Arcade Games And Electricity Costs

Arcade Games And Electricity Costs

Whether your an operator or a hobbyist you’ve probably wondered how much it cost to run your arcade games. Electric bills can be a concern of your location owner or your significant other depending on the circumstances. In this post, we will discuss approximately how much it costs to run an arcade game per month.

Arcade Games And Energy Costs

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In our testing, we used a P4400 Kill-A-Watt Electricity Meter by P3 International. This meter outputs the kilowatt-hours used by any device that you plug into it. We used a Donkey Kong arcade machine as our test arcade game. We left it on for 1 hour playing it intermittently during this period. We approximated that we played it about 25 minutes out of that hour. Just as the hour ran up, the kilowatt-hours reading clicked over to 0.09. So we have approximated that this arcade game uses 0.09 kilowatt-hours per hour or 0.09 kWh/hr. - Buy Now! Buy the P4400 Kill-A-Watt Electricity Meter from now!

For our price per kilowatt-hour, we are using $0.12 per kWh or $0.12/kWh as this is the average for residential Texas customers according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By multiplying the 0.09 kWh/hr by $0.12/kWh, we find that the cost per hour of running an arcade game is approximately $0.0108 per hour or a little more than a penny. Since most people are billed monthly for their energy use, we can take this figure, multiply it by the number of hours we wish to run the game and then multiply it by 30 days to simulate a month. When we use this formula, we find that if we run an arcade game for 2 hours a day the result would be approximately $0.65 a month. Please see the chart below for the hourly break down per month.

Arcade Electricity Costs Per Month

At this point you might be wondering how an arcade game compares to other appliances in your house. We did some research and found that most appliances under normal operation will be more expensive to run than running an arcade game for 2 hours a day. Please see the chart below for some of the numbers we found. These kilowatt-hour monthly usage numbers are taken from the Keys Energy Services website.

Appliance Electricity Costs Per Month

As you can see, running an arcade game is not as expensive as most people think. Keep in mind that different arcade games draw more power depending on factors such as the size of the monitor and how the game controls. Please post any questions or suggestion in the comments section below.

  1. Avatar

    Well here in NH unfortunately it is $.16KWH Quite an eye opener when I did your math calculation. 2hrs a day X 30 days X 16 games is $136. No wonder my bill was over $300 last month

  2. Avatar
    Jonathan Leung


    That sounds a little high. I should have broken down the formula a little better in the article. 0.09 kWh/hr represents the amount of killowatt-hours we found an arcade game pulls per hour. You want to multiply this by the amount that your electric company charges per kWh which in your case would be $0.16. Then take this number and multiply it by hours (in your case 2) and days (30 days in a month). This will give you the approximate usage cost of one machine. So, lets show that in a formula…

    0.09 kWh/hr * 0.16 per kWh = $0.0144 per hour
    $0.0144 per hour * 2 hours a day * 30 days in a month = $0.864 per month

    Then we can take this number and multiply it by the number of arcade games you have…

    $0.864 per month * 16 arcade games = $13.82 per month

    So your cost should run around $13.82 per month. Keep in mind that this is just an approximation as different arcade games can use more or less power. Hopefully that gives you a better idea of the formula. Thanks for the comments!

  3. Avatar

    This is interesting, I was actually wondering about this. A few other thoughts worth taking a look at on the jamma/mame conversions when it comes to the monitor (where most of the juice is probably going):

    In a conversion, it may cost you a little less if you were to use an old cga/vga monitor running in Energy Star mode.

    I’m also pretty sure that the newer plasmas don’t use as much juice as the old tube monitors (although I can’t stand the idea of playing 8 bit games on a plasma and those things just look WRONG in a cab).

    And last — many T.V.’s & monitors very greatly in energy consumption even though they are the same dimensions and look almost identical. The details on the box are always way off. One of those electricity meters may end up saving you a ton of money in the long run.

    Thanks for the great vid!

  4. Avatar
    Nick Wise

    found this on a random search for arcade running costs. very helpful to see the math done out. my wife and I are looking to open a family gaming center with a few old arcade games/pinball machines/claw games etc.. with a few of the new LCD/Plasma/LED style of t.v.’s running for other purposes. this helped us map out the tiny details, which just left us looking out for lights and heating/cooling costs. And thats only going to become apparent for us when we find the right sized building and see what thier fixtures are. So thanks for the info. It was extremely helpful!

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