According to Investopedia, as of August 21, approximately 18.77 million Bitcoins have been mined across our planet.
That’s a lot of Bitcoins and with it even more electricity.
In fact, Bitcoin mining uses around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. In other words, that’s more than a third of the electricity used for residential cooling in the entire U.S. annually.
It should be no surprise then that Bitcoin mining has some adverse effects on our environment (to say the least).
Even Elon Musk himself announced in a tweet: “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining”.
Since then, many people have wondered whether solar-powered bitcoin mining is a viable alternative to traditional mining which relies solely on the grid for electricity.
The number of solar panels needed to mine Bitcoin ranges between 30 – 50 panels but depends on your location and how much electricity your mining rig draws. Most pro rigs draw around 3000 watts which would consume on average 72kWh a day.
In this article, we aim to break down how solar-powered bitcoin mining works and how you can use the power of the sun to offset your emissions and save big on costs.
Solar Powered Bitcoin Mining
There is no doubt that mining bitcoin is expensive. Why is that you might be wondering?
Well, it uses electricity, an exceptional amount of it, and electricity costs money.
In the U.S. for example, 1 kWh of power costs on average $13.9 cents.
At first, $13.9 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, and that’s true, but it depends on how much kWh you end up using. I can tell you right away that no Bitcoin mining rig on this planet could work using such a little electricity.
For example, Bitcoin mining rigs like the Bitmain Antminer are well known for using a lot of electricity!
How Much Electricity Does Bitcoin Mining Use?
This completely depends on your mining rig. However, below we created a table for you to see the different wattage ratings of various mining rigs.
Most crypto miners leave their rigs to mine 24/7. Keeping this fact in mind let’s work out how much kWh of electricity the Antminer S19 would use in one potential day of mining.
Figuring out how much electricity (Wh/kWh) an appliance uses based on its wattage is easy.
Simply multiply the wattage rating of your appliance, (in this case 3000 watts) by the number of hours you intend to use it.
We intend to get an ROI as fast as possible and thus intend to leave our machine to mine 24 hours a day.
3000 watts x 24 hours = 72,000 Wh or 72 kWh.
To give you a better understanding of how much electricity that is, let’s look at the average daily electricity consumption for a U.S. household. That amounts to about 28 kWh.
Mining bitcoin for 24 hours with an Antminer S19 would use two and a half times more electricity than an entire household within a day!
That is an incredible amount of electricity to offset with your solar-powered bitcoin mining rig.
In the next part of the article, we are going to talk about how many solar panels you would need in order to mine bitcoin 24/7.
How Many Solar Panels Needed For Bitcoin Mining?
Mining bitcoin with solar energy is certainly possible, albeit not cheap.
The amount of solar panels you will need depends on where in the world you are based, and how much electricity your Bitcoin mining rig consumes.
We have already established what sort of wattage draws the top mining rigs use, next you need to establish how much sunlight (peak sun hours) your area gets so that we can work out how many solar panels you will need.
There are two ways you can figure out your area’s peak sun hours.
- Use our resource page for the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia.
- Use Global Solar Atlas to work it out for yourself if your country is not listed in our resources yet.
If you use Global Solar Atlas, make sure you use the map that says Global Horizontal Irradiation (GHI).
Now, establish how many peak sun hours your area receives and write it down on a piece of paper somewhere.
Basically, if you live in a country/city known to be somewhat overcast (no ones pointing any fingers England) we would advise against looking into solar-powered bitcoin mining rigs.
More on that later.
You can use this formula to figure out how many solar panels you will need for a bitcoin mining rig.
Let’s create an example for you.
Say you live in the United States, in California.
California receives on average about 5.2 peak sun hours a day. For this calculation we want to have our area’s monthly peak sun hours, not daily, so simply multiply your findings by 30 (amount of days in a month).
5.2 x 3 days = 156 peak sun hours in California.
Now let’s divide your monthly electricity consumption by your monthly peak sun hours.
We know that an Antminer S19 draws 3000 watts, if you used it for 24 hours it would use 72,000 Wh (72 kWh) a day. To get the monthly usage we times it by 31 days again.
72 x 30 = 2,160 kWh per month.
Now, apply the formula above.
2,160 ÷ 156 = 13,84
13,84 x 1000 = 13,846 watts.
You now need to figure out how many solar panels you’ll need. In order to do this, you have to divide the above number by your proposed solar panel rating.
Most residential solar systems install 400-watt solar panels, so we would recommend using this power rating for your Bitcoin mining setup.
13,846 ÷ 400 = 34,6 panels (round that off to 35).
In order for you to offset the energy used mining Bitcoin, you will need to install 35 solar panels on your roof, all of which produce around 13,846 watts of power.
In other words, you will need a 14kW solar system to mine bitcoin with solar power.
Round off to 14kW
Again, this example assumes you live in California.
Let’s do another example that assumes you live in London, England.
2.8 x 30 days = 84 peak sun hours.
2,160 ÷ 84 = 25,71
25,71 x 1000 = 25,710 watts
25,710 ÷ 400 = 64,27 solar panels needed.
As you can probably tell, this option is just not viable. Unless you have a large amount of land and arent too worried about high solar panel costs, solar-powered Bitcoin mining in London is just not possible due to a lack of sunlight.
How Much Will A Solar Powered Bitcoin Mining Rig Cost Me?
The Bitcoin mining rig itself varies quite greatly in cost. You could expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 for a rig.
Solar panel cost also depends on what sort of system size you install and where on the planet you reside.
In the U.S. for example these are the average costs you can expect for solar panels:
Average costs for solar panels in the U.S.
|SYSTEM SIZE||AVERAGE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COST (BEFORE TAX CREDITS)||AVERAGE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COST (AFTER TAX CREDITS)|
Average cost of Bitcoin mining rigs
|Antminer S19||95.0 TH/s||$6k-8.5k|
|Antminer S19 Pro||110.0 TH/s||$8k-10k|
|WhatsMiner M30S+||100.0 TH/s||$2,550|
|WhatsMiner M30S++||112.0 TH/s||$2,850|
|AvalonMiner 1246||90.0 TH/s||$5,500|
The expected cost of a solar powered bitcoin mining setup
The cost really depends on what sort of mining rig you have, how many you plan to use and how many peak sun hours your area receives.
If you were to live in California and use the Antminer S19, you would need a 15kW solar system to provide enough electricity to offset your bitcoin mining rigs’ electricity consumption.
Using the table above we can see that a 15kW solar system costs on average $31,191 after tax incentives.
$31,191 + $8,500 = $39,691 for a solar powered bitcoin mining rig.
Clearly, the solar system costs the most here, but keep in mind the amount of money you would be spending on electricity if not for the solar panels.
Using the Antminer S19 you would be spending around $290 per month just on electricity. (This takes the U.S. average electricity costs into mind, some states pay more than others.)
How Long Would Solar-Powered Bitcoin Mining Take To Pay For Itself?
Again, assuming you use the Antminer S19 and live in California, it would take 8,9 years for your solar panels to pay for themselves.
This only takes into consideration costs saved by no electricity expenditure. Of course, profits from the actual Bitcoin mining could be used to speed this process up even further.
Large-Scale Solar-Powered Bitcoin Mining Operations
We bet there are some of you out there who are tempted to build a utility-scale sized solar-powered bitcoin mining operation.
If you are wondering how viable this option is, then this section is just for you. We are going to walk you step-by-step through a hypothetical large-scale mining operation. In doing so, you can decide if this option is something for you or not.
Scenario One – (10 Mining Units)
|Bitcoin Miner||Antminer S19 Pro|
|Total monthly consumption:||23,400 kWh|
|Solar System Size:||150 kW|
|Rough Rig Cost:||$100,000|
|Rough Solar System Cost:||$258,000|
|Total Cost Estimate:||$358,000|
Scenario Two – (25 Mining Units)
|Bitcoin Miner||Antminer S19 Pro|
|Total monthly consumption:||58,500 kWh|
|Solar System Size:||375 kW|
|Rough Rig Cost:||$250,000|
|Rough Solar System Cost:||$645,000|
|Total Cost Estimate:||$895,000|
Scenario Three – (50 Mining Units)
|Bitcoin Miner||Antminer S19 Pro|
|Total monthly consumption:||117,000 kWh|
|Solar System Size:||750 kW|
|Rough Rig Cost:||$500,000|
|Rough Solar System Cost:||$1,290,000|
|Total Cost Estimate:||$1,790,000|
Scenario Four – (250 Mining Units)
|Bitcoin Miner||Antminer S19 Pro|
|Total monthly consumption:||585,000 kWh|
|Solar System Size:||3,750 kW|
|Rough Rig Cost:||$2,500,000|
|Rough Solar System Cost:||$3,525,000|
|Total Cost Estimate:||$6,025,000|
Please note that the above calculations are rough estimates only and assume your electricity cost is $0.12 per kWh. Additionally, it doesn’t take into account any maintenance costs involved or installation costs. Lastly, this entire operation needs space, and therefore land. We never included the cost of land as this is extremely relative.
You will notice that the larger the bitcoin mining operation, the quicker your return on investment.
This is largely due to the cost per watt decreasing (substantially) when you reach utility-grade solar system sizes.
If you would like us to assist you in developing a rough cost estimate for your personal location/solar-powered Bitcoin mining operation, feel free to book a consultation with me via email@example.com.
Mining Bitcoin with solar is certainly possible, but the main factor you really need to consider is where you live and how much sunlight you receive.
If your home doesn’t have sufficient sunlight, a solar-powered bitcoin mining rig is going to be expensive and require a lot of space for all the necessary equipment.
Feel free to ask any questions you may still have in the comments section below.