Over the past year there’s been a tremendous amount of excitement around Helium. The promise of a people-powered global communications network is exciting. Lucrative rewards for people who host Helium hotspots is even more exciting.
Helium Mining in 2021
Many people have started businesses around Helium buying up hundreds and in some cases thousands of miners. There are many interesting business models around the deployment and maintenance of miners and a lot of people have made a lot of HNT!
In 2021 getting involved in Helium was very compelling. Some people were making $5000 a day. However you first needed to get your hands on a miner. Hotspot hardware was in short supply. Lead times were in excess of six months. These devices were being scalped on eBay for crazy amounts of money. We saw a miner sold for $8000.
Now in 2022 many Helium manufacturers catching up to demand. It’s no longer a challenge to get your hands on a hotspot. However the big question is:
Is it worth mining Helium in 2022?
To answer this question, let’s first examine the requirements. Then we’ll look at the Pros and Cons of participating in the Helium network.
Requirements for Helium Mining
In order to join the Helium network you need a hotspot or a miner. Today a participant earns Helium by connecting with other miners over the airwaves. Put simply, every time a miner transmits or receives a beacon from another miner, it earns HNT.
The more beacons a hotspot hears and sends out, the more HNT it earns.
There are two approaches to Helium mining. The first is to treat it like a passive investment, set it up once and forget about it. The second is to understand and optimize your mining hardware. One easy upgrade is to purchase a high gain antenna.
As people have learned, the first approach does not work very well. To maximize or even earn an average amount of HNT your miner needs maintenance. Specifically you have to optimize its location and constantly be working on improvements – upgrade your antenna, add a filter and possibly more.
Successful Helium mining takes time and effort
Pros of Helium Mining
When you set up a miner and start communicating with other miners around, you start earning HNT. This is equivalent to real money. When you make improvements to your setup – like a better antenna and location, you earn more HNT. It gets very exciting to see your effort translate into tangible monetary gain.
Learn about RF and wireless networking
Helium is a terrific way to get into radio and wireless technology. It teaches you the fundamentals of radios, propagation, networking and so much more. You can also work on fun IoT projects that exchange data with the Helium network.
If you’re interested in cryptocurrency, in 2022 Helium provides a very affordable entry into mining. For $500 or less and an internet connection, you can start with Helium mining.
Compare that with some crypto miners that cost thousands of dollars. Helium miners also consume only 5 Watt of power and like a Wi-Fi access point, is inexpensive to run.
Cons of Helium Mining
The days of large gains are gone
In early 2021, I would make about 10 HNT a day with a less than impressive setup. There were only around 25,000 miners globally and fewer than that number were online. Currently there are nearly 700,000 miners globally with over 75% of them online. As the number of miners grow, the HNT earnings are bound to get smaller and smaller.
The amount of HNT earned would not have mattered as much if the price of HNT continued to appreciate. However that is not the case.
The price of HNT has been relatively stagnant for a while.
Why is that?
To understand let’s move on to the next point.
Lack of demand for IoT connectivity
It was anticipated that the value of HNT would grow with the demand for IoT connectivity. However today only 0.01% of the HNT earned is from data transfer. Most of the HNT earned by miners is from beaconing to and witnessing other miners.
Ultimately the value of the network is in the data it carries. Helium has now diversified into 5G and that should drive an increase in data rewards. However, it remains to be seen if that idea will get traction.
Last summer, the number of HNT awarded per month was halved. The price of Helium since early 2021 has doubled. So that evens things out.
However for the same amount of effort required to maintain a miner, I am earning less than one hundredth what I used to earn back then from it. From an average of 7 HNT down to 0.04 HNT per day.
You might argue that I should put in even more effort to improve earnings. However with the very large number of miners continuing to come online, it’s unclear what the ROI will be.
Helium and the Gartner Hype Cycle
These days it feels like we’re in the Trough of disillusionment of the Gartner Hype Cycle. The crazy gains of 2021 are gone and the network is currently performing very poorly. However it likely is only a matter of time before we gain enlightenment, figure things out and move to the plateau of productivity. Soon!
In this post we have attempted to answer the question:
Is mining Helium is worth it?
If the Pros that we presented outweigh the Cons for you, then it’s worth it.
At the end of the day the success of Helium depends on adoption of the network for IoT and 5G. As adoption increases it will increase the value of HNT. This in turn will motivate people to put effort into their miners and make it worth it for everyone.
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