I've been playing around with a Raspberry Pi and one question I wanted to answer was:

How much electricity will I save by running the Raspberry Pi instead of my desktop computer?

To answer this, I bought a cheap power meter that can be used when plugging in a device to understand the power draw.

First though, if you want to see the Raspberry Pi setup I am using, check this article.  Second, if you want to see how I installed Bitcoin Core on the device, check this article.

Now to the data... I configured a Bitcoin node on Ubuntu and got the node synced. Once the node was fully synced and running in the state I would expect it to be in during normal operation, I was able to measure the power draw.

Power consumption of the Raspberry Pi running Bitcoin Core

The Raspberry Pi was drawing a stable 4.2 watts of power.  I watched this for a few days and the draw stayed pretty stable at that level.

Next up is my tower desktop that I am currently running a Bitcoin node on.  It is a Windows OS that hosts an Ubuntu VM running Bitcoin Core.  I hooked the power meter up in the same way to see the power draw with Bitcoin fully synced and running.

Power consumption of my desktop CPU running Bitcoin Core

The power level hovered around 100 watts of power consumption.

If we use these stats:

  • Raspberry Pi = 4.2 watts
  • Desktop = 98.7 watts

We can see that the desktop uses 23.5 times the power draw to basically do the same job.

In San Francisco, I pay a whopping $.24373 per kWh.  This is how the cost breakdown occurs:

Watts kWh per Hour Cost Per Hour kWh Per Day Cost Per Day Cost Per Month Cost Per Year
Raspberry Pi 4.2 0.0042 0.001023666 0.1008 $0.02 $0.74 $8.97
Desktop 98.7 0.0987 0.024056151 2.3688 $0.58 $17.32 $210.73

It turns out that I can save $201 per year by running my Bitcoin node on the Raspberry Pi, assuming I don't run the Desktop except when I need it for other uses.

You can see from this article that I paid around $280 for the setup, so it will pay for itself in about 1 and a half years (17 months).

This seems like a good idea for anyone else that lives in a high cost of living area with absurdly high power costs.