How Long Can I Listen To The Radio With My Car Off?

Norvan Martin

Listening to the radio while parked somewhere is a common activity for most people. However, it raises the question – how long can I listen to my car radio with the car off? After all, you don’t want to drain your battery, otherwise, you won’t be able to start your car after.

The answer to this question depends on many factors, such as the type of battery your car uses, how old it is, does it has subwoofers and amplifiers, and the radio’s power consumption.

However, generally speaking, you can listen to the radio for approximately 2 to 3 hours without draining the vehicle battery when your car is off. In some cases, you can get up to 5 hours if you keep power consumption low.

Most car batteries have a capacity of 60Ah. As a result, most can offer six amps for ten hours or 60 amps for one hour. Meanwhile, a conventional stereo will need about five amps, but five amps won’t be enough if you want to play loud music.

However, if you have a demanding audio system in your car, your battery will drain very fast.  For example, if you have an external power amp that requires say 200 amps, your battery may die in as little as 15 minutes.

Otherwise, the battery will typically last two to three hours. Please remember that a car with a dead battery cannot start.

Other than the radio, other car features also consume battery, such as the lighting inside, blinkers, air conditioners, etc. Some cars even have the feature of charging the user’s mobile phones – this will also cost energy. 

So, if you play the radio with your car engine off, remember that these things will also consume the battery if used, leading to reduced playing time, and this can affect the car’s battery if done more often, which we will read later. 

Please note that if your car is experiencing any of the issues below, this may affect how long you can listen to your radio while the car is off:

In this article, we shall also discuss the following:

  • How Long Will a Car Battery Last With the Radio on? 
  • Does Leaving the Radio on Drain the Car Battery?
  • How to Listen to Radio Without Draining Car Battery?

Now, we will discuss each in detail. 

How Long Will A Car Battery Last With The Radio On?

A car battery typically lasts ten to twelve hours when a standard car radio is used. The battery’s age is an important factor to consider. Over time, all batteries lose their ability, so an older battery will be unable to provide as much power to the radio as a newer battery.

A battery that is several years old may only be able to power the radio for a few hours before it is drained completely.

Automobile, Cockpit, Inner Space, Radio

Most cars use lead-acid batteries designed to provide energy to start the engine and recharge as the car is on the go. These batteries are not intended to be used for long periods without the engine running, so leaving the radio on for an extended period can quickly drain the battery.

On the other hand, newer cars use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries can efficiently hold a charge for a long time and provide several hours of power to the radio without significantly draining the battery. Still, the exact lifespan will depend on the battery’s capacity and the radio’s power consumption. 

Also, the usage of radio has an impact- how loud you play the music, whether you are using amplifiers and subwoofers with it, what kind you are using, etc. For example, playing music on loud for a long time has a higher chance of draining the battery than listening to it at lower volumes.

Even the type of radio also plays a key role. If you have a radio with many features, it will likely have higher power consumption.

Does Leaving The Radio On Drain The Car Battery?

Yes, leaving the radio on when the engine is off can drain the car battery. Like any other electrical component in the car, the radio requires power. When the engine runs, the alternator recharges the battery and provides power to the electrical systems, including the radio.


However, when the engine is off, the battery is the sole source of energy for the radio. Even in standby mode, the radio can consume energy and drain the battery over time.

Note that leaving the radio on for a long period can also cause damage to the battery.

When a battery is drained completely, it can shorten its lifespan and make it unsuitable in the future. Additionally, a repeatedly drained and recharged battery can develop sulfation. 

How To Listen To Radio Without Draining Car Battery?

You must remember certain things to listen to the radio without draining your car’s battery. Here is how you can do so:

  • Carry a portable radio or music device: The best way not to drain the car’s battery is to use a portable radio device that does not consume the car’s battery. Carry headphones and download apps like Spotify or Apple Music on your cellular devices. 
  • Use a different battery from the main one: You can install a separate battery to power the car’s radio. This more complex solution requires professional installation but can provide reliable power to the radio without draining the car battery.
  • Solar-powered chargers for the radio: Many solar-powered chargers can be placed on the car’s dashboard. They can be connected to the radio using a USB cable. This is a sustainable option that uses renewable energy to power the radio.
  • Manage the frequency: Managing the frequency and volume can promote less battery usage. If you listen to the radio on lower volumes, then that will be better. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I tell if my radio is draining my battery? 

Here are a few things that you will notice:

  • Car lights and headlights look dim.
  • A battery warning appears.
  • Engine cranking. 
  • Difficulty in starting the car. 

2. How long can I leave my car in accessory mode? 

You can leave your car in the accessory mode for two hours. Do not exceed more than that. 

You can put your car in accessory mode to run gadgets when the car is not moving. 

3. Is listening to the car radio while the engine is off safe?

While listening to the radio with the engine is off is normally safe, paying attention to how fully charged the battery is crucial. Playing the radio for a long time while the engine is off can drain the battery to the point that the car won’t start later if the battery is already weak or old.

4. Will a Car Radio Work if the Battery is Dead? 

No, the radio needs power from the battery. If the battery is drained, then the radio will not function. So, the radio will not work if your car’s battery is dead. 

5. How to Use a Car Radio Without Draining the Battery?

  • Carry a portable device like a small music system, smartphone, portable speakers, etc. 
  • Use a different battery for the radio. 
  • Become sustainable: use a solar-powered battery for the radio. 
  • Manage the frequency and the volume of the radio. Keep it at a lower volume most of the time.  


To sum up, the car battery’s age, life, and type play a key role in determining how long you can listen to the radio with the car off. Also, more battery power shall be consumed if the radio has additional features. How you use the radio also matters- if you listen to it too loudly, the battery will be drained out quickly. Other car components such as air conditioners, lighting, and more also consume the battery. 

Apart from that, doing this regularly can affect the battery. So, follow good practices that do not harm your vehicle. is crucial. Try to keep this kind of radio use to a minimum.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin