Consumption
You might want to know if the materials you use can impact power consumption in your 3D printer. In short, it can!
Certain materials require more heat to melt and extrude. Your 3D printer will need to spend more time and energy reaching a hot enough temperature to melt certain materials. ABS needs to get hotter than PLA to melt, so it takes slightly more power to print.
Polycarbonate filament (aka PC) requires very high temperatures to print. You’ll need the nozzle between 554-590° F (290-310° C). PEEK plastic needs the nozzle to be hotter with a temperature between 662-770° F (350-410° C). You won’t find home 3D printers that can even reach those temps, so you won’t have to worry about spending a fortune on electricity.
Overall, the materials you print with can directly impact power consumption. It’ll cost you way more to print with PEEK plastic when compared to standard PLA because the appliance draws much more power to reach those intense temperatures.
3D Printing VS. Other Appliances’ Power Use
You’ll want to know how 3D printing power consumption compares to other appliances. Fifty watts might sound like a lot of electricity at first, but that’s about how much electricity it takes to run your toaster one time- which isn’t very much.
Incandescent light bulbs and video game consoles also use about 50 watts to run. A small air conditioner or space heater uses 1,500 watts to put the watt usage into perspective! Your 3D printer doesn’t require nearly as much power to run.
Overall, 3D printers use about as much electricity as many other small appliances. Even larger printers that take 150 watts don’t use nearly as much power as many other appliances you have running in your home all of the time.
Can a 3D Printer Raise My Power Bill?
A 3D printer can raise your power bill if you use it frequently. Some larger prints can easily take more than 10 hours to print completely. If you make a lot of objects like this, your printer will likely run nonstop. However, you won’t raise your bill much unless you print daily.
Many homeowners won’t notice a drastic increase in their monthly electricity bills. Unless you have a giant printer and run it all the time, it shouldn’t add too much to the cost.
In most cases, you’ll spend more on other costs than the printer’s power consumption.
However, there are still other costs that come with the 3D printer that you’ll want to consider. Namely, you’ll spend a lot of money on printing materials. A spool of PLA filament typically costs between $20 and $50 per kilogram (2.2 lbs).
You may also need to buy software, upgrades, or pay for maintenance on the printer. You may need post-processing materials, too, such as isopropyl alcohol for SLA printing.
In short, there’s more to consider than just the power consumption when it comes to 3D printing. You’ll usually spend more on materials than you do on electricity when you make a print!
Cost To Run an Ender 3 Printer
The Ender printers are some of the most popular options available right now. The Ender 3 is the most common model in people’s homes since it’s cost-efficient and works wonderfully. Since it’s so popular, many people wonder how much it costs to run these models.
On average, the Ender 3 uses 0.12kWh. The national average kWh cost is 12.69 cents, so here’s how much you’d pay to run it for five hours:
- 0.12kWh x 12.69 cents = about 1.52 cents spent per hour
- 1.52 x five hours = 7.60 cents
Even if you ran your Ender 3 printer for 24 hours straight, you’d still only spend 36.48 cents on power consumption. Compared to many other appliances, that isn’t that much for running something for an entire day!
Many 3D printers are cost-efficient to run. You’ll want to compare how much power the models you’re interested in use to get the best idea of what you should buy for the best energy efficiency, and the Ender 3 is a great contender since it doesn’t use much.
You can find the Creality Ender 3 3D Printer on Amazon.com. It’s straightforward to set up and run and even comes with upgraded extruder technology that lowers the risk of nozzle issues.
To summarize, 3D printers use less electricity than we expect. If you run a 3D printer for 10 hours, it could only cost you about 10 cents. Most printers won’t use more than 100 watts per hour unless they’re very large or commercial printers.
Overall, 3D printers aren’t expensive to run since they don’t take a lot of electricity. Most of the money you spend on your printer will be for the materials to make the prints. However, you don’t have to worry about your printer raising your monthly bill by much.