How much power do your streaming media players use?

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TV streaming devices, like a Roku or a Chromecast, are plugged in and always ready. When your TV turns off, it uses less power, but what about streaming devices? How much energy do they use?

There are many different streaming devices in many shapes and sizes. Some are larger “decoders” while others are small “streaming sticks”. Power consumption varies by device. Let’s see which ones they use the most.

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The data

The world of streaming devices is huge. Most companies that make devices in this category have numerous options. We’ve picked out some of the most common streaming devices you might own.

The other thing to consider is what you are doing with the device. Streaming a 4K HDR movie from Netflix will consume more power than watching a YouTube video. It would be impossible to measure every different thing you can do with a streaming device, but I tried to get a good general measure.

I used a smart plug to measure the power of a Chromecast Ultra, Chromecast with Google TV, and Roku Ultra. For Apple TV and Fire TV, I was able to find sources of information. (The “~” character denotes an approximate amount.)

Device tv on Inactive
Apple TV 4K 3.03-5.58w 0.30w
chrome cast ultra 1.5-2.0w 1.5w
fire tv 4k ~4w ~ 1 sec
Chromecast with Google TV ~1.0-3.0w 1.0w
RokuUltra ~3.0-4.5w 3.0w

There are some pretty interesting facts here. Surprisingly, the Chromecast Ultra uses about the same amount of power as the Chromecast with Google TV, even slightly more when idle. Google TV has a full operating system, while Ultra is just a dongle.

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The Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra are very comparable as the “biggest” devices of the bunch, but Apple’s uses very little power while idle. The Fire TV 4K was also comparable to the larger devices.

How much is it?

Let’s put some dollar signs on all these numbers. We will use an electric rate of $0.18 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), four hours of active use and 20 hours of inactivity. Here’s how it breaks down (note these are estimates):

  • Apple TV 4K: About $1.44 per year.
  • Chromecast Ultra: About $2.41 per year.
  • Fire TV 4K: About $2.36 per year.
  • Chromecast with Google TV: About $1.83 per year.
  • RokuUltra: About $4.87 per year.

Due to the higher idle power usage, the Roku Ultra is by far the most expensive of the bunch. That’s also why the Apple TV 4K is the cheapest, as its idle power consumption is very low. Idle power usage is very important for devices you don’t use all the time.

Now, about $5 a year to keep your Roku plugged in all the time is a big deal? Probably not. That’s less than $0.50 per month. Still, it’s interesting to see how much power our everyday devices use.