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Students Are Trying to Mine Bitcoins On College Campuses

“Well, free electricity is free electricity,” says Reddit user 3xist. “I was mining before at home but decided to scale up a little with some power that I didn’t pay for. My roommate did mind, but he was a very considerate guy and didn’t complain – it was taken as my ‘one shitty roommate thing’ in exchange for his equal roommate flaws. There’s no real way to hide the fact that you’re mining in a dorm room, my RA knew (didn’t care), everyone on my floor knew (thought it was vaguely interesting), etc..” 

If there was defining aspect of the experiment for 3xist, it was the heat. “We were in the far north of the USA and had to keep our window open during snowstorms because it was so hot in our room otherwise,” he tells GoldSilverBitcoin. “We never had our heater on even once the entire year, and if we did close the window the room temperature would hit 75°F in an hour and 80°F in about three hours.” The Bitcoin miner would never recommend mining in a dorm. 

Small scale Bitcoin miners
Small scale Bitcoin miners

“Even though I never got in trouble for it. I made some money but the hassle was worth so much more that I wasn’t sad at all when the power supply blew out during finals week,” he shares. 

With electricity prices costing approximately .05 per kwh in China, it’s difficult for Americans to compete when it comes to Bitcoin mining. But, students are finding a unique arbitrage: free campus electricity. 

“Back in Spring of ’12 I was mining in my dorm at Virginia Tech.,” says Redditor Jammastajayt. “It took less then [sic] a day before I got flagged remotely and was told that was not allowed. I had to write an explanation and everything. It was really dumb.”

He adds: “Not worth it, don’t do it.”

In another comment, he explains his method. “I set up the miner, went to sleep and woke up with an email saying for me to come explain my usage. I expect you will have to do the same thing, as your school will be covering their own ass too.”

3xist “shares fair warning” himself in a thread.

“I mined Bitcoin in a dorm last semester,” the redditor writes. “About 1 TH/s worth of underclocked equipment, so by all mining standards it was a cool and quiet setup, but I can say (very clearly) that it was a horrible idea. I was in a dorm and the heat alone was a struggle – we never turned on our heater and still had our window open during snowstorms (northern USA, below freezing) because it was so fucking hot in our room. The noise was also a bit off-putting for guests.”

In a space as small as a dorm room, the miner would likely overheat within hours. Proper ventilation and even cooling is important for miners. One potential campus miner explains how he intends to get clever.

Most claiming to mine in dorms are using antminers, an ASIC-based bitcoin miner. The dorm residents typically use antminers with or without mining pools, though some  “have a bunch of old lap tops that [they] don’t plan on selling or ever using” to use. Some want to use other people’s miners on loan.

3xist made some money, but doesn’t recommend mining in a dorm.

“You don’t realize how much you value your comfort until you are sweating and overheating in your bed when it’s below freezing outside and you haven’t turned on your heater yet that year,” the redditor described. “We set up a system of carabiners and rope to keep the window open variable amounts (the wind would either pull it open or slam it closed otherwise) and would have to adjust it every six hours or so to keep the temperature in our room from getting too cold or too hot… The noise was noticeable in the hall when I had my door open and the temperature in my room would hit 80°F very quickly if we kept the window closed for any reason.” He never did hear from the school.

“But I almost set the dorm alight when the power supply blew out and started smoking,” 3xist admits. “Thankfully I was in the room and cut the power to it before the alarm went off, but honestly when it went I was relieved. It was quiet in my dorm, the temperature wasn’t horrible anymore, and I could finally sleep a night or two in a row without getting up at 4am to move around the window.”


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