Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking How Does Wi-Fi Use Affect Computer Battery Life? by Bradley Mitchell Writer An MIT graduate who brings years of technical experience to articles on SEO, computers, and wireless networking. our editorial process LinkedIn Bradley Mitchell Updated on March 27, 2019 Hero Images / Getty Images Home Networking The Wireless Connection Routers & Firewalls Network Hubs ISP Broadband Ethernet Installing & Upgrading Wi-Fi & Wireless Tweet Share Email The Wi-Fi network protocol requires power (electricity) to operate the radios used to send and receive data. How exactly does your usage of Wi-Fi affect a computer's power consumption, specifically the life of battery-operated devices? How Wi-Fi Use Affects Computer Battery Life The power required by a Wi-Fi radio is measured in decibel milliwatts (dBm). Wi-Fi radios with higher dBm ratings tend to have greater reach (signal range) but will generally utilize more power than those with lower dBM ratings. Wi-Fi consumes power whenever the radio is on. With older Wi-Fi network adapters, the amount of power used is generally independent of the volume of network traffic sent or received, as these systems keep the Wi-Fi radio powered at all times even during times of network activity. Wi-Fi systems that implement the WMM Power Save power-saving technology may according to the Wi-Fi Alliance save between 15% and 40% over other Wi-Fi systems. A relatively new technology, using solar energy to power Wi-Fi routers is also an area of active research and product development. A Number of Factors Overall, the battery life (the length of uninterrupted operating time possible with one full battery charge) of Wi-Fi devices varies depending on several factors including: The type of battery installed.The dBm rating of the Wi-Fi radio (network adapter).How often the Wi-Fi radio is turned off versus on.Wi-Fi power savings modes available on the device.The power needs of the display (screen), processor and other elements of the hardware separate from Wi-Fi. To determine the exact power consumption of your Wi-Fi device, you should empirically measure it under real-world usage models. You should notice a significant difference in battery life depending on whether you use Wi-Fi.