Why your TV’s USB port isn’t ideal for powering a Fire TV Stick

One of my most viewed (and controversial) posts from last year was why you should never power a Fire TV Stick from your TV’s USB port. Seeing how many people have recently purchased or received new Fire TV Sticks over the holidays, it’s a good time to revisit the subject.

First and foremost, I am not saying that it’s not possible to power a Fire TV Stick from a TV USB port. Millions of people do it every day without any issues. The purpose of this article is simply to inform you that there are risks involved in doing so. Firesticks, especially when on sale, are cheap enough for many people that the convenience of using a TV USB port for power is worth the rare risk of damaging it and having to replace the Fire TV Stick. That’s perfectly fine, but you should know what the risks are and that there are ways to limit those risks if you do choose to power a Fire TV Stick through a TV’s USB port.

The primary risk to a Fire TV Stick being powered by a TV USB port is not having enough power or losing power entirely during a software update. Fire TVs perform two types of updates, operating system (OS) updates and component updates. Both update types can happen automatically at any time. OS updates will typically wait for the device to be idle and display a message informing you the update is occurring, but component updates usually happen silently in the background and will often happen while you are actively using the Fire TV. Cutting off the power or rebooting the Fire TV Stick during either update type can damage the device. At best, the part of the Fire TV being updated will not work correctly and the device will need to be factory reset, and, at worst, the Fire TV will stop working altogether and need to be replaced. This usually manifests itself as the Fire TV not being able to get past the “Fire TV” logo that gets displayed while it is being powered on.

Losing power to the Fire TV Stick during an update can occur in two ways when using a TV’s USB port. First, many TVs cut off power to their USB ports when the TV is turned off or sitting idle for too long. If this occurs when the Fire TV Stick happens to be updating, either because you manually turned off the TV or because the TV turned itself off automatically, the Fire TV Stick can be damaged. Second, the TV’s USB port might be providing enough power to the Fire TV Stick for daily use, but not enough power during high-draw events, like software updates. Even if your TV’s USB ports are providing power all the time, the Fire TV Stick might start to install an update, which is when it uses the most power, and then find that it can’t pull enough power from the TV and reboot itself at the worst possible time.

In summary, TV USB ports are typically not a reliable source of power because they either cut the power off unpredictably or they could provide insufficient power for all scenarios that your Fire TV Stick can go through. Since it’s impossible to know when your Fire TV Stick will be updating its software, it’s always best to simply use the included power adapter that came with the Fire TV Stick. That’s why Amazon prints a warning message right on the Fire TV Stick wrapper about using the included power adapter.

If you don’t want to run a separate power cord to your TV for your Fire TV Stick, the best solution is to either tuck a power splitter or small power strip behind your TV for both the TV and the Fire TV Stick power adapter to use. If that’s not a viable solution for your setup, then you can mitigate half of your risk by using a special USB cable with a built-in battery. The USB Power Cable by Mission Cables is the only one that is certified by Amazon for use with Fire TV Sticks. The battery built into the cable charges from your TV’s USB port and provides extra power if the Fire TV Stick draws too much or your TV’s USB port is too weak. You still run the risk of your Fire TV losing power completely when the TV is turned off or goes idle, but you can at least be assured that your Fire TV Stick is getting enough power while the TV is on.

One final note is that Fire TVs perform a lot of maintenance tasks while they are idle (i.e., asleep). So, if your Fire TV Stick is always being powered off with your TV, it never gets a chance to perform those tasks. This means it has no choice but to do them while you are actually using the Fire TV Stick. The result is a Fire TV that feels extra sluggish for a little while after it is powered on. That sluggish performance will last longer the longer that your device has been powered off because there are more tasks that need to be done. That’s just another reason to use a stable power source for your Fire TV Stick that is always available.

43 comments
  1. DbWoY says:

    It really all depends on the year, make and model of the TV… I’ve used/”installed” FireSticks, of ALL models on multiple TV’s, and found that if you’re using a TV like a 2017 Hisense, no chance of the USB powering your firestick. But, with my newer Samsung, Sony and even Sharp TVs, the USB works just fine.

    • Albert Shaver says:

      I don’t use USB port I use HDMI 2 and I can’t get past updates. It tells me can’t update and to unplug power for a few seconds and try again. I can’t figure what’s going on. Amazon to my knowledge doesn’t have a help line so I can talk to someone. I’m thinking I have a defective device. 4k with alexa

      • Tommy says:

        The HDMI port is just for your Fire stick input. You also have to connect it to USB for power, and per the article, preferably with the Amazon USB power adaptor.

    • M.F. smeriglio says:

      I bought several boasted fire sticks(comes with infinite booster)so I plug into 2 wall sockets, 2 TV the other the inside booster, never a problem so far running 24/7. Don’t loose a remote, one won’t work with another stick. 8.00 period, and I sent all exfinity back, got a wifi modem from Century Link and I have thousands of channels, every kind and level. 100% clear, perfect response and pi ture, and I don’t use USB port. My TV I can use coax, USB, 5 different type input Jack’s, I use a kind not usually used for TV. OH yeah, my TV is a Polaroid. Paid 120 on sale years ago. Runs perfect has all buttons and whistles. GUESS I’m just lucky. No more over 225. Per month. FOR phone, TV, cable, recorder, it’s all there and more. It was all a lucky accident. The fire stick with special inline adapter is hard to find cause before no one wanted them, 8.00 for mine, so I bought most they had. Can’t find one like mine anywhere else..good luck !

  2. Andrea says:

    So what if I’m using a fire TV and a fire TV stick?
    And I recently purchased from Amazon A fire cable plus wireless adapter so should I not have that or what?

  3. Christina says:

    I just recently had my TV to stop working and get stuck on startup mode. Now that I’m reading this article, this sounds like the issue that caused it to do so. I do have firesticks on each TV. The TV is being repaired now. I also wonder does the generation of the firestick makes a difference.

  4. JFC says:

    I just recently did something I’ve never done before — took a spare Fire Stick 4K on a foreign travel trip to use in the hotel while abroad.

    Problem was, upon arrival, the hotel had absolutely NO avail electrical outlet anywhere reachable to the TV, even with an extension cord. So I had to use the stick powered by the one and only avail USB port on the 32 in. LG TV in my hotel room.

    Over the week, the stick itself performed great in terms of operation and viewing via a U.S. VPN connection. But, via USB power, I couldn’t get the stick to remember/ save a new TV assignment for the stick’s remote control. And, a pending stick software update would never run to completion…

    But, at least, I didn’t brick my stick in trying… Lesson learned — next time, stay in a different (newer) hotel.

  5. Stacey L Johnson says:

    what the h r u saying? how do u power if not in the tv port?

  6. Mr Neil Annetts says:

    With the plug a Nd cable that comes with it as you would a mobile but leave plugged in the cable should be long enough as long as your not a long way from tv

  7. TimGtech says:

    Plug the power block that comes with it, assuming they still include those, into a power strip, electric outlet etc. Just read the simple instructions. If you have had a smart phone for any length of time then use the same kind of usb power block.

    • Matthew says:

      Shouldn’t products be designed to power off completely when not in use? Amazon should fix the product, not just advise everyone to use more zombie power.

  8. Sad Dad Bod Rod says:

    I’ve tried using the USB port on my Samsung TV to power my Firestick, and it seemed to work in the beginning few weeks. IDK if a setting was changed or an update to either the TV or Firestick happened, but it just started resetting itself every 2-3 minutes. I thought the Firestick was messed up, but I gave it its own square and outlet and it’s been working ever since. Going back to the TV’s USB port, the Firestick was back to resetting again. I could mess around and figure out why the USB port isn’t good enough, or just use what works.

  9. Paul Marsh says:

    Never had a problem using USB to charge . Travel the World the last 8 years with one . Just got a new one for my GF sane . Plugged into LG but will perhaps but a direct cable after reading to be on the safe side .
    Thank you
    Happy BY all.

  10. Vinny says:

    Google recommend you use a power out on there new Google TV with Chromecast if u want to view 4K content I presume the 4K firestick will be similar

  11. Dave says:

    They do make a device that goes inline with a USB port that has a built in capacitor to store extra power when the firestick needs it. It’s kinda like those huge capacitors car amplifiers use so your headlight don’t dim when your trying to shake everyone’s foundation and being a tool in general.

  12. Dudareno says:

    Complete and utter rubbish

  13. Minh says:

    I never have an issue with my. I been doing this for a long time. I have three TV that is plug in the USB.

  14. Michael Tyo says:

    Mine plugs into an HDMI port and is plugged into an outlet? I didn’t know they made them to plug into a USB port and did not have a way too power themselves?

  15. Neil Robertson says:

    If you power it from a 1A or 2A USB port there will be no issues, absolutely ridiculous article about 6 years out of date…
    The FS only draws about 0.8A at maximum therefore plenty of available power even during a software update!

  16. Sahil Gupta says:

    I use the USB port of my router which is placed near to my TV, since the router is active, all the time, it keeps the firestick active at all times too.

  17. Liz-Anne says:

    Honestly, if you’re going to ve plugging something lime that into your tv you may as well go with a BuzzTv stick. Unlike the Fire stick they have a built in VPN to give you privacy and security and no downloads,commercial ad placements or unknown downloads that you get from Firestick. Also it has a vent and a fan. Downside of running the firesticks constantly is that they eventually overheat with no fan and no ventilation. Not true with the BuzzTv sticks.

  18. Ijaz says:

    Amazon recommends you plug it into an electrical socket because the USB on your TV may not provide enough power. I’ve powered mine off the TV usb for years on an LG TV without any problems but the port is marked 3A. You need to make sure the current availabile is above 1A and you should be just fine.

    • This is true, but I’ll add that the USB port needs to provide enough power AND stay powered when the TV is off to “be just fine.” If the TV’s USB port turns off with the TV, then you still risk unknowingly cutting power to the Fire TV Stick in the middle of an update when you turn your TV off, even though the USB port is providing enough power.

      The scenario is you turn on the TV to watch cable, a Bluray, play a console game, or anything not involving the Fire TV. Meanwhile, your Fire TV Stick also gets powered on even though it’s not being used, since the USB port gets powered up with the TV turning on. Since the Firestick is sitting idle for a long period of time while you’re using a different input on your TV, it decides to take the opportunity to update. When you’re done watching cable/Bluray/gaming/whatever, you turn the TV off without any clue that the Fire TV Stick is in the middle of an update. The next time you go to use the Fire TV Stick, it’s stuck at the boot logo and unusable.

      While, yes, the odds are very small for that scenario to happen, there are over 50 million Fire TVs out there, so I’m sure SOME people are having this happen to them every single day. The point of the article is just to inform people of what’s possible and let them decide if the convenience of using the TV’s USB port is worth the tiny risk.

      • Ijaz says:

        Fair comment that it could very well happen on some TV’s though the way modern TVs switch off I do wonder if they go into standby mode as they come on virtually instantly when you press the power button so probably there’s still power being drawn. This is my 3rd firestick having had the first, second and 4k version and I personally haven’t had any problems and all 3 of my sticks are still alive.

  19. Joseph says:

    The replies here signify just how technical illiterate some people are. And argumentative. Y’all make me laugh.

  20. Pete says:

    I just use ac power Incase I wanna use USB port for something else

  21. Nunya says:

    Regardless of powersupply, the FS heat issue is one we’ve been dealing with since day one. Usb power seems to produce as much heat as power cord. They need a fix for this. Agree that if your usb is 3a. Power is never an issue. Our LG port stays on all the time. Sleep mode seems to be the only help for a heated stick.

  22. YourMom says:

    The fire stick is rated for a 5V 1A input and that’s what the USB 2.0 spec also mandates. It is 100% fine to use the on-board USB port to power a fire stick or chromecast. If you’re turning off your TV in the middle of an update, knowing that the fire stick is connected to it for power, then you’re just plain stupid, just like this article. Get a life and stop writing nonsense on the internet.

  23. Michael Wyckoff says:

    I use a fire stick with a Hisense tv and I don’t have a problem. It’s a 1080p TV from yers ago.i use the hdmi and the usb ports.

  24. Ijaz says:

    Some of the comments like ‘I use the HDMI port and NOT the USB’. Are there seriously people there who don’t understand people are talking about using the USB port on their TV to provide power to the firestick instead of the mains. They are all connected to the HDMI port. Btw automatic updates are off on my sticks so this will never be a problem.

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