Last updated on April 24, 2022
The Helium network is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s designed to provide connectivity to the billions and billions of IoT devices that are set to enter our world in the coming years. With this network you will be able to track your pets, monitor the environment and much more.
The best part of the Helium network is that it rewards you with HNT crypto for hosting a Helium hotspot. All you need is a place to put it and provide a reliable internet connection. Helium miners are in very short supply relative to increasing demand. Supply chain issues coupled with strong demand for the product have made it difficult to get one in a timely manner.
In this post we look at the best Helium miners, what differentiates them and where to buy them. Now without further ado, let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
The SenseCAP miner was a relatively late entrant to the miner ecosystem. Their first batch of shipments were made in the summer of 2021. However in a short time, they have figured out both production and availability (no mean feat in the Helium ecosystem) and rapidly risen to the top.
The miner ships with a 2.8 dBi antenna in the EU868 band and 2.6 dBi in the US915 band. It’s compact and well designed. The SenseCAP includes a cooling solution with a heatsink and a cooling fan in the aluminum enclosure. This enables automatic temperature management even in harsh environments. This enables long-term and stable operation. Check out our review of SenseCAP vs Bobcat to understand why this is the top miner for 2022.
- 64 GB of storage to extend the lifetime of the device
- Includes a cooling fan that keeps the electronics from overheating (useful if you’re placing your miner close to a window in direct sunlight)
- Built-in mechanism for remote diagnosis
Rak Miner v2
Rak has a clear advantage over other manufacturers with the largest number of miners shipped to date. They manufacture stable hardware and have benefited from user feedback to improve their product over the last little while.
The Rak v2 has excellent build quality. In fact it’s the only miner with a rugged aluminum enclosure.
- Rugged Aluminum enclosure
- Reliable performance
The Nebra miner is made by the team at PiSupply. They have a lot of experience with Raspberry Pi accessories. Nebra makes two versions of the miner – outdoor and indoor. In fact Nebra is one of the only Helium vendors that has delivered an outdoor miner to the market.
Nebra Indoor Miner
The Nebra indoor miner is made of plastic and the top can be removed relatively easily without any tools. This was a benefit for the early shipments where some internal hardware came loose and customers could put things right without having to return the miner to the factory.
There are LEDs on the front panel that provide additional diagnostic information. This is very useful. The green light in particular – when it’s off, the hotspot likely needs attention. The Nebra miner connects to the internet using a 10/100 Ethernet or 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. Wherever possible use wired Ethernet.
Nebra Outdoor Miner
With proper placement of an outdoor miner you can maximize your HNT due to two main reasons:
- The antenna is usually on a rooftoop or unobstructed outdoor location and this works very well for signal transmission and reception relative to an indoor location
- The cable between the antenna and hotspot is kept to a minimum which benefits RF performance
Nebra has been very challenged by way of component availability and ramping up production. In fact they have not taken any new orders since last Spring. Instead they’re catching up to the first five batches of shipments.
- Outdoor miner
- Open source design
- Plastic enclosure which might be better for Wi-Fi connectivity
- Yellow and green front panel LEDs for diagnostics
Bobcat has shipped over 150,000 miners to date. They have been successful in ramping up their production to meet demand.
One of the main technology advantages of the Bobcat miner is the built-in 64GB eMMC flash. This provides better data security and larger memory storage relative to other miners on the market either use 32GB flashes or external SD cards. The larger memory allows the miner to perform faster computation. As well this built-in memory allows 3000 write cycles, compared to 500 write cycles allowed by an SD card. As a result it has longer device life expectancy of up to 10 years.
The antenna that ships with the miner has 4 dBi gain. This is larger than the stock antenna that ships with other miners; however it is smaller than other antennas that we recommend for more range.
- uses an industrial-grade single board computer – the Rockchip PX30. This is a high-performance quad-core application processor that was designed for high-end commercial applications
- Built-in larger memory for longer life and faster processing
Linxdot is a relatively new entrant to the Helium mining device community. The first batch of miners started shipping in September 2021.
The Linxdot miner is a compact device made with a plastic enclosure. It’s a compact design that consumes 12W of energy.
The Linxdot miner has an instant sync feature. The miner pulls a fully-synced snapshot every time the hotspot falls behind the blockchain by 50 blocks. This is an automated process and it requires no attention. A bonus feature is the array of LEDs on the top of the miner along with clear documentation that explains the status depending on their color and how they blink.
- Sync with the Helium network within 30 minutes of activating your hotspot. This is significantly faster than sync times with other miners
- 1.5GHz quad-core CPU to keep up with the future demands of IoT LoRaWan devices
- 3 dBi antenna included
- Integrated 32GB eMMC storage
MNTD. Miners are made by Rakwireless the company behind the original Helium miner and the very popular Rak v2 miners.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Helium mining has been the lack of miner availability and transparency. Miner vendors have consistently changed delivery timelines, often without any formal notification. Some miner vendors have taken pre-orders with backlogs up to a year or more.
MNTD. plans to change all that with the MNTD. miner. It’s back to basics with a focus on People in what is actually #ThePeoplesNetwork.
Toward this goal, RAKwireless offers great customer support and does not accept pre-orders. Most importantly they keep their promises to the mining community.
- Use of the newer SX1302 chip from Semtech in the RF concentrator for better radio performance
- Compatibility with the Rak antennas
- Premium customer service to expedite hardware replacement, and premium after sales service via remote tools.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I buy a Helium Miner?
Various Helium-approved manufacturers sell miners on their websites. However at the present time lead times are very long. If you are looking for a miner right away, you can find one on eBay.
A couple of important things when purchasing a Helium miner on eBay.
Read the listing carefully. Some people are selling pre-ordered miners and don’t actually have a miner in hand yet. In this case you could be waiting a while before you get your miner.
Make sure you understand what the seller’s return policy is. In general you should not have an issue that cannot be resolved with a brand new miner bought directly from the manufacturer. The company that made the miner should be able to help you sort out common problems. However make sure that you get the necessary proof of purchase from the seller and any other documentation you need for warranty purposes.
Communicate with the seller. With a used miner you will have to sort out the miner transfer. It’s not plug-and-play. Once the miner is transferred you will also have to assert a new miner location.
We’ve written a longer article on considerations when buying a used Helium miner.
Which HNT Miner Should I Buy?
Here is a list of some important considerations:
- If you’re going to place your miner indoors, we recommend getting the MNTD miner
- If you’re planning on installing your miner outdoors, make sure you pick one that is designed to withstand the elements. Nebra outdoor unit is a good one to get
- Miners use radio waves to connect to each other and earn HNT. A miner that’s purchased for the North American market will not work in the EU. That’s because the frequency of operation is different for the two regions. So pick a miner with the correct frequency coverage option for your region.
Which is the most profitable Helium Miner?
Assuming that everything else such as location, antenna and miner density are the same, the most profitable Helium miner is the one that is the most reliable and stays online for longer. We recommend: The MNTD indoor miner and the Nebra outdoor hotspot.
How to earn more HNT
Make sure you have a plan for where you are going to install your miner. Read our article on how to maximize your HNT earnings.
How much HNT can I Mine?
The Helium network is increasing at an exponential pace. It has grown 15x in a very short while. In March 2021 there were only 20,000 miners online. Currently there are over 400,000. In the early part of 2022, we anticipate a miner to make 0.1 HNT per day on average. In this post we go through the Helium earning math.
A miner connects to the internet using either Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Based on my experience, Wi-Fi connectivity is very unreliable unless your miner sits right next to the Wi-Fi router. One of the reasons for this is that miners have Wi-Fi antennas that are internal to the enclosure. It would have made sense to allow for an external Wi-Fi antenna as that would give better range. Until then, my recommendation is to use wired Ethernet to connect your miner to the internet.
Which miner syncs the fastest?
The Linxdot miner has a fast sync feature that allows you to join the Helium network within 30 minutes of activating your hotspot.
Mining Helium $HNT Crypto in 2021
- 2021 was the year in which Helium went sort of mainstream
- Helium network has grown very fast. From 20,000 to 400,000 miners in 2021
- The demand for HNT miner hardware has far outstripped supply. This has placed a very large support burden on small manufacturers. As a result, with the exception of larger manufacturers like Rak, the speed at which issues were resolved has understandably not been very fast.
- Experimenting with miners to optimize HNT earnings, trying different antennas, participating in discussions on Discord and Reddit – it’s been a tremendous learning experience in 2021
Overall it’s been a fun ride so far and 2022 promises to be equally if not more exciting!
What other projects are there like Helium?
If you are interested in earning crypto and tokens like Helium, you may want to look at PlanetWatch. Many people are calling it the next Helium. There are about one tenth the number of PlanetWatch miners relative to Helium hotspots currently although that number could grow very fast! Here is a post on other crypto projects like Helium.
In this post we have reviewed the top Helium miners along with their unique differentiating features. Here’s the list:
We hope you enjoy your journey into the land of Helium. We have certainly learned a lot about radio frequency and networks and continue to do so with each new Helium device we install.
Optimize your HNT earnings with our New Helium Calculators