I'm using a Raspberry Pi 3 running Raspbian with pretty standard settings and mostly manually triggered programs, except for a bot that synchronises two chats and a repeating Google Drive process. Usually only the power supply is plugged in, when I need it, I add keyboard, mouse and screen. So in general not much CPU/GPU and a moderate network load. The manually triggered programs need much more power, but I don't care much about that, since it's rare.

It's obvious that a WLAN connection needs quite a bit of power, but I've also heard that LAN is a significant factor. I wasn't able to find exact measures for both. What connection type needs less power, LAN or WLAN? And how big is the difference?


LAN almost certainly uses less power. This benchmark claims:

  • The built-in Ethernet requires 2mA
  • Pi 3 built-in Wi-Fi consumes around 20mA when idle

So that's a factor of 10x, when idle. You could expect significantly higher power consumption when the networking is active, although I suspect that the Wi-Fi power requirements would grow much faster than the Ethernet power requirements.

The baseline power consumption for a Pi 3 with Wi-Fi is about 250 mA, so I'd expect nearer 230 mA for Ethernet-only (although sadly that wasn't tested in this benchmark).

Of course, you'll always get the best results testing it yourself. Plug-in energy meters tend to be a little expensive, though, so it might just outweigh any gains you do get, but it is interesting to know nevertheless.

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