The cool thing about Bitcoin is its price. From the level of FOMO, JOMO, and user flow in the last few years, price and profits matter most. The tech is secondary. However, for the keen ones, especially those drawn by tech over profit, it is only natural for them to inquire and learn about facets of Bitcoin that shape subsequent processes.
After all, it is the most popular coin, the first digital asset that ushered in blockchain and the most liquid coin supported in most crypto trading ramps. Bitcoin as a platform is a movement. It’s native currency, BTC, is electronic money and store of value.
At $9,300, it may be tempting for one to kick off a career in Bitcoin mining and start stacking Satoshis. Of course, how long it takes to mine one block, and the effort it takes for each Bitcoin to be released depends on many factors.
The Intricacies of Bitcoin Mining
The crypto space has evolved and Bitcoin mining is now, clearly, commercialized. There are giants with deep pockets doing whatever it takes to mine coins from areas with the best offers—environmentally and economically.
Depending on what the Bitcoin miner seeks to achieve, it may take cents to mine Bitcoin after a century, or invest and earn a Bitcoin after a couple of minutes.
Earning is an incentive meant to align the objective of the miner with those of the network, solving a complex computer science problem called the Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT). That means price and on-chain conditions play a big role in determining time and speed.
Then again, there is no true way of mining only 1 Bitcoin. Right in the early stages of the third epoch, a successful mining pool (we got to be realistic) only earn 6.25 BTC as compensation for computing power for one audited block. And it is competitive. A miner doesn’t win it all the time.
They can mine Bitcoin and win 6.25 BTC, or nothing. Whenever they miss out, they try again until they are lucky. With over 1 million ASIC miners, the chance of a rig winning a block is a millionth (at best) but increases whenever they join hands.
Mining pools are there as part of the odd playing game. The stronger it is, the higher the chance, and vice versa. Unfortunately, there is no way of practically getting around Bitcoin mining without joining any of the many mining pools.
Here’s what a Bitcoin miner does
Still, before we dig deeper, it is better to understand what Bitcoin is and what truly take to mine a Bitcoin.
First, it is the acknowledgment that Satoshi Nakamoto’s Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm remains a revolutionary technology. Bitcoin is itself the pioneer. The first digital asset to prove that a system can operate without an intermediary.
In the Bitcoin arrangement, the community can audit every transaction and simultaneously secure the network. For every hash rate, the network automatically compensates participants.
There are no systems but instead, rules are hard-coded into the network to regulate daily emissions, or speeds required to mine a Bitcoin. Emissions are regulated by the state of the network. A big factor is the level of participation measured in hash rate.
How much Bitcoin can you mine in a day?
Hash rate determines mining difficulty (adjusted every two weeks) which in turn determines how long it takes for each block to be mined and Bitcoin issued. The higher the hash rate, the higher the difficulty, and the harder it to mine a Bitcoin–that is, it will take more guesses for a Bitcoin mining rig to find a nonce.
Nonetheless, regardless of the hash rate and mining difficulty, each block and 6.25 BTC are released roughly every 10 minutes.
To better understand what goes into Bitcoin mining, this is what happens every time Bitcoin is mined:
Bitcoin mining is guesswork. That is, there is cryptography that hashes transactions and there is the miner, the auditor, who tries to guess the validating value of every Bitcoin block. The validating value, called a nonce, deciphers the fixed lengths, alphanumeric strings hashed by the SHA-256 hash during mining. Usually, the indecipherable string is the signature for each block confirming that all Bitcoin transactions stored in that block are true and not double spent.
Whenever a miner deciphers the algorithm, it is broadcasted to other miners who also confirm the validity of the block, strike consensus and then join the newly confirmed block into the longest blockchain. The time taken for each block to be confirmed or the SHA-256 generated string to be deciphered is roughly 10 minutes.
As aforementioned, the speed of mining Bitcoin is determined by many factors including the demand of the network.
Factors that influence the time taken to mine 1 Bitcoin
Broadly speaking, how long it takes to mine one Bitcoin is determined by the following factors:
Bitcoin mining is not for the faint-hearted. It is intense and ready for the prepared. With the machination in the space, it will be delusional to think mining with CPUs or GPUs will yield profits. It won’t. Don’t waste your time. Expensive mining hardware is required.
Bitcoin mining is dominated by ASICs, which are specialized mining hardware. The Bitcoin network depends on this mining hardware. They supplement each other and that is why the Bitcoin network computing power is several folds secure than say Bitcoin Cash or even Ethereum. They are worlds apart.
Aforementioned, the higher the computing power, the harder it is to mine Bitcoin. Equally applicable, the more updated the hardware, the higher the chances of confirming a block and earning Bitcoin.
But the race of Bitcoin mining isn’t only about a gear’s computing power. There is a question of efficiency. Energy efficiency. Compared to earlier versions of ASICs, the improvement of semiconductor technology in the last few years has resulted in better ASICs with higher hash rates and lower energy consumptions.
This is a perfect fit considering the levels of demands and calls from the government for better electricity utilizations.
In 2009, Bitcoin was only a preserve for the few. Satoshi Nakamoto was still answering questions at BitcoinTalk and only tech-savvy folks were keen (even amazed) by what Satoshi had made possible.
Blockchain as a sub-sector wasn’t even known, leave alone being a word in the dictionary. Then, Satoshi and his small circle could mine Bitcoin straight from their laptops using CPUs. And the best part was that for each block, Bitcoin miners were rewarded 50 coins, not 1 BTC investors struggle to earn after months of toiling.
Fast forward 11 years later and the idea of Bitcoin mining with a CPU, alone in your living room is only but a mirage that can afford a nostalgic smile. Truth is, it is virtually impossible to take to mine Bitcoin using CPU or to mine solo unless one operates a multi-million dollar facility buzzing with the latest ASIC rigs.
For the sake of decentralization, a miner is recommended to run a rig consisting of several ASIC miners and later join a mining pool. The idea is practical due to the stiff competition in the Bitcoin mining scene.
A Bitcoin mining pool only increases the odds of technically mining 1 Bitcoin over time. Before joining a mining pool, due diligence is recommended.
This is a measurement unit used in Bitcoin mining. With a blend of cryptography and distribution dominated by aggressive contributors yearning for the BTC piece, Mining Difficulty or simply “Difficulty” indicates how difficult it is for a miner or a mining pool to solve a cryptographic puzzle and release a new block.
In the Bitcoin network, the cryptographic puzzle is created after a transaction is “hashed” or deciphered by the SHA-256 cryptographic algorithm. The Difficulty increases or decreases depending on the number of miners plugged into the network.
Miners contribute hash rate, and hash rate influence difficulty which ensures stability in new block confirmation times. The more the miners, the higher it is to confirm a new block holding Bitcoin transaction. This, therefore, means only mining pools with higher computation powers can solve cryptographic puzzles faster increasing their chances of mining Bitcoin.
Note that regardless of the quality and quantity of miners, block generation time is kept at 10 minutes and only the “stronger” ones stand a chance. As such, a miner with the latest mining gear can mine BTC faster, and vice versa.
For this reason, it is advisable to frequently upgrade depending on what’s on the market—also influenced by the miner’s location and electricity charges.
Halving is simply a deflation mechanism hard-coded in Bitcoin and similar networks. As a Proof-of-Work network that is popular and whose coins are valuable, the resulting demand has seen miners flock and subsequently exhaust the number of coins.
According to CoinMarketCap (CMC), miners have successfully extracted 18.3 million BTC from the 21 million available in only 11 years. There were no pre-mined coins and Satoshi is believed to control 1 million coins he mined in the early days of Bitcoin. The remaining 2.7 million BTC will be mined in over 120 years till the last coin in 2140.
This is largely because of halving which after every240, 000 blocks or four years halves the number of coins earned by successful miners. Currently, in the third epoch, a miner earns 6.25 BTC for every block. This amount was doubled in the second epoch and will be halved in the fourth. With every decrement, it will take a miner twice the amount of resources to mine Bitcoin (hopefully rewarded by expectations of higher BTC prices).
However, it is not guaranteed especially if more miners join in and operational expenses soar. Regardless of mining economics, halving technically makes it harder for an ordinary miner to earn Bitcoin, and should be a factor to consider.
How long does it take to mine 1 Bitcoin in 2020?
Once a miner factor in these influencing factors and prepares to get into the game, the amount of Bitcoin mined per day will depend on his/her finances (ASIC miners are prices ranging from anywhere between $2,000 to $3,500).
As if that is not enough, they are scarce. The Coronavirus pandemic only made the matters worse, disrupting supply chains from China where most chipset manufacturers are located. Location and regulations also matter.
Practically, a miner seeks not to mine a 1 BTC every day. Assuming he/she is not mining solo but part of a pool who charges fee with a formula for distributing earned coins depending on the hash rate (and other factors), a miner will end up with fractions of BTC per day, and not one full coin.
Luckily, there is math to prove this fact. In late 2019, there were over 200,000 Bitcoin miners, assuming there is attrition and only 190,000 miners remain, each miner will only earn (in a fair distribution model) 0.00473 BTC a day. But then again, some heavyweights may mine most of those 900 BTC every day.
This however doesn’t mean the network fails to release a specific amount of coins as designed. Every 10 minutes, 6.25 BTC are released to a successful mining pool. There are 144 blocks per day translating to 900 BTC up for grabs for miners every day. Note that there are transaction fees.
According to Blockchain.com, Block 639427 rewarded BTC.com 6.25 BTC and 0.63293023 BTC in fees. This means miners connected to the reward, depending on the rewards distribution scheme adopted by the BTC.com mining pool after fee deduction shared roughly 6.88 BTC for that one block mined. BTC.com may have been successful in other transactions and that means miners depending on their hash rate and uptime earned more coins.
If a miner deploys the Bitmain Antminer S19 pro at spot prices of $9,300, he/she will still be losing money. At $0.10 KWh and current difficulty, the high power ratings of the mining gear will be pushing the miner to negative territory. According to WhatToMine, the miner will only earn around 0.000856 BTC or $7.88 but spend $8.40 for a daily loss of $0.52. This is exclusive of the cost of gear and operational costs which must be factored.
If however, electricity costs if lowered by half to $0.05, the Bitmain Antminer S19 pro (a popular Bitcoin mining hardware) will be profitable, earning the miner $3.67 every day.
All things constant, a miner will earn 1 Bitcoin every month from launching 71 Bitmain Antminer S17 Pro when the cost of power is set at $0.05 KWh according to NiceHash.
As clear, the speed to mine 1 Bitcoin is timed by the number of deployed rigs and secondly electricity costs. Electricity costs are a big part of operation expenses since an enterprising miner—even if a deal exists between the mining farm and the electricity distributor, must cater for electricity costs needed for cooling and powering this Bitcoin mining hardware. It is a power-intensive process and over half of the expenses will be from cooling. The higher the electricity costs, the longer it is to mine 1 Bitcoin since electricity will gnaw away profits measured in BTC.
To illustrate, if electricity costs are double to $0.10 KWh, the 71 Bitmain Antminer S17 Pro will only mine 0.459 BTC per month at spot rates of around $9,300.
From another angle, assuming constant computing power and electricity costs, the time taken to mine 1 Bitcoin will be shorter if the price of Bitcoin doubles. However, this is rarely the case.
As observed over the years, computing power follows price, and the higher the price, the higher the hash rate (more investors switch on their rigs), and the more difficult it is to earn BTC.
Bitcoin Mining demands prior research: Hardware and security of mined coins matter
From all these scenarios, it is quite clear that Bitcoin mining is a delicate balancing act. If Bitcoin prices shoot–as widely expected following the halving event of May 2020, a miner will only have to expend more resources and spend more time to mine 1 Bitcoin–especially if one is stuck with old generation mining gear.
The latest mining rigs from Bitmain and Canaan Creative promise higher computing power and are already deployed as the chipset manufacturers test their efficacy and profitability explaining the explosion of hash rate in the first half of July 2020. These tests make it incredibly harder for ordinary miners with limited resources to mine one Bitcoin in 2020.
Therefore, if the goal is to mine one Bitcoin, the goal is to do it gradually. This will be especially applicable if there are financial constraints and the prospective miner is limited. The goal is to start small and gradually stack more Satoshi. If the hash rate favors the miner and mining difficulty remains at a fair level long enough for a small scale miner, the journey to owning a single Bitcoin might take shorter than expected.
But it won’t mean anything if there are no plans to secure rewards. Since Bitcoin swaps freedom for security and responsibility, it will the work of the miner to safely store his mined Bitcoins.
To do this, a miner can either use a cold wallet or a hot wallet. A cold wallet is considered safe though recent discoveries noted that cold wallets like the Ledger Nano X are not hacker-proof and are open to but a few attack vectors. Hot wallets on the other hand are honey pots. High profile attacks often stem from hot wallet compromise.
Therefore, it is upon the miner to do his/her due diligence and take the task of safely storing coins a top priority.
As discussed, how long does it take to mine one Bitcoin depends on many variables. Overly, mining Bitcoin is directly participating in a novel network. Mining directly bulwarks the network whenever a rig is switched on. The more, the better. The good news is that mining is also profitable though a lot of variables are considered when forecasting profitability.
Still, one should watch out for power costs, hardware, hash rate, difficulty, and above all, the network’s mining difficulty. Given the state of the network, joining a mining pool will increase the odds of striking gold.
All are interconnected and interdependent. A savvy miner bases selection on these factors before opting in or deciding to postpone the activity. After all, mining is an expensive activity, and a miscalculation can result in deep, painful losses.