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How much electricity does an iPad tablet computer use?

Are iPads & other tablets, the cheapest and greenest way to surf the net? We often get asked why we don’t list the energy consumption of tablets and phones, the simple answer is they don’t use a great deal of energy compared to a desktop PC. Recent research by the EPRI showed that the latest iPad would consume 11.9 kWh per year – based on charging it every other day.  That’s going to cost you £1.70 a year to run, older versions are even more frugal at only 7.2kWh per year = £1.03!  Compare that to a top of the range Apple Mac Pro at £70 pa, plus your monitor, which could be costing another £30 pa to run.  So surfing the web on an iPad certainly seems the greenest option.

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As always environmental sustainability is a complex subject.  Tablets, smartphone’s and mobile phones will never use the same amount of energy that went into their manufacture, unlike appliances such as fridges, washing machines, tumble dryers, which will consume far more during their lifecycle.  The environmental concerns are the use of rare earth elements which are used in manufacturing electronic devices. The mining and processing of these elements can have serious environmental consequences if they are not carried out in a sustainable way.  It’s also very difficult to recycle tablets, smartphone’s and mobile phones due to their size and complexity.  Put this together with our throwaway culture of consumers “my contract is up for renewal, I must have a new phone!” even though their existing phone works perfectly well and they could save a mint by switching to a cheaper tariff.  Our advice would certainly be to use mobiles and tablet computers to surf the web, but please don’t get caught in the trap that you need to replace your device every two years. There’s a clue in the name ‘rare earth elements’ if something is rare they won’t be around forever!

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