Electric heaters are 100% efficient at turning electrical energy into heat. All the energy they take in, that's where it goes.
Bitcoin mining (and computers in general) are basically in the same boat. There's some ancillary energy use for blowing air around or shining lights or making sound waves, but for the most part the electricity turns into heat and does some math along the way.
Sounds great! Perfectly efficient! But the important caveat is that heat pumps are (effectively) more than 100% efficient. They can take 100 watt of electricity to transfer 300 watts of heat from outside to inside.
It's not technically a measure of "efficiency", we call this the "coefficient of performance" instead. Or we call it the "seasonal energy efficiency ratio", which is the same thing except multiplied by some constant factor because somebody wanted a scale that went up to higher numbers. Or for heating, the heating season performance factor, which I forget the specifics of, but is geared toward how well it works pumping heat in from outdoors when your heat source (outdoors) is very cold.
In short, it's just as efficient as any other electric heater, but heat pumps are 3-4x better than that.
The CoP of a heat pump is greatly dependent on the difference in temperature potential of the source and sink. If it's extremely cold outside, it's very hard to pump heat from colder air into a house. When the temperature potential between the two reservoirs is equal, sure the CoP beats out electric heating but when it's high (When your house is warm and the outside is below freezing) its extremely poor.
This government study of an air source heat pump maintained a real world COP of ~3 in Connecticut:
It would be pretty bad to design a heat pump that dropped much below 1, better to just install a big resistive element.
Disclosure: I work there :)
Small error in the FAQ though: "kW/h" ;-)
Obviously heat pumps are more efficient - that's kinda beside the point though.
The main point here is you can take anywhere you had a resistive heating element and replace it with a mining chip, and you're now doing something useful with that energy you were turning into heat anyway.
Yes heat pumps are more efficient but there are plenty of places in your house you have plain old heat elements that aren't going away (water heater).
Only obvious if you know what a heat pump is!
Plenty of people will hear "Electrical heating is 100% efficient" and interpret that to mean it's the ideal solution, when in a lot of cases it's just about the worst.
But yes, if you have electrical heating, you could throw in some CPUs or ASICs instead and they'll work just as well. The return on investment for cryptocurrency may drop off a cliff when the next silicon process comes out and mines more for the same energy, it's hard to see people wanting to keep upgrading their baseboard heaters on the same cycle that computers get replaced.
Whether it's money positive vs resistive heating will depend on A) price of your electronics relative to a cheap electric heater, B) how it stacks up vs future electronics if the payoff doesn't happen while it's new, and C) how insane the cryptocurrency markets get.
Strictly speaking, isn't it just a special case of resistive heating?
Remember, few things need constant heat output 24/7 365, otherwise your going to want to generate some or all of your heat from other sources.
Aka, you can uses them to cook with. Also, while you can use electricity to heat water it's vastly more efficient to burn natural gas to make heat than burn natural gas to make electricity to make it, ditto solar power etc.
They cost more money, but Consumer Reports says "payback time is short" (see https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/water-heaters/buying-gui... ).
They probably don't make as much sense in cold climates, but where I live, air conditioning in the summer (and spring and fall) dwarfs the energy usage from heating in the winter. So a device that makes it colder on average indoors would be a net win even if it didn't have the function of heating your water.
Has anyone had 7+ years experience with these, and if so, can you please share your ownership experience and the model & brand you used?
Is it useful? My (limited) understanding is that most of the work is just arbitrarily difficult number guessing for the sole purpose of being throttled...
Most heat pumps are no good below 20f.
There are other reasons electrical heating isn't great, heat pumps aside. An average coal plant (in the US in 2015, I'm using EIA numbers) was about 34% efficient in turning the energy in coal into electricity. Then you lose about 5% of that in transmission, so from the heat released by burning coal you're only getting 32% of that as electricity at your house. Converting 100% of that into heat is pretty unimpressive in the big picture, you'd get 3x more heat by buying some coal and setting it on fire.
Obviously you can't do that, but a high efficiency gas-fired furnace will get 90%-98% of the combustion heat into your ducts, with the much smaller remainder going up the chimney. Unless you're on solar power (or some other renewable), burning fossil fuels on-site does better than resistive electric heating.
Of course that may also not apply to Siberia. If the ground is frozen all the time it's harder to run gas lines compared to putting in an electric grid. Mostly I'm trying to dissuade anyone in most of the US from stocking up on mining machines thinking it'll be a great heating system.
Actually, you can. I know a few people in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and upstate New York who use coal stoves to heat their homes.
I'm not sure what the efficiency on those is today. Article from 1980  mentions 74% for a good quality stove, it's possible they've improved, but I doubt there's been as much development work on coal burning stoves as there has for gas fired furnaces.
I can't wait to get rich and be warm this winter.
I was actually just being tongue-in-cheek from the get-go.
But I would never be cold for a whole year.
Assuming that the fossil fuel to electricity conversion is about 1/3 efficient and the heat pump CoP is 3, then on-site combustion heating is effectively as "efficient" as a heat pump.
I guess the main point is that "fossil fuel -> electricity -> grid -> heat pump" cycle seems crazily inefficient in terms of losses, especially when heating is a large portion of electricity consumption in many households.
I believe this isn't really an exception, this energy would also just be converted to heat?
So not 100% of that sound or light will be an exception, but some of it might.
Well, yes, but heat pumps can't mine Bitcoin :)
Heat pumps have better energy efficiency than electric heaters but whether that translates to cheaper costs is another thing. Heat pumps are expensive (about $3000 per pump) and they require regular maintenance (a few hundred bucks per pump every few years). They're also big, bulky and noisy and installation requires poking holes in exterior walls.
I have 3 heat pumps and 2 fire places in my house but I still do need a bunch of electric heaters when it gets properly cold. The weather around here is right about freezing this time of year and so far no electric heaters are needed.
But soon it's time to turn on the heat and it's a consideration of money, not energy efficiency.
A GTX1060 6GB can mine ETH at around 80 watts. And currently, earn you $25/month of ETH with electricity costing $10/month. Cost of card is $260.
I have to disagree. At its most general, the concept of efficiency means "desired output achieved per unit of scarce good expended" and can be applied in a variety of contexts: new users per dollar spent on marketing is a measure of your marketing efficiency, treasure value found per hour spent searching is a measure of your treasure-finding efficiency, etc.
Heat pumps are just a case where a) we use the same units for output and input even though they're different things, and b) in that unit system, the value for the output can be greater than the input. Since people can be unnecessarily suspicious of >100% efficiency, they use different terms for it.
If you expressed the efficiency as "2 joules of heat moved per joule of mains electricity consumed" you eliminate the canceling that would let you phrase the ratio as 200%.
But that's the performance. Efficiency is usually a measure of how good the performance is.
In this case there's a practical reason not to call it efficiency, because there is a well understood maximum performance which is the Carnot limit, so for practical purposes (to avoid confusion) PumpedHeat/Power is called "coefficient of performance"and CarnotLimit/PumpedHeat is called "efficiency", and it has the usual properties that it cannot exceed 100% and it measures how well your system works in a more or less absolute sense.
Sure, but that's a technology that does not exist. If you can figure out how to create a blockchain-like concept, where the 'proof of work' actually contributes to humanity, you have invented the next big thing.
Edit: Reading the comments below me, it looks like this is a space that is being actively explored. Exciting!
> The innovative prime proof-of-work in Primecoin not only provides security and minting to the network, but also generates a special form of prime number chains of interest to mathematical research. Thus primecoin network is energy-multiuse, compared to bitcoin.
This is of course very basic, but still, it's interesting.
You have the contract host record all operations and output on a ledger, and then ship that ledger/log out to monitors. This improves the auditability of the system, and enforces the backend logic as a contract. Deviations from the code are detectable by replay, and then provable. Flag the host and readjust your trust.
You can also find ways to reduce the cost of switching between traditional hosting models, such as using data-sharing networks (Dat, IPFS) to quickly "hydrate" a new host, and good ole configurable endpoints to make the switch.
It's the opposite of a trustless network; it's a trust network built on accountability. You watch hosts for bad behavior (such as the violation of the backend contract) and reconfigure trust around violations. No decentralized operation, but much less wasteful than PoW.
That's pretty much something like Git.
Seems difficult to find an actually useful mathematical problems that fits all these prerequisites.
>Curecoin puts ASICs to work at what they are good at–securing a blockchain, while it puts GPUs and CPUs to work with work items that can only be done on them–protein folding.
Do you (or anyone) have more information in how this works? Does this reward you directly for doing the folding (as opposed to validating)? How does that work? That looks like a very interesting concept, and if it's technologically sound then I'd love to see it gain popularity.
The problem is that for most problems you don't want to explore the space of potential problems randomly, you want to select ones that people care about. If you allow an actor to dictate what problem to work on then you can have that actor pick a problem they have already solved and will be able to roll back tx arbitrarily once they have control.
Wouldn't a cheaper throttle be easier?
But, the main point of the article was that "proof of stake" is basically selling liquidity (exactly like bonds) and, to get the same job done, the cost of that liquidity won't end up being any cheaper than the cost of the electricity it's replacing.
The Ethereum Foundation has published a response .
what's so interesting about that? there are plenty of proof of stake coins already.
Other proof of work algorithms could concurrently secure the block chain and also provide direct, external benefit. There are some suggestions elsewhere in this thread. :)
Then the only point of contention is whether the benefit of this secure network existing and what it gives the world outweighs the cost of the resources consumed.
I believe it is, by a large amount.
So Bitcoin is not valuable?
That's what you call cold up in the arctic? That's definitely how cold my NYC apartment is every night from November through March. Heat is expensive!
Also, it's still actually cold outside. Coldest mornings the year I left my parents apartment were around -40C (-40F). I personally withdraw from going outside by choice after it gets below -30C (-22F). Below that point, I start having random nose bleeds of blood. People from the south may pass out.
My apartment was newly-built last year, and rated B for energy efficiency. We have a heat-recovery ventilation system which I assume helps a lot, as we don't need to leave the windows open for fresh air, and heat from showering and the dryer is used to heat the inside air, rather than just being vented outside.
Those were the days.
In the summer, I had the rigs in 1 room air cooled with just the windows open - no problems with 90 degree F days at all. Fun project, and so far quite successful.
I could always resell the video cards I bought at near cost. Buying speculative coins is another matter entirely. Further, I'm not mining ETH - if I took your advice on the coin I am mining I would have a net LOSS not gain. You should take another look at the economics of mining, I think you have a few aspects misunderstood.
You sure about that? There are so many miners these days, if the mining market tanks, the used graphics card market will be flooded and prices will likely plummet.
I make no claims about what happens in the future though.
Have warm fun
I was envious at the time, although now I wonder about the health implications of the setup, and whether it was strictly speaking legal. The guy is alive and well today, fortunately.
The eyes are usually what is damaged first because they tick all 3 boxes of:
* Easily damaged by heat
* High water content
* No good way of shedding heat
Testicles hit the last two, and the degree to which the first is true is debated.
That makes sense in retrospect, given we humans routinely stand with our noses pressed against thinly-screened microwave oven windows waiting for food to heat, apparently without health effects!
Your description makes it sound like the most bizarre mixed use building. Townhouse/industrial equipment shed/warehouse is quite the combo. I can't imagine how they classified that for tax purposes or what the land was zoned for.
Assuming the actual emitters were high above his head and fairly directional then it probably wasn't a health nightmare, the heat would have mostly been waste heat from transformers, but it's probably not ideal.
What did he do in the summer? I guess it's school so he wouldn't be there for the hottest part, but there is still part of August and September as well as May and possibly June.
Append a giant concrete warehouse to the side and move the tower into the back yard and, yes.
> Your description makes it sound like the most bizarre mixed use building.
Agreed on all points :) I should ask next time I see him about the zoning. I speculate it was some kind of employee/maintenance quarters. His job was to go into the transformer room once per day and make sure the green light was still blinking. (Kidding, not sure what the arrangement was :)
> Assuming the actual emitters were high above his head and fairly directional...
The tower was quite tall, and I was told perfectly safe to climb for most of the height, then suddenly fatal! I understood it to be more or less horizontally omnidirectional. I'm definitely not an expert in the tech. Also I think he could redirect the heat to the outside during warmer months.
I used to know a couple of radio engineers, and this sounds about right. The owners of the radio stations would pay them extra if they did tower maintenance without shutting the station down. They all had weird swirly RF burn scars on their forearms.
Ah, but did he have a dog whose job was to bite him if he tried to touch any buttons?
By that, I mean I'm a tad bit green with envy.
In case anyone is wondering.
... IF you can tolerate the noise that the rigs generate
But there's really no reason why you have to be in the biggest pool, if you're in a pool with a 1/144 share of the hashrate you'll already be getting daily income, why do you need it to be more frequent?
Note: I think solo miners also get a bit more average latency when receiving bloks, I'm not sure if that offsets the cut the pools take enough to make the expected value of being in a pool higher or not.
Note that from this perspective, a mining pool is effectively a single miner - so a Serbian miner might not actually help, depending which pool it's attached to.
That isn't really true. A pool operator who tried to abuse their position to carry out a 51% attack against the interests of the pool members wouldn't retain their majority for long. Individual miners would switch to a different pool, or simply shut down their hardware. Conscientious pool participants could also scan the blocks they're asked to work on to detect such attempts before they are carried out, though I don't think any of the standard pool software does that yet. To sustain a 51% attack for a meaningful length of time you would have to own the hardware, not just manage it for others.
In theory, you could build a system which uses solar power to mine bitcoin during the day, and store that heat somewhere (like an underground tank of water) until you need to warm your house at night.
Of course its not a perfect solution because the coldest places are obviously also the places which get the least sunlight.
Just install a solar water system if you want to heat your house, it'll be more efficient at generating heat than solar panels.
> This technique could pair nicely with another problem we have- storing solar power.
Actually the ability to quickly turn on and off mining operations has other more practical uses for excess energy. Right now there are situations during the day where utilities have to idle base-load plants because renewable energies produce enough to satisfy grid demand, or they even have to pay another utility to take their excess power in case they can't quickly throttle their base load (e.g. with Nuclear).
Having a large crypto currency mining pool the utility could use during these times would enable them to use the excess energy and generate a profit from it, instead of paying another utility to take their excess energy.
It's built on the same idea but a more mature and more general solution to the same problem.
Seriously though in Irkutsk electricity is about 0.017usd per kilowatt/hour
Even using a time-of-use plan like E6 (which they don't allow any more), off-peak is $0.16728/kWh in the summer, and peak summer is $0.35933/kWh. The ETOU-A and ETOU-B plans they're pushing people toward bottom out at $0.17279/kWh winter off-peak, up to $0.36335/kWh. Again, all baseline figures. Electric Vehicles and over-baseline (read: mining) will punish you to death.
In those rate plans, PG&E apparently spends more on transmission alone than Siberian customers entirely pay for service. Also, good luck explaining the plan structure to someone; it took me 20 minutes of edits just to put this comment together coherently.
Siberia has huge rivers which are very suitable for building hydroelectric because the accompanying flooding happens in mostly uninhabited areas and thus has relatively little costs.
Those days aren't over. Mainframes are still in serious use, at least in banks, and (I didn't know this until going to find the following link) apparently also have Blockchain support: https://www.ibm.com/us-en/marketplace/z14
Couple of weeks ago there was an ethereum-mining heater Comino https://comino.io
These guys say they use optimized liquid cooling to transfer heat from GPUs to the room effectively (and earning like $10-$15 a day).
If you factor in electricity costs and the money they spent on infrastructure(GPU's and high-end machines), it is a dumb idea. They could have spent $30-50 on heating equipment instead.
Electricity costs in Irkutsk (place where the place that the video is describing is located) are 0.7 RUR per 1 kWh for rural areas. That's about 1 cent per kWh. For comparison, California's lowest tariff in about 20c per kWh and if you are consuming a lot (which you'd do if you mine) you'll get over 35c/kWh. If you qualify for low income subsidy, though, you might get it for significantly cheaper :)
How much does a Bitcoin mining rig usually last for before it needs replaced?
The problem with components is that they can break one day after you bought it, or last 50 years.
For example, in CERN they bought 100,000 disk drives for their huge amount of data. Lets say disk lifetime is 1M hours which is 114 years, so sounds pretty good. But that means, on average, every 10 hours one of their drives will fail.
The rig looks kinda tiny even for a pooled mining setup with such output.
A: imagine the situation the headline literally describes ( Bitcoin mining heats homes for free in Siberia)
B: read what the article describes (A cottage that’s heated for free with bitcoin mining)
clickbait_coefficient = the distance between A and B
Now that winter is coming around I look forward to the extra heating.
There seems to be discussion in these comments about mining for the purpose of heating a home, but the heating is a bonus. You're making money AND saving on energy, that's the important part.
Plus, in my opinion, a constant heat source like a mining rig is preferable to an older cycling central system which can be slightly disturbing as it loudly cycles on and off throughout the day...