# How much power is needed by aircraft IFE systems during flight?

How much power is needed by aircraft In Flight Entertainment systems during flight if they operate all the devices connected in the cabin?

• Could we perhaps make the cabin lightening a new separate question? Makes it less broad since it shares little in common with IFE. Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:38
• Done with the changes Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:47
• thanks for doing that, it helps keep information and content a bit orderly when looking for stuff later :) Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:48

I don't have specifics but lets extrapolate for a minute (using the Boeing 777-300 for size filled with lets say 500 seats). Assuming you are talking about IFE systems where there is a screen in every seat then you will most likely have screens similar to this. While not exactly what the airplane uses I would think they are similar. The specs for that screen claim it takes <= 8W. Lets round it out and say it takes 8w. Looking at our 500 seats thats 4000W of power. I can only assume there is a computer or two of sorts running those displays, lets say they have 500W (typical desktop supply on the more powerful side) and there are 2 of them. Thats another 1000W so you are at 5000W there. Assuming you have 120V power P=IV thats about 41 Amps of current you will draw from the system. I am running this assumption that all the screens are on at all times as I assume the system is built for that.

Cabin lighting is tough as I have no idea how many bulbs they have in there. I know that each seat has its own little lamp so you are looking at 500 little lamps running in the 1W-10W range. So maybe another 2000W for the individual lights. Overhead is tough since you cant really see the individual bulbs. It should also be noted that LED's are becoming more wide spread and draw way less power than traditional incandescent bulbs which will greatly reduce the amount of power drawn by the interior lights.

It depends on how many lights are on, and how much the in-flight entertainment system is in use.

Cabin Lighting

New aircraft exclusively use LED lights1 for cabin lights. Compared to incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs much less power. If I'm not mistaken, LED bulbs are being used on aircraft lighting (at different levels) for 20 years or so.

In-flight Entertainment

Power consumption of IFE systems is mentioned here:

Most IFE system PSUs fall into the power range of less than 100W, although some newer IFE products require higher power solutions of 300 watts, or more.

Please note that an IFE system is not just the monitor a passenger sees, but it has other hidden components too, which require power as well.

1 Biggest example is A380:

The A380’s interior illumination system uses bulbless LEDs in the cabin, cockpit, and cargo decks. The LEDs in the cabin can be altered to create an ambience simulating daylight, night, or intermediate levels.

I had a look around but couldn't find too much. This is a competitive industry so they would be inclined not share too much information (a bit like fuel and jet aircraft). The power consumption is probably the top of the iceberg of important things to consider and I imagine manufactures don't want to make their products look unattractive without showing the customer the full scope of what they are buying, such as software capabilities.

After much searching, Rockwell Collins were kind enough to publish (dated 2013) some information for overhead monitors systems. The media server uses about 80 watts (so a bit more than an average laptop) and the interactive screen to control the content about 20 watts. There is no figures on how much each actual screen uses. Be aware this is for a system that shows the same content on all screens.

I found to this document that suggests that the power supply draws around 100 watts (that would fit with the suggestion above). Be aware however that it was written in 2008, the year after the first iPad was released and tablet computers (and corresponding expectations) took hold in the public. A lot has happened since then and as stated in the paper newer systems can draw a lot more. Furthermore, power supplies can be shared among multiple seats (the one shown in the paper has "multiple outputs"). This quite extensive paper also discusses IFE design.

The competition also means that they would like to make the devices as light and efficient as possible. Looking at the X-Series from Panasonic ("The world's most popular in-flight entertainment system" quoting themselves) the screen does video decoding and also includes Android compatibility. Aside from the substantially higher price tag, I think it would be a fair estimate to compare the power in the high range for a tablet computer.

It's always good to contrast these figures: If you're going to go providing AC and USB plugs, laptop chargers use in the range of 80 watts and half the passengers on a A320 use a USB plug for their charging their empty gadgets, you're looking at 350 watts.