Last year during the bull market, I at one point contemplated looking into getting a Helium ($HNT) miner, but ultimately decided against it, quite simply because miners seemed to be sold out everywhere And I definitely didn’t want to buy it from a 3rd party at some insane markup with the risk of getting scammed.
Since then, a few things have changed — first I moved out to a more rural area so I figured that I’d be able to get more returns (more on this later). Second, although just like the rest of the crypto market the price of $HNT has dropped since 2021, there’s been a recent positive price action in $HNT so I wondered if now whether it might be more lucrative:
Next, I assumed with the merge that the price of miners in general would make things at least a little more affordable. And lastly, with the approval of HIP51, the Helium network itself has been moving towards 5G, giving more options and possibilities for the Helium ecosystem. Therefore, I thought it’d be worth it to at least take a look to see how profitable (or unprofitable) $HNT mining has become, and whether or not now might be the right time to jump on the $HNT mining bandwagon.
With the introduction of “Cellular Summer,” the Helium ecosystem has now incorporated 5G with hopes to add a lot of value to the Helium ecosystem:
With cellular partners such as GigSky and FreedomFi, Helium networks will go beyond using LoRaWAN and start using 5G compatible hotspots to start “using blockchain to quickly deploy small cell infrastructure, allowing hosts to derive a direct economic stake in the cellular networks they power.” From past examples from the cryptospace, it’s obvious to assume that more utilization = more value, and in terms of utility, this seems to be a pretty positive step towards increased utilization.
Speaking of the move to 5G, if you take a list on Helium’s website in regards to different miner options, you’ll notice that only a few of them have 5G compatibility:
Comparing the different mining options, the ones that I’ve personally heard of in the past were Bobcat miners and MNTD miners. I’m sure there are several other types of miners that workally, it’s just that fantastic those two I’ve heard of and read many reviews on the past so at the very least, call me a sucker for good marketing, but I trust that they work. Narrowing things down even further, between Bobcat and MNTD, for the purposes of this article I decided to only take Bobcat miners into consideration because as you can tell from the graphic above, MNTD, Bobcat miners support 5G.
As I expected, there is currently a flood of Bobcat miners on the market, both new and secondhand. The average new retail price appears to have dropped as well too, dropping from around $520 USD to now $429:
And of course, secondhand and 3rd-party seller prices have dropped significantly as well. Last year the secondhand-price value of these went into the $1000’s and I’ve read that many people were making a killing off of reselling them, but since then, prices have dropped:
The graphic above shows the average prices for Bobcat 300 miners on Amazon, but you can find even cheaper ones on sites like ebay:
For the purposes of this article, I calculated a rough estimate of about $175 dollarsas it appears that there are multiple listings from reputable sellers where you could get it for around that price + shipping.
So the answer to this question is going to be a little complicated, because it depends on a couple of key factors. From what I’ve gathered they come down to:
- Local hotspot density — If you’re in an area surrounded by dozens of different hotspot miners, then there’s a significant chance that you’ll be making a bit less.
- Antenna size — depending on your existing flat’s elevation and/or your antenna size will effect your coverage. This is something that I should have factored in along the miner price, but roughly you can buy an antenna kit for around $50 dollars. A good explanation of antenna size and coverage that I’ve found is at tvpao.com which shows:
If you’re looking for a fairly accurate $HNT rate, perhaps the simplest method to find an accurate estimate is to simply look on helium’s website and specifically lookup your location for an existing hotspot near you:
After clicking on an adjacent tile close to you, you can easily find how many Helium miners there are, including each miner’s last 24-hour, 7-day, 14-day, or 30-day $HNT accrual:
For myself in particular, there’s no miners in my in my tile, but I can see from adjacent tiles where there’s only 1 hotspot — ones that have been active for the last 7 days were making: 1.538 @ 8 dBi, 0.406 @ 2.8 dBi , 0.156 @ 5.8 dBi, 6.209 @ 6 dBi, and 0.508 @ 3 dBi. If we take an average of all these, it appears to be an average of around 1.7634 $HNT over a 7-day period or .2516 $HNT daily @ 5.12 dBi. At current market prices of around $4.64 per $HNT, this would equate to around $1.16 a day or around $35 USD per month worth of $HNT.
Given that there’s a pretty big range on these case examples, factoring in just the lower numbers versus the higher numbers, a conservative estimate would be around 0.05092 $HNT/day (1.52 $HNT/month; $7.05 USD/month), and a bullish estimate would be 0.251914 $HNT/day (16.6 $HNT/month; $75.69 USD/month).
So this is another variable that is dependent on how much you normally get charged per kilowatt/hour. Yet in the big picture, I think electricity is a pretty insignificant factor — helium mining runs on a proof-of-coverage value, so it doesn’t need nearly as much energy as GPU proof-of-work mining does. From what I’ve gathered, on a monthly basis it takes around 3–4kWh per month to run a Bobcat miner. So for instance, if you lived in the state of California, the average costs per kWh is around 19.90 cents or monthly roughly 60–70 cents a month. That’s not much, and even in energy-crisis areas such as Germany, the average MWh is currently 387.89 EUR/MWh (or 0.38789 EUR/kWh), which would only equate to about roughly 1.16 to 1.55 euros a month.
So if I were to buy a Bobcat miner today for around $175 dollars + $50 for an average-sized antenna, and then after factoring in the cost of electricity, I would estimate that I might be able to mine around 0.25 $HNT a day, and or if after all is said and done, that I could make a net monthly income of roughly around $33 dollars, which would mean that I could get an ROI in around 7 months.
However given from what I’ve researched, there’s quite a number of other variables to consider that will greatly change your ROI-timeline. For instance, we’ve seen the ranges for what people can make, so a conservative earning estimate (1.52 $HNT/month; $6.05 USD/month) would make an ROI roughly 37 months, and a bullish estimate (16.6 $HNT/month) ; $75.696 USD/month) could make you an ROI in around just 3 months.
Here’s a quick checklist that will hopefully guide your decision on $HNT mining…
- Don’t pay more than $200 dollars for a miner; The market is flooded with them right now, so you simply don’t need to pay the $429 retail
- dBi and antennas matter, so if you live halfway underground with no roof access, you probably won’t be making much. Alternatively if you live in a penthouse 10th floor, you’re probably in good shape
- All the $HNT mining data is public on Helium’s website, so check your location to see how many hotspots are around you and to see what others are making
Currently I live on the 3rd floor of my apartment building with no other hotspots in a 300–500 km “hex” range, so I imagine that this puts me in a pretty advantageous area to have a hotspot. However I’m not personally in the rush to get a miner right now, because I imagine that prices for miners will get even lower. Therefore I am going to periodically check prices on secondhand miners on ebay to see if I can snag a Bobcat for a good price, preferably around the $100 dollar range. The cheaper I can get a miner, the faster I should be able to make an ROI.
I also recognized quickly through my research that there’s no way (at least right now) that $HNT miners can make you rich quick. If you got in on this project during its prime, you might have been able to make around $4–5k a month, but it’s now pretty obvious that those gains aren’t sustainable, especially when the network has grown so much as it has.
Despite the drop in $HNT price from its ATH’s, it does seem however that even with conservative estimates that $HNT miners aren’t that bad of investment — for even on a 37 month ROI timeframe, that’s roughly an APY of 25%. That’s not life changing, but it’s not that bad either.
Do you already own a Helium miner? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Or are there any other factors that I haven’t mentioned that are worth considering?
And as always, thanks again for reading, and if you haven’t already, please be sure to start following me here and on twitter to get all my latest updates: https://twitter.com/CryptosWith
Disclaimer: None of the content within this article is meant to be financial advice. Please do your own research and/or contact a financial advisor to find what investments might be best for you.
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