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

There are a lot of different streaming devices in many shapes and sizes. Some are larger “set-top boxes,” while others are small “streaming sticks.” The power consumption varies by device. Let’s see which ones use the most.

RELATED: 7 Roku Features You Should Be Using

The Data

The world of streaming devices is vast. Most companies that make devices in this category have numerous options. We picked out a few of the most common streaming devices you might have.

The other thing to consider is what you’re doing with the device. Streaming a 4K HDR movie from Netflix will use more energy 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 measurement.

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

Device TV On Idle
Apple TV 4K 3.03-5.58w 0.30w
Chromecast Ultra 1.5-2.0w 1.5w
Fire TV 4K ~4w ~1w
Chromecast with Google TV ~1.0-3.0w 1.0w
Roku Ultra ~3.0-4.5w 3.0w

There’s some pretty interesting data here. Surprisingly, the Chromecast Ultra uses about the same amount of energy as the Chromecast with Google TV—even a bit more while idle. The Google TV has a full-blown operating system, whereas the Ultra is just a dongle.

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 bigger devices.

How Much Does it Cost?

Let’s put some dollar signs on all these numbers. We’ll use an electricity rate of $0.18 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), four hours of active use, and 20 hours of idle time. Here’s how it breaks down (keep in mind these are estimates):

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

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

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

The Best Streaming Devices of 2022

Best Streaming Device Overall
Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)
Best Budget Streaming Device
Fire TV Stick Lite (2020)
Best Roku Streaming Device
Roku Ultra (2020)
Best Fire TV Device
Fire TV Stick 4K (2021)
Best Google TV Device
Chromecast with Google TV (2020)
Best Android TV Device
NVIDIA SHIELD Pro (2019)
Best Apple TV Device
Apple TV 4K (2021)
Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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