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Related: What happens when a lightsaber gets low on power?

Related: How is a lightsaber's power cell recharged?

This question means both:

  • How long can a lightsaber be used in continuous operation?

And, if applicable:

  • Does a lightsaber power cell run down when not in use?
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Do you want Legends answers as well? – Axelrod Jan 20 at 18:36
    
@Axelrod: I prefer not, but I suspect there is no canon answer at all. – ThePopMachine Jan 20 at 18:41
    
Keep it as-is for now, then. Maybe someone will come in with a surprise from the visual encyclopedia or books. – Axelrod Jan 20 at 18:44
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Do you want the marketing teams specs, or actual usage from user reports? – CreationEdge Jan 20 at 20:54
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@CreationEdge: The actual question was original going to be about 'talk-time', but then I decided people were going to downvote that. :) – ThePopMachine Jan 20 at 21:29

According to p.97 of Star Wars Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force by Ryder Windham,

Every lightsaber has a standard power source, the same type used in small blasters, even in glow panels. They last a long time, though, because Jedi should rarely use their weapons.

This standard power source is a diatium power cell. The excerpt suggests that power loss during periods when the lightsaber is not on is fairly minimal.

Also, recall that Obi-Wan had kept Anakin's lightsaber in a chest for 20 years and it had powered up fine when he gave it to Luke. It seems unlikely that Obi-Wan would have recharged it in the intervening time. (The same lightsaber powered up without issue at Maz Kanata's castle, 30 years after it had been last seen, but what may or may not have been done with it in those decades is far less clear.)

As for continuous operation, there seems to be no direct canon information to answer that part of your question. However, the same books says:

Only Force users are capable of building lightsabers, as it is by the Force that the power cell is initially charged.

This suggests that a truly exceptional Force user may be able to recharge his or her lightsaber on the fly during its operation, effectively removing any limitations on continuous use due to power drainage. However, given the intense, careful concentration required for a Force user to interact with the delicate components of a lightsaber, this seems unlikely.

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I think it is likely that Obi-Wan might have performed routine maintenance on Anakin's lightsaber over the 20 years he had it. I do not think that MaZ Kanata would have though. – Jack B Nimble Jan 20 at 19:13
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@JackBNimble : Is that just a feeling or based on something you read? I suppose he may have if he was certain that he would be giving it to Luke one day. Then again, he could have just not done that and decided he would have given it some TLC for an hour or two if and when Luke seemed ready. All in all, lightsabers seem to be very hardy in spite of their delicate components... – Praxis Jan 20 at 19:25
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I have no reference, but in 20 years might not Obi-Wan have said "maybe I'll perform a maintenance on my lightsaber." And on that same day thought "oh, I have that other one too, maybe I'll check to see if it is still working as well." – Jack B Nimble Jan 20 at 19:26
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Wait, the same type of power cell that is used in small blasters can only be charged by a force user? – james large Jan 20 at 21:36
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@jameslarge : The excerpt is ambiguous --- there are parts of the construction that definitely require the force (the precise alignment of crystals in the lightsaber) which the book goes on to describe. The initial charging by way of the Force could simply be ritualistic in nature, and considered necessary by Jedi standards for the construction of a "true" lightsaber. The text adds that an attempt was made by outsiders to mechanize the construction of lightsabers and this always failed, due to the precise crystal alignment requirements. – Praxis Jan 20 at 21:49

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