Determining power consumption with Arduino and JeeLib
As mentioned in another answer use a multimeter to measure. However I would recommend using the cars battery to power the system. A parasitic draw on a cars battery of under 1 amp is considered acceptable (per what I learned in school). A parasitic draw is current used while the car is off. Get a clamp ammeter and check your parasitic draw and if you have the available amperage to spare run it from your battery. To check your parasitic draw place the clamp around the ground wire (or multiple ground wires) at the battery terminal. If you run it from your car battery you will never have to worry about changing the battery and it becomes a set and forget system
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What is the power consumption of an average desktop computer (per hour)?
That's a good question, and there are never good answers to it. Judging by the heat that comes off my own machine and its old-fashioned CRT monitor, it's probably not more than about fifty watts at the maximum, and probably a lot less. The 100-watt light bulb in my piano lamp makes a great deal more heat than my computer does, and all of the energy consumed by both devices does indeed turn into heat. The power supply is capable of supplying 200 watts, but it seldom is called upon to do this.
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What would make computers better?
Computers are limited when it comes to total processing speed and reductions of the size of transistors inside of ICs. The biggest issues with computers is limitations on raw processing power, memory, power consumption all caused by physics associated with electrical signal transmissions on bus lines on a PC. Electromagnetic interference causes signal instability the faster the processing speed is. Not only that it causes a lot of heat generated. Heat = wasted power. What would make them much better is to replace the 32 or 64 bus lines with a multi spectrum fiber optic line. Just as a single fiber optic cable can replace a massive copper cable with several hundred to even a 1000 wires does. Eliminating all that copper tracing on the PC board will eliminate the RF issues associated with them and reduce the complex structure of the board. At the same time all memory and CPUs and HPUs and MPUs need to be converted to optical processing units. This will radically reduce power consumption and components thus reducing heat. Also optical processors will surpass the processing speed barriers of electrical processors considering that the speed limitation for optical processors would be the actual frequency of the light waves. Imagine how fast an ultraviolet CPU would be. Also a PC needs to be 100% solid state so they can be hermetically sealed into solid rugged or lightweight flexible units. The displays need to be replaced with touch sensitive OLED to eliminate backlighting and dramatically increase contrast in the image.
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How can i find out the power consumption of my desktop?
If you are wanting to know how much juice your PC is pulling, there are a few companies that sell a device that you can plug into the wall port your PC pulls from and give you the information you are needing. If you want to know how much power your PSU is rated for, look at the answer above.
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How can I calculate power consumption of my PC in Watt?
You do not need to worry about all the internal bits of the machine to calculate worst case power usage. The wattage listed on the power supply is the maximum the machine can draw when under heavy load. It will typically draw far less. If you need a more accurate number then the Kill-a-Watt solution is recommended. Remember that electricity is usually sold in units of kilowatt-hours. 1 kWh is the energy used by a 1000-watt widget operating for 1 hour.So if your power supply is rated at 500 watts, and you leave it on for 24 hours, at the end of that time you've used, at most, 500 x 24 = 12000 watt-hours or 12 kWh. Actual usage is probably far less, but without a meter it's very difficult to calculate