Let’s talk about solar bitcoin mining, shall we?
Two of my favorite subjects, free electricity and decentralized money.
It’s a genius idea. The main cost behind cryptocurrency mining is energy. And solar panels provide this for free.
So if you’re able to run a mining rig from solar power, it’s all profit!
That all makes sense.
The real question is if it is possible. Can solar panels provide enough electricity? Is it actually cost effective?
While solar power is free, you still need to stump up the money for the initial investment. Sure you can pick up a 100 watt solar panel for under $100, but that’s not going to deliver enough electricity…
Let’s take a closer look at the amount of solar power you need to mine Bitcoin, plus the cost of the installation.
How Many Solar Panels to Mine Bitcoin?
The first thing we need to know is how much power a Bitcoin miner uses.
The Antminer S19 Pro draws 3250 watts an hour (Wh) or 3.25 kilowatt-hours (kWh) – a kilowatt is 1000 watts.
That means it uses 78,000Wh or 78kWh per day. If you look at your energy bill, your energy usage is billed in kWh. You should be able to see the price you pay per kWh.
So if you want to mine completely from solar power, you need to produce 78kWh every day.
The problem is solar panels don’t produce electricity 24 hours a day. They only deliver maximum power during peak sunlight hours. In sunny locations, this is for 5 hours a day between 10.30am and 3.30pm.
We need to do all of our electricity production in just 5 hours (we’ll talk about energy storage later). 78kWh divided by 5 hours = 15.6kW.
We need to install a solar panel system capable of producing 15.6kW an hour. That’s 15,600 watts!
A single domestic solar panel is 250 watts. 15,600 divided by 250 = 62.4.
We need at least 63 solar panels to run an Antminer S19 for 24 hours.
This is the minimum number you require! We’re not taking into account any inefficiencies, long term degradation, or adverse weather.
Scaling Back Your Mining Operation
You don’t need to go for such an all in approach to mine bitcoin with solar. The numbers above look at running your mining rig for 24 hours a day.
You could also just run your miner in a pool and only switch it on when conditions are good. You could run for 5 hours a day during peak sunlight hours.
This dramatically reduces the number of solar panels you require. You only need to produce 3250 watts. That would need just thirteen 250 watt solar panels! Much more achievable…
Of course, your rewards will be much lower. But after the initial investment, the electricity is completely free so you’re running your equipment at zero expense.
The Off-Set Approach
When you think about mining bitcoin with solar power, you probably imagine hooking your rig up to solar panels without the need for the utility grid.
Well, we can still use the mains electricity supply to our advantage while still retaining profits.
Cryptocurrency mining is most profitable when you have access to cheap electricity.
When you install solar panels on your home, you still draw electricity from the main grid and have a bill to pay. Your energy bill is much less though.
Solar panels rarely provide enough energy to power a whole house. They are used to supplement your electricity usage. You draw free electricity from solar power and only pay for the extra top up from your utility provider.
You can use this same approach with your solar bitcoin mining. It allows you to run your rig for 24 hours. During the day you’ll run from solar power. Then at night you’ll be drawing electricity from the main grid.
You’ll need to pay an energy bill to your utility company, but the overall cost is dramatically reduced thanks to solar power. This is a brilliant way to increase your mining profits.
You’re using solar panels installed on your home to offset a portion of energy used by your crypto mining rig!
Solar Energy Storage for Bitcoin Mining
In the first calculations above we looked at the total required solar power to run your miner for 24 hours a day.
We needed to produce 78kW in just 5 hours.
But how do we store all this electricity for use when the sun disappears and the solar panels stop working (aka nighttime!).
Well there’s two options – Batteries or Net Energy Metering.
If you’re running completely off-grid (away from the mains electricity) you will need to hook your solar panels up to batteries anyway.
There’s two reasons for this.
Firstly, it enables you to produce a stable power draw to your appliances/miner. Solar panel performance is temperamental. For example, clouds causing shading over your panels will lead to a drop in power output. A battery enables you to draw continuous stable power as long as there is enough energy in the battery.
Secondly, you can store energy to use later. An Antminer S19 draws 3250 watts an hour (watt-hours). If you want to run for 24 hours a day you’ll need large enough batteries to store and deliver this output.
We need to store energy in batteries to use for 19 hours a day outside of peak sun hours. That’s 61,750 watt-hours of energy storage! That’s going to need something like 20 to 30 large deep cycle batteries.
Net Energy Metering
As we discussed, when you install solar panels on a house you are still connected to the main grid.
The electricity you generate from solar panels is free. The extra electricity you use from the main grid is charged like normal.
You can also ‘sell’ energy to the main grid. When your solar panel produces more electricity than your house is using, the excess is sent to the mains grid. When this happens your utility provider credits you for supplying the electricity.
This allows you to store the economic value of your energy on the main grid.
Then when your solar panels stop producing enough electricity (like at night) you can use your credit to buy electricity from the grid without cost. This is called Net Energy Metering.
If you have enough space to install an oversized solar array, you can off-set the cost of bitcoin mining even when there’s no sunshine.
How Much Does it Cost to Mine Bitcoin with Solar Panels?
The key thing to calculate is the initial investment for your solar panel system. Once you’ve made the installation, electricity production is completely free!
It’s hard to put an exact cost on your installation. It all depends on your custom requirements, local climate, and installer prices.
If you try to go with the all-in approach of running a mining rig completely from solar panels then be prepared for a serious investment. You need a 15kW to 20kW system which is going to cost you around $40,000 to $50,000. Plus the cost of your mining rig…
You can then use current market Bitcoin mining rates to workout your income. At the time of writing, you earn about $18 a day when mining Bitcoin with an Antminer S19 Pro.
On a $50,000 solar investment that takes you 2,777 days to recoup your money. That’s 7 and a half years before you’re in profit.
And as we know, bitcoin prices are notoriously volatile. You could get lucky and see the price moon or could go to zero…
Solar Bitcoin Mining Summary
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article on solar bitcoin mining.
As you’ve discovered, it is possible to mine crypto with solar panels but it requires a big upfront investment. It will likely take you years to recoup the cost unless there’s a huge surge in prices.
To sum up:
- An Antminer S19 Pro uses 3250W.
- This needs at least thirteen 250W solar panels to run in direct sunlight.
- To produce enough energy to run for 24 hours you actually need a 15.6kW solar array (63 x 250W solar panels)
- For a complete crypto mining solar installation it will cost over $40,000
It’s going to cost a lot to completely power a mining rig with solar.
Yes, it is possible, but is it worth it?
Hi, I’m Michael, the editor here at Watt A Lot.
After years of experience with off-grid power like solar panels, inverters, and batteries I decided I should share my hands-on knowledge with you. In my professional and personal life, I’ve needed to find electrical solutions for remote situations from owning a food truck, to running events at the top of mountains, to my converted campervan. So whether you’re looking for the best products or fixing an electrical problem, you can rest assured my advice comes from real hands-on experience.