How a Savvy Entrepreneur Built the First Home Heater That Mines Bitcoin
Alex Busarov is a graduate of the London School of Economics and was formerly in charge of developing energy strategies for companies and governments in the Middle East and Europe at McKinsey consulting company
At the height of the 2020 global pandemic, a skilled and driven entrepreneur found himself locked in his Shanghai flat with some time and an Antminer S9k as a toy. Not interested in any serious mining activity, his only goal was to get through a tough lockdown period by playing around and testing what his Bitcoin miner can do. And yet, by the end of the pandemic, a new device was born which can potentially change how cryptocurrency mining is done in the next decade.
Alex Busarov is a graduate of the London School of Economics and was formerly in charge of developing energy strategies for companies and governments in the Middle East and Europe at McKinsey consulting company. Later he ran various technology companies in Asia, including Taeltech, appearing on CNN, Forbes, and CNBC. But as is often the case, a true entrepreneurial spirit is always looking for more ways to innovate.
This is the story of Heatbit – the world's first home heater that mines Bitcoin.
Anyone familiar with the current news around blockchain and cryptocurrencies knows that Bitcoin miners require significant energy. And those who previously witnessed such a miner in action know that they also produce a tremendous amount of heat. This sparked an interesting idea in Busarov's head.
"I turned the miner on in my bedroom, and within a couple of minutes, I realized 2 things: it's extremely noisy (later I learnt it can actually damage your hearing) and it gets space hot very quickly. I thought it could be a great heater if the problem of the noise was solved," he said.
At first, the company wanted to use liquid cooling, but this method made heatbits too bulky — and chips were overheating anyway. Busarov then decided to incorporate powerful fans that run at a fraction of normal power, but that still manage to spread heat across the room while keeping the silicon chips from overheating.
But noise wasn't the only challenge Heatbit faced. A customer once asked him what's inside the device. "I told him "sweat and blood of our engineers"," Busarov remembers. "I've lost count of how many different design variations we had already as every little detail matters to keep the right balance between safety, mining, temperature levels, noise levels and convenience of use," he added.
Heatbit's first funding campaign started in 2021, pushed by the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Its sales exceeded $40,000 during the first week, but the campaign was later shut down by Indiegogo after the platform deemed the devices more related to mining rigs than home appliances. "Most important though, we knew people liked our idea", Busarov added.
These and other obstacles were some of the challenges Busarov faced during the launch of Heatbit. Sales grew over 10 times throughout that year on the company's official website.
The next challenge was long shipping delays due to supply chain issues worldwide and constant lockdowns in China. According to the operations team, production and shipping issues have been ironed out, and Heatbits are now being shipped.
Warming Up Homes By Mining Bitcoin
Heatbit is more than a clever design to combine two processes. In fact, the mining heaters can contribute to solving several crucial problems in today's time. The most obvious one is heat generation. As energy prices soar around the globe, a heater that generates money while operating seems like an ingenious approach.
Heatbits are capable of warming up to 170 square feet (≈ 15.8 square meters) by generating the equivalent of a standard 1.4 kW electric heater for the exact same amount of power, using silicon chips as the main heating element — all while mining Bitcoin at a hashrate of 14 TH/s. While doing so, heatbits produce less than 42 decibels of noise, lower than an average conversation, and similar to an air conditioner in sleep mode.
Furthermore, heatbits are designed to be easily controllable, for example via an official mobile app, downloadable for Android and iOS devices. The app allows users to set up and manage the heater and mine Bitcoin simultaneously, and also withdraw their funds whenever they wish to. Being designed as a plug & play device, Busarov claims he has "spent a lot more time getting my electric coffee grinder to work than what it takes to have a heatbit running."
Busarov and his team have been heavily testing their device throughout the past year, and users have reported a pleasant experience with the heatbit features, such as a simple setup, mining capacity, and low-level noise.
Heatbit has already been certified according to US and Canada safety standards. The certification process included tests that made sure the device doesn't become a hazard if covered with blankets, dropped or if the fan is stalled. Inside the device, there are multiple physical and digital sensors that ensure safe operation.
Decentralizing Bitcoin Mining
Busarov highlighted that Heatbit is spreading decentralization of Bitcoin mining and enabling average users to participate. As the core idea of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, decentralization shouldn't be a few controlling large swathes of the Bitcoin mining, but everyone making small contributions, he argues.
Last but not least, Heatbit sees itself as a solution to the looming bitcoin energy struggle. In 2022, a growing number of policymakers and influencers have distanced themselves from cryptocurrencies due to the high cost of energy. However, their opinion could change if they knew of solutions that reuse energy in smart ways. Busarov is convinced of Heatbit as a green solution, and is even offering free devices to major Bitcoin mining critics to try it out for themselves.
"True decentralisation is many small heaters, not large mining farms we have these days. And in a perfect world, these miners not only relentlessly burn energy but also replace other power hungry devices. This is the only way forward for cryptocurrencies" Busarov concludes.
As with every new product, especially in the cryptocurrency industry, there will be skeptics and stigmas surrounding heatbits. "Most people would take it with critiques ranging from general skepticism of Bitcoin and crypto to misunderstanding heatbit heaters to be pure miners. We get asked a lot: what should I do with it in summer? Well, in summer you shouldn't use a heater." Busarov says. Therefore, while sales are surging this year, he believes it's the crypto and tech-savvy people who will be the main adopters of Heatbit at first. The Heatbit team projects their market to significantly develop over the next five years, with the goal of turning it into a mass-market product.
Note: Investment in cryptocurrency and crypto assets is subject to financial risk and readers should do their own due diligence. Entrepreneur Media does not endorse any such investment.