Different sleep patterns in ESP32

3 min read

The ESP32 is a popular microcontroller developed by Espressif Systems, widely used in the field of embedded systems, IoT (Internet of Things), and other applications. While the ESP32 itself doesn't have "sleep types" in the same way an operating system might, it does have various power-saving modes that can be considered as "sleep types." These modes allow you to reduce power consumption when the ESP32 is not actively performing tasks, extending battery life in battery-powered applications. Here are the key power-saving modes or "sleep types" in the ESP32:

Active Mode:

This is the normal operating mode where the ESP32 is actively executing code and performing tasks. It consumes the most power but allows the device to function at full capacity.

In Active Mode, the ESP32 consumes the most power as all components, including the CPU, peripherals, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, are active and ready to execute tasks. This mode provides the fastest response time since all systems are fully operational.


Light Sleep Mode:

In Light Sleep mode, the CPU is stopped, but most of the ESP32's hardware peripherals remain active. It's a low-power state that allows for a quick wake-up when an interrupt occurs. Light Sleep is suitable for scenarios where you need to periodically wake up and perform tasks without much delay.

Light Sleep mode reduces power consumption by halting the CPU while keeping most peripherals active. This allows for a quick wake-up in milliseconds, making it suitable for tasks that require periodic operation but can tolerate a short delay.

Modem Sleep Mode:

In Modem Sleep mode, both the CPU and the Wi-Fi modem are turned off. This mode is useful when you want to maintain a connection to a Wi-Fi network but don't need to execute code on the CPU. It conserves more power compared to Light Sleep but has a slightly longer wake-up time.

Modem Sleep mode is similar to Light Sleep, but it keeps the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules active, allowing the ESP32 to maintain a connection to a network or communicate with other devices. It also has a relatively short wake-up time.

Deep Sleep Mode:

Deep Sleep is the most power-efficient mode in the ESP32. In this mode, almost all the components are turned off, including the CPU, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Only a real-time clock (RTC) and certain GPIO pins can wake up the device. Deep Sleep is suitable for applications that require long periods of inactivity and can tolerate longer wake-up times. It's commonly used in battery-powered IoT devices.

Deep Sleep is highly power-efficient, with the CPU, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth turned off. Only the Real-Time Clock (RTC) is active to wake up the device at scheduled intervals. Wake-up times can vary from milliseconds to seconds, depending on the RTC configuration.

Hibernate Mode (Not as commonly used):

Hibernate Mode is an even more extreme power-saving state where the ESP32's state is saved to external memory, and the entire chip is powered down. This mode is rarely used due to its complexity and limited use cases.

Hibernate Mode is rarely used and is the most power-efficient. It essentially powers down the entire chip, saving its state to external memory. Wake-up times can be relatively long, ranging from seconds to minutes, as the chip must be fully initialized again.


Keep in mind that the actual power consumption figures can vary based on the specific ESP32 module, clock speeds, and other hardware configurations. Additionally, optimizing power consumption often involves configuring the ESP32's peripherals and wake-up sources appropriately for your application's needs.


For precise power measurements in your project, you may need to use specialized equipment like a power analyzer or oscilloscope to monitor current and voltage levels during different operating modes. This will allow you to fine-tune power management to achieve the best balance between performance and battery life for your specific use case.