Solar Powered Bitcoin Mining: Does solar mining crypto work?

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.

Foreword
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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, 1kWh 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.

Bitcoin Mining RigWattage Draw
Antminer S19 Pro 3250
Antminer S193000
Antminer D31200

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 multiple 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 leaving our machine to mine 24 hours a day.

3000 watts x 24 hours = 72,000Wh or 72kWh.

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 28kWh.

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.

  1. Use our resource page for United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.
  2. 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.

solar powered bitcoin mining

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 31 (amount of days in a month).

5.2 x 31 days = 161,2 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 72,000Wh (72kWh) a day. To get the monthly usage we times it by 31 days again.

72 x 31 = 2,232 kWh per month.

Now, apply the formula above.

2,232 ÷ 161,2 = 13,84

13,84 x 1000 = 13,846 watts.

You now need to figure out how many solar panels you’ll need, 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 producing around 13,846 watts of power.

In other words, you will need a 14kW solar system to mine bitcoin with solar power.

13,846 watts divided by 1,000 = 13,84kW
Round off to 14kW

Again, this example assumes you live in California.

Let’s do another example which assumes you live in London, England.

2.8 x 31 days = 86,8 peak sun hours.

2,232 ÷ 86,8 = 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 U.S.

SYSTEM SIZEAVERAGE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COST (BEFORE TAX CREDITS)AVERAGE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COST (AFTER TAX CREDITS)
2 kW$5,620$4,159
3 kW$8,430$6,238
4 kW$11,240$8,318
5 kW$14,050$10,397
6 kW$16,860$12,476
7 kW$19,670$14,556
8 kW$22,480$16,635
9 kW$25,290$18,715
10 kW$28,100$20,794
12 kW$33,720$24,953
15 kW$42,150$31,191
20 kW$56,200$41,588
25 kW$70,250$51,985

Average cost of Bitcoin mining rigs

MinerHash PowerPrice
Antminer S1995.0 TH/s$6k-8.5k
Antminer S19 Pro110.0 TH/s$8k-10k
WhatsMiner M30S+100.0 TH/s$2,550
WhatsMiner M30S++112.0 TH/s$2,850
AvalonMiner 124690.0 TH/s$5,500

Expected cost of a solar powered bitcoin mining setup

The cost really depends on what sort of mining rig you have 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 for your mining rig.

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.

$0,13 x 2,232 = $290

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.


Final Thoughts

Mining Bitcoin with solar is certainly possible, but the main factor you really need to consider is where you live.

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.


Kyle Browning

Kyle is a researcher and content specialist at Climatebiz. He has a strong interest in green technology, particularly in photovoltaic systems. Kyle believes in a future where everyone has affordable access to renewable energy, regardless of their race, religion, or social status. This ideology led Kyle to found Climatebiz - with the goal to provide free information for anyone, anytime.

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