Television on the floor in a dark room with blue light reflected on the floor.
WeAre/Shutterstock.com

With blackouts possible at any time, many people use battery backup to keep their TVs on while the lights are out. TVs can be power-hungry, but you can drastically cut their consumption and, ideally, keep watching until power is restored.

How Much Power Can You Really Save?

To demonstrate how much of a difference changing your TV settings can make to its power draw, we’re using a 555Wh lithium battery pure sine inverter that shows the current power draw on its display. The power pack also estimates how much time is left before running out of juice.

If the load is 100W, you’ll consume 500Wh of power in five hours. On the other hand, if the load is 50W, the time doubles. Any reduction in power consumption leads directly to longer running times. It’s the difference between watching all of the Lord of the Rings movies and running out of power halfway through The Two Towers.

First, we took a reading with the TV after resetting its picture settings to default. The TV in question is a 70″ Samsung UHD model from 2021. The power draw levels shown are while using the built-in Netflix app to watch the same bright scene from Interstellar.

TV Power Draw Before Power Saving Adjustments 193W
Sydney Butler

As you can see, with the default picture settings this TV uses out of the box (and which many people never change) the power draw while watching is almost 200W. That would drain this power pack in just over two hours! What about after making some tweaks?

TV Power Draw After Tweaks 37W
Sydney Butler

After making our power-saving adjustments, that number drops all the way to around 40W, pushing the total run time up to around 10 hours! That’s a massive improvement. As we found, the visual sacrifices aren’t particularly severe, either. Now that you’ve seen what a difference toggling a few settings can make, let’s look at what you can do to cut the power consumption of your own television.

Activate the Power Saving Mode

Most modern televisions include a power-saving mode you can activate from the system menu. In the case of this Samsung TV, it’s known as “Eco Solution.” The exact details will differ between models and brands of television.

TV Eco Mode Display On Samsung TV
Sydney Butler

If your TV does offer such a mode, it’s a great place to start. This mode essentially applies most of the tips we’re going to list in the rest of this article automatically, and in some cases does things to save power that you normally can’t do through other menu settings.

It should also be possible to tweak the power saving mode, such as in this case where you can set the minimum brightness level the TV should not drop below.

Turn Down the Brightness as Much as Possible

The biggest culprit when it comes to power draw is brightness. Whether you’re using an LCD with a backlight or an OLED that creates its own light, making those photons takes a lot of power. Turn the brightness down as low as you can tolerate and you should see a dramatic decrease in how much power your TV consumes. You can compensate for the lower brightness levels by darkening the room during the day.

RELATED: What Are Nits of Brightness on a TV or Other Display?

Activate Automatic Brightness Adjustment

Many modern TVs have a light sensor that will automatically adjust the brightness level to match the light level in the room. This offers a compromise between setting a fixed low brightness level and wasting power on an unnecessarily bright TV.

Disable or Avoid HDR

HDR or High Dynamic Range TVs can exceed the brightness level of the more common SDR (Standard Dynamic Range), offering much better contrast, deep blacks, vivid colors, and amazing detail in bright parts of images. It also uses way more power than SDR, so turn it off while running on battery power if you have the option.

While your TV may not have a universal HDR toggle in its menus, you can often disable it in individual smart apps or use an HDMI port that does not support HDR, which is common for secondary or tertiary ports.

RELATED: HDR Formats Compared: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and Technicolor

Use Built-In Apps

Amazon Fire TV 43" Omni Series 4K UHD smart TV
Amazon

It usually takes less power to run an app like Netflix natively on your smart TV than to run it from an external device like an Apple TV, which adds its own wattage requirements to your backup power system. While the built-in apps in smart TVs don’t always offer the best experience, here it’s a fair tradeoff, in our opinion.

Turn Down The Volume or Use Bluetooth

Whether you’re using the TV’s built-in speakers or external speakers, turning down the volume will reduce how much power you need to run everything. Your television may also offer a “night mode” or a volume normalization option. This normalizes the difference between the loudest and softest parts of the soundtrack and also handily solves the problem of inaudible dialogue but thunderous action scenes. Alternatively, some TV sets also offer a dialogue clarity mode with a similar effect.

If you’re the only one watching, consider using Bluetooth earbuds or headphones if your television supports it. Streaming Bluetooth audio takes much less energy than playing sound over loudspeakers and most Bluetooth headsets will run for longer than almost any blackout and are easy to recharge.

The Best Wireless Earbuds of 2022

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100
Soundcore by Anker Life P3
Best Wireless Earbuds Under $50
Soundpeats T3
Best Wireless Earbuds for iPhone
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Best Wireless Earbuds for Android
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Best Wireless Earbuds for Workouts
JBL Reflect Flow Pro
Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM4

Other Tips to Save Power

We’ve covered the tips that will have the biggest impact on your TV’s power consumption, but there are several smaller things you can do if you really want to squeeze every last drop from your battery time.

First, your inverter may offer the option to supply DC power directly, which means you can bypass the wasteful DC to AC and then back to DC conversion that happens when you plug your TV’s power brick into a battery-powered inverter. Triple-check that the output from the inverter’s DC output perfectly matches what the TV expects through its DC input, but this can add a small percentage of extra runtime since you’re not losing energy during power conversion.

If you have multiple televisions, the smallest model generally uses the least power, although this can differ by backlight or panel technology type. All things being equal, a 75-inch TV will use more power than a 55-inch TV.

Consider storing content on a USB flash drive for viewing during blackouts. If you avoid using Wi-Fi, that can also save a small amount of power. It also means you don’t have to expend power keeping your internet connection going if it’s using the same pool of battery power. If you’re using satellite or cable television, keep in mind what the power requirements of their hardware components are!

The Best Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) of 2022

Best UPS Overall
APC BR1500G Backup Battery
Best Budget UPS
APC UPS BE425M Battery Backup
Best UPS for Networking
CyberPower CP800AVR UPS System
Best Compact UPS
Amazon Basics Standby UPS
Best UPS for Gaming
CyberPower PR1500LCD UPS SystemCyberPower PR1500LCD UPS System
Profile Photo for Sydney Butler Sydney Butler
Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He's worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular.
Read Full Bio »