How Much Does it Cost to Mine a Bitcoin?

Using two simple methods.

*See our updated article for May 2021*

Bitcoin is a Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency, thus coins have an intrinsic value due to the cost for miners to create and transact them.

Using this logic, the base value of a bitcoin may be interpreted as a miner’s operating charges. Miners run their gear 24/7 and their fees include: ASIC hardware price, power consumption, repairs, freight, import costs, and exchange rates for BTC to fiat to pay bills.

With so many variables, several appraisals of how much it costs to mine a bitcoin may be computed. As no one way is perfect we provide two simplified methods. First, we find that the average production cost of a bitcoin using various ASIC models is about $9,000. Secondly, we find that the approximate average cost to mine one bitcoin considering hardware investment is around $13,000.

A combination of these methods indicate that,

the current average cost to mine a Bitcoin is ABout $11,000 USD.


1. The 24h Production Cost to Mine a Bitcoin

Based on a sample of ASIC models which represent the current hashrate demographics, the average production cost to mine one bitcoin is about $9,000. The following is our assumptions, methods, and results.

Assumptions

In this first calculation, commonly available ASIC models are referenced but machine costs are unaccounted. Moreover, we assume miners pay between 5¢-6¢/kWh for electricity on a global scale, year-round. Lastly, we presume pool fees cancel out transaction fee earnings, and all values are rounded up.

Also, Bitcoin itself is dynamic. The BTC price, hashrate amount, and difficulty change regularly. These all affect miner profitability and the cost to mine a bitcoin. Yet, in order to limit complexity, nonlinear variables are ignored.

Hashrate Required to Mine 1 BTC

First, we take a shortcut and use pool data to estimate how many TH/s it takes to mine one bitcoin. As seen below, it takes about 146,010 terahash to mine one bitcoin. Further, Bitcoin’s value at the time of this calculation is $32,812, the network hashrate is 143 EH/s, and earnings are 22¢/TH.

BTC pool data to mine one bitcoin 23 jan 2021
Hashrate estimation to mine one bitcoin, Jan 23, 2021, BTC.com mining pool data.

Production Cost of 1 BTC per ASIC model

Around 3 million miners make up the Bitcoin Network. But this is just a rough estimate, as not all ASIC manufacturers release unit sales data. Moreover, Bitmain Antminers represent the bulk of the hashrate. In the past, Bitmain sales equivocated to three-quarters of the hardware industry, followed by MicroBT, reported to constitute as much as one-third.

For the purpose of this investigation, we assume the Bitcoin hardware industry market shares are: Bitmain Antminer 50%, Canaan Avalon 15%, Innosilicon T-Series 15%, and MicroBT Whatsminer 20%. Thus, the ASICs listed below represent these proportions. Furthermore, older and newer generation models provide a range of miner efficiency for each manufacturer.

Derived from the preceding hashrate information, this table shows how many of each ASIC model it requires to mine one bitcoin. Then, based on electricity tariffs, the base 24h production cost of mining one BTC per model is given.

ASIC Model# machines to
mine 1 BTC
base 24h cost
@ 5.5¢/kWh
Antminer S19 Pro, 110T1,327$5,782
Antminer S19, 95T1,537$6,695
Antminer T19, 84T1,738$7,342
Antminer S17+, 73T2,000$7,921
Antminer S17 Pro, 53T2,755$7,637
Antminer T17, 40T3,650$10,600
Antminer S15, 28T5,215$11,013
Antminer S9, 13T11,232$19,273
Avalon 1246, 90T1,622$7,495
Avalon 1166 Pro, 81T1,803$8,090
Innosilicon T3+, 52T2,808$10,378
Innosilicon T2T, 30T4,867$14,134
Whatsminer M30S++, 112T1,304$6,023
Whatsminer M30S, 100T1,460$6,553
Whatsminer M31S+, 80T1,825$8,191
Whatsminer M20S, 68T2,147$9,637
Averages:2,956$9,173
Raw data accessed from ASIC Miner Value on Jan 23, 2021. Methodology: machines required x ASIC kWh spec x price per kWh x 24 hours.

According to these calculations, we find that the average cost to mine one bitcoin using this method is $9,173 USD. Next, we consider the machine purchase price.


2. The ASIC Lifetime Cost to Mine a Bitcoin

In this second assessment we find that the average cost to mine a bitcoin is about $13,000, considering the cost of the hardware and expected lifetime. Below we discuss methodology, assumptions, and results.

Mining Rigs

ASICs for bitcoin mining currently cost between $500 – $8,000 per unit. Different models have different specs and profit margins.

As a rule, the value of mining hardware follows miner profitability and customer demand. ROI equals around one year profits at the time of purchase. Yet, due to the recent bull run, corporate interest in bitcoin mining, and limited ASIC production, miners are scarce.

Assumptions

As before, a sample range of ASIC models represent the network’s miner population. Earnings are 22¢/TH and the BTC price is $32,812. This equation does not take into consideration hardware repair costs, or electricity tariff rises over time. Furthermore, this equation does not consider current ASIC delivery delays, which can span several months.

In the sake of limiting complexity, this method neglects the following nonlinear dynamics. The network difficulty, which adjusts by-weekly (every 2016 blocks), and has risen an average of 2% each cycle this past annum. The BTC price, which has increased by four times in the past year, from $8,000 to well over $30,000. Additionally, miner earnings per TH which have quadrupled in the past year. Finally, the total network hashrate which nearly doubled in 2020.

Based on halving cycles, we assume mining rigs have an average lifetime of 4 years.

Cost to Mine 1 Bitcoin with 1 ASIC

Based on daily profits, we find that it takes one newer generation ASIC around four years to mine one BTC. As this timeframe is nearly equivalent to the machine’s lifetime, we simply add the base production price of one BTC to the hardware purchase price. Though, this is just a guideline as many unknowns can happen during such a long time window.

ASIC ModelProduction Price
5.5¢/kWh
Est. Unit
Buy Price
Lifetime Cost
to Mine 1 BTC
Antminer S19 Pro, 110T$5,906$6,500$12,406
Antminer S19, 95T$6,839$6,000$12,839
Antminer S17 Pro, 53T$7,801$2,000$9,801
Antminer S9, 13T$19,687$500$20,187
Avalon 1166 Pro, 81T$8,264$3,500$11,764
Innosilicon T3+, 52T$10,601$1,500$12,101
Whatsminer M30S, 100T$6,553$6,694$13,247
Whatsminer M20S, 68T$9,844$4,000$13,844
Averages:$9,437$3,837$13,274
Lifetime costs to mine one Bitcoin using one ASIC. Raw data adapted from BTC.com pool, Alibaba, ASICminervalue, and Hashexpert on Jan 23, 2021. Methodology: kWh per days to mine 1 BTC * 5.5¢ * 24h * machine kW specs + buy price.

Thus, the average cost to mine a bitcoin, taking into account hardware purchase price, is $13,274 USD.

Summary

To derive at our final cost to mine a bitcoin we average the results from our two methodologies, arriving at a cost of about $11,200 USD. Finally, based on our findings and current BTC prices,

the cost to mine a Bitcoin represents 34% of the BTC price.

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