Bitcoin mining has had an interesting journey over the past twelve years, going from home computer CPU mining from basic computers to massive, dedicated facilities set up in places like Iceland, Texas, and others, with tens of thousands of ASIC mining computers doing nothing but mining Bitcoin 24/7. But is Bitcoin mining still profitable in 2023?
That is exactly what we are going to be exploring today. We will cover the types of mining that can be done, cover some of the tech required as well as some interesting new developments in the space that makes mining from home easier than ever. And we’ll obviously consider whether or not you can still make money mining Bitcoin.
Disclaimer: I hold Bitcoin in my personal portfolio. Note that the hosted mining companies and equipment mentioned in this article are not recommendations. I cannot vouch for the companies or products, their quality, or their authenticity. Be sure to do your own research if you are interested in mining or hosted mining.
If you have ever wondered what happens after all the Bitcoins are mined, Guy happens to have a video covering just that topic:
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Bitcoin Mining: A Brief History
When Bitcoin first made its debut in 2009, things were on a smaller scale and simpler than they are today in terms of mining. Early cypherpunks could easily mine Bitcoin blocks from basic home computers, and there was no need for massive mining facilities like we see today.
This was because there was significantly less traffic on the Bitcoin network, fewer transactions needed to be processed, less competition, and mining difficulty was easier before the Bitcoin halvings began. Let’s take a quick recap of what Bitcoin mining does for the Bitcoin network:
- Releases newly mined Bitcoin onto the network
- Validates/confirms Bitcoin transactions
- Prohibits bad actors/ double spending
Now, there is often a lot of confusion between the roles of Bitcoin nodes vs Bitcoin miners. I am not going to get into Bitcoin nodes here, but here is a great visual from River Financial that sums up the tasks undertaken by miners vs nodes.
Originally, Bitcoin mining was intended as open to anyone with a standard CPU like the ones you find in a standard laptop or desktop computer. However, Bitcoin miners soon realized that they could get more hashing power from high-powered graphics processing cards (GPUs) like those found in gaming computers. Later, mining with graphics cards was replaced by the Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miner which is the most common today. Here is what a standard ASIC miner looks like:
Though some BTC mining is still being done with standard CPUs and GPUs, it is much less effective and is typically unprofitable; though there are some interesting developments happening in this space. More on that later.
Bitcoin mining is the process by which Bitcoin transactions are validated on the Bitcoin network and then added to the blockchain ledger. This is done by those computers I mentioned solving complex cryptographic hash puzzles to verify blocks of transactions that are updated on the blockchain ledger.
Bitcoin miners are incentivized to solve these puzzles as they are rewarded with newly minted Bitcoin. Some miners are in it for the Bitcoin rewards, while true cypherpunks are in it for the Bitcoin revolution. You can be in it for both!
Here is a great diagram uploaded to Reddit by user InATizzyWhy (u/ncb879) on how Bitcoin mining works:
In the early days when Bitcoin was worth mere dollars and cents, and the majority of Bitcoin mining was done at home with computers, it was feasible to continue mining this way with little fuss. That would continue until ASIC miners became more common and upped the playing level, as ASICs are far more efficient at mining.
For a lot of people, the domination of ASICs ruined home mining’s simplicity and viability. Running ASICs is incredibly loud, and they give off a LOT of heat, not to mention their electricity usage, which changed the considerations and parameters involved with Bitcoin mining. Here is an amusing look at an ASIC miner DIY home job:
Listening to stories from home Bitcoin miners can be quite hilarious as they talk about the sound driving them mad. You hear about complaints from apartment neighbours about the noise, and it being so hot that homes became saunas with people keeping all their windows open in the dead of winter to try and cool the place down. Then there are the nightmare stories of the unexpected massive electricity bills showing up at the door.
Obviously, this is not an ideal way to live, especially if you have a family and/or a small home. However, as Bitcoin became more profitable there were massive incentives to set up offsite mining facilities capable of mining huge amounts of Bitcoin in facilities that could be temperature controlled, and away from everyone so nobody has to deal with the noise. This led to things like dedicated mining farms and hosted mining solutions.
We will touch on hosted mining solutions later on.
Bitcoin Home Mining
A lot of people mistakenly think that there is no point in mining from home on a small scale, as it would seem like you are competing with those huge mining farms. While this is a valid point, there are things like mining pools which can help level the competitive playing field. And believe it or not, there are still thousands of people worldwide running single mining units from their homes and earning Bitcoin rewards.
Don’t let the multi-million-dollar Bitcoin mining facilities dissuade you, just because you aren’t on their level, it doesn’t mean you can’t play in the same pool. Not to mention running home Bitcoin mining machines isn’t all about the money, many people do it to provide a great service in decentralizing hashrate and contributing to the robustness of the Bitcoin network.
While earning BTC rewards for mining from home sounds sweet, there are some things you should consider first. As mentioned, the noise and heat are no joke. If you are living in a one-bedroom apartment, running an ASIC rig from home might be enough to drive you mad, and if you live someplace hot, good luck living in the sweltering heat and risking your mining rig overheating.
It’s also crucially important to understand the electricity costs where you live. If you live someplace that doesn’t charge for electricity, that could be a plus, but many Bitcoin miners have discovered the hard way that they end up paying more for electricity than they receive in Bitcoin rewards, which is no Bueno.
To figure out if Bitcoin mining would be profitable for you, there is a handy Bitcoin Mining Calculator by Coinwarz.com where you can input your electricity costs and figure out if you can turn a profit.
Electricity costs vary greatly from country to country, even from city to city in some places. According to Bitcoinist.com, the most expensive country in the world to mine Bitcoin is South Korea, with Germany and France also being quite expensive. Cheap places are the likes of Venezuela by a large margin, and countries like Canada and Ukraine come in at relatively cheap. Here is a map that shows the average electricity costs to mine Bitcoin from a country:
It isn’t just the cost of electricity to take into consideration either. The cost of Bitcoin ASIC mining rigs has gone through the roof as demand for them has skyrocketed with supply unable to keep up. A good ASIC Bitcoin miner can cost over $15K US, so before sinking that kind of capital, you want to ensure that you will be able to run it long enough to earn at least that much in Bitcoin rewards to break even on the investment.
Here is a look at the average prices for five popular pieces of Bitcoin mining equipment:
As you can see, the hash power of different Bitcoin mining units is not created equal, the higher the hash power, the more you can mine, but the higher the cost and energy consumption.
Bitcoin price and total network hash rate are the two main factors that determine how profitable one’s mining efforts will be. Be sure to utilize a Bitcoin mining calculator like the one shown above, understand your energy costs, take into account the price of the hardware, the average daily increase in network hash rate, and how Bitcoin mining will be taxed in your jurisdiction to figure out if Bitcoin mining can be profitable for you.
And while we are on the topic of electricity consumption when mining Bitcoin, if you are concerned about Bitcoin mining being bad for the environment because of all the negative headlines, be sure to check out our article on Bitcoin mining energy consumption, or Guy’s video on why Bitcoin mining being bad for the environment is a load of over-exaggerated FUD.
If you’re feeling peppy, do us a favour and feel free to share our video/article on energy consumption with your friends and family, because I for one, am very tired of Bitcoin’s reputation being constantly dragged through the mud by misinformed media headlines and articles. Not to mention Bitcoin and PoW crypto are still at risk of being banned for this false narrative. We need to spread awareness and facts.
Going back to profitability factors, things like Bitcoin value, and how many years you intend to mine also need to be taken into consideration. As the price of Bitcoin and energy fluctuate, it is difficult to perform proper analysis on how long it will take, or if it is even possible for you to make a profit mining Bitcoin.
But one thing that is safe to say is that Bitcoin mining is not a short term get rich quick scheme. Most people who set up Bitcoin mining machines are in it for the long run with many not earning back their initial investment for 2-3 years.
Personal bias also comes into play here; if you truly believe that Bitcoin will be worth millions someday, or if Bitcoin may become the world reserve currency, as many miners do, then you may feel that a net loss month after month now funding mining operations is worth the long-term investment.
Once you have all your costs worked out and have consulted the Bitcoin mining calculator, it is a good idea to run your cost analysis multiple times using different price levels for both the cost of energy and the value of Bitcoin to get a well-rounded idea of profit potential.
Determining your Break-even price is important as this will give you a rough idea of whether or not you can get a return on your Bitcoin mining investment, and how long it may take.
These steps are seriously important! I am not exaggerating when I talk about how many Bitcoin enthusiasts YOLO’d into Bitcoin mining only to realize they will never be able to turn a profit due to hardware and electricity costs. Or worse, how many Bitcoin miners purchased mining rigs only to find they did not have the infrastructure or physical capabilities in their homes to keep the mining rigs running.
How Much do Miners Earn?
If we ignore all the costs associated with mining and simply look at BTC rewards, we can get an idea of what fruits can be expected for mining labour.
The rewards for Bitcoin mining are reduced by half roughly every four years in an event known as the halving. When Bitcoin was first mined in 2009, mining one block would earn you 50 BTC, pretty sweet! By 2020, after going through 3 halving events, the rewards are reduced to 6.25 BTC per block.
Now, don’t make the mistake of assuming as soon as you set up a Bitcoin mining rig, you will be earning those mining rewards from day one. As of 2023, the odds of solving for a hash and earning the 6.25 BTC is 1 in 22 trillion and there is a lot of competition. Those who mine solo are basically trying to win the lottery…Good luck!
That is why most Bitcoin miners will join a mining pool to earn more consistent rewards. The best mining pools will pay out mining rewards daily, with the amount earned being highly variable based on the parameters of the specific mining pool, and how much hashrate you contribute to the pool.
What are Bitcoin Mining Pools?
Most Bitcoin miners will join other Bitcoin miners in what is known as a mining pool. What this does is combines the hash power of all the Bitcoin mining equipment from all the miners in the pool to conduct Bitcoin mining.
This means the Bitcoin block reward, which is currently 6.25 BTC until 2024, is distributed among all the Bitcoin miners in the pool. This leads to fewer, but more consistent rewards for miners while increasing the probability of actually receiving rewards.
Joining a mining pool is the most recommended method as it provides the most consistent and reliable rewards. Here is a look at the biggest Bitcoin mining pools:
Rewards are normally dispersed among miners based on the agreed terms and on their respective contributions to the mining activity. This makes for a fairer system because if one miner has 40 ASICs and another miner has 1 ASIC, the miner who contributed more computing power should receive more rewards.
As Bitcoin mining pools are outside the scope of this article, I’ve included this great tutorial where you can learn more about Bitcoin mining and Bitcoin mining pools at Bitdegree.org: how to mine Bitcoin tutorial.
How to Find the Best Bitcoin Miner
Here are the most important factors to look at when considering purchasing a Bitcoin mining rig:
Hash Rate – How many hashes per second can the Bitcoin miner make? The higher the hash rate, the more powerful the miner is, and the higher the rig will cost, which is why hash rate efficiency is crucial. Increased hash rate also increases the chance of solving a block.
Efficiency – Look for the most efficient Bitcoin mining hardware possible. At the moment, many Bitcoin miners are favouring the Halong Mining Dragonmint T1 for high efficiency. Miners use a large amount of electricity, so you want one that converts this electricity into the most amount of hashing power possible.
Price – Cheap mining hardware will typically have lower hash power. Like most things in life, when it comes to Bitcoin mining equipment, you get what you pay for.
Word of caution here, unfortunately, as this is the crypto industry, scammers are everywhere! Because there is a lack of available mining equipment, and there are many Bitcoin miners desperate to get their hands on mining rigs, there are a boatload of scams out there, and fraudsters taking money from buyers with no actual equipment to sell.
Be sure to DYOR and find reputable Bitcoin miner suppliers. I will list a few here to help get you started on your search.
Pro Tip: Check out eBay for second-hand Bitcoin mining rigs. As so many people buy mining rigs without doing their research and realize they cannot turn a profit, or it is too inconvenient, there are often good deals on second hand ASICs.
Bitcoin Mining Hardware Companies:
Here is a list of some reputable Bitcoin hardware mining vendors to consider purchasing mining equipment from:
Bitmain – Makes the AntMiner line of Bitcoin miners which are great for home mining.
MicroBT WhatsMiner – ASIC miner manufacturer, competition for the AntMiner, also great for home mining. These can be picked up on Amazon.
Canaan – Commercial Bitcoin ASIC miner manufacturers for the bigger mining rigs.
Asicminervalue.com is also a great place to source a multitude of different ASIC vendors.
The mentions above are popular choices among miners, but I had my attention drawn to a couple of recent developments in the Bitcoin mining space mentioned during the Bitcoin Miami conference 2022 which could change the game in home Bitcoin mining.
FutureBit – FutureBit is a USA based company that has developed more efficient units for home mining purposes and offers what they refer to as the FutureBit Apollo all-in-one home miner.
The main goal of FutureBit is to decentralize hashrate, they want to see a FutureBit miner in every Bitcoiner’s home and have developed a pretty nifty home miner to accomplish that.
The FutureBit Apollo miner is not only a Bitcoin miner but also operates as a full node and self-custodial Bitcoin wallet, being an amazing all-in-one package. It is small enough to keep on a desk, and the FutureBit team also somehow made this miner significantly quieter than many other ASIC miners on the market. Plus it’s quite affordable at just $899.99 for the full package.
Another advancement in home Bitcoin mining that was discussed during the Bitcoin Miami conference is the Upstream Data Ohmm Black Box. Upstream is a Canadian company and is well known for capturing emissions from the oil and gas industry to power mobile Bitcoin mining rigs.
Being experts in industrial Bitcoin mining, the Upstream team developed a fantastic solution for home mining and has created the Ohmm Black Box. This unit can house between 2-24 ASIC miners and contains both the heat and noise produced by Bitcoin mining. The Black box has the following features:
- Damage and fire-resistant ASIC enclosure
- Weather-resistant, all-climate design
- Sound attenuation up to 20db noise reduction
- Compatible with all Bitcoin ASIC models
- Sizes up to 42kW of hashpower
The Black Box is revolutionary in the sense that it requires no additional cooling or noise reduction kits. All a miner needs to do is run power and ethernet to the box and it is good to go. It is like having access to a full mining facility in one portable box. You can learn more about this piece of kit at upstreamdata.ca.
I am sure that there are plenty of advancements in Bitcoin mining that I have missed, but one more really fascinating one to watch out for is the new Intel Bitcoin mining chip.
Intel Corp, yeah, those guys who are world leaders in computer chip manufacturing have flipped Bitcoin mining on its head.
This could be the first major evolution in increased hashing power and more energy efficient miners beyond what is currently available in ASIC mining units. Intel dropped this massive bombshell on us earlier this year; the mining chip is called Blockscale. Intel’s new mining chip claims to be more energy-efficient than existing ASIC units, and it produces significantly higher hashrates.
Chip giant Nvidia has also promised to roll out similar crypto mining chips, so the race for cryptocurrency mining chip supremacy grows intense.
Bitcoin Mining Equipment
Unfortunately, Bitcoin mining isn’t as simple as just plugging something into the wall and letting it run. If you are planning on getting into Bitcoin mining, aside from the ASIC mining rig, you will also need additional kit depending on your situation.
Power Supply – Bitcoin rigs need special power supplies to funnel and use electricity efficiently. Think power splitters and power supply units.
Cooling Fans and AC units – Unless you live in the arctic, you will need to run cooling fans so your machines don’t overheat. Many Bitcoin miners have also been known to run pretty ingenious AC solutions to keep their kit cool.
Backup Generators – This is optional, but you may want generators in case your electricity goes out to keep your miners running.
Immersion tanks – This goes back to keeping the equipment cool, and suppresses noise as a bonus. Many Bitcoin miners have special equipment which allows for the submergence of Bitcoin miners in water.
Noise suppression cases – This one is self-explanatory. Keep your neighbours happy by keeping things quiet.
Ethernet cables and internet connection – self-explanatory.
Computer with internet connection and web browser – Self-explanatory.
A Bitcoin Wallet – For those sweet rewards, of course!
Now, I know all this talk about hardware and kit is not ideal for everyone. Fortunately, there are ways to get involved in Bitcoin mining with no extra hardware.
Bitcoin Mining Without Hardware
It is technically possible to mine Bitcoin without special equipment and dedicated mining hardware. Mining can be done with a typical PC, though you are unlikely to earn any substantial amounts of money, talking fractions of pennies here, and you will end up doing more damage to your home computer than it is worth.
If you do want to look into mining from your home computer, here is a fantastic step by step guide from 2miners.com on how to mine Bitcoin from a PC.
The better option is to go for Bitcoin hosted mining solutions.
Bitcoin Hosted Mining
If you do not have the space or desire to hold your own mining equipment, there are hosted mining solutions available.
There are companies that rent out mining space and equipment for those who do not want to self-custody their mining equipment. This is essentially a co-existing space for groups of miners who all house their equipment in one facility that is temperature-controlled and takes care of the tasks involved with equipment maintenance.
Think of it like renting office space, but instead of rooms, you are renting rack space for your ASICs, and paying someone else for all the upkeep and maintenance.
Convenience is the biggest benefit of using these hosted solutions, as the hosts do all the heavy lifting. There are a lot of solutions available depending on needs and budget.
Some of these locations require you to purchase the ASIC and all the equipment upfront, then deliver it yourself to the facility, while others will let you rent their equipment while they take a cut of the profit, meaning you never even need to travel to the site. Though be careful as there are scam companies out there offering such solutions.
Hosted mining has become very popular with Bitcoin miners who do not want to deal with the hassle of running their own equipment, just make sure you are using a reputable company with good security, consider the location for regulatory purposes, and make sure you aren’t paying more than you will ever earn back as some hosting solutions can cost a lot.
For more information on Bitcoin hosted mining solutions check out this article on Bitcoin miner hosting from datacenters.com.
So, Is Bitcoin Mining Profitable?
For large-scale mining operations operating in low-cost areas, then, of course, Bitcoin mining is profitable, hence the number of Bitcoin mining companies popping up all the time and the flow of institutional money investing in Bitcoin mining companies.
For the individual running Bitcoin mining equipment, as long as the cost of your electricity is not higher than your rewards, then yes, it is worthwhile. If you can keep the upfront cost of equipment low, and energy costs remain low where you are, Bitcoin mining is a great way to not only contribute to the Bitcoin ecosystem and decentralize hashrate, but earn a few Satoshis for your efforts. The friends I have running small scale mining rigs from their homes are earning between a few cents to fifteen dollars per day in BTC rewards, but again, this figure will vary massively depending on mining pools and hashrate contribution.
Now, it is very unlikely that you will become a millionaire from Bitcoin mining in 2023. If you started back in 2009, then sure, but there are just too many Bitcoin miners now, too many mining farms, meaning too much competition and too few rewards to go around to make everyone rich.
According to recent research, Bitcoin mining is highly concentrated, with 10% of Bitcoin miners controlling 90% of mining capacity on Bitcoin’s network. What is crazier is that 0.1% of all miners own 50% of the network’s mining capacity, meaning that rewards are distributed disproportionately.
These are the factors contributing to solo BTC mining being a fruitless task, which is why mining pools have become so popular.
If you solo mine and hit that 1 in a trillion chance of mining a full block then that is great. If you join a Bitcoin mining pool, then you can earn some passive income daily, but not enough to quit your job over unless you decide to drop a few hundred grand on mining equipment and set up a mining farm.
If you believe Bitcoin is going to infinity and beyond in value, then I could be eating my words and you may become a Bitcoin millionaire from the few BTC rewards you are able to earn in 2023 and beyond. As mentioned, BTC mining is not a get-rich-quick scheme and is a serious investment in both time and money.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.