As a single dad who runs his own business cooking a delicious and nutritious meal for me and my 3 kids can be really tricky.
The idea of getting a slow cooker so the food can cook all day and be ready as soon as you get home seems like a great idea. But also the idea of having a heating element on all day sounds like it would use a lot of power and be quite expensive.
So I wanted to work out how much energy do slow cookers use? Is it a lot or do they have low power consumption and how expensive would this make it to cook a meal all day long?
I also have a campervan with a solar battery. Could I run a slow cooker in my campervan or does it draw too much power? Here's what I found:
A slow cooker uses between 75-210 Watts of energy continuously to run. To cook a meal for 8 hours it'll use approximately 600-1,680 Wh of energy which is similar to cooking on the stove for 30-60 minutes.
Slow cookers are energy efficient but because they are used for a such a long period of time they end up using about the same amount of energy as it would take to cook a standard meal on the stove or in the oven.
So slow cookers don't offer significant electricity savings when compared to a regular meal. The energy usage and electricity cost is just spread throughout the day, not used all at once.
I also wanted to work out how much slow cookers cost to run and how much they cost in electricity per meal cooked. So I did the calculations:
I worked out that depending on your setting and how much you pay for electricity slow cookers only cost around 0.72-6.5c/hour to run or 4.35-64.97 cents to cook an entire meal. Very affordable indeed.
Calculating How Much Total Energy a Slow Cooker Uses To Cook Your Meal
Calculating how much energy your slow cooker uses to cook your food is actually pretty simple.
Energy is measure in a unit called “Watt hours” or Wh. Also sometimes called kilo Watt hours or kWh.
Say you have a small LED light bulb that uses 1 Watt of electricity when turned on. If turned on for 1 hour it would use 1 Wh of electricity.
An oven or stovetop on the otherhand uses approximately 2,000 Watts when running. So if you're cooking dinner for 1 hour then it'll use 2,000 Wh, also known as 2 kWh.
So how much energy does a slow cooker use?
Well according to Crockpot (the major brand of slow cookers):
“slow cookers are energy efficient, only using between 75 and 150 watts of electricity on LOW and between 150 and 210 watts on HIGH. It cooks all day but only uses the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb”
I don't know about the standard light bulb thing. Sure old incandescent light bulbs ranged from 40-100 Watt but newer LED light bulbs are more like 4-10 Watts at most.
To work out how much total electricity they use you have to multiply the amount of Watts used by the time spent cooking. Because you usually cook for 6, 8 or 10 hours you need to multiple by 6, 8 or 10 to get your total energy consumption.
Total Energy Usage For a Slow Cooker Based off Wattage and Time Cooking
|Watt Output||6 Hours||8 Hours||10 Hours|
|75 Watts||450 Wh||600 Wh||750 Wh|
|150 Watts||900 Wh||1,200 Wh||1,500 Wh|
|210 Watts||1,260 Wh||1,680 Wh||2,100 Wh|
Comparing this to an oven or stovetop which uses approximately 2,000 Watts of energy to run.
If it takes you half an hour to cook a meal on a regular stove it'll use approximately 1,000 Wh and if it takes you an hour it'll use approximately 2,000 Wh.
This is extremely similar to how much energy a slow cooker will use to cook a meal for the entire day.
How Much Does a Slow Cooker Cost To Run?
Now that we have our energy usage figures as well as total usage throughout the day we can work out how much it costs us in electricity to cook a meal using a slow cooker.
Electricity prices vary country by country and state by state.
At the time of writing the cheapest state was Louisiana with a price of 9.66c/kWh and the most expensive state was Hawaii with a cost of 30.94c/kWh. An average price seemed to be around the 12-15c/kWh mark.
Below is a table of how much slow cookers cost to run per hour for the cheapest state, most expensive state and an average state.
Cost Per Hour To Run Slow Cooker Based on Wattage and Electricity Price
|75 Watt (LOW)||0.72c/hour||0.98c/hour||2.32c/hour|
|150 Watt (MEDIUM)||1.45c/hour||1.95c/hour||4.64c/hour|
|210 Watt (HIGH)||2.03c/hour||2.73c/hour||6.50c/hour|
As you can see slow cookers can cost as little as 0.72 cents per hour to run on the lowest setting in the cheapest state for electricity or as much as 6.50 cents per hour on the highest setting in the most expensive state for electricity.
Cost Per Meal To Run Slow Cooker Based on Setting Wattage + Time Cooking + Electricity Price
|4.35 cents||5.85 cents||13.92 cents|
|5.80 cents||7.80 cents||18.56 cents|
|7.25 cents||9.75 cents||23.21 cents|
|8.69 cents||11.70 cents||27.85 cents|
|11.59 cents||15.6 cents||37.13 cents|
|14.49 cents||19.50 cents||46.41 cents|
|12.17 cents||16.38 cents||38.98 cents|
|16.23 cents||21.84 cents||51.98 cents|
|20.27 cents||27.30 cents||64.97 cents|
As you can see in the table above the total cost for cooking a meal in a slow cooker ranges from as little as 4.35 cents to 64.97 cents depending on the setting, time spent cooking and how expensive electricity is for you.
It's cool to see however that even cooking on the highest setting for 10 hours and paying the most possible for electricity it still costs less than $1.00 in electricity charges in order to cook a meal in a slow cooker.
This has definitely got me wanting to make more meals in the slow cooker as it seems like a very affordable thing to do.
Now I just need to go out there and find some recipes that all of my kids will enjoy. Getting them to agree on anything is difficult. Chances are I'll need 3 slow cookers to cook 3 different meals for 3 different kids haha.
Raising kids who are picky eater isn't easy, but at least now I know using a slow cooker won't skyrocket my electricity usage and won't cost me an arm and a leg in power bills.