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.

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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, 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 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 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.

  1. Use our resource page for the 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 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.

13,846 watts divided by 1,000 = 13,84kWu003cbru003eRound 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.

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

The 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

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.)

$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.

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 MinerAntminer S19 Pro
Location: California
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
Monthly Income: $5,946
ROI:5 years

Scenario Two – (25 Mining Units)

Bitcoin MinerAntminer S19 Pro
Location: California
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
Monthly Income: $14,865
ROI:5 Years

Scenario Three – (50 Mining Units)

Bitcoin MinerAntminer S19 Pro
Location: California
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
Monthly Income: $29,730
ROI:5 Years

Scenario Four – (250 Mining Units)

Bitcoin MinerAntminer S19 Pro
Location: California
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
Monthly Income: $149,575
ROI:3,35 Years

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.

We sourced our solar information from NREL and our bitcoin information from Asicminer Value.

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 protected].

Additionally, if you live in the U.S. and are looking for a solar company to offer you a free quote for your operation, we recommend reaching out to SunPower. Simply fill in some of your details here and they will get in touch with a complimentary solar quote.

solar powered bitcoin mining

Final Thoughts

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.

Kyle Browning
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. You can follow Kyle on Twitter at @kylebrwng

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  1. You are way of about the costs. Here in Europe you get 10 kW complete Solar System for 7500 € before tax credits. You are an factor 4 to high

    • Hey Günther, thanks for reaching out. This article is referring to homeowners living in the U.S., hence the costs are higher than the amount you mentioned.

  2. Hi how much will it cost for a citizen in nador, morocco

  3. Is this assuming the price of BTC is constant throughout the 5 years?

  4. Does the solar system include batteries for night time mining? I am asking because they are expensive.

  5. He’s probably referring to the examples with 5 years ROI

  6. i wanted to ask one question,
    how much electricity is needed (in terms of watts) to complete one whole transaction of a bitcoin or mine a complete bitcoin.

    • Hi Prerak,

      This really depends on the Bitcoin miner you use, which one were you thinking of?

  7. Is this analysis for off grid solar only or grid tied? Would the miners be only running during sun hours?

    • Hi Adam,

      This assumes a grid-tied operation. If you need your rig to mine 24 hours, you would need energy storage solutions.

  8. Is it viable in UAE middle East? Asssuming average Bitcoin price fluctuates between 20K – 25K at the moment how much would you thing 1 Solar unit can mine per month? and the profitability ?

  9. Alright, I live in South Africa Johannesburg and how many solar panels would I need to power 1 s19j pro asic