Helium IoT Miners — Mining With a Purpose

Sara Nuss
November 23, 2021

Helium miners spread out a network designed for the internet of things. Anyone can go online and purchase a miner, and within minutes of it being delivered to your door, you can get it up and running! Your miner uses some of your home’s bandwidth and spreads out Helium’s network while you can enjoy some passive income from your growing pile of HNT. But how does it all work? If you are interested in the internet of things, Helium, and their miners, you’ve come to the right place! Read on for our complete guide to Helium IoT miners. 

The Internet of Things

The internet of things (IoT) is the overarching term to describe every object that is connected to the internet. Things like traffic lights, watches, lights, security systems, and all of “smart” technology. Over the last few years the IoT has grown and applications of such interconnectedness are being explored by companies like Helium, among many others. 

The IoT has grown astonishingly large and continues to grow exponentially as time goes on. There are concerns about the security of devices on the IoT network, as many simple internet connections (in a home security camera, for example) are able to collect and transfer a tremendous volume of data. 

What is the Internet of Things? 

Smart devices are around us everywhere. How many do you count in this photo? 

The IoT network has the ability to output a lot of benefits around various aspects of life. One big possible benefit from an interconnected network is efficiency. For instance, with a smart network at home, you can connect every light in your house to an app on your phone. You no longer have to walk into every room and flip a switch if you want to turn a light on or off. You can control it all with a few taps on your phone screen! On a larger scale, companies are working to gather a lot of data from nodes on the IoT network and use them to monitor stuff like weather, traffic, and more. This monitoring is to allow them to create a more efficient, safe, and convenient city.

This collection of data also allows apps to personalize information for users. Predictive algorithms are everywhere, from your ads on Google and YouTube to what comes up when you scroll through social media. Predictive algorithms are not a result of the IoT, but it opens up ways for different kinds of data to be collected and utilized in creating the most efficient and convenient day-to-day for you. 

Helium’s Network and the Internet of Things

Helium is a decentralized network that is working to create public and long-range wireless coverage for IoT devices. Helium is currently working to create an IoT network as well as a 5G network to cover IoT devices as well as smartphones as we use them today. There are two major points in Helium’s deck that they want to use to create a stable and worthwhile network. 

Security and privacy go hand-in-hand as the first. Security is a major concern for IoT networks because of the sheer quantity of links in the chain. A dedicated and malevolent hacker could enter any one of those nodes, and it is unlikely, for instance, that consumers are looking at their coffee maker and thinking that they need to bolster its security. People have taken advantage of this understandably lax security to hack into these devices to mess with servers and networks. 

Helium is proposing a security fix by using crypto’s blockchain technology. They are working to create a network that is much more secure and is able to compartmentalize and handle keeping these millions of nodes in check. 

Helium’s internet of things network is also rolling out as an alternative to major networks as a way to cheaply and securely transfer data. Their network functions off of cryptocurrency, where miners earn HNT and data credits, the latter of which they spend as they use data on the network. The sheer volume of data being transferred by all of these devices makes it important to keep the cost of its transfer as low as possible. 

Internet of Things: A Brief History

The true beginning of the internet of things was back in the early 1980s. That’s right, before the internet as we know it even existed. It all started with a Coca-Cola vending machine on Carnegie Mellon’s Campus. This machine was connected to an early version of the internet (called ARPANET), and it used that connection to deliver two pieces of data: the machine’s inventory and the temperature of the drinks. 

Time went on, and more and more devices were connected to the internet. As that number grew so did the possible applications of their interconnectivity. Back in the late 2000s, the number of devices connected to the internet surpassed the number of people on the planet. Now, in 2022, there are more than 10 billion devices connected to the internet. This staggering number is opening doors every day as people research and develop ways that we can leverage all of this connectivity to better our lives. 

Helium IoT Mining

Helium has proven that there is a practical way to mine crypto. Instead of taking up huge computing processors and power to mine, they utilize radio waves. 

Helium IoT mining allows users to connect hotspots in their homes that spread a net of radio frequencies, connecting with IoT devices nearby. Users purchase Helium IoT Miners, usually for a few hundred dollars, and set them up in their homes to start mining! Helium’s miners operate on a different set of circumstances than many other blockchain miners because they are working with radio frequencies rather than the complex maths used by some other cryptocurrency miners. 

The short of that is — a Helium miner won’t take up a huge GPU or use a ton of electricity. In fact, Helium IoT miners use around a dollar of electricity every month, about as much as a lightbulb. 

How do Helium IoT Miners Work?

Helium IoT miners act as nodes on Helium’s wireless network. Before we get into the intricacies of the network and more specifics about how they reward the miners, think of it this way — Owning a Helium IoT miner is like you owned one cell tower in Verizon’s network. In return for you maintaining that “cell tower,” Helium gives you a bit of money in the form of HNT. The incentive is that you put money in and get money out. 

Mining cryptocurrency is not a concept invented by Helium, but the way they mine is a refreshing take. Back in the days of Bitcoin, miners would utilize all of the processing power possible in order to “mine” bitcoins. The output was more or less directly proportional to the input. If you had one computer mining and mined one bitcoin each day and your neighbor had five computers mining they would mine five bitcoin a day. Bitcoin mining became a race to input the most electricity and processing power. 

Helium IoT mining doesn’t work that way! Each miner spreads a network over an area, and multiple miners in that same area overlap, and their efficiency plummets. So, before we go any further, don’t buy a dozen Helium IoT miners to put in your house! As a matter of fact, don’t buy two either! Many Helium miners own multiple units, but the general rule is to keep at least 350 meters between miners. 

Third-Party Helium IoT Miners

A few years ago Helium verified a number of third-party companies to create and manufacture miners that worked on Helium’s network. There are a lot of different Helium IoT miners on the market, and a lot of them work really well! Check out reviews on websites like Reddit to make sure that the model you are planning to purchase will work well in your location! 

Maximize Coverage With a Helium IoT Miner

The productivity of your Helium IoT miner depends on a few factors. No matter where you are, you want to set up your Helium miner at the top of your house, giving the antenna the best view of the surrounding area. That lets you spread your miner’s coverage, increasing your earnings! 

There are, unfortunately, a few factors outside of your control. Mining rewards are driven by the amount of traffic on the network and the density of hotspots (A.K.A. miners) in your area. If there was a lot of traffic and not a lot of hotspots, they would mine a lot of HNT. You can check out the coverage in your area on Helium Explorer. Your IoT miner will mine HNT through various processes, which we will explain in the next section! 

What Does Your Helium IoT Miner do?

When you have a Helium IoT miner, you are taking part in a variety of actions on Helium’s network, and each action your miner takes is rewarded in kind. Helium, as a network, is putting its network’s strength and coverage in the hands of its users. So, when you purchase a Helium IoT miner you are becoming a tower in their network, and as long as your miner is running it is spreading Helium’s network radially around your location. 

When your miner is up and running, it receives rewards based on a few things. Helium’s network is created off the back of millions of little nodes spread throughout the country, and each of those nodes is in the hands of a customer. There is no contract forcing customers to continue operating their miners, so there is no guarantee that the network today is the same as the network yesterday. To keep track of that, Helium regularly sends out challenges from one hotspot to another to make sure that the hotspot is up and running. Every time your hotspot is pinged to send or receive a challenge, you get some HNT! That, along with any data traffic that travels through your hotspot are the two major ways that your Helium IoT miner is mining HNT. 

Is it Time to Take Part in Helium’s Network?

Networks are all around us. Helium’s IoT miners allow us to join in on theirs!

Helium is doing something that a lot of other crypto projects are not. They are leveraging crypto to accomplish something practical instead of just, well, leveraging crypto. A lot of crypto coins exist kind of like stocks that aren’t connected to any company. For people who do not work with crypto, it is difficult to peer past the headlines and buzz surrounding this new thing. Leading them to the question: what does crypto really do? Does it make any difference for the average person or solve problems that exist outside of the very small crypto niche? In the case of Helium — yes!

What does Helium’s Network do?

Helium IoT miners are a kind of hotspot that are little boxes with antennas (around the size of a paperback copy of The Hobbit) that plug into your home and use radio frequencies to send data back and forth. These hotspots use the house’s internet to transfer data from IoT devices at a much lower cost than is currently the norm for big wireless companies. Helium, when it was founded in 2013, tried to work without crypto. Their original plan was to make a long-range decentralized network for the internet of things, but they struggled for years to get their company off the ground. People just weren’t interested.

Four years later they were still struggling for ideas, and someone suggested a crypto-driven incentive system. It worked. They created a network where the amount of lifting done by your hotspot was rewarded with their own cryptocurrency. That, coupled with their proof of coverage-based network meant that their machines didn’t use the ludicrous amounts of energy that Bitcoin-esque mining did. It was as simple as putting up the device, placing the antenna in a good position, and waiting while the rewards rolled in. 

Mining with a Purpose

Helium outputs a real product that is used by people every day. They are creating a decentralized network where, hopefully soon, users can use data at much lower costs than traditional wireless networks while resting easy knowing that their data is secure. The network’s decentralization means that each player has a small stake in the company. This is, naturally, almost impossible, but everyone could disconnect their Helium miners at once and the network would be completely dead. 

Up to this point, Helium’s incentives are more than enough to bring curious people into their project. It is a project, in truth. They are trying to create a successful business to transfer data on the internet of things as well as a 5G network and create a network that is strong enough and covers enough to be a real choice for a wireless network. Helium is much more than another crypto company. Users mining on their network are mining with a purpose — the continued success of Helium’s network and a stake in a larger and more successful company. 

How to Become a Player in Helium’s Network

It is easy to become a player in Helium’s IoT network! All you have to do is go online and purchase a miner, set it up, and you are good to go! Helium is not as profitable as it once was. Spending, say, $500 on a hotspot means it will likely be a long, long time before you break even. That is to say, a long time as things currently stand. When you think about buying a Helium hotspot, think about the fact that you are investing in the success of a new kind of company, and, as far as investments go, $500 is not bad at all! It is a small stake in their company, but it is a stake, nonetheless. 

There is always the possibility that Helium’s network will grow exponentially larger in the coming years, and if that is the case, you will be rewarded big time as all of your mined HNT goes up in value. 

Key Takeaways 

Feeling a bit overloaded with information? Don’t sweat it! This is a complicated business, and we hope that we shed some light on the way that Helium IoT miners work and have helped you decide whether or not you want to join in on their network. Before you go, here are a few key takeaways!

  • The Internet of Things is the network of every object that can connect to the internet 
  • Helium IoT Mining is when you connect a Helium hotspot in your home 
  • This process creates Helium’s network, spreading out a signal so information from IoT devices is transferred to its destination
  • Users earn HNT when their hotspot is up and running without any input on their end
  • Helium is a crypto company with a purpose, and investing in a hotspot is helping them create a decentralized network. 

Sara Nuss
Sara Nuss is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in wireless, dewi, phone plan advice & blockchain.