The short answer would be “It depends on how much you’re willing to spend”. In order to find out Bitcoin mining profitability for different factors “mining profitability calculators” were invented.
These calculators take into account the different parameters such as electricity cost, the cost of your hardware and other variables and give you an estimate of your projected profit. Before I give you a short example of how this is calculated let’s make sure you are familiar with the different variables:
Bitcoin Mining terms you should get to know
Hash Rate – A Hash is the mathematical problem the miner’s computer needs to solve. The Hash Rate is the rate at which these problems are being solved. The more miners that join the Bitcoin network, the higher the network Hash Rate is.
The Hash Rate can also refer to your miner’s performance. Today Bitcoin miners come with different Hash Rates. Miners’ performance is measured in MH/s (Mega hash per second), GH/s (Giga hash per second), TH/s (Terra hash per second) and even PH/s (Peta hash per second).
Bitcoins per Block – Each time a mathematical problem is solved, a constant amount of Bitcoins are created. The number of Bitcoins generated per block starts at 50 and is halved every 210,000 blocks (about four years). The current number of Bitcoins awarded per block is 12.5. The last block halving occurred on July 2016 and the next one will be in 2020.
Bitcoin Difficulty – Since the Bitcoin network is designed to produce a constant amount of Bitcoins every 10 minutes, the difficulty of solving the mathematical problems has to increase in order to adjust to the network’s Hash Rate increase.
Basically this means that the more miners that join, the harder it gets to actually mine Bitcoins.
Electricity Rate – Operating a Bitcoin miner consumes a lot of electricity. You’ll need to find out your electricity rate in order to calculate profitability. This can usually be found on your monthly electricity bill.
Power consumption – Each miner consumes a different amount of energy. Make sure to find out the exact power consumption of your miner before calculating profitability. This can be found easily with a quick search on the Internet or through this list. Power consumption is measured in Watts.
Pool fees – In order to mine you’ll need to join a mining pool. A mining pool is a group of miners that join together in order to mine more effectively. The platform that brings them together is called a mining pool and it deducts some sort of a fee in order to maintain its operations. Once the pool manages to mine Bitcoins the profits are divided between the pool members depending on how much work each miner has done (i.e. their miner’s hash rate).
Time Frame – When calculating if Bitcoin mining is profitable you’ll have to define a time frame to relate to. Since the more time you mine, the more Bitcoins you’ll earn.
Profitability decline per year – This is probably the most important and elusive variable of them all. The idea is that since no one can actually predict the rate of miners joining the network no one can also predict how difficult it will be to mine in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years from now. This is one of the two reasons no one will ever be able to answer you once and for all “is Bitcoin mining profitable ?”. The second reason is the conversion rate. In the case below, you can insert an annual profitability decline factor that will help you estimate the growing difficulty.
Conversion rate – Since no one knows what the BTC/USD exchange rate will be in the future it’s hard to predict if Bitcoin mining will be profitable. If you’re into mining in order to accumulate Bitcoins only then this doesn’t need to bother you. But if you are planning to convert these Bitcoins in the future to any other currency this factor will have a major impact of course.
How to mine Bitcoins with cloud mining
There a new concept called “cloud mining“. This means that you do not buy a physical mining rig but rather rent computing power from a different company and get paid according to how much power you own. At first this sounds like a really good idea, since you don’t have all of the hassle of buying expensive equipment, storing it, cooling it, etc.
However, when you do the math it seems that none of these cloud mining sites are profitable in the long run.
Those that do seems profitable are usually scams that don’t even own any mining equipment, they are just elaborate Ponzi schemes.
Mining Altcoins as an alternative to Bitcoin
One more option you can consider is mining Altcoins instead of Bitcions. Today there are hundreds of Altcoins available on the market and some of them are still real easy to mine. The problem is that because there are so many Altcoins it’s hard to tell which ones are worth investing your time in. Some good examples for Altcoins are Litecoin, Dogecoin and Peercoin.
In order to understand which Altcoins are profitable you can find website indexes such as CoinChoose that give you a complete Altcoin breakdown. On CoinChoose you can see the difficulty for each Altocoin, where can you exchange them and what are the chances to profit Bitcoins by mining each specific Altcoin.
So is Bitcoin Mining Profitable ?
My guess is that in the long run you could make a profit from Bitcoin mining but only if you invest a considerable amount of money in a good mining rig (e.g. Antminer s9). If you don’t have the time or the money – stay away from mining and just invest in buying Bitcoins for the long run.