Why you should never power a Fire TV Stick from your TV’s USB port

On the plastic wrapper of every Amazon Fire TV Stick is a message telling you to “use the included power adapter and USB cable” to discourage you from using the USB port on your TV to power the device. Many people miss the warning or ignore it for the convenience of having one less power adapter to deal with. If you’re currently powering a Firestick off of your TV or are thinking about doing it, here’s why you should reconsider using the stock power brick that comes with the device.

The main reason not to use the USB port on a TV to power a Fire TV Stick is that it greatly increases the risk of damaging or “bricking” your streaming device. I know there are going to be thousands, if not millions, of people who will be quick to mention that they have been powering a Fire TV Stick with their TV’s USB port for years without any issues. That’s fine and I believe them because I’m not saying doing so will absolutely damage the Fire TV Stick, but it does make it much more likely for something to go wrong.

All Fire TV Sticks come with a power adapter capable of outputting 1 amp of power. That doesn’t mean that a Fire TV Stick needs that much power to run, but it can technically pull up to that much power from the included power adapter. Most USB ports on TVs can only provide up to 0.5 amps of power because that’s what the official USB standard dictates for a high-power device. Most of the time, the Fire TV Stick uses less than 0.5 amps to run, which is why so many people have no issues powering off of their TV’s USB port, but the Fire TV Sticks power use fluctuates and can exceed 0.5 amps.

The most critical time for a Fire TV Stick to be receiving sufficient power happens to be one of the times that it actually consumes the most power, which is during a system software update. The Fire TV Stick’s power usage tends to peak during software updates, due to all the data being unpacked, read, and written. That’s the worst time for it to unexpectedly restart due to insufficient power because restarting during the wrong time during a software update can easily brick your device.

Worse yet, most TV USB ports lose power completely when the TV is turned off. You might think you’re careful and would never turn your TV off while your Fire TV is installing an update, but what about when you’re using your TV on a different input? Your Fire TV Stick might, unbeknownst to you, be installing an update while sitting idle. When you go to turn off your TV, you can unknowingly be doing so right in the middle of a Fire TV Stick software update.

If the risk of bricking your Fire TV Stick due to a poorly timed restart isn’t reason enough to not power it off of the TV’s USB port isn’t reason enough not to do it, the other reason is for better performance. All Fire TV models are designed to perform maintenance and background tasks while idle, even while they are in their sleep mode. This is so that they’re all fresh and ready for you when you go to use them. If your Fire TV Stick is always powered off when you’re not using it, due to the TV’s USB port losing power while the TV is off, then it has no choice but to perform that maintenance while you’re actively using it.

This means that what you’re trying to do with the Fire TV Stick and its own maintenance/background activity will be competing for the device’s limited resources. The result is a poorer performing device, or worse, a device that fails to work properly because it needs to wait for an update to install or a background task to complete. You’ll have a better experience using a Fire TV Stick that spent its idle time overnight taking care of its housekeeping chores.

If it makes no difference to you, you really should use the included power adapter instead of your TV’s USB ports to power a Fire TV Stick. This holds true for all models, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite, or Fire TV Stick 4K. Sure, the chance of damage and the performance hit of using the TV’s USB port is minimal, but it is still present. If you still want to use your TV’s USB port to power a Fire TV Stick, at the very least, check if your TV has a setting to keep the USB ports powered on at all times and enable it. Even then, I suggest getting one of these special power cables which have circuitry to handle the Firesticks peak power draws and are certified by Amazon for use with a Fire TV Stick.

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81 comments
  1. Michael says:

    There is a reason that HDTVs USB were never designed for a Fire TV or other streaming devices. The engineer selecting the USB chip can choose a current limit or voltage limit.

    If a current limit is used in the HDTV USB chip, current over 2.5 watts, voltage will increase. That voltage will heat your stick up and cause premature failure.

    When the engineer selects a voltage limit USB, the excess wattage (from the stick at HD streaming) will pull more current from the HDTV and destroy the USB chip inside the TV.

    But there is a much better use of the USB in your HDTV and that is for local access such as a hard drive or maybe your NAS. Most HDTVs are designed with that in mind and have a file explorer that is not built into any of the fire TV models. As long as you don’t fry it by running too much current thru it.

    • Me says:

      Where TF is it supposed to to then …huh….

    • Gary says:

      False information, look up tv specs most tvs put out 1amp on the USB port!!! Do your homework

      • David says:

        And current is not power. Amps is the unit for current. Watts is the unit foe Power. Different things.

        • Dane says:

          Quoted directly from the article: “Most USB ports on TVs can only provide up to 0.5 amps of power”

          I agree, an amp is a measurement of current, watt is a measurement of power, but the article does confuse the terms. So which is it, a half amp of current or a half watt of power??

    • Bob says:

      There is an adaptor made specifically so you can use the USB port on your tv.

      https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Mission-Power-Eliminates-Adapter/dp/B078KSHVCS

      • Chris says:

        Why would you spend a additional 20.00 on something you don’t need to run the Fire stick. Amazon give you everything you need to run the device.

    • Shaun Prince says:

      To be accurate. The USB on the TV will provide 5 volts, just like the wall adaptor. The primary difference, and the danger, lies with the Wattage. The TV’s USB port will adhere to some basic standard whether it is USB 1.1 or USB 2.0/3.x. Most TVs I have seen with a USB, only use USB for applying a firmware update or other maintenance / servicing. This ports will sometimes only provide 500mA of power (5v x 0.5A = 2.5W). The power adaptor that comes with your fire stick is 5W. You will cause damage by underpowering the device. The TV will likely never provide more power than the provided adaptor.

    • Zeric says:

      Michael is not quite correct in his explanation USB and power design considerations, an area I have some expertise in as an EE.

      USB 2.0 voltage from the host port is always 5v if it’s working correctly, regardless if the device connected uses 10mA or 500mA. The voltage will never increase beyond 5V unless there has been a circuit failure or it was improperly designed. As Elias correctly stated, USB 2.0 is specified to provide at least 500mA, many host devices will provide more. Now, when someone connects a USB peripheral that requires more current than the host port can provide, it can be handled in different ways. A well designed host port will just shutdown and stay shutdown until it detects the condition has been resolved. If it’s not as well designed, the port will put out what current it can, but the external device may see a voltage sag and definitely will not get the full current it needs. Depending on the external device, this can cause erratic and potentially damaging behavior, or the device may sense the condition and shut itself down.

      The USB port on a TV could be designed to provide up to about 2A of power, this isn’t an issue, but it does take more components and increases cost. The port can also be designed to always provide power, regardless if the TV itself on. It’s just a design decision, which has to be balance against other concerns like phantom energy usage.

      The ports on most TVs are designed for a USB flash drive or externally powered hard drive, not a streaming device. Some TVs do provide sufficient current to reliably power a streaming stick (check the manual for the maximum current), or the current drive ability of the USB port can be tested. Testing requires expertise and equipment, while not particularly expensive, isn’t something that most people will have.

    • Ian says:

      Why do Amazon sell leads to plug the 4k firestick into TV usb socket then? This is an official Amazon product so is guaranteed and negates all of the above.

      • Zeric says:

        Amazon doesn’t “sell leads to plug the 4k firestick into TV usb socket” that I’ve seen, but there are third party marketplace sellers who advertise on Amazon such devices.

        Ian says there is an “official Amazon product” with the functionality to allow plugging the 4k firestick into the usb socket for power. Please provide a link or a way to search for the exact product.

        I don’t believe it, so feel free to prove me wrong.

  2. Sam says:

    But if you keep the Firestick plug up at all time in a outlet ,will it cause the Firestick device to run hot

    • Me says:

      Where TF is it supposed to to then …huh….

      • Chris K Staheli says:

        In the wall

      • Michael says:

        Common have u EVER plugged a cell phone in charged a gps 20 years ago charged a flashlight own a computer? Or even better the wall cord that comes boxed with the fie stick when you buy it. Use ANY usb connection EXCEPT YOUR TV that nozzle saying awww all tv’s do 1 amp in my house with 5 tv’s. 3 are 1amp the other 2 are under. So as the author said at the beginning there are probably millions of people running them this way but you are not getting proper performance so do not cry when it buffers or when your sisters kid jacks with the remote during a update and fries your fires stick… I promise it will NOT BE ON SALE THAT DAY!!! Stay safe everyone, knowledge is power you just got stronger:-)

      • Look for the instaoutlet. Available on Amazon.

    • Jerramie Mcgough says:

      You can buy a light switch type device, that looks exactly like a light switch and plug the adapter into that and just turn it off when not using And on when you want to use.this is like a toggle switch, just make sure your device is not updating.

  3. Phil says:

    Does it help with buffing

    • John S says:

      Technically as the stick gets warmer then it affects the performance. Not to say your wifi isn’t causing it. But electronics like this do not perform to potential as they get hot

  4. Linda V says:

    What is “bricking”??? I have my fire stick plugged directly into the USB port on my TV..I do have a LOT of buffering…..can U post a video of what your talking about!???

    • Spanky says:

      Plugging in a power cord. You seriously don’t need a video of someone plugging a power cord into a wall, do you?

      • Dan says:

        Just plug the power cord into a wall outlet, rather than using your USB port on your tv to power it. That is it!!!

      • Neogeo71 says:

        I lost a 4K firestick this way. Amazon said it was a bad firmware update. Now i realize it was running off USB port on TV. I also had a firestick thst would reboot intermittently, turned out it was usb powered too. I stuck to AC wall power after that.

    • Pegaroo says:

      Bricking is slag for when a piece of hardware becomes non fictional due to a firmware update going wrong usually due to accidental powerloss during the update

    • Robert McConnell says:

      All you need is a wifi extender your buffering is caused by the interactions of wifi signals that surround with your own the extender will eliminate that don’t pay more than 20 bucks for one

    • Anthony Rossetti says:

      bricking is when your device fails at the time it is installing a FW update interruption of power during a FW update can “brick” devices because it is writing or flashing FW to a NAND or NOR chip
      power interruption during a flashing process can corrupt the data on the NAND making it so you cannot rewrite to it or re flash it and if the FW is corrupted and the device is not working you are stuck with an unusable device

  5. Calvin says:

    Mine work fine plugged in and do not over heat. I have on two tv’s.

  6. Thom says:

    My Samsung’s USB ports power output capabilities are clearly listed. One at 0.5a and the other clearly says “HDD 5v 1.0a”. It’s from 2012 and far from top of the line even then.

    Step up your tech game with details.

  7. Gary says:

    This is just bs!!!! I have checked and a lot of tvs the USB port is 1 amp. You can look up your model of tv and check this. Plus Amazon sells a usb adapter to plug the firestick into the tv!!!!

  8. Mike T says:

    I just think it’s funny that Amazon marks their package bot to do that but then At the same time had 500 different people selling those cords advertised for that reason on their platform. And also where does that guy get his fire sticks for $2? I have gotten a deal but $2 sounds a little (clears throat) horseshit!

  9. Tyrone Ingram says:

    Damn near ten years of plugging it into my tv and no problem now im suppose to think there is suppose to be a problem .. dont start one there wont be none… theyre starting one.

  10. Tim says:

    Well I have replaced my power at least 3 times for my Fire Stick and it’s a pain in the ass. They work for a couple weeks maybe a month and it starts fading. Where can you buy a correct power source for the stick?

  11. Derrick says:

    It will also damage your TV.

  12. Reeko says:

    Fake or not, this is someone’s opinion with no scientific evidence to back it up. Does Elias Saba work for aftvnews or Amazon? It seems that the Amazon wants the device to stay on all the time like all of their Alexa line of devices, which I assume is to collect information 24/7. When using the power brick the device never powers off and does experience heat sync issues on the brick and device. Leaving a device on 24/7 can cause its components to fail a lot sooner than devices that power cycle periodically.

    • Zeric says:

      No scientific evidence? Clearly you haven’t done your homework as this is a well known issue with *some* televisions. Does that mean it’s a problem with *your* television, not necessarily, all the TVs you own may have plenty of power for a Fire Stick. As far as Elias, up till a few months ago yes he did work for Amazon in product management.
      Yes Amazon does want the devices on all the time so it can download updates when the device is not in use, and likely to collect data. Not sure what a “heat sync issue”. I do know what heat sink is, and they solve overheating issues, not cause them. You are correct that leaving a device on all the time may shorten it’s lifespan, however if the device is correctly designed, it will become long obsolete before it fails due to being left on 24/7.

  13. Jack says:

    Elias is simply and accurately stating the risks involved. “never” is not a good word choice for the title. I would change that. Having power fail during a firmware update can be catastrophic! In the end, it’s up to the user how much risk he/she wants to take. I always use an Amazon A/C adapter plugged in a UPS. I’m taking zero risk.

  14. Tori says:

    UPS???
    Did you mean USB?

  15. L. B. Right says:

    I for one believe it. I had one that ‘bricked’ just as was stated.

  16. Anto Kyuuketsuki says:

    I was firing up my stick for years via the USB on my TV, the stick doesn’t need an extravagant amount of power because it doesn’t need to power up anything more than the standard cellphone from the past eight (or so) years so the power is sufficient. However, the Fire TV boxes (1st generation) require to be plugged in as they have more going on than the stick. The Fire sticks can only run one process, whereas the boxes can run multiple, which is handy for people like myself who run NordVPN on services like Netflix and Disney+ for the U.S. servers, living in the UK. My old Fire stick, is still living a perfectly functioning life with my girlfriend who also powers it from her TV (since I set it up).

  17. Bill Vallotton says:

    I tried to use a 4k fire stick plugged in to sony usb port and it would work but would not pass the HDR signal to the tv until I plugged it into the included power adapter.

  18. Leroy says:

    These people in the replies. “Omg-this is some fake news BS!” lol It’s just a suggestion by Mr. Saba, people. Follow the advice or don’t. I’ve had a FTV Stick brick by not using the included wall charger. Every tv is different and you may have a different outcome.

    Good PSA/opinion piece, E.

    • Thanks. This post has gotten picked up by some news aggregators, so it’s bringing in a wide assortment of comments. I welcome criticism, but I’ve been deleting comments that have no substance or don’t add anything to the conversation. It’s clear most of these comments aren’t coming from people who read the article and are just reacting to the title.

      Even if the USB port on a TV provides adequate power that’s equivalent to the Fire Tv Stick’s included power adapter, there’s still an increased risk of damage from unknowingly cutting power at the wrong time when someone turns off the TV and there’s still a performance hit from never letting the device sit idle to perform maintenance tasks. That’s the main point I wanted to get across with this post.

      • Edmund says:

        Elias, it might be more accurate to say “most of these comments aren’t coming from people who ARE FAMILIAR WITH AFTVNEWS.COM.” I’ve followed your posts for many years, and have taken advantage of many of your helpful tutorials and the most excellent Downloader app. Please forgive my selfishness, but I was glad when you reopened your website after your stint working for Amazon. Keep up the good work. Next cup is on me.

      • Charlie says:

        I can’t remember a post that created this much interest. I would have thought it’s a no-brainer that the higher powered sticks and dongles need more power than most TV’s can deliver to perform at optimal levels.

      • Shorty says:

        Fair and valid point, thanks!

      • Mr BStream says:

        Great post.

        All the information is based on the technical FACTS instead of uneducated, best guesses based on any personal preferences or limited experience.

        Have to admit that you are a brave Man sharing the CORRECT FACTUAL INFORMATION on this topic as it triggers all the deluded loud mouths who can’t admit they have been doing it WRONG because of their own lack of knowledge all this time.

        Notice how many of the oposing opinions are back up with ANY FACTS FROM RESPECTED SOURCES OF TECHNICAL INFORMATION.

        Raise your arguments, not your voices people.

        If you can’t back up what you are spouting like an educated ADULT with FACTS then just STFU.

  19. Ted says:

    Apparently, I have a ‘brick’ – one of the original Fire Sticks. No HDMI output – is there a repair procedure around? Just asking.. Since have gotten replacement – just curious.

    • Zeric says:

      Even if there was a way to bring it back to life, it’s not worth the effort. Amazon commonly has “trade in” deals where you send them the old device and they give you a 20-25% discount on a new one. Do that when the new ones are on sale and you can get a very good deal. I have multiple fire stick 4K devices and didn’t pay over $25 for any of them.

  20. Rik Emmett says:

    I tried plugging my Fire TV into my TV USB port and after a while received a message on the TV screen from my Fire TV stating that the power was insufficient, so I switched to the adapter instead. Is it safe to assume that you would get a warning, if your TV USB power was insufficient on all Fire TV devices?

  21. Nate says:

    My word, these comments… I’m honestly waiting for: “Totally fake!!!! It’s clear that Elias Saba is in the pocket of big power brick manufacturers!!!1111”. Yes, everyone, let us forget that not plugging into an outlet gives many people a subpar experience, or that Amazon recommends not powering by USB, not every television is the exact same, or that one would need to spend $20 extra (40% of the total device cost of 4k stick not on sale) on a “special” cable all to avoid plugging into a wall outlet. Yes, totally understand the idea behind cable management or that someone may not have an additional wall outlet close by to plug a fire TV device into, but this notion that following a manufacturer’s specifications is somehow wrong is insane. Merely because of some anecdotal evidence that powering by USB has always worked for you does NOT mean that experience will be the same for anyone else you give that advice to; conversely, I would be willing to wager that the experience will be nearly identical for those who all use an outlet to power their device.

  22. Subhash says:

    Guys simple, you have your fire stick right. One end of stick goes to USB port of the TV, the other end of the fire stick has provision of plugging the fire stick to wall socket with the adapter provided. So your TV is already connected to TV socket and now your fire stick also is connected into a power socket. Both should be ON when you’re watching TV, but switch off only TV socket when finished watching and let the fire stick socket power be ON always.. That’s it.

  23. dtaii_phx says:

    Power draw and bricking aside, there is convenience. In most cases the TV USB powers up/down with the TV. For me, this meant that I would be staring at the Fire stick startup screen for a bit while it booted and eventually loaded the home screen.

    • Nate says:

      If your Fire TV stick were plugged into a TV HDMI port and powered via the included AC power adapter, why would the Amazon start screen appear? The device would be powered on fully (but in a low-powered sleep state, which turns on almost instantaneously) before even the TV would be on.

      The only way this scenario would be possible on AC power would be if you were unplugging the Fire TV stick after each use, then plugging it back in each time you turned on your TV? Or am I missing something here?

      • dtaii_phx says:

        I was pointing out an inconvenience of using the TV USB port to power a Firestick that is avoided by using the USB power adapter.

    • Snarf Gagger says:

      Samo here with 4 TVs, lose USB power when turned off. Don’t need the stick powering off/on several times a day and waiting for it to boot up and that’s when most electronic failures occur.

  24. Rupesh Chikop says:

    If the Firestick’s power input is given through adaptor than after switching off the TV, Firestick remains switched on and continues to consume bandwidth and power, especially for YouTube app where “autoplay next video” option is enabled.

    Also I wouldn’t bother the little bootup time everytime I want to watch something using Firestick, this also ensures that the system is rebooted and reduces the possibility of unresponsive controls.

    About the bricking due to incomplete update; this is something which Amazon engineers should take care of.

    • Connie says:

      Sooooo because I have my firestick plugged into the wall outlet, my firestick is running in the background constantly? Using my WiFi constantly?

      • Jack says:

        Not constantly. It wakes up out of sleep mode to perform tasks like app updates, system component updates, firmware updates, etc. Most of the time Fire Stick is off snoozing, like my cat!

  25. Monty Scroggins says:

    Super stupid post.. If your tv usb has enough power there is no risk.. buying a ridiculous battery powered chargeable ‘cable’ is absolutely insane.. I have mutliple sticks.. all are powered form the tv USB port. One is powered off an old tv that only offers a usb port for technician maintenance.. even THAT one works fine.. This whole thread is so ridiculous.

  26. JimC says:

    Well Monty, if the whole post is ridiculous, why waste your time posting to it, I ask? I think most anyone who pays attention to Elias’s posts knows that he is the God of Fire(sticks whose wisdom must never be questioned. I’m thinking it would be good for you and Elias to compare credentials to see who’s better suited to offer advice.

    Elias, if you do read this, keep up the good work, and ignore all haters.

    • Mr Bstreams says:

      The credentials of all the mouthy Graduates of the Rip off Firestick seller’s university against Elia’s.
      Now that would be hilarious to see.

  27. Rik Emmett says:

    Someone should create an app that warns the user if it’s not safe to disconnect the power from a fire tv device.

  28. Joseph Ball says:

    So, I read all of these comments – both pro and con powering the firestick via my TV’s USB port. This raises a question: If I choose to power it by plugging the AC adapter into a wall socket several feet (maybe 8ft.) away, may I use an extension cord safely and efficiently to do so? Should it be a heavier gauge than a standard light-weight cord? Thoughts? I just ordered the firestick and the USB adapter, but I’m leaning toward direct AC power from the wall socket for my older Sanyo TV, even though it has both HDMI and USB ports . . .

    • Zeric says:

      Without going in the details of how a switching power supply works, voltage drop for various gauged cable over a given distance and current, etc. Just know this:

      Any electrical extension cord in good condition will work fine for a fire stick, even over a rather long distance. It’s best to keep the USB cord between the power adapter and the fire stick short, and put any needed length in the electrical power cord.

      Rather powering from the TV will work, depends greatly on the TV. Some will work fine, some could cause erratic operation even damaging the fire stick, some won’t work at all.

  29. Joseph Ball says:

    Thanks Zeric:

    Thanks Zeric:
    Everything you said makes sense. I’ll pick up a 6′ medium heavy gauge ext. cord – that ought to be fine. Given the fact that my bedroom TV where this hookup will be is probably 12 yrs. old, I don’t think I’ll even try the USB-powered deal. I’ve never even used the USB in on it, but I do have an extra HDMI in (one of three- two are in use), so it should be OK. Thanks again!

    JB

  30. Jose says:

    Is there a way of actually knowing if the Stick is getting enough power when needed?
    I’m looking for a USB-OTG Split cable that would also do Power Delivery but is quite hard to know if the cable would actually meet the requirements as there are a few around that have comments complaining that they throttle the power delivery and their devices (like tablets) don’t charge properly.

    Also, having dongles of dongles hanging around behind the TV is quite… weird.

    • Zeric says:

      Short answer is no, you won’t know unless you use test equipment, other than see flaky behavior. I have suitable equipment for testing USB voltage and current, but going into details is beyond the scope of of this thread.

      USB-OTG splitter cables are usually very short, such that their resistance is small, and any ensuing voltage drop will be minimal. Therefore, in most cases a USB-OTG will be just fine. Tablets requirements are not a good comparison as many of them have a much higher current draw at peak charging. The current fire sticks shouldn’t draw more than 1A current, whereas a tablet that uses a micro USB connector may have a maximum charge current of 2-3A. Tablets that use USB-C typically charge at a higher voltage and lower current so the comparison gets more complicated.

  31. Christi says:

    My tv has an available 1a usb as well as a .5 the fire stick is always in the 1a port. Never received the message of insufficient power.

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