# Is it true that a phone uses more energy than a refrigerator?

• ellieee
In summary: They are both using power to send and receive signals, which is why the overall energy usage for a phone is higher.In summary, this article is trying to say that a smartphone uses more energy than a refrigerator, however the title is easily misleading because it only compares the energy usage of a phone to a refrigerator when in reality the energy usage for a phone is higher due to the energy requirements of the wireless connections and data usage.
ellieee
Homework Statement
my thought process is since the fridge is bigger, naturally it should consume more energy no?
Relevant Equations
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Delta2
Citation?

Before we can determine why something is true, we need to know if it actually is true.

Who told you that. A mobile phone consumes 10-20Watt while a refrigerator up to 500Watt in full operation.

Maybe the article you read was about the average power. A refrigerator might draw like 500watt or even 1KW for 1hour and then draw nothing for the rest of the day if we don't open the fridge or put new things inside it. If such is the case the average power might be less than 10-20watt indeed.

ellieee
Afterall it might be true, if we compare extreme scenarios, for example a high end smartphone that is connected 24/7 to mobile internet, and a fridge that we don't open at all to remove/add contents.

ellieee
ellieee said:
Homework Statement:: my thought process is since the fridge is bigger, naturally it should consume more energy no?
Relevant Equations:: -

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My wardrobe is bigger than my fridge and it doesn't consume any energy.

Twigg, phinds, Steve4Physics and 2 others
Delta2 said:
perhaps? because according to the article, the thinner the wire used, the more thermal energy generated in the wire[according to the equation R=(ρ)x (ℓ/A) ], so I assumed since we usually use thinner wires to change our phones, it means our phones are consuming more energy than fridge (which uses thicker wires) ?

Ehm for the thermal energy generated in the connecting wires you might be right, but that is a small fraction of the energy consumed. The connecting wires of a fridge are connected to a motor/compressor which does work on a gas in order to drop its temperature and then cool the cabin with it and it draws a lot of energy power up to 1000 Watt for a typical household fridge. On the other hand the connecting wires of the mobile phone are connected to a battery which draws really low energy no more than 10watt.

Steve4Physics
ellieee said:
... the thinner the wire used, the more thermal energy generated in the wire[a
That would be true if you were comparing equal lengths of of wire, each carrying the same current.

Also, most energy-conversion for phones and fridges is not heating in the wires, For a phone, it is conversion of electrical energy to electromagnetic (radio) waves; and for a fridge it is conversion of electrical energy to mechanical energy in the compressor (motor).

Delta2
The actual answer is that this nonsense IS stated on the Internet but it's a bogus comparison because to get that result, they take the refrigerator as a standalone item but for the phone they count the cell towers and other stuff that is NOT "the phone".

http://www.energyhousecalls.com/new...rtphone-uses-more-energy-than-a-refrigerator/

If you consider the entire energy footprint, the picture becomes less clear. While your refrigerator operates on its own once you plug it in, a smartphone requires an energy-using support network of cell towers, data centers and other equipment. When you factor in wireless connections and data usage with battery charging, the total energy footprint of the average iPhone is 361 kWh, according to a study by Mark Mills, CEO of the Digital Power Group.

Twigg
phinds said:
The actual answer is that this nonsense IS stated on the Internet but it's a bogus comparison because to get that result, they take the refrigerator as a standalone item but for the phone they count the cell towers and other stuff that is NOT "the phone".

http://www.energyhousecalls.com/new...rtphone-uses-more-energy-than-a-refrigerator/
I imagine your phone must consume less power than a fridge if it doesn't even have texting capability!

phinds said:
The actual answer is that this nonsense IS stated on the Internet but it's a bogus comparison because to get that result, they take the refrigerator as a standalone item but for the phone they count the cell towers and other stuff that is NOT "the phone".

http://www.energyhousecalls.com/new...rtphone-uses-more-energy-than-a-refrigerator/
I think I understand what that article is trying to say , it speaks about the entire energy footprint and I guess it is trying to say that using our smartphone is not environment friendly, not only because of the EMI , but because of all this energy that is spend not only on the smartphones but on all the other things that have to consume energy in order for our smartphone to do its work, like the cell towers, data centers e.t.c

However the title is easily misleading...

Twigg
Delta2 said:
However the title is easily misleading...
I think ENTIRELY misleading is more appropriate. I mean, for a refridgerator do we count the energy requirements of running the power station, maintaining the power lines, etc ... ? I don't think so.

PeroK
phinds said:
I think ENTIRELY misleading is more appropriate. I mean, for a refridgerator do we count the energy requirements of running the power station, maintaining the power lines, etc ... ? I don't think so.
We should if we want to find the entire energy footprint, however those two factors that you mention are the same for smartphones and fridges. So they are kind of simplified.

Delta2 said:
We should if we want to find the entire energy footprint, however those two factors that you mention are the same for smartphones and fridges. So they are kind of simplified.
My point is, you can carry this to the point of having to consider all the ramifications of the car that drives the maintenance worker to the energy plant. Basically, you end up having to consider the entire world. It just gets ridiculous.

phinds said:
My point is, you can carry this to the point of having to consider all the ramifications of the car that drives the maintenance worker to the energy plant. Basically, you end up having to consider the entire world. It just gets ridiculous.
Yes well the total energy footprint of something might indeed be something ridiculous, however if we exclude the common factors we might get something meaningful and be able to compare different footprints. You keep mentioning common factors in the energy footprints of the fridge and of the smartphone.

Delta2 said:
Yes well the total energy footprint of something might indeed be something ridiculous, however if we exclude the common factors we might get something meaningful and be able to compare different footprints. You keep mentioning common factors in the energy footprints of the fridge and of the smartphone.
True, I did, but only because they are the obvious things. If you want to dig into it then you have to consider the energy cost of manufacturing the fridge / phone and all that THAT entails. I stand by my point that it just goes on and on.

Either talk about the phone and the refrigerator as stand alone items or expand each to include the whole world.

Delta2 said:
Who told you that. A mobile phone consumes 10-20 Watt while a refrigerator up to 500 Watt in full operation.
Just curious, where did you get the 10-20 W number for a phone? My phone's battery capacity is around 12 Wh. If it were using power at that rate, it would last only about an hour or less.

vela said:
Just curious, where did you get the 10-20 W number for a phone? My phone's battery capacity is around 12 Wh. If it were using power at that rate, it would last only about an hour or less.
I made it out of my head . A more careful google search says that the average phone consumes no more than 5W even when fully operating.

Can we somehow put a large STOOOPID sticker on this and shut it down?

phinds
hutchphd said:
Can we somehow put a large STOOOPID sticker on this and shut it down?
I found this thread very interesting after all, I learned about the concept of energy footprint and no I don't agree with @phinds I don't find it a ridiculous concept that has to include the whole world. It does so only if you include the common factors.

PeroK
I agree with @phinds that such a program is not possible. All factors are common factors absent arbitrary rules.

Delta2 and phinds
Delta2 said:

Delta2 said:
I don't find it a ridiculous concept that has to include the whole world. It does so only if you include the common factors.
Says the guy who just makes up numbers

phinds said:

Says the guy who just makes up numbers
Yes ok still, I wasn't far away from the truth, there might be some high end smartphone that consumes 10W+ in full operation.

Delta2 said:
Yes ok still, I wasn't far away from the truth, there might be some high end smartphone that consumes 10W+ in full operation.
I know. I just couldn't resist

Delta2

## 1. Is it really true that a phone uses more energy than a refrigerator?

Yes, it is true that a phone uses more energy than a refrigerator. This may seem surprising since a fridge is a larger appliance, but phones require a constant source of energy to stay connected to networks and run various apps and functions.

## 2. How much more energy does a phone use compared to a refrigerator?

The exact amount of energy used by a phone and a refrigerator can vary depending on the specific models and usage patterns. However, on average, a phone uses about 5-10 times more energy than a refrigerator.

## 3. Does this mean that using a phone is more harmful for the environment?

Not necessarily. While phones do use more energy, they also have a smaller production footprint compared to refrigerators. Additionally, the energy used by phones is mostly renewable, whereas refrigerators often rely on non-renewable sources of energy.

## 4. Can I reduce the energy consumption of my phone?

Yes, there are several ways to reduce the energy consumption of your phone. Turning off unnecessary features and apps, using power-saving modes, and charging your phone less frequently can all help to decrease its energy usage.

## 5. Is there a way to compare the energy usage of different phone models?

Yes, there are various resources available that provide information on the energy consumption of different phone models. You can also look for phones with energy-efficient features, such as OLED screens and fast charging capabilities, to reduce their overall energy usage.

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