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A record player is considered one of the most creative inventions in the music industry of all time. Its basic working involves the rotation of the vinyl record on a turntable along with a needle that produces music. Even in this technological age, it is the music player of choice for many people because of the nostalgia and sound quality that it has.
Of course one thing about record players is that they use electricity. If you stream music all day every day on your phone that electricity will only cost you 24 cents for an entire year! (according to Forbes)
Does a record player use that small amount of electricity? How much electricity do record players really use?
Most record players use somewhere between 10-15 watts of electricity. Based on the average cost of electricity in the United States and an average of that wattage if you played your record player for an hour every day, every day of the year the electricity for your record player would cost you 53 cents for the entire year!
Yes, record players cost you an average of .00145 cents per day to run or an average of a penny and a half for every ten hours of usage.
When I first got a record player I assumed they used way more electricity than that! After all you have a giant turntable, you have the speakers, you have all the internal parts, surely it would be expensive but it simply isn’t.
Now if you have your record player hooked up to a giant amp and speaker system that uses a bunch of electricity then your costs would be higher but most record players use a surprisingly low amount of electricity.
If you have a player or speaker setup that uses a larger amount of watts then you can use the calculator here to determine exactly how much your player would cost you to run it. If you live in a place with higher electricity costs you can use that calculator to double check your costs too.
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Manual record players
If the 50 cents a year is too expensive for you or you want more of an authentic experience then you can get a purely mechanical record player instead. These “old school” players require you to hand crank the turntable to make it turn and will have a “horn” on top to amplify the sound.
Of course players like this (at least not plastic junky ones) haven’t been made in ages so finding one that works continues to get harder and harder. Most people who want one of these will use them for decor rather than actually use them.
After all, for only a cost savings of 50 cents a year no one really wants to hand crank a record player!
Do record players need to be plugged in?
Portable record players are also being used now which are available in multiple designs such as retro, modern, etc. These portable briefcase record players are normally battery-operated or electric therefore they do not need to be plugged in if you are on battery power.
These battery operated record players can be recharged or plugged in once the batteries die. The battery powered player is really only useful if you are going “off grid” or want to listen to your records while camping or somewhere else where you don’t have access to electricity.
Modern record players integrate both speakers and the player as a whole. Many of them will also have a USB port through which vinyl recordings can be converted into mp3 formats. Many of the modern players will also have bluetooth capabilities or larger speakers that you can upgrade to.
However such functionalities do consume more electricity than a simple record player.
One model that has some of these extra features and larger speakers is the Victrola 3 Speed Bluetooth Turntable. This player comes with a bunch of modern options and larger 50 watt speakers. The cost per hour to run this record player and speaker combo? It costs .007 cents per hour to run or $2.72 per year of running if you use it for an hour every day.
Even with the larger speakers and more modern functionalities it still only takes a tiny amount of electricity to run it. Of course that is 5X the amount used by a simpler player but $2.72 a year is still a tiny amount.
If you want to see an unboxing and review of the above mentioned player check out the video below.
Why do record players need electricity?
Most record players consume electricity when the vibrations from the needle are converted into electrical signals by the electrical coils. These coils are electrically charged to create a magnetic effect using magnetic induction which is called the piezoelectric effect.
The older models of record players were created way before electricity so they did not require any electrical functioning. However, with the advancement in technology, electrical versions were developed which allowed further advancements in the record players. However, since they needed electricity, it had other difficulties as well.
Because of the piezoelectric effect, the conversion of vibrations into electrical signals takes place. In the next phase, these electrical signals are sent to the pre-amplifier by the tonearm which, again, is an electrical device. The capacity with which this pre-amplifier handles and signals depends upon the current capacity.
There is a need to pre-amplify the signal in order to give them a little boost. This causes the signal to expand a little so that it can be sent over to the actual amplifier from which the actual sound formation takes place.
The pre-amplifier and amplifier of the record player are both electrically operated as well. High-quality models use a pre-amplifier and amplifier of higher quality so it can produce better sound. By higher quality, we mean that it has the capacity to take more electrical signals and amplify them at a much higher level as compared to the one with the normal quality.
Of course the other thing that requires electricity is the turning of the turntable and the speakers that put out the sound.
In most modern record players the highest amount of electricity is used by the speakers. The larger the speakers and the louder and better quality that they are, the more electricity that the record player will use,
Different type of record players
There are basically three different types of record players that you can use. The first two are virtually identical while the last one is completely different.
- Electric powered
- Battery powered
- Hand powered
Of course electric powered is the most common type of record player. This is the type that most people have in their homes and use on a regular basis. You just plug the record player into the wall and turn it on.
This type is simple, easy to use, and requires very little electricity.
This type is far less common and is really only needed if you are going camping or something and can’t leave your records behind. This style of player is normally more expensive than the regular electric one and takes more electricity as well since you have to charge the batteries and the batteries then make the record player work. The extra step of charging the batteries is less efficient than simply plugging the player in and therefore requires more electricity.
This type of player is the oldest and rarely used anymore. Most people don’t want to have to manually crank a record player so the demand for these is tiny outside of collectors or people using them for decorations. Normally these players will have a “phonograph horn” on top for the music to come out since turning the crank doesn’t allow the use of traditional speakers.
Most everyone who uses a record player will have the electric option. This is especially true when people find out that the electric record player will only cost them $.50 to $2.72 per year to run it an hour a day!
Record players are surprisingly good on your pocketbook and are only slightly more expensive than streaming music on your phone or other electronic device.
If someone says that your record player is driving up the electric bill be sure and check out the calculator and show them how wrong they really are!