Explanation of this seemingly useless WiFi option on Fire TVs

While browsing recent Fire TV related articles and videos, I came across this YouTube video published yesterday by someone who is understandably confused by the purpose of a relatively new Fire TV option that allows users to turn WiFi off. Anyone who has ever used a Fire TV knows that it is practically useless without a network connection, so either a WiFi or Ethernet connection is always necessary. When connected to Ethernet, the device, essentially, ignores WiFi networks, so why would someone ever need to manually disable WiFi?

Buried at the bottom of the Network menu in the Fire TV’s settings is a simple toggle to turn WiFi on or off. If your Fire TV is connected via Ethernet, there’s no reason to manually turn WiFi off, since it will always prioritize the wired connection over any available WiFi networks. The option seems pointless and you’re right to think that because it’s not really meant to be used. As I understand it, it’s just there for regulatory compliance.

Many countries, especially in the European Union, have strict power consumption regulations for electronic devices, such as needing to use no more than some set amount of power while in standby mode. While Fire TV devices do have a sleep mode, anyone that has ever connected a power meter to one will know that being awake or asleep doesn’t really change how much power the device is using.

While there are some differences in what software can and can’t run while a Fire TV is asleep or awake, Fire TV devices don’t really have a low-power standby mode. When a Fire TV is asleep, it is essentially just disabling the video output or putting out a black video feed, but the device itself is still as powered on as if it were awake. This is so it can perform necessary background tasks while you’re not using it, like software updates.

Since a Fire TV in sleep mode isn’t consuming much less power than if it were awake, this causes an issue when it comes to meeting energy-saving regulations. From what I’ve been told, the only way for a Fire TV’s energy consumption to be low enough to meet certain power consumption regulations for electronic devices in standby is if the Fire TV’s WiFi was turned off entirely. Since a Fire TV normally never turns its WiFi off entirely, the option to manually turn WiFi off is necessary to reach a power consumption state that is low enough to meet certain regulations.

I’ll be first to admit that I may not have all of these details correct, since government regulations are complicated and Amazon rarely explains its software updates, but I’m fairly certain that the general reasoning behind the Fire TV option to turn WiFi off is to meet power saving regulations in place by certain countries. There’s very little reason for someone to go through the extra inconvenience of manually turning WiFi on and off on a Fire TV, but having the option available makes it technically possible for the device to reach a low enough energy consumption state that is necessary for the Fire TV to be sold globally.

14 comments
  1. Red Indian says:

    Time for a test to check this. :-)

    I have it connected by LAN so I could disable it and save some power.

  2. jmbode says:

    I get faster speeds via Wifi than with Ethernet. FireSticks or even my TV that has the Fire OS baked into it, seems to be limited to 90mbps but on Wifi I can get a little over 100mbps, that’s still very limited as my PC and Xbox clear 900+
    I’m just saying, and I know its weird but you might get faster speeds with wifi than lan

    • Adam says:

      Its not weird. The Fire TV devices that support Ethernet are all 10/100, so 90 Mbps is unsurprising. If you can get a clear enough signal, wifi can go much faster, including up to the speeds of Wifi 6e with the latest Cube.

      Not as bullet-proof reliable as Ethernet to be sure, but potentially faster than what is available to Fire TV’s over wired connection.

      • Adam says:

        And I should add that there are gigabyte Ethernet USB adapters out there that allow Fire TVs to enjoy actual high speed bullet proof wired connections, if one is so inclined.

        • Keep in mind that the Gigabit Ethernet adapters are still limited by the USB 2.0 port speed, which is theoretically 480 Mbps and more like 350 Mbps in reality. That’s certainly better than 90 Mbps but nowhere near Gigabit speeds.

          • Kary says:

            Is anything over 90 really useful for streaming devices? I guess maybe a new app will download faster, but other than that . . ..

  3. Charlie says:

    Without reading the entire post I think some us like the idea of turning off Wi-Fi if you aren’t using it. It saves resources and declutters neighborhood Wi-Fi.

    Seems nitpicky to worry about such a thing to me.

  4. marcel says:

    Disabling wifi with the Amazon ethernet adapter will break a bunch of stuff on the Firetv 4k max. Trying to setup the Alexa Home theatre with wifi disabled will go into a loop and never complete properly. Really bad that they still haven’t fixed this.

  5. Hereward the Woke says:

    Sounds like a fiddle to me, on par with the VW diesel emissions scandal.

  6. Ralph says:

    Is it possible to watch over the air broadcasts with a Fire TV not connected to the internet?

  7. Adam says:

    Kary says:
    July 29, 2023 at 8:05 am

    Is anything over 90 really useful for streaming devices? I guess maybe a new app will download faster, but other than that . . ..

    Where over 90 is needed is when playing local bluray rips that will have higher bitrates than the stuff coming from the streaming services. They can regularly get well over 100 Mbps during playback, whereupon you’ll get caching and stuttering. I had a copy of 1917 that I couldn’t play without repeated caching until I figured out I was using a Ethernet cable that was only 10/100.

    I don’t think any streamers likely to blow past 100 Mbps any time in the immediate future.

  8. Ron says:

    I use the wi-fi off and on to force my firestick to connect to the 5.0 ghz instead of the 2.4 ghz band on my eeros. Streaming is much better on the 5.0. I wish there was a way to have the firestick only connect to the 5.0 but have not found out how to do that yet.

  9. Andrew Blanche says:

    Wrong. Even if connected via Ethernet the fire tv will still broadcast its own wifi network for pairing with wifi devices such as nest devices the TVs remote and also for casting from smart peripherals(phones and tablets). Fix the signal drop with wifi pods / extenders/boosters

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