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Finding Your Wattage for Mining (Even with an Old House) Pt 1

Since I first learned of Bitcoin late 2016 and upon buying my first coin early 2017, I've always been fascinated at the idea of bitcoin mining. Eventually, I became fascinated by mining cryptocurrency -- Especially when Ethereum first came out  and eventually both BTC and ETH's token descendants. For the better part of a year, I was enamored yet quizzically turned off by the potential volatility. I was intrigued at a distance like I was fine dining with puffer fish on the menu. The biggest problem that I had with mining was the twofold risk of electricity cost and profitability of GPU or ASIC hardware. I was a noob so I was scared of what I didn't know. After brooding over this deep curiosity of mining, I finally pulled the trigger this May 2018.
I had been researching which parts to buy, how to set up a mining rig, and how to determine electrical scenarios for the rig. I needed to know which GPU cards to get that best fit the electrical grid of my home -- I didn't want to burn it down after all. I had been researching this for months, and I developed analysis paralysis. I let the fear of the unknown cause me to put this on hold. Sure, I had been doing my due diligence for the better part of a year, but I knew from previous business failures that applying knowledge was different from theoretical knowledge. I didn't know how accurate all of the metrics were. Eventually, I went back to my passion and researched again. I spent two weeks researching the best parts to get for my situation, and I added them to my Amazon cart. Once again it was a do or die moment. I had to pull the trigger or put my dream again on hold. I left the parts on my cart for almost a week and almost quit again. Then, I pulled myself together and went all the way to checkout for the final time, and clicked "submit".

The purpose of this blog post is to give you guys the quickest rundown of all my struggles getting my first mining rig set up. It is also to give you the best tips and hints that other more experienced miners don't tell you. I often found that many tutorials made by these miners go through the bare bones, and never the nitty gritty. Each mining rig is built a bit differently, so I will only tell you what my experience was like in detail with building my first trio Nvidia GTX 1070ti rig.

The first part of building a successful mining rig is knowing what your electricity cost per kWH is. kWH stands for kilowatt hour. It is essentially the standard for interpreting how much money per month you will be paying for electricity. There is a formula for precisely determining how much this cost will be, but I will be telling you two different ways to do it. First, the hard way, and second, the easiest way. It is best to know how to do both because it will help you determine which mining parts to get, and how not to burn down your home.

Prerequisites (The order is very important):

  1. Find out how much money per kWH you are paying
  2. Find out what type of AMPS are on your circuit board:
  3. Figure out what your wattage has to be (This has a lot of steps):
  4. Find out which GPU cards to buy for maximum hashpower and efficiency:
  5. Calculate your electric cost per month based on steps 1 to 3: 

1. Find Out Your Electricity Rate

This is self-explanatory but important. This is possibly the most important thing that you can do because it will set the tone for how much profit you are looking at after paying for electricity costs. Each home has a different situation depending on the State and township. This number will determine which GPU cards to purchase and also help you determine what your financial outlook will be in the mining world.

For Americans, the electricity rate is usually calculated in kWH meaning Kilowatt hour. For us, it is usually stated as x cents per kWH. For example, in New York City, the electricity rate is $0.27/kWH - which is very high.

For those in other countries, please use a website such as this one to convert your metrics appropriately: https://www.metric-conversions.org/energy-and-power/
*Note that for European countries, I have heard the volts are around 240. The higher volts usually provide cleaner energy and use less amps.

2. How many AMPs does your home have?

This is crucial because it allows you to calculate how much wattage is available for use for each section of your home. All you have to do with this is find your circuit breaker and see what number each breaker says. If it says 15, that particular grid of the home only has 15 AMPs. If it says 20, then it has a more powerful electrical current meaning it can withstand more wattage or power. Your circuit breaker should have each breaker labeled in terms of which sections the AMPs cover. But, if you live in an older home like mine, they aren't labeled. If this is the case, you have to either test each breaker till you know exactly which area of the home it covers, or do a worst-case scenario assumption like I did.

3. Find Your Wattage 

This is a tricky process because each home is different, and there are a ton of variables. This is because many people use Pareto Law in order to figure out the max disposable wattage for use per breaker. They do this to either be on the safe side or if they have an older home with a dirtier electrical current. If a home has a great electrical grid, they use the full amount of wattage per breaker. Just to be on the safe side I highly recommend you all to use the Pareto Law or 80% of your maximum wattage available per breaker.

Here is the formula: 0.80(AMP x Volt)

For example, suppose you have a 15 AMP breaker. This means that this section of the home only allows a max of 15 AMPs to go through with a maximum wattage of 1800 assuming you use 120 volts. After you take out 20% for safekeeping you're left with a maximum disposable wattage of 1440. In order to simplify this, if I were you, I would use 120 volts for 15 or 20 AMPs. For 30 AMPs or higher, I would use a voltage of 240.

(i.e. 0.80(15 AMPs x 120) = 1440 max wattage)

After you find this, you will have to find out how many AMPs and wattage your current appliances are using up for that particular breaker/grid. Make sure the total amount of wattage and AMPs are less than 1440 watts and 15 AMPs. Use the Kill A Watt wattage calculator to make your life easier. This uses 15 AMPs maximum and also has a cool feature to calculate how much your appliance will cost you.

4. Figure out which GPUs, CPU, Motherboard, and PSU You Want

This is crucial and should be an early prerequisite because this sets the tone for how much wattage you are looking at generating, and your ROI since you will have to calculate how much profit you want, and if the Hashpower that is generated from such parts nets you a solid return after electricity costs.

Finding your GPUs

The easiest way to do this is to go to whattomine.com and play around with the settings.  This website automatically calculates the wattage of each GPU card, what the profitability of said cards are in Hashpower, and what the most efficient algorithms are for mining with them.
Always be on the lookout for increasing DAG sizes for the algorithms that you wish to mine. Because the DAG size for Dagger-Hashimoto has now increased in size to 2.5 GB, 2 GB GPU cards are now useless for Ether Mining. Refer here: https://investoon.com/tools/dag_size 

Finding Your Motherboard & CPU

To figure out which motherboards and CPUs to purchase, you need to do a little bit more digging. First, I would select the motherboard first. This is because the motherboard is more important than the CPU for mining. Additionally, each motherboard has specifications that you might prefer over the others. By selecting the motherboard first, you make selecting the CPU easier because there is cross-compatibility between the two.  For example, the motherboard I chose was the Gigabyte GA-Z270P-D3. I chose this motherboard because I saw that they had internal fault protections in place - voltage control, 7 GPU slotability, high quality manufacturing, good manufacturers warranty, and cheap prices. This motherboard only allows LGA 1151 CPUs. This means that they only accept Intel processor chips - specifically the LGA 1151 models. To go more in detail, this means that this motherboard only allows the amount of sockets or pins that 1151 CPUs have.

One more thing: Always choose a motherboard that has ample PCIE slots. These slots are what you need for mining cryptocurrency so the more slots you have the merrier. Do not cheap out on the motherboard as it is the nexus for your rig. You don't want to go too old on the motherboard or too new. The reason why is because if you go too old, it won't support any of the standard GPUs needed for current mining difficulties. You don't want to go too new because then you will have no choice but to buy the latest and greatest mining parts because the newer motherboards only accept new CPUs (which are pricey).

Check out this website for more clarity: https://pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/ 
A good rule of thumb is that anything starting with LGA means Intel CPU and AM means AMD CPU. 

After you have selected your Motherboard, you have to figure out what the best CPU is which can also handle your chosen GPU cards. This is important because you want to select the most cost-efficient CPU with the most efficient wattage. You can cheap out with this component, but you still have to be mindful of it in terms of booting up your OS (Operating system) and your video cards.

I chose the Intel Celeron G3900 processor because of its wattage efficiency at only 51 Watts. In hindsight I would have chosen the G3900T because it only emits  36 Watts. This is why choosing the motherboard first is key. I had chosen the CPU first and then the motherboard which caused me to use 20 more watts than I should have.

Selecting Your PCIE Risers  

Reliable risers are actually difficult to find. The reason why is because the majority of risers are made in China, and they tend to have quality issues or bad batch issues. Even the good quality risers are a mixed bag because there tends to be some defects among the winners. This is why you do not want to cheap out on risers, and you want to buy these in bulk. Risers are cheap enough that you can afford the few extra dollars for reliability and efficiency.

PCIE Risers are responsible for moving your GPU cards away from your motherboard. This solves the heating problem that GPU cards emit when running 24/7. Risers can help cool your GPU cards and allow for longevity and air cooling since you can spread each riser away from each other.

I chose the Ubit PCIE Risers because they had 3 different ways to power them -- Molex, SATA, and 6 to 8 Pin PCIE. This came in handy since I didn't need to buy any extra parts for my trio mining rig. My power supply supplied all of the cables needed to power all 3 of my risers and graphics cards. The Ubit risers also allows stable connectivity and solves the issue of frequency jams. It shields each cable well so that it wouldn't interfere with any other signals. I chose this particular brand, and the 6 pack because I wanted to hedge myself in case a few of the risers came out defective. I lucked out in that the first 3 risers I popped out of the bag were excellent. 

Selecting Your RAM

You can cheap out on this but always make sure your RAM is compatible with your motherboard. If your motherboard specifications states that it only accepts DDR4 RAM, you must only purchase DDR4 RAM. Aside from this you can cheap out on RAM, but make sure you know the basics for why you chose them. For example, RAM is used as a way to boot up your system quickly and run programs simultaneously. For mining, you can use 4 GB RAM, as you don't need much RAM for mining. However, I decided to go with the 8 GB just to be on the safe side and so I won't have to toggle with the virtual memory. Look at this thread for further clarification: Reddit 4 GB vs 8 GB

Select a Thumb Drive or an SSD for Your OS 

You can choose either a high-write speed thumb drive with at least 20 GB or more (to fit the OS for your rig), or get an SSD. The latter is more effective at booting up your Operating System, but I have actually ran my mining rig with just the thumb drive. In Part 2, I will go more in detail with how to flash your OS for your rig. I chose the Sandisk thumb drive, and also a Transcend SSD as a backup.

Selecting Your PSU - Power Supply 

After you have selected all of your main components such as the Motherboard, CPU, RAM, and GPU cards, you can easily calculate how much total wattage all of these parts will churn out. You can do this by going to https://outervision.com/power-supply-calculator Choosing either the Platinum or Titanium PSU would be ideal as they would be the most cost-effective in terms of monthly electricity cost. This would be because these PSUs efficiently churn out the most clean currents and have less downtime. They would also optimize the total available amount of wattage supply. However, if you need to cheap out, the Gold standard PSU would be a decent choice. I personally chose the EVGA 850 Watt Modular PSU. I got it on sale from Amazon. Do not cheap out on this component because this will supply power efficiently to your whole rig. I have heard of good things on the EVGA brand, but I have heard of people using Rosewill with good results. Please do your due diligence on Rosewill or any other brand as I have only experienced good results with the EVGAs.

This is the final step for parts finding because by then you will have an understanding of how much wattage your rig will consume. By using the above website to calculate your rigs total wattage and selecting the best PSU to cover the electricity supply for said rig, you can now move to the final piece of the puzzle by calculating how much you will be paying in electricity. 

5a) The Hard Method:

Your electricity cost = [(your wattage/1000) * 1kw] * 24 hrs * $kWH

This formula calculates how much money you will approximately pay for 24 hours of mining. This allows you to figure out which cards to get that give you the most ROI. If you live in a high electricity cost area, you will have to buy the most efficient GPU card with the most hashing power.

If you don't know where to find your kWH rate, go to your electricity provider portal online or open up your latest invoice from the mail. Personally, I found out that my provider Con Edison charges a service charge for providing electricity and also variably charges more or less each month. I used the highest rating I could find of $0.27/kWH and used that for my cost.

For example say you have a mining rig that can generate a maximum of 550 watts and your cost is $0.27/kWH. Your formula for this would be ([(550/1000) x 1] * 24) * $0.27 which equals $3.57 per day. If you multiply this number by 30 days, you get a rough estimate of $107 per month. This means that you would need an efficient Graphics card that generates the most hashpower in order for you to be profitable.

Now 550 watts would be a gross number so don't fret. If you had chosen your GPU cards wisely and feel like they have the most hashpower to efficiency to your liking, you can undervolt and overclock the GPU cards later. Doing so would maximize wattage efficiency and hashpower. Try using Pareto Law and take 80% of 550 watts. By doing so you get a rough estimate of $2.86/day or $86 per month. I'll go more in detail with Part 2 of this Crypto mining blog series later.

5b) The Easier Method: 

Streamline your electricity costs by clicking here and inputting all of your data. This makes your life a whole lot easier in terms of figuring out what your electricity costs per month will be.

Rapid Tables - Click here for an easy to use electricity cost table.


As you have read, mining cryptocurrency is a lengthy process in terms of setting up. If you are like me and a noob at building computers, it is a daunting process that takes a lot of stress and time. There is just too much to learn as most rigs generate a lot of wattage and could be dangerous or expensive. Getting started with the right foundations will help you waste less time and be grounded for building rigs stably and cost-effectively. I hope part 1 of this blog series helped you get started with the tools needed. There is a lot of misinformation out there which makes it hard to navigate. If you have any questions please leave a comment below and I'll answer them succinctly.

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Read Part 2

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