Who’s a fan of fans?

Cooling fan

Let’s get technical with ASIC fans.

In this article, we’ll get technical a bit in talking about those loud but necessary fans on bitcoin ASIC miners. Because let’s face it, bitcoin price action has been dull over the past month and it is our duty to not only educate our community on what’s going on in the bitcoin mining markets but also on the technology surrounding mining.

Let’s get started on some basics of ASIC fans.

We’ll use the Bitmain Antminer 17 and 19 series in the next few examples considering their popularity on the market. Fan sizes are usually about 120mm*120mm*38mm. Please refer to the reference below to get a better grasp of the dimensions in relation to size.

The fan speed of the 17 and 19 series miners is 6000 rpm and the air output is 315CFM. RPM refers to Rotations Per Minute, which is how many complete cycles is the fan generating every minute. To give you some reference, a car wheel rotates at 1,120 rpm at a speed of 80 mph. The power a Formula One engine produces is generated by operating at a very high rotational speed, up to 20,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). However, they are electronically limited to 15,000 as of 2021 season.

A full list of Bitmain’s miners and its corresponding fan speeds can be found here: https://support.bitmain.com/hc/zh-cn/articles/900002654946

Damage to ASIC fans are not that uncommon. For example, damaged blades can occur which will cause the mining machine to vibrate, which subsequently will also damage the miner itself. In any case, if a fan is damaged or abnormal, it is suggested to be replaced asap.

Now let’s talk about the sound from ASIC fans. Something many people are quite familiar with even if they aren’t into bitcoin mining.

An example of the sound level of just a single fan running:

It is no secret that the noise pollution from these fans is an issue. Especially when hoards of ASICs are sitting together in a room located near a small community, complaints from locals can arise causing friction between bitcoin miners and communities.

A single bitcoin mining machine produces between 70 to 90 decibels (dB) of sound. Decibel levels scale logarithmically, so if one relatively-quiet machine produces 75 dB, then 10 similar machines produce 85 dB and 100 machines produce 95 dB. For comparison, the average nightclub maintains a noise level of 98 dB — almost deafening. Noise and other mining externalities turned a small town in North Carolina against its local bitcoin miners. Residents in a rural Ohio community complained to their city’s planning commission about noise levels from a nearby mining facility. As did Niagara Falls residents. And residents of Sherbrooke, Quebec and residents of Labrador City, near Quebec.

But there are ways to mitigate the noise and become more neighborhood friendly.

Some bitcoin mining companies, however, have opted for slightly less technical solutions for their noise. One natural-gas-powered, off-grid mining site, for example, erected rows of hay bales behind its on-site mining facilities to shield nearby residents from the noise. For mining facilities without easy access to hay bales, the possibilities for alternate tools and materials for noise reduction are nearly endless, including soundproof tiles, various acoustic barriers, prefabricated noise-dampening enclosures, noise insulation foam and more.

Depending on how the setup is architected, home miners could annoy their closest neighbors with mining noise, too — even with a few machines. In these situations, tools like the Black Box from Upstream Data are essential. This fire-and-weather-resistant enclosure cuts a machine’s noise level in half.

Immersion cooling is another sure-fire technique for not just reducing noise, but eliminating it altogether. After all, a mining machine’s highest decibels are produced by the thing that keeps it from overheating and melting: high-velocity fans. Remove the fans, submerge the hardware in dielectric fluid and the noise disappears. Analysis on immersion cooling from Braiins Mining corroborates this.

There are some small teams introducing “silent” fans to the market. For example, at https://www.silent-miner.eu/, they have boasted their fans can be reduced by half to between 33–47 dB.

Conclusion

Bitcoin people can be loud. Bitcoin twitter is loud. Bitcoin miners are also loud. Let’s do our part and try to reduce the loudness of some aspects of this network. Because at the end of the day, some people hate loud people and loud things.

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