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Well, that depends on your definition of cost effective. Are you looking for good hash-rates at a low entry cost or are you looking at the long term efficiency and considering the energy cost?
If you are just entering the world of crypto mining you may find the cost of higher end equipment daunting, and rightfully so. As bigger and better machines come into the market and the price of Bitcoin rises, it can become astronomical. You might wonder how it's even realistic to consider such an investment.
Good Purchase Cost Value:
Luckily there are good cost effective miners that can get you making money right away while you save up for that energy efficient one you have your eye on. The key aspect here is how quickly you will make your initial investment cost back. This can be a difficult metric to evaluate given the dramatic fluctuations in crypto prices but it will give you a baseline to evaluate what a given hash-rate is worth.
One of my favorite entry level machines is the Antminer L3+, able to mine LTC as well as the ever more popular Doge Coin. The initial cost is on the lower end of the scale, however it will make you a decent cash flow and the equipment pay back is typically under a year. Plus, they are sized just perfect to run 2 of them on a single 120V 20A household breaker, which allows you to start scaling up your operation. If you want better efficiency and scalability you can power them off a 220V circuit in preparation for a larger miner. by doing that you'll now be able to scale your operation up to 4 machines or more on that circuit, depending on your breaker and feeder wire sizing. Combining those aspects with our trade in service will allow you to swap your miners for a much higher energy efficient one to further increase your profits.
This is really the key metric, except for the steep entry cost, it should be the main thing you consider when buying a miner. Typically GPU rigs offer the best energy efficiency, often your pay back on these can be as high as 18 months or longer. The thing to keep in mind though is that this is a long term play and ultimately the cost of electricity is what you will be looking to overcome.
It's also a good time to note that while the idea of running several smaller miners may sound like a great plan, you will hit a limitation on how many you can fit on the electrical service in your house before breakers start tripping on you.
Or even worse, overload a circuit beyond the recommended 80% of it's rated capacity and if the wires are not sized correctly you could be looking at a fire. Please get a professional involved with any upgrades to your home electrical service.
That being said, as you grow you'll want to add more machines and use more of your electrical capacity, so upgrading your mining equipment will become necessary as well as cost effective.
Consider the L3+ hypothetical, you have your 5 miners but you want to add more. You've found a couple spare circuits for them and have them running on 220V with a 20A breaker. Awesome, you're already setup for one of the big miners however the running load is very high, over the safe zone of 16A and you could trip them all off with a heat wave. it's time to look at scaling your cash flow... At current Bitcoin prices you're making just over $1000 /mo. This is taking into account the average cost of electricity is around $0.10 /KWH. You can verify what you pay on your electric bill and use an available profitability calculator like the NiceHash or Asicminer to help you run some comparisons.
So now how do you make more and get your power back to reliable levels? you're dishing out almost $300 /mo. in electricity as it is... Well lets say you've saved up a little and the S19 Pro is obtainable with trading in your L3+'s. It's not a big move but just enough to make a difference. your electric bill will drop below $250 /mo. meanwhile your profit after that bill is paid goes up to almost $1200 /mo. and you're only running 15A so everything will keep plugging away happily.
So now what? that's great and all but you want the best and biggest! You want to mine ALL of the Bitcoin! OK, looks like you must be checking out that new Antminer E9. Now you need to handle more power though, so you call someone in to upgrade your electrical wiring and set it up with a 50A 220V outlet. you'll need to scale some more while you wait for the E9 to be available. With your new electrical capacity you can run 3 of the S19's, pumping out $3600 /mo. but your electric bill is almost $750 and your circuit is over the safe limit of 40A. You've been saving up and it is time to trade in. You shut down the 3 S19 Pro's and plug in your fancy new E9. You rejoice, the electric bill dropped to just under $200/ mo and you're pulling in over $7500/ mo. in profit! but wait, you can run 2 more of these on this circuit and still only be at 35A, if you're lucky you might not even trip the entire house off when you run the microwave now. But who cares, you're pulling in $23,000/ mo. and can retire early, may as well just go out to eat...
Oh, one more thing, this is all extremely hypothetical and speculative. Real data has yet to be proven with new miners hitting the market and the price volatility can drastically change how profitable a machine is as you may have noticed in my story. while it sounds great, it is an investment that you need to make on your own terms and within your own budget. there are risks involved that you will need to study and understand for yourself. I can make no recommendations as to what is best for you or what will work for your life. Please be smart about how you spend your money, I hope that I can be a part of that for you but it is for you to decide.
The Energy Efficient Alternative:
As you may know ASIC miners are not the only method available to pull in cryptocurrency. Many people prefer running a GPU mining rig, they can be significantly more cost efficient on electrical costs and run much quieter in your home. They can also be significantly more expensive and complicated to build or setup. I chose to leave that out of this as I feel the topic deserves it's own focus and I will delve into it further in another article. suffice it to say though, the energy efficiency to hash-rate can easily rival some of the most efficient ASIC miners available. Also, the scalability of a good GPU rig can be more straight forward as it mostly involves simply swapping out GPU cards for newer and better ones, one at a time if desired.