Bitcoin miner: ‘I haven’t paid for heat in three years’

It was roughly 30 ºF outside in Durham, North Carolina, on a recent day in late November, but Rahdi Fakhoury’s 1650-square-foot house was so warm he left a window open a bit. The heater he was using? Two bitcoin mining machines and two Ethereum mining machines.

Fakhoury, 38, is part of a contingent of people who say mining bitcoins at home can be profitable and provide them free heat. As the bitcoin price skyrocketed and hit $11,000 last Wednesday, he woke up in a heated room and found his machines made $60, or 0.0026 bitcoin, while costing just $6 in electricity in a day, according to calculations on whattomine.com.

Like gold, the quantity of bitcoins is finite. Out of a planned supply cap of 21 million bitcoins, 16.7 million have been mined as of November 2017.

Profits and heat from home mining

In this digital gold rush, miners no longer need to travel to California or use shovels to dig into the ground. People like Fakhoury can just put printer-shaped ASIC mining machines in their garages or basements and plug them in; codes running on the machines create new bitcoins by solving complex mathematical computations, which also generates a great deal of heat. (It’s like how your laptop sometimes overheats, but much more so.)

The world’s largest manufacturer of bitcoin mining equipment is Bitmain, based in China. Fakhoury now runs two Bitmain S9 bitcoin mining machines in a five-foot-tall box in his basement, and he plans to add one more when it gets colder. Each machine consumes about 1400 Watts per hour, similar to an average space heater. The average electricity cost in his town is 0.06 per kWh, and last month his electric bill was about $450. It’s $250 more than when he used a heater, but he says the expense has been offset by the proceeds from his mining. (Bitcoin miners are rewarded with a small amount of bitcoin every time they mine a “block” of transactions.)

“I haven’t paid for heat for three years,” Fakhoury says. “I would suggest people put half of their bitcoin investment into mining and half into purchasing the coins. That way you hedge yourself in both directions.” […]

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