How many solar panels for crypto mining?

Crypto mining refers to the process of verifying and adding new transactions to the blockchain ledger. It requires significant computing power, which translates to high energy consumption. Using solar panels to power crypto mining operations can help reduce electricity costs and the carbon footprint of mining activities.

How much power do crypto mining rigs use?

The power consumption of a crypto mining rig depends on factors like the type of hardware, number of GPUs/ASICs, and the cryptocurrency being mined. Here are some typical power draws for popular mining hardware:

  • Antminer S19 Pro (110 TH/s) – 3250 Watts
  • Antminer S19j Pro (100 TH/s) – 3025 Watts
  • Whatsminer M30S++ (112 TH/s) – 3400 Watts
  • RTX 3090 GPU – 320 Watts
  • RTX 3080 Ti GPU – 350 Watts

So a single high-end ASIC like the S19 Pro can draw over 3 kW by itself. A 6 GPU rig with RTX 3090s would draw around 2 kW. Large mining farms have hundreds or thousands of miners running 24/7.

How to calculate the number of solar panels needed?

To determine the number of solar panels required, you need to calculate the total power draw of your mining equipment in watt-hours per day. Here are the steps:

  1. Add up the wattage of all your mining hardware (GPUs, ASICs etc)
  2. Multiply this total wattage by 24 hours to get the daily energy consumption in watt-hours.
  3. Divide the total watt-hours per day by the wattage output of your solar panels to find the minimum number of panels needed.

As an example, if you have:

  • 6 x RTX 3090 GPUs drawing 320W each = 1920 Watts
  • 3 x Antminer S19 Pro ASICs drawing 3250W each = 9750 Watts

The total wattage is 1920 + 9750 = 11,670 Watts.

Daily energy use = 11,670 x 24 = 280,080 Watt-hours per day.

If using 400W solar panels, you would need at least 280,080 / 400 = 700 panels.

Allow for inefficiencies and future expansion

When sizing a solar system, it’s important to account for inefficiencies as well as future expansion plans. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • System efficiency – No system converts 100% of solar energy into usable electricity. Assume approximately 15% inefficiency for losses.
  • Battery efficiency – Batteries used for energy storage are not 100% efficient either. Only about 85% of energy put into batteries can be retrieved.
  • Mining hardware upgrades – You may want to upgrade to more powerful ASICs or GPUs in the future, so allow for higher power capacity.
  • Additional equipment – Consider cooling systems, monitors, routers etc that also consume electricity.

Accounting for these factors, a good rule of thumb is to multiply your calculated panel requirements by 1.5x. So in the example above, the 700 panels calculated would be increased to 1050 panels by this rule.

How much solar energy is needed per day?

The average solar panel with a power rating of 400 watts can produce about 4 – 5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per day. However, this varies significantly depending on location, weather, and season:

  • Southwest USA – 6.5 kWh per 400W panel per day
  • Northeast USA – 4.0 kWh per 400W panel per day
  • Central Europe – 3.5 kWh per 400W panel per day
  • United Kingdom – 2.5 kWh per 400W panel per day

To generate 280 kWh per day as in the mining example above, you would need:

  • Southwest USA: 280 / 6.5 = 43 x 400W panels
  • Northeast USA: 280 / 4.0 = 70 x 400W panels
  • Central Europe: 280 / 3.5 = 80 x 400W panels
  • United Kingdom: 280 / 2.5 = 112 x 400W panels

This demonstrates the impact of solar radiation on how many panels are needed. Sunnier locations require less installed solar capacity.

Should solar power be supplemented with grid energy?

Relying 100% on solar power is possible but challenging. Solar generation fluctuates throughout the day and seasons. Poor weather can result in blackouts for mining operations.

Most experts recommend maintaining a connection to the grid and net metering to supplement solar power when needed. Excess solar can be sold back to the grid during peak generation.

Advantages of supplementing with grid power:

  • Avoids power interruptions when solar generation is low
  • Smooths power consumption from utility perspective
  • Sells excess solar electricity to grid and gets credit
  • Easier to match energy supply and demand

The grid acts as affordable insurance against strange weather events or periods of low sunlight. Pure off-grid solar requires overprovisioning panels, beefier batteries, and backup generators.

What factors affect solar panel output?

Some key factors that impact how much energy solar panels produce include:

  • Climate and latitude – More sunlight and warmer temps increase panel output. Solar potential maps show best locations.
  • Season – More sunlight in summer vs. winter at higher latitudes. Output can fall 10-25% in winter.
  • Weather – Cloud cover and rain reduce sunlight reaching panels. Solar yield drops during storms.
  • Temperature – Extreme heat can slightly reduce panel efficiency by a few percentage points.
  • Shading – Obstructions like trees or buildings that shade panels will lower production.
  • Tilt and orientation – Optimal tilt to capture sunlight is site specific. Facing south is ideal orientation in northern hemisphere.
  • Dust and dirt – A dirty panel can lose up to 20% output. Regular cleaning maintains energy production.

Monitoring weather patterns, keeping panels clean, and adjusting tilt can help maximize solar panel productivity for mining facilities.

How to estimate solar production at a site?

Estimating solar production at a particular location involves multiple steps:

  1. Determine average daily peak sunlight hours using solar irradiance data for the site.
  2. Look up the solar panel generation factor for the area based on the peak sun hours.
  3. Multiply the generation factor by the total wattage of panels to be installed.
  4. Optionally reduce result by 10-20% to account for real-world losses.

For example, Phoenix, AZ has an average of 7 peak daily sun hours. The generation factor for a 7 sun hour location is 6.5 kWh per 400W solar panel. So a 10 kW system would produce approximately:

  • 10 kW system / 400W per panel = 25 x 400W panels
  • 25 panels x 6.5 kWh per 400W panel = 162.5 kWh per day
  • Reducing by 15% for losses = 162.5 kWh x 0.85 = 138 kWh

This rough calculation gives a reasonable daily kWh production estimate for more accurate solar sizing.

What size batteries are needed for solar mining?

Batteries provide backup power when solar panels cannot meet 100% of the mining facility demand. Larger battery banks can power operations overnight or during multi-day bad weather.

Common options for solar energy storage include:

  • Lead-acid batteries – Mature technology but heavy and lower lifespan. Good for smaller applications.
  • Lithium-ion batteries – Better performance and lifespan but more expensive. Often used for big solar projects.
  • Saltwater batteries – Newer tech using inexpensive materials. Promising for large scale storage.

To calculate battery size in kilowatt-hours (kWh):

  1. Estimate average hours per day mining operations need battery backup.
  2. Multiply this by total daily power usage of mining hardware in kWs.
  3. Multiply by 1.2 to 1.5 for losses and safety factor.

For example, the 11.7 kW rig in our earlier example needs 8 hours of overnight backup. This gives:

  • 8 hours x 11.7 kW = 93.6 kWh energy storage needed
  • With a 1.25x safety factor = 93.6 kWh x 1.25 = 117 kWh battery capacity

Large scale mining operations may have battery banks in the hundreds of kWh for reliability.

What are the best locations for solar mining farms?

When siting large scale solar crypto mining facilities, optimal locations maximize solar productivity while keeping costs in check. Desirable attributes include:

  • High solar radiation – More annual sun hours increase energy generation from fixed number of panels.
  • Low temperatures – Cooler climates allow easier equipment cooling. High heat reduces panel efficiency.
  • Available flat land – Solar arrays require many acres of flat, unshaded space for installation.
  • Low energy costs – Locations with cheap grid power allow affordable supplemental electricity.
  • Business incentives – Some states offer tax rebates and credits for solar which improve ROI.

Based on these criteria, some of the best regions in the U.S. for solar mining facilities include:

  • Southwest – Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada. High sun hours and open land.
  • Pacific Northwest – Oregon, Washington low temps and hydropower rates.
  • Texas – Lots of sun and reasonably priced electricity from wind.

Other countries with excellent solar resources for mining include Chile, China, India, Australia and regions of North Africa such as Morocco.

What are pros and cons of solar crypto mining?

Here is a quick look at some key advantages and potential challenges of powering crypto mining with solar energy:

Pros of solar mining

  • Lower long-term electricity costs from free sunlight
  • Zero carbon emissions once system is paid off
  • Protection against volatile energy prices
  • Positive public perception and marketing
  • Allows mining without large utility capacity
  • Excess power can be sold back to grid

Cons of solar mining

  • High upfront investment into solar farm and batteries
  • Intermittent power supply depending on weather and time of day
  • May still need grid connection as backup
  • Finding optimal sunny locations with affordable land
  • Additional maintenance of solar infrastructure
  • Heat and dust can degrade solar equipment over time

Pros tend to outweigh cons for most large mining operations, especially as solar technology improves and costs decline over time.

What are the costs of a solar crypto mining farm?

Constructing a large solar mining farm requires significant capital expenditure. Cost factors include:

  • Solar panels – $0.75 to $1.25 per watt for panels depending on technology and scale. So a 1 MW system would cost $750,000 to $1.25 million for panels.
  • Battery banks – $100 – $300 per kWh of storage capacity. A 500 kWh battery could cost $50,000 – $150,000.
  • Inverters and wiring – Approximately $0.25 to $0.35 per watt, so $250,000 to $350,000 for 1 MW solar capacity.
  • Land acquisition – Cost per acre varies hugely based on location. Scale to hundreds of acres for large solar farms.
  • Installation labor – $0.50 to $1.50 per watt depending on system specifics, local wages etc.
  • Soft costs – Permitting, project management, grid interconnection applications can each be 5-10% of hard costs.

Total turnkey cost typically ranges from around $1.50 to $3.00 per watt. So a 10 MW mining solar farm would likely require a $15 – $30+ million buildout.

How long does it take to break even on solar mining investment?

The breakeven timeline depends on:

  • Cost per watt of the solar and battery installation
  • Solar production and utilization percentage
  • Electrical rate that would otherwise be paid per kWh
  • Depreciation schedule and tax treatment of capex
  • Ongoing O&M costs for solar upkeep

As a rough estimate, a mining solar farm costing $2.50/W that displaces electricity at $0.12/kWh may break even in 6-9 years. Lower solar costs or higher energy rates shorten the payback period.

Tax incentives like accelerated depreciation and investment credits can improve ROI. Ongoing profits come from zero fuel cost sun power after breaking even.

Is solar power cheaper than grid electricity for mining?

The cost comparison depends heavily on location. Key factors are:

  • Local electricity rate – From under 5 cents to over 30 cents/kWh in different regions globally
  • Available solar incentives and rebates – Can be up to 50% of system cost
  • System cost per watt – As low as $1.50/W for large installations
  • Solar irradiance/weather – Dramatically affects kWh output per panel

With average residential power at around 15 cents/kWh, solar can be cheaper in high irradiation sites with pitiful incentives. Solar also protects against volatile future energy prices.

Utility-scale solar farms can produce power for under 5 cents/kWh in optimal locations now. This compares very favorably to retail electricity rates.


Powering crypto mining operations with solar energy can be a smart long-term investment for suitable sites. Lower operating costs and environmental benefits offset the steep initial capital expenditures for panels, batteries and land.

Careful planning and sizing of the solar and storage systems is crucial to maximize uptime and return on investment. Supplementing with grid power helps overcome intermittency of sunlight.

Ongoing advances in solar technology, energy storage and financial incentives make solar-powered mining increasingly attractive over time. The sun provides a free and renewable fuel that unlocks huge value for mining facilities once installed.

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