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How Much Electricity Does a Vending Machine Use a Month?

Learn how much electricity a vending machine uses a month. Here’s an average kWh consumption for different sizes of vending machines.

September 18, 2023


When you want to start a vending business, one of the first questions you’ll naturally ask yourself is: how much electricity does a vending machine use a month? Energy cost is one of the recurrent expenses you will incur every month. Keeping it under control will ensure you keep more of your money and make a healthy profit.

How much electricity a vending machine uses a month depends mostly on its size and functionality. Normal vending machines with basic features have energy use about 7 kWh a day. On the higher end, you have big feature-rich vending machines using up to 15 kWh a day.

Your monthly mileage, therefore, will vary depending on the vending machine you operate. Read on to find out how much electricity the type of vending machine you have your sights on is likely to use and the approximate monthly bill based on energy prices in your state.

Factors that Determine Vending Machine Energy Consumption

Generally, the energy consumption of a vending machine will depend on its size, features, and the number of operating hours. You may achieve energy efficiency despite some of these factors, but it is still important to have them in mind when shopping for a vending machine.

Size of the Vending Machine

Big machines will typically consume more energy than smaller ones. For a refrigerated vending machine, the bigger it is, the more products it can carry. It needs more energy to keep all those products cool.

Further, a bigger vending machine also has a larger surface area of every part affecting temperature control. The doors are larger and the seals are longer. There are just more avenues for heat to get in.

You should, however, not buy a small, typical vending machine simply because it will have less energy use. A bigger vending machine carries more products thereby reducing costs associated with stocking trips and also gives your customers a better product selection which can result in more revenue. The additional revenue and the reduced stocking trips make the venture worthwhile.

Also, you should not look at a vending machine’s energy consumption in absolute terms. While it is true that a big vending machine may consume more electricity than a smaller one, it may also be true that it consumes less energy per cubic foot than the smaller one. Therefore, given the number of vending products the big machine contains, it may be more energy efficient.

Features of the Vending Machine

Vending machines with complicated features that demand a lot of power to run will typically use more energy. For instance, you can expect a robotic hot pizza vending machine with advertising lights to have higher energy use than a typical vending machine like simple snacks and drinks vending machines.

For a simple drinks, combo, and snack machine, there are minimal differences in energy usage occasioned by their essential features, as those features tend to be standard across the board. Significant differences occur when manufacturers install energy efficiency features or when they ignore such features altogether.

Energy-saving features in modern vending machines include occupancy sensors, energy-saver lighting, low-heat generating lighting, and efficient compressor systems.

Operating Hours During the Day

Your energy costs are billed per kWh. It makes sense that the more hours your vending machine runs at full power, the higher your electricity bill will be at the end of the month.

Outdoor vending machines are meant to be active 24/7 so customers can buy what they want whenever they want. Even for indoor vending machines, you don’t want to turn them off when you are closing for the day because they likely have perishable products that should be kept refrigerated. So, when you are billed per kWh, and a vending machine has to run 24/7, how do you save money on energy costs given these facts?

Technological advancements now make it possible for some machines to go to a low-power state when no one is close by. This is akin to your phone going to sleep when you are not using it. When a customer comes nearby, the vending machine detects this using its sensors and resumes operation at full power. Such a feature can help you conserve energy at night when the vending machine has to be on but customers are few and far between.

How Much Electricity Does a Vending Machine Use? (Daily Electricity Consumption)

Electricity usage by vending machines varies by size and functionality. Daily usage starts from as low as 7 kWh and may top 15 kWh for some big robotic vending machines.

To give you an idea of how much energy use your vending machine will likely have per day, I will explore the electricity consumption of old and new vending machines available for sale today, the kind you are likely to buy in the United States. Assume that the vending machines run 24 hours a day.

Scenario 1: An Old Used Vending Machine 

Many people starting out in the vending business will buy used vending machines on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Vending machines last for about 12 to 24 years. The oldest working vending machines on the market today will be about 20 years old (likely refurbished). Naturally, old vending machines will not have the fancy energy-saving features of their newer modern counterparts.

Let’s take an example of a vending machine that was in operation 20 years ago in 2003. I found some reliable data that you may find interesting. This data is from a study sponsored by a US government agency in 2003.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) wanted to analyze the energy-saving potential of the vending machines deployed in its office building. As a result, they recorded the energy consumption of the vending machines under different conditions. Below is the data.

Vending Machine Type: A typical vending machine with an illuminated storefront that dispenses 500 12-oz cans.

Average Power Consumption:

  • Between 7 and 11 kWh per day under baseline conditions. The average is 8.3 kWh per day.
  • When NREL introduced an energy-saving feature by way of a load manager in the vending machine, the average energy consumption dropped to 5.6 kWh per day.
  • Further, with the load manager working, lamps in excess of what was necessary were removed. In this case, the energy consumption dropped to an average of 3.7 kWh per day.

You can find the full report, published in June 2003, on the official NREL website here.

These figures show just how much energy-saving features can help reduce a vending machine’s electricity consumption.

If you buy an old vending machine without modern energy-saving features, you can expect to get what NREL got under baseline conditions: about 8.3 kWh per day.

Scenario 2: A New Modern Vending Machine

If you buy a modern vending machine with all the modern features, what energy consumption figures can you expect? 

Haloo Vending builds modern vending machines with most of the modern features you’ve come to love, such as remote internet-enabled management systems. They have disclosed that, at room temperature, and with refrigeration turned on, you can expect their vending machines to consume 5 to 7 kWh per day.

Another example of modern vending machines is the kind sold by Gecko Vending. According to Gecko Vending, their vending machines energy use is 5.7 kWh per day at 75°F.

These figures, obviously, are for marketing purposes. Under normal business environments, the numbers can be higher. You should therefore expect to get an average figure slightly higher than 7 kWh per day.

Why Hasn’t the Average Vending Machine’s Energy Consumption Not Changed Much Over the Years?

The NREL study found that the average vending machine in 2003 consumed 7 to 11 kWh per day under baseline conditions. Today, owners of modern vending machines also report recording 7 to 14 kWh per day under normal usage. Why is this the case when modern vending machines have a host of energy-saving features?

The reason the figures are still in the same ballpark is that even though modern vending machines have lots of energy-saving features, they also have additional features that demand more power to run. Today, we see vending machines with features such as:

  • Digital touch screens and interactive user interfaces
  • Card reading capabilities
  • Remote management 
  • Inventory tracking 
  • Robotics that prepare hot foods from scratch

There is less wastage of energy when using modern vending machines, though. Most of the energy goes into doing only what the machine is designed to do.

In Money Terms, How Much Electricity Does a Vending Machine Use a Month?

Assuming that your vending machine uses an average of 8.3 kWh per day (the baseline figure from the NREL study), how much can you expect to pay monthly for the electricity your vending machine uses?

A daily average of 8.3 kWh translates to a total monthly electricity consumption of 249 kWh. You will be billed per kWh for electricity. According to Energy Bot, the average rate (cost of electricity) for all US states is 10.42 cents per kWh. On average, therefore, an American vending machine owner can expect to pay $25.95 per month in electricity bills to operate a vending machine (249 kWh X 10.42 cents).

Different states price electricity differently. Hawaii has the highest average rate at 42.16 cents per kWh. Our friend consuming 249 kWh a month will spend $104.97 on electricity monthly, more than quadruple the average.

Utah has the lowest average rate at 7.97 cents per kWh. In Utah, our friend will spend $19.84 monthly to power his vending machine.

These figures are the average costs of electricity for business premises. The average rates may be higher or lower depending on the month you read this article. For up-to-date information, check out the average rates for your state on Energy Bot here (navigate to the “Business” column).

The top five states with the highest average rate per kWh are:

  1. Hawaii - 43.65 cents
  2. New Hampshire - 22.26 cents
  3. Massachusetts - 21.08 cents
  4. California - 21.99 cents
  5. Connecticut - 21.36 cents

The five states with the lowest average rate per kWh are:

  1. Utah - 7.97 cents
  2. Idaho - 8.19 cents
  3. North Dakota - 9.15 cents
  4. Nebraska - 8.48 cents
  5. Oklahoma - 9.09 cents

Hawaii’s prices are significantly higher than the next most expensive state, New Hampshire. Hawaii’s average rate is a lot higher than those on the mainland because of the cost of imported fuel that powers the generators on the island. Fluctuation in oil prices is the biggest cost driver in energy prices on the island.

How to Figure Out the Likely Energy Consumption of a Vending Machine

Your vending machine likely has a wattage label on it. The wattage represents the maximum power that the vending machine draws. The actual amount of power it draws under normal working conditions may be lower than that, but let’s work with the indicated figure.

If there is no wattage label, you can estimate it by multiplying the indicated amperes (electrical current draw) by the voltage (e.g. 240v).

You will then need to convert the watts into kilowatts. 1,000 watts equals 1 kilowatt (kW). The watts indicated on the label are basically how much energy the vending machine uses per one hour. If they indicate 500 watts, the vending machine’s energy usage is 0.5 kWh. Since your vending machine runs 24 hours a day, you can expect it to consume 12 kWh per day (0.5 kWh X 24 hours).

Search Energy Consumption per Vending Machine Model Before Buying

When shopping for vending machines, you should look for similar models and compare disclosed energy consumption figures. These details will be on the manufacturer’s/retailer’s website and associated marketing materials. It will also be in the product brochure.

If a manufacturer or retailer doesn’t list this information on the website or brochure, you can call them to ask. This is especially important when you are running multiple locations. The cumulative energy savings if you make the right decision is significant. 

How to Save Money on Electricity When Running a Vending Machine Business

Generally, if you’ve partnered with a location owner, you will not be paying for your energy costs directly. Such deals are structured in such a way that the location owner takes a specific commission (say 15%) of the total revenue your vending machine generates. The property owner then takes care of the cost of energy from their cut.

It is, however, beneficial for you to have an energy-saving vending machine as you can use that fact to negotiate a lower commission payment with the location owner. Besides the absolute figures in energy savings, the location owner may also like the idea of having a green vending machine on their site. More and more people are looking for ways to do their part to save our planet.

The following are some of the actions you can take to reduce the energy consumption of your vending business.

  1. Refurbish Old Vending Machines

Old machines tend to waste a lot of energy. In the study I discussed above, NREL researchers reduced the average energy consumption of their vending machines from 8.3 kWh per day to 5.6 kWh per day by introducing load managers. On sorting out lighting, they reduced this figure further to 3.7 kWh per day.

By refurbishing your old vending machines and installing compatible modern parts, you can also see such drastic savings as well. For instance, lighting technology has advanced significantly over the last 15 years. You can find very affordable energy-saving gadgets to replace the wasteful old ones you are currently using.

  1. Buy ENERGY STAR Vending Machines

When buying a vending machine today, consider buying one rated as an ENERGY STAR. The US Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency award the ENERGY STAR to electrical appliances that use less energy than their peers. 

These machines use less energy because they have energy-saving features such as efficient lighting systems, efficient compressors, and fan motors. They also come with the ability to go into a low-power mode where the machine runs in a low lighting and refrigeration state when it is not in use.

On average, vending machines with the ENERGY STAR certification are 40% more efficient and lead to annual energy savings of about 1,000 kWh. To put this in perspective, in New Hampshire, where energy costs 22.26 cents per kWh, you will be looking at $220 in annual savings per vending machine. If you operate several vending machines, the savings are huge.

  1. Turn Off Unnecessary Lights

If your vending location is well-lighted, consider turning off some of the lights in or on the vending machine. Turning off unnecessary lights can lead to tremendous energy savings, as was seen by the NREL team.

For the lights that are necessary, consider replacing them with T8 replacement bulbs or tubes. Some vending machines come with lights in the 150 to 180 watts range which is completely unnecessary. You can adequately light a vending machine with a fraction of such wattage.

  1. Install Vending Miser to Save 46% of Energy Cost

VendingMiser is one of the most popular occupancy sensors in the market today. Many vending machines run at full power 24/7. They, therefore, end up wasting a lot of energy, especially when no one is around to use them.

With a VendingMiser, if for 15 minutes nobody comes close to the vending machine, the gadget will shut down the vending machine. If a person comes nearby, the gadget will detect the motion and turn the machine back on. To keep products cool, VendingMiser will turn on the vending machine once every three hours even if no one is around.

VendingMiser has been tested extensively and found effective. Coca-Cola, for instance, has more than 350,000 of them installed on their refrigerated vending machines.

Some state governments have rebates and incentives to promote the uptake of such energy savers. Massachusetts, for instance, has the following per-unit incentives:

  • VendingMiser on refrigerated beverage vending machine - $115
  • VendingMiser on non-refrigerated beverage vending machine - $45
  • VendingMiser on glass front refrigerated coolers - $115.

Learn more about the Massachusetts rebates and incentives program here. 

  1. Trade in Your Old Vending Machine for a Newer Model

The vending machine company may be willing to accept your old vending machine as a trade-in. If you don’t like the trade-in terms, you can sell the old vending machine on eBay or Craigslist and use the earnings to buy a newer, more energy-efficient one.

Besides the energy savings, a newer vending machine has other benefits, such as

  • You reduce the chances that you lose your location to a competitor with new machines
  • Better user experience for your customers hence increased customer loyalty
  • If it is a smart vending machine, you will get features such as remote inventory management and contactless payments.

  1. Find Ambient Conditions

A vending machine put indoors under ambient conditions will demand less energy to keep products cool than an outdoor vending machine exposed to the elements. The most unfavorable condition to put a vending machine, as far as average power consumption is concerned, is directly under the sun with no shade whatsoever. The machine will work overtime to keep products cool, and it will show on your energy bill.

Final Thoughts

The most crucial factor determining success in the vending business is location. Having an energy-efficient vending machine will make it easier to secure good locations.

Locations tend to have multi-year contracts with vending machine operators. Contracts coming to an end this year likely have old vending machines that aren’t energy efficient. You can take advantage of this fact to sell your energy-saving vending machines as a suitable replacement.

Our Vending Locator service can help you find locations in your city open to having new vending machines, including locations looking to replace old machines with more energy-efficient ones. On average, people who use our service secure 3 locations after only 30 days of outreach.

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