Do crypto mining rigs pose fire hazards? Most people think that there is a risk of the mining rigs catching fire since these run for 24 hours, 7 days in a week.
Well, they are not wrong in the sense that the risks can surely exist if proper precautions and safety measures are not taken by the users.
There are lots of incidents where apart buildings were turned into a towering inferno due to mining rigs catching fire destroying property, causing loss of millions of dollars, and injuring people.
You may have come across the recent news of an apartment block catching fire from the mining rigs in St. Petersburg, Russia where a man set up his mining equipment in his 7-bedroom apartment.
It destroyed 500 square meters of area and the fire was so severe that it destroyed 8 adjacent apartments along with it and 30 more were flooded as 16 firefighters with 4 engines fought for 40 minutes to put the fire out.
The man was hospitalized nursing burn wounds. There are lots of such incidents and the list seems to be growing every day.
A garage was burned to the ground destroying all mining machines when these overheated and caught fire in December 2019 is the Northwest city of Vologda in Russia.
Fortunately, the fire did not spread to the neighboring areas and garages.
In yet another incident a Russian citizen mining from the attic of his house in the city of Artyom in Russia caused a fire connecting a number of power supplies to his rig.
It burned down 7 houses to the ground and caused damages worth over $700,000. The man fled the scene and has been hiding since.
Do Crypto Mining Rigs Pose Fire Hazards?
Incidents of mining rigs catching fire are not restricted to Russia only and it also may not be caused due to the fault of the miner.
There was an incident where a British teenager suffered burn injuries after his mining rig caught fire.
The system overheated because it was hacked and the hacker used his computational power for mining new crypto coins without his knowledge.
There are several other incidents of mining rigs catching fire in Thailand and other places in the world.
Therefore, mining rigs can catch fire as these incidents prove.
That is why people think that mining rigs are unsafe. However, this is not true and shows how little knowledge people have about the mining rigs.
Well, the mining rigs are nothing but computers, but these are more powerful and sophisticated as compared to any ordinary desktop computer that you may use in your home or office.
Typically, these mining computers use a lot of energy to run continuously and therefore can become a little bit warm.
If this temperature is allowed to rise, it will catch fire.
However, it can happen to any given electronic appliance and therefore the mining rigs should not be blamed only.
Instead, it is the users who should be blamed for not maintaining their computers and not doing the needful to keep them cool.
The components of these mining rigs are a bit different from an ordinary computer and may also look different because these are designed to remain cool with increased airflow while running around the clock.
The modern crypto mining rigs are more sophisticated and the components are manufactured by internationally renowned and branded companies.
These components undergo rigorous tests for their temperature and energy efficiency and fire resistance.
Typically, some of the modern mining GPU mining rigs use energy anywhere from 150 watts to 200 watts and have a temperature tolerance of around 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. Even then, these rigs can catch fire.
The mining rigs can catch fire easily if you do not care for the environment where you put them up.
For example, dusty environments will cause dust building up especially on the cooling fans or the blades which will reduce their speed.
This will result in insufficient cooling and heat buildup.
Accumulation of dust on other components will also result in heat buildup. All these can cause the rigs to catch fire.
Mining rigs can also catch fire easily when you set them up in a stuffy and small room that has very little ventilation to facilitate proper air circulation.
Proper ventilation is essential in a room where you want to set up your mining rig because it will ensure higher air volume and safe and quick passage of the hot air through it.
Additional cooling systems and exhaust fans apart from adequate ventilation will keep your mining equipment cool and prevent it from catching fire.
Also, if the electric supply is inadequate and improper, it may also cause the rigs to catch fire.
Loose connections may cause sparks which may turn into a flame and connecting too many mining rigs to your domestic single outlet will also result in a fire.
Now, even if everything from the quality of the mining equipment to the ventilation of the room and from electric connections to the cooling systems are just perfect, your mining rig can still catch fire due to too much Bitcoin mining.
As you may know electricity is measured in watts or kilowatts, commonly denoted by W and kW.
The advanced Bitcoin mining rigs usually draw up energy anywhere between 1100 watts and 1600 watts per unit.
When you compare it with any standard household circuit that typically is rated to consume 15 amps or 20 amps of electricity within 110 volts to 120 volts, the total wattage will come up to 1800 watts and 2400 watts.
At this point you may ask: but that is much higher. Well, it is true but there is a significant difference in the connections or the circuits.
Usually, in normal households you will hardly find any dedicated plug that runs straight back to the electric panel.
This means that if you use a toaster or a flood lamp with a 250 watt rating in the same circuit you use for your mining rigs, the circuit breaker will trip.
However, if you use a smaller appliance with lower wattage, such as a light duty cooler, it will probably draw less than 100 watts of power continually.
If you want to understand what it actually means, you will need to follow the next section of this article more closely to know first how electricity and electrical fires are related and caused.
Usually, heat is produced in an electrical system when electric current is delivered to it.
The higher the amount of electric current is drawn by the system the more the copper wiring inside needs to work in order to accommodate the flow of current. This generates a lot of heat within it.
Moreover, all electrical wires and cables come with specific heat ratings which vary depending on the thickness and other factors.
However, the worst part is that the electrical cables and wires come with all information printed on it but this aspect remains the least obvious one. Sometimes, it is also not included at all.
Typically, research says that most electrical cables and wires can withstand a temperature as high as 194 degrees Fahrenheit or up to 90 degrees Celsius.
Anything higher than that will generate excessive heat which may cause a fire.
Now, take a look at the effects the cooler of the Bitcoin mining rigs may have overall to cause a fire breakout.
A little bit of math will enable you to understand things in a much better way.
Assuming that you have two such mining rigs in your basement connected to only one circuit rated 20 amps and the cooler is drawing around 100 watts of power constantly, the amount of energy available to the circuit will be 2200 watts with 1100 watts in each.
This means 20 amps at 110 volts for the rigs. On the other hand, the cooler needs around another 2200 watts to 2300 watts.
All these demands for current are accommodated by the copper in the wire on your walls that heats up to 180 degrees in the process.
And, suppose this continues, for example, for the next couple of months.
By this time however the rigs have started to lose their efficiency and therefore need more energy to perform than what they used to when they were new.
As they pull more energy, things heat up more and the copper becomes hotter in order to work more to supply current at a much higher transfer rate.
And, it also draws a bit more current at the same time.
At this point, the two mining rigs of yours will continue drawing more energy than 1100 watts and the cooler, which has also grown old, will tend to draw more energy from the same 2400 watt circuit as well.
Therefore, given such a condition, the copper in the walls tends to become hotter and reaches up to or more than 194 degrees Fahrenheit and stays at that level continuously.
At the same time, this large amount of heat results in oxidation and boiling of the tiny amounts of water of the plastic connections found in the connectors of the plugs. This results in the loss of conductivity.
At this point, two specific things can happen – either the circuit breaker trips (which is good and hopefully it does) to kill the power or the connectors or the ends of the plug melts.
If there is a spark or if there are any combustible substances around it such as a trashcan full of trash, a few clothes, a wooden cabinet, all will be potential reasons for a fire to start and spread.
However, things may be a bit different if you keep everything cool and have some proper plans in place.
For example, if you are using your home as your mining location, you may prefer to mine Ether instead of Bitcoin.
You should also have proper connectors to plug in your rigs and use wire and cable of top quality to power the GPUs.
As for mining Bitcoin specifically, you may be better off using those dedicated ASIC mining machines that come with immense power and a good cooling solution that makes the devices a perfect choice.
Also, investing in and installing good quality air conditioning in the room may help you a lot to keep the surroundings cooler.
Remember, even the Bitcoin mining rigs may not catch fire if they are constructed properly and the circuit breaker in your home does not malfunction.
The circuit breaker will simply trip to kill the power when an excessive amount of electricity is used.
The Power Factor
Therefore, as you can see, the most significant risk of the Bitcoin mining rigs catching fire is the power they draw continuously to perform.
It is therefore advised that you do not use the standard electrical outlets in your home for the mining rigs.
Instead, you should consult a qualified electrician who has significant knowledge about industrial applications and has long term practical experience in it firsthand to have a dedicated power supply outlet.
They will ideally follow the 75% rule which states that you should not run constant loads of more than 75 percent of the capacity of a service.
However, there is a low chance of such an incident happening if you have a minimal setup.
Typically, the chances of your house catching fire due to excessive power usage increases when you have a larger setups with a large number of mining rigs connected together, especially from a single or a weak electrical outlet.
Therefore, you should focus more on the power supply utilization and its proper management.
For example, you should certainly abstain from hooking a large number of risers to a single SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment cable that operates at a significantly high speed.
This will cause serious heat issues and even result in a fire breakout.
However, it is always a good idea to install a couple of smoke detectors in the room so that you are alerted in case there is a chance of fire, especially if you have set up the mining rig in your bedroom!
You should also not use SATA cables to power up your risers. And, if you are using Molex connectors to power up your risers, make sure that you do not use more than four of them in a single cable.
Also, never, ever use a cheap Power Supply Unit or PSU in your mining computer.
These are the two most significant things that will cause power issues and as a result increase the fire risk.
Apart from that, ensure that the GPUs are not leaning against anything or touching any other thing that is highly flammable because these can run very hot due to constant operation and may cause fire reaching up to a temperature of around 65 degrees Celsius if they are very close to each other.
In short, there is always the risk of electricity and your system drawing excessive power.
That is why it is a good idea to shut down your rig from time to time and clean the dust using an air compressor or even a paintbrush!
There is always a risk of fire catching the hardware that runs 24/7 on electricity.
This can happen even if you are using a good and efficient PSU that is designed to be powerful enough to run all the components in your computer.
However, the PSU is not the only thing that can amp up or reduce the fire risks of a crypto mining rig.
It is also needed to use quite efficient and powerful GPUs that do not heat up quite easily and quickly to reach temperatures up to 90 or 100 degrees Celsius or more!
Though the modern GPUs are designed to stop working immediately when they throttle, it is a good idea to keep a check on their temperature levels.
Sometimes, even if the temperature tolerance is high it may not be permissible at times because it depends on the type of mining rigs used which may be different from one user to another.
Once again, lack of proper maintenance and cleaning of the mining rigs will increase the risk of fire just as cheap and low quality wiring will.
Therefore, it is good to monitor your machine or machines on a daily basis.
Perhaps, the risk of your mining rig catching fire is the highest when you use those cheap USB risers.
Also, in order to prevent your mining rig from catching fire you can use wood or a scrap drywall, which is cheap as well as fire resistant, to mount the motherboard.
Though it will not eliminate the fire risks, it will surely be of great help to reduce the risks.
Also, make sure that you have adequate protection put when the graphics card reaches their cap temperature to save your mining equipment from burning to ashes and bring your house down to the ground.
It is true that the crypto mining rigs consume a lot of computational power and electricity being excessively energy sensitive which surely increases the fire risk but if it is close to a power supply it will be easier to meet its energy requirements.
This will reduce the fire risks.
It is for this reason that the mining facilities that are located in remote areas, where spaces are available for cheap, often experience a fire breakout.
Another significant downside of the remote locations is, in an event of fire, the fire fighting response is quite delayed.
Moreover, the users are also responsible for causing fire in their mining rigs due to their irresponsible mining operations.
They often tend to push their mining rigs to the limits and beyond due to their urgency to get higher returns from their investments quickly.
Also, they have inefficient, low quality, and even temporary cooling systems which enhance the fire risks significantly as well.
It is also very common in a lot of regions to use an abandoned heavy manufacturing factor or a large metal smelter and even power generating units or electrical substations and repurpose them to use them for the mining operations.
These spots usually have an excellent power supply due to their connection to a power grid.
This is quite an ingenious way to utilize a space that may have remained idle otherwise but this comes with a lot of non-traditional and unplanned construction forms.
These buildings not only have odd configurations but also lack proper automatic fire suppression systems that you will find in almost every data center today.
There can be several reasons for a fire to break out in a crypto mining facility as well as in your home if you mine from your bedroom or basement.
The reasons are very clear from the above sections of the article but here it is all summarized for you along with some other significant additions to the list.
First, crypto mining is excessively energy intensive which raises the temperature of the mining rig as well as the different components in it.
This, if not checked, may result in burning of your machine and your facility or home as well.
Secondly, inefficient cooling systems or lack thereof is another significant reason for a mining rig to catch fire.
This is enhanced even more if the space lacks proper ventilation which results in insufficient air volume and also hinders the passage of the hot air from inside the room.
Short circuit in the electric panel and use of an inefficient circuit breaker that could not kill the power when needed is another significant reason for facilities and homes burning down to the ground due to the mining rigs catching fire.
Improper operation of the mining rig as well as little or no maintenance of the mining rigs may also cause fire because the dust and debris accumulating on the inside and outside of the hardware will use more computational power and energy.
This will heat up the systems even more and pretty quickly and result in a fire.
Pushing the mining rigs off their limits to generate more crypto coins could also result in a fire especially if the mining rig is not constructed properly.
A lot depends on the construction of the machine as to whether or not it will be able to control or propagate a blaze.
For example, the adhesive used to hold the acoustic foam used inside some of the mining rigs may help in spreading the fire.
Your crypto mining rig can catch fire even if it is one of the most sophisticated ones if you do not maintain it properly and ensure that everything is in the right place and in the right order.
If you were unaware of the ways to prevent fire, now you surely know.
I have special interest in crypto and intend to help common people to gain knowledge about the digital asset as well as its potential. Follow Me at Linkedin.