When a propane gas heater stopped working, Bitcoin mining came to the rescue of a cold caravan in Colorado.
Michael Schmid first made contact with Bitcoin (BTC) in 2013; he installed Bitcoin core, mined a few BTC then bought some Bitcoin from MtGox. Schmid told Cointelegraph that shortly after the infamous Mt. Gox hack, in which Schmid lost his Bitcoin, he also “lost interest.”
Timewarp to 2020 and Schmid got “very active again,” as concerns about the “endless money printing” troubled him.
“With that [money printing], I found that I don’t agree at all with fiat money and believe that Bitcoin should be the global reserve currency and a store of value.”
A studious and curious mind, Schmid bored back down the BTC mining rabbit hole, building upon the foundations of knowledge he had excavated seven years prior. He learned about “ASICs, Antminers and all the other things that happened in the last years in the Bitcoin mining space,” before having a eureka moment.
“It makes much more sense to replace a resistive heater (like a space heater) with a Bitcoin miner, as both of them will turn electricity into heat, while the Bitcoin miner also generates Bitcoin.”
As Schmid was working in an office at the time, he “bought an S9 from a friend and used the S9 miner instead of the space heater to heat my office, which worked perfectly.” Schmid has discovered a winning combination.
He could solve valid Bitcoin blocks and reap the rewards while keeping his working and living space nice and warm. Office work aside, Schmid also enjoys traveling across America — often in his American-style campervan, an Airstream.
So when during Schmid’s next trip with his Airstream (see photos), the heating unit suffered intermittent problems, Schmid thought he “could use the S9 heater also to heat the Airstream as a fallback solution.”
They say necessity is the mother of invention so Schmid “started to think about how I [he] could build the system.” Space is at a premium in an Airstream and if the S9 were to be placed inside the camper “it would easily overheat the airstream.”
“So I came up with the idea to keep it in a box outside and route the warm air into the airstream.”
After a series of iterations and a few superficial burns, a short circuit and one day in which the airstream’s ambient temperature rivaled a Scandinavian sauna: “[I] got the airstream inside temperature to 90F [32 degrees Celsius] during one day as the heater was running while it shouldn’t,” Schmid finally cracked it.
The caravan was kept warm while mining Bitcoin, powered by solar panels on the roof and free campsite electricity — negating the need for burning propane gas. Schmid adds that “we have a quite small airstream (only 22ft), bigger RVs have much bigger propane heater systems and would pay much more for the propane (they could also run more S9 of course).”
But why go to all the effort equipping an RV with a Bitcoin miner? Why not try to fix the propane heater issue?
Granted, it’s a cool Bitcoin side project. However, not only has it solved the intermittent heating issues, but Schmid “saves around 50% of the propane costs, which is around $2.7 per day,” and at current estimates, he generates “0.00006259 BTC per day.”
All in, Schmid and his fiancé “technically heat the airstream for free” all while securing the Bitcoin network.
Schmid shared a message to any aspiring miners:
“I really encourage anybody to play with home mining, I truly believe that one of the most important things of Bitcoin is the decentralization of not only the coins but also the mining infrastructure.”
In a word of encouragement, he concludes “the more home mining setups that are out there the better.”