Depending on where you live in the world, winter can be not only uncomfortable for the body, but also uncomfortable for the wallet. A few different companies have come up with different solutions for making devices that claim to mine cryptocurrency, while at the same time generating useful heat. In the computing world, heat is often considered a waste byproduct. In some ways, it seems logical to use crypto miners in a manner where all their outputs (including heat) are useful. Unfortunately, the tag price for this device, the QC-1 by Qarnot, just makes no sense for the average person.
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What’s Inside the Qarnot QC-1
The QC-1 is a device that features two AMD RX580 GPUs with 8 GB of VRAM. While most dedicated mining devices or computers have some sort of cooling method built-in such as a fan, the QC-1 does not. Instead, it uses passive heat conduction materials in order to collect and disburse the heat generated by the system.
As far as mining speed goes, the device can purportedly mine Ethereum (ether) at 60 MHs per second. According to a popular mining calculator, that would net you about $1,200 USD a year, or about $100 a month, not including electricity costs.
An article on Techcrunch suggested that the miner could also be used for other cryptocurrencies that are GPU mineable.
If you were to mine Ethereum Classic, you would earn just slightly less at $1,129 per year at today’s prices. Outside of the ether sphere, Techcrunch suggested that litecoin could also be mined. This seems unlikely to be financially feasible though, as litecoin is already mostly mined by Bitmain ASIC devices.
Breaking Down the Numbers
So how much will a shiny new QC-1 set you back? About $3,600.
Let’s consider those numbers for a moment. According to Amazon.com, the average price for the GPU in the QC-1 is between $500 and $600 each. That means if all you want to do is build a very simple mining rig with those two GPUs in it, you could do so for a lot less than $3,600. It seems with the QC-1, you are largely paying for the fancy box in which the GPUs are housed. If you don’t mind the premium, then let’s continue.
Next let’s consider the cost of heating. To buy a standard radiant space heater, one would expect to pay about $30, such as this one we found on Walmart.com. This device consumes between 600, 900, and 1500 watts depending on setting. This means that assuming standard electricity prices of $.10 per kilowatt, running such a heater would cost about $.15 a day, or $1,300 per year. That’s also assuming it runs 24 hours a day, which it most likely wouldn’t.
Now let’s look at the QC-1. While it does earn about $100 a month today (and that will likely continue to drop as mining difficulty inevitably rises), the upfront price of $3,600 is what makes this purchase pretty much illogical. For that much money, one could purchase a fleet of 120 traditional space heaters.
Can It Pay for Itself?
According to the official site for the QC-1, the device reportedly consumes 500 watts of electricity. Assuming the same electricity price as before, this means the device costs $438 a year to operate. If we subtract this cost from the potential earnings (at today’s rates only), this means that you are only looking at earning $63 a month.
At that rate, in order to completely repay your investment, it would require almost five years of constant operation. What we don’t know is if the GPUs inside would even survive being under their maximum threshold for computing stress and heat continuously and without pause for five consecutive years.
Finally, what we do not know is the amount of heat that the QC-1 releases. Since it is only heated by two consumer-level GPUs, it’s reasonable to suspect that the amount of heat produced would not be enough to heat an entire home. Perhaps it would be just strong enough for a bedroom at most. The heat output by the QC-1 might perhaps be comparable to the previously mentioned space heater, while on it’s lowest setting.
Summing It All Up
It’s undoubtable the concept of having a dual-use cryptocurrency mining device and heater is interesting, at least on the surface. Despite what Qarnot claims it’s probably not the first ETH miner/heater to go on the market, but we’ll put that aside.
However, when you put the numbers together, it just doesn’t make all that much financial sense. The only way that a device like the Qarnot QC-1 could be profitable, let alone at least able to pay for itself, is if the market price for whatever currency you mined jumped up considerably. This is possible, but it’s also a gamble you’ll be taking on.
And while you might be willing to wait patiently for prices to go up so you can earn your crypto returns, your electricity bill will not. Like bitcoin mining factories, you’ll likely find yourself selling off large quantities of those potentially-valuable tokens at market prices just to keep things running.
Are miner-heater combos actually useful, or are they mainly novelty pieces? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Images via Qarnot