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Is it possible to measure (with software, like powertop) the current power consumption on my Raspberry Pi?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

No. You cannot accurately measure the power consumption of your Raspberry Pi by just software. There needs to be some hardware in place in order to do this and devices rarely have this by default.

The easiest option would be to use a wall outlet power meter or usage monitor. You can buy these for $10-$20 at a local store.

Without such hardware, the best you can get are estimations.

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i have outlet power meter, but i'm too lazy :D...and for devices with intel cpu i can use powertop. So my idea was to use something like powertop, but for arm ;) – cupakob Oct 8 '12 at 18:23
PowerTOP gives you an estimation, not a real measurement. The estimations are intended for comparison when you want to try different power saving features out. For laptops PowerTOP can make better estimations by doing measurements on your battery level and performing calculations. That is something you cannot do on a PC or Raspberry Pi. Read more about it here. – Derecho Oct 8 '12 at 21:05
The easiest option would be to use a wall outlet power meter or usage monitor. That's fine if you want to know how much power your setup is using, but not if you want to know how much power your Pi is actually getting. Power adapters and even USB cables can waste significant power. I've read of USB cables dropping a whole Watt or Volt (I can't remember which was said, but they'd be about the same in some conditions). – Nateowami Jan 5 at 11:44

Multimeter in series with a bench top power supply. Or by looking at the bench power supply itself if it has an Amp meter.

Measuring the whole thing (with power supply) won't give you an accurate reading of the Raspberry pi's actual usage since you will also be measuring inefficiencies in the power supply you use.

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Measuring with the power supply would however be an accurate representation of the costs associated with the usage. It depends on the goal whether you want to measure before or after the power supply. – Derecho Dec 6 '12 at 8:05

Your best best is to use a USB voltmeter/ammeter between your USB power source and the Pi.

USB Voltmeter

In addition, you will require:

  • a USB micro to USB 'A' convertor from the power source to the USB voltmeter;
  • a USB 'A' to USB micro cable from the USB voltmeter to the Pi.

There are many different types ranging from $1 to $5, depending if you want a single display, a dual display, as pictured, or up to a quad display that also shows power (Watts) and charge (Coulombs)

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