Proof of Work (PoW) mining operations, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, use a tremendous amount of energy and generate a tremendous amount of waste heat. Qarnot is one of a number of growing companies that has found a way to turn that waste heat into controlled heating for the home or office.
The new Qarnot QC-1 "crypto heater" takes advantage of an obvious synergy: It makes use of the waste heat generated by mining crypto in the guise of an attractive space heater.
Spec wise, the QC-1 contains two GPUs: NITRO+ RADEON RX 580 8G 60 MH/s at 650W. Local electrical costs and climate are key determining factors with regard to recouping costs and making a profit; for example, if you are in a cold northern environment with cheap electricity like Quebec, then your costs to run it should be low enough (about $0.03 KWh USD) that the mining revenue should pay for the device in a few years.
The device mines Ethereum by default but can be configured to mine various other PoW-based cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin. A mobile app is available to monitor your account and configure the unit. The lack of fans or hard drives leads Qarnot to claim the system is “perfectly noiseless.”
Over the years, there has been increasing concern over centralized mining and the diminishing ability of individuals to be able to mine successfully. While they are certainly efficient, centralized PoW mining centers could present a risk to Bitcoin's key features, such as censorship resistance.
Small-scale home miners may find this sort of mining unit appealing, even if they don’t necessarily need or want to turn a profit. Some hobbyists or idealists may simply want to support the network and contribute to its decentralization at break-even rates or even at a small cost, while enjoying the side benefit of some extra warmth.
Notably, Qarnot recently won the CES Eureka Park Climate Change Innovator Award, a new award designed to spotlight exhibitors in Eureka Park who are making bold attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions with their technology. The award was presented during “CES 2018 Sustainability Day” on January 11, 2018.
“Data centers already use 3 percent of worldwide electricity. It is urgent to start tackling the environmental impact of IT," said Qarnot CEO Paul Benoit in a statement at the time. "When Qarnot uses computations’ wasted heat in buildings, it reduces, by more than 75 percent, their carbon footprint. This award is a strong acknowledgement of Qarnot technology’s potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”