Aquarium Powerhead Costs

Over the past few posts, I’ve broken down some of the biggest electricity costs associated with my saltwater aquarium. Your lights and return pump (if you have one) probably consume the most electricity (and therefore create the biggest cost). Next on the list are the aquarium powerhead costs. Some aquarists choose to alternate the flow from their pumps to simulate wave, surge or turbulent flow–but in my tank, I run my powerheads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week–and there are two of them.

aquarium powerhead costs

Aquarium Powerhead Costs:

I set out to accomplish two things with the research for this post:

  1. Determine my own aquarium powerhead costs
  2. Compare the costs across brands

To answer these questions, I had to figure out how much I pay for electricity. I put together a spreadsheet to help with this calculation. You can find it here. The costs on your electric bill can be a little bit confusing, because they break it up into several different component costs. Here in Pennsylvania, I currently pay $0.15 per kilowatt hour. As I mentioned before, I run my pumps 24 hours a day for 365 days a year–so the calculation goes like this:

24 x 365 x $0.15 x # watts divided by 1000

How much electricity do powerheads consume? From exploring the manufacturer data across 27 popular models, they consume about 2.6 to 60 watts, depending on the model. The average power consumption was 11.2 watts. The tables constructed below are based on manufacturer’s information from Dr. Fosters and Marine Depot.

cost per year for an aquarium powerhead

The Aqueon 500 and 700 models win the prize as the lowest wattage aquarium powerheads–sipping an energy-efficient 2.6 and 2.8 watts. Two Vortech models, the MP 40 and MP 60 consume the most electricity– at 28 and 60 watts respectively.

The Aqueon 700 and Hydor Koralia Evolution 1400
models share first place as the most efficient models on the market (measured as flow rate generated per watt of electricity). They pump an energy efficient 250 GPH for every 1 watt of electricity that they sip.

powerhead costs for an aquarium

If I were to attempt to crown a ‘most energy efficient brand’, in terms of GPH per watt, it would by Hydor Koralia, which has 5 powerhead models that produce more than 200 gallons per hour of flow for every watt of electricity they consume.

Please note, this comparison is based on manufacturer specifications—I did not measure their flow rates or electrical consumption directly.

So how much do aquarium powerheads cost to run?

Based on my assessment, aquarium powerheads cost anywhere from $3.42 to $78.84 to run each and every year. That’s seems like a pretty broad range to me–so I encourage you to consult this list (or do your own assessment) before selecting your powerhead of choice.

The average electricity cost per year from this list is $14.67. I found that one of the two powerheads in my tank, the Hagen Aquaclear 70 I have had FOR YEARS costs two times the average cost per year–and 5 times as much as the most efficient brands. Nostalgia aside for this work-horse powerhead that has stuck with me through thick and thin, I think I’m going to switch it out as a result of this assessment.

Hagen model aquarium powerhead

This old work-horse consumes 4-5 x’s as much electricity as some other models

How many powerheads do you run in your tank? How much are they contributing to the overall electricity costs of your aquarium? Leave a comment and let me know how these calculations stack up with your aquarium powerhead costs. Thanks.

Written by Albert B. Ulrich III. Follow me on  and Twitter

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