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Does Alexa Need to Be Plugged in All the Time?


Alexa is the all-knowing AI personal assistant developed by Amazon that you can use with compatible smart speakers such as the Echo Dot and Echo Spot.

She is the ultimate voiced powered assistant who can answer questions, set alarms, create shopping lists, find the latest Amazon deals, play music, tell jokes, and so much more.

A common question people often have, though, is whether you need to keep your Alexa device plugged in all the time, and that’s what we’ll be discussing in this article.

Most Alexa devices require electricity to function, which means they ultimately need to stay plugged in at all times. Some Echo devices, such as the Echo Plus and specific generations of the Echo Dot, can run without mains electricity when connected to a compatible portable battery base.

Read on if you want to find out more about why most Alexa devices can’t function without mains power, what will happen if you unplug them and how much electricity they use.

Can Alexa Run Without Being Plugged In?

Alexa is comparable with various brands of smart speakers, but it’s safe to say that most of us will access the AI voice assistant by purchasing an Amazon Echo device.

While many smart speakers on the market are battery-operated, unfortunately, most Echo devices, such as the Echo Show, Echo Plug and Echo Studio, require electricity to work and therefore need to be plugged in all the time.

does alexa need to be plugged in all the time - image showing an echo alexa device that is plugged in

Without a source of power, you won’t be able to talk to Alexa through voice commands, and you also won’t be able to use the device as a regular smart speaker.

To put it simply, unless you own a smart speaker with a built-in battery or one that is compatible with an optional battery base accessory, Alexa will not function.

Can You Use an Amazon Echo Without It Being Plugged In?

There is a small selection of Amazon Echo devices that don’t necessarily have to be plugged in the whole time because they are compatible with a battery base which will provide power for a limited amount of time.

The Echo Dot 3rd Generation, the Echo Plus 2nd Generation and the Echo 3rd Generation can all be plugged into the Echo battery base, meaning you can easily take Alexa with you from room to room without unplugging the speaker every time.

The Echo battery base accessories are available on Amazon as shown below. These handy gadgets have a large capacity which provides 6-9 hours of playtime on a single charge so that you can move your Echo device around the house with you throughout the day.

A minor inconvenience is that if you were to leave your home and take the Echo device to a friends house, you would need to enter set up mode to connect Alexa to their WiFi and again when you bring it back home.


Will My Alexa Reset If I Unplug It?

If you were to move your Echo device from the kitchen into the living room, unplugging it from the power supply and then plugging it in again in another room will not reset your Alexa.

All the data, settings and information for your Alexa account is stored on Amazon’s cloud, rather than locally on the device itself, so it will simply reboot, reconnect to the same WiFi network and continue working as usual.

On the other hand, if you were to unplug your Echo device and move it to a new location with a different WiFi connection, you will have to go through the set-up process again to connect it to the internet.

Should you wish to restart your Alexa device after unplugging it, you need to press and hold the microphone and volume down buttons simultaneously.

These buttons are shown below:

does alexa need to be plugged in all the time - image showing the volume and microphone buttons on an amazon echo device

After around 20 seconds, the light ring will turn orange. Once it turns blue again, your device has successfully rebooted.


Should I Unplug Alexa at Night?

All Echo devices will automatically go to sleep when not in use, so there is no need to unplug them at night.

If you wanted to, you could turn off the microphone so Alexa won’t be able to hear you, but this will also mean you can’t wake it up again without physically pressing the button to turn the microphone on again.

By unplugging your Alexa device at night, you’d also be missing out on some of the AI assistant’s convenient features.

For example, any alarms that you set the night before will not go off in the morning if the device has been unplugged. You could, of course, plug it in again in the morning before the alarm is due to go off, but this somewhat defeats the point of setting the alarm in the first place.


How to Safely Unplug Alexa

Unlike a desktop computer or laptop, Alexa Echo devices don’t have a ‘power off’ button you need to find before unplugging it from the wall.

To safely unplug Alexa, all you need to do is remove the plug either from the wall socket or from the Alexa device itself.

Unplugging Alexa will not reset any of your settings because all the information and data is stored on a cloud server, so as soon as it’s found the WiFi connection Alexa will be up and running again.


Is It Bad to Unplug Alexa?

Unplugging your Alexa device will not do any damage to Alexa, your settings or your Echo device.

As mentioned previously, Alexa devices store all the information and data on an online database rather than on the device itself.

Your personal Alexa settings and preferences are all linked to your Amazon account, so your device will remember these every time you turn it off and back on again.

Can I Unplug Alexa and Move It to a Different Room?

If you only own one Alexa device and want to use it in multiple rooms throughout your home, you can unplug it and plug it in again in a different part of the house.

If moving it to another room, plug the device back in again, and it will automatically reconnect to your WiFi router (providing it is the same broadband supply as the previous location).

If you regularly move your Alexa device from room to room, it may be worth purchasing multiple power adapters for each room, so you’re not constantly unplugging the cable from the wall each time.

Amazon sells Echo power adapters for around $15, and if you are using an alternative brand of smart speaker, there are many universal adapters available to purchase separately.

Does Alexa Use a Lot of Electricity?

If you’re worried about your electricity bills skyrocketing once you bring an Alexa device into your home, you shouldn’t have any concerns.

In standby mode, when the device is plugged in, connected to the WiFi and switched on, most Echo devices consume between 2W and 4W.

Over a year, it should only add about $5 to your electricity bill.

Even if you were using your Echo device to blast out your favourite tunes 24/7 for the whole year, it would still only add another $7 or so to your electricity bill per year.

So, for the sake of $12, all you have to do is sacrifice a couple of skinny lattes, and you’ll easily be able to justify treating yourself to a brand new Echo device without having to worry about your electricity bill.

Does Alexa Listen to You All the Time?

For Alexa to respond to your queries at all times, the microphone will continuously scan the audio in anticipation to hear its wake word, whether it be ‘Alexa’, ‘Echo’, ‘Amazon’, or ‘Computer’.

So, essentially, the answer is yes, Alexa has to listen to you all the time, but this does not mean it continuously records your conversations.

Alexa only begins recording what you say as soon it hears the wake word, at which point it will upload the recording to its servers to scan the database for the answer to your query. Then, the complex algorithms on the cloud quickly analyse the recording to decipher the question and give Alexa the response to come back to you with.

Amazon does allow you to review and delete all these recordings through Alexa’s privacy settings, should you wish to have a clear out every so often.

There is also a ‘microphone’ button on all Echo devices, which allows you to physically turn Alexa’s microphone off if you don’t need Alexa’s assistance for a while.

an image showing an amazon echo alexa device with the microphone switched off

When the microphone is off, the ring light will turn red as shown above, and Alexa will not respond to the wake word or action button until you physically press the button again.

For Echo devices with a screen, such as the Echo Show, you can turn both the microphone and camera off with one press of a button and cover the camera lens with the built-in shutter for extra peace of mind.


In Summary

To make the most of Alexa and all the features that she comes with, you will need to keep your Echo device plugged in at all times.

Echo devices do not have a built-in battery, so they need to get their power from the mains electricity supply by plugging it into the wall.

Without a source of power, the device will not be able to function.

As mentioned, a select few Echo devices are compatible with the battery base accessory, which will give around 6-9 hours of playtime before it needs a re-charge.

These handy battery accessories will set you back around $30 and are a great temporary alternative to mains power for your Echo device. They’ll also open up the possibility of moving your Echo around the house while in use, or taking it on vacation or road trips, for example.


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