Helium Hotspot Review 2021: How I Easily Mine CryptoOther Passive Income Ideas
- Helium Hotspot
- Basics: Helium is a company that has built a decentralized peer-to-peer wireless network that connects enabled devices through a series of hotspots, and hotspot hosts can earn the Helium cryptocurrency for being part of the network.
- Pros: The Helium network is growing, and the price of its cryptocurrency is on a general upward trend. Because it’s a peer-to-peer network, anyone who gets a Helium hotspot has a potential to earn Helium crypto.
- Cons: Because the Helium network is so popular and production of Helium hotspots has slowed, it can take months to receive a hotspot after purchasing it. Also, if there are not a lot of hotspots in your area, earnings will not be as high.
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I did a thing: I’m mining Helium cryptocurrency, known as HNT, using a hotspot that has become part of The People’s Network. In this Helium hotspot review, we are going to cover a wide range of topics, including what is Helium, how mining HNT works, and what everyone wants to know: Is mining Helium crypto worth it?
I also had the opportunity to interview Mark Phillips, the vice president of Business Development at Helium Systems, so I will share my firsthand experience with a Helium hotspot and some fascinating insights from my conversation with Phillips.
Helium: The People’s Network
Before we dive into the hotspot and how I am mining crypto, let’s look at Helium the company and its mission: To make a better world.
In a whitepaper, the Helium network was described as “a decentralized wireless network that enables devices anywhere in the world to wirelessly connect to the Internet and geolocate themselves without the need for power-hungry satellite location hardware or expensive cellular plans.”
Helium is connecting all sorts of devices that transmit GPS, water, and environmental data over a network it calls The People’s Network. Instead of spending tens of billions of dollars to build and maintain a wireless infrastructure, Helium Systems connects these devices via radio waves (which makes mining Helium an attractive proposition, but more on that later).
The Tech Side of The People’s Network
Because Helium focuses on connecting small devices, it avoids expensive infrastructure investments related to traditional cellular networks, and the devices do not need SIM cards.
Instead of WiFi, Helium uses the LoRaWAN protocol, which allows them to communicate over much larger distances. But, it comes with its own limitations: You can’t communicate as much data via radio waves as you can with a Wi-Fi network.
That’s not a problem, because Helium offers wide coverage for small packets of data, like GPS trackers or motion sensors or air quality monitors — things that make for a better word.
Helium’s not designed to be your network of choice to download movies. Where it shines is tracking low volumes of data over large distances. And you can actually buy a variety of sensors that are ready to work with the Helium network. They have sound detectors, smoke and heat detectors, soil moisture monitors, body temperature sensors, motion detectors, you name it.
“Something fundamentally different”
Instead of these massive wireless cellular towers, Helium is building The People’s Network with regular folks like you and me. When hotspot owners connect to the network, they become part of this growing Helium community in the United States, Europe, and China.
The People’s Network doesn’t feature massive towers because, “We are building something fundamentally different,” Phillips told me.
What they are building is a community to help transmit data for small devices, and anyone can be a part of it. “And, that’s fundamentally different than what anyone has ever done for wireless networks,” he added.
And, that’s good for anyone who is interested in mining Helium Network Tokens (HNT).
How Does Mining Helium Work?
This is a Helium hotspot review, but I wanted to share some Helium background and history before getting into the hardware associated with mining HNT. To become part of The People’s Network, you need an indoor or outdoor hotspot that connects with other hotspots in the Helium universe.
Hotspot hots provide the connectivity and transfer method needed by enterprises and developers for their Internet of Things applications. In order for companies to transmit their data, they need Data Credits. In order to receive those Data Credits, companies need to burn HNT tokens. Those with hotspots receive a portion of those Helium tokens based on how much they contribute to the network.
What Are Helium Data Credits?
You can think of Data Credits like mobile minutes someone might purchase for a prepaid phone plan. In order to pay for the transmission of sensor and device data, enterprises and developers need to use Data Credits.
These credits can only be produced by converting, or “burning,” HNT. Operators can only redeem Data Credits for network utilization, they can’t be traded with anyone else. They serve as the currency for transaction fees on the Helium network.
There are 5 million HNT being minted every month right now, and that number will automatically be cut in half every two years starting on August 1st of 2021. Even though you have to burn HNT to create Data Credits, the supply of HNT doesn’t have anything to do with how many Data Credits are being used.
What are Helium Tokens?
The Helium Token (symbol: HNT) serves as the native cryptocurrency and protocol token of the Helium blockchain. Hotspot hosts and network operators mine HNT when they become part of The People’s Network while providing and maintaining network coverage.
Enterprises and developers burn HNT in return for Data Credits that pay for their network usage. They can either purchase Data Credits with a credit card or burn HNT they mined.
My Interview With Helium Vice President Mark Phillips
After I got my Helium Hotspot up and running, I had a chance to virtually interview Mark Phillips, Helium’s Vice President of Business Development, about all things Helium.
You can watch this interview below.
Helium Hotspot Features
|Functionality||Hotspots transmit small packets of data from devices via LoRaWAN|
|Purpose||Send data from Internet of Things devices|
|Availability||High demand and supply issues has created a delay in shipping hotspots|
|Benefits||Hotspot hosts/owners can earn Helium cryptocurrency|
|Requirements||Power and an internet connection|
Helium and the People’s Hotspots
Helium relies on people connecting to the network to provide coverage for sensors and meters. The network has seen tremendous growth. About 1,000 hotspots are added every few days, Phillips said. There were more than 28,000 hotspots deployed on April 23, and it would have been more but for a shortage of oscillators needed to construct these devices.
How to Get a Helium Hotspot
As of this writing, there are three manufacturers of Helium hotspots: RAK, Nebra, and Bobcat. Nebra offers indoor and outdoor models. RAK offers an outdoor enclosure for its model.
If you try to purchase a hotspot you will have to wait. There are delays of up to three months between when you place your order and when you receive your hotspot.
If you can delay gratification, you might want to invest in a Helium hotspot today and eagerly await its arrival.
How Much is a Helium Hotspot?
With the demand for Helium hotspots and the backlog for manufacturing, there could be some movement in the price. But here are some recent prices for Helium hotspots that work in the U.S.
|RAK Hotspot Miner v2||$409.99|
|Nebra HNT Outdoor Hotspot Miner||£420.00|
|Nebra HNT Indoor Hotspot Miner||£300.00|
|Bobcat Miner 300||$429.00|
How to Set Up Your Helium Hotspot
It was a good day when my Helium hotspot finally arrived. It was easier to set up than a wireless router. Inside the box I discovered a little setup booklet, the hotspot itself, which is rather compact, measuring six inches by six inches,a cool Helium sticker, a stock antenna, and the power cable.
Here are the super-simple set-up steps:
- Attach the antenna to the side of the hotspot.
- Attach the power cable, but don’t power it up right now.
- Download the Helium Hotspot App (Android; iOS).
- Open the app on your phone, create an account, and generate your 12 words (if you have a cryptocurrency wallet you are probably familiar with this concept; they are basically your twelve seed words; think of them like a password for signing into your wallet, and be sure to store those words in a safe place).
- Choose a PIN for your Helium Hotspot App
- Select “Set up Hotspot” in the app and choose your hotspot model.
- Find a place to keep your hotspot (the app provided a number of tips about where it should be; be sure to read them).
- Acknowledge that you’ve read the guide.
- Acknowledge that you understand that Helium would never have access to your private keys and will use secure methods to determine any issues with your hotspot.
- Enable location permission in the Helium Hotspot App.
- Push the power button your hotspot to power it up — its light should turn blue.
- Let the app know you’ve powered up your hotspot.
- Have the app scan for your hotspot (you will be prompted to do so).
- Connect the hotspot to your WiFi.
- Select the location of your hotspot by giving the app permission to use your phone’s location.
- Adjust the map to better pinpoint the location of your hotspot.
Watch Me Set Up My Helium Hotspot
In the video below, I show you step-by-step how I set up my Helium Hotspot!
Helium Hotspot Glitches
When I plugged in the power cord, the hotspot initially flashed orange, which was unexpected. I pressed the button on the side of the hotspot, then the light was green just like the app said it would be.
When I clicked “Register Hotspot” in the app, it took me to a screen indicating it was “Registering Hotspot,” but I was stuck there for a while — over an hour. It seemed odd to me, so I headed over to the Helium Discord and asked the question, “I set up my hotspot next to a second-story window and the app has been saying ‘Registering Hotspot’ with the spinning circles for almost an hour now. Is this normal?” Someone responded almost immediately, “No, it’s not. Try power cycle. Also try ethernet for connection.” So I unplugged the hotspot and plugged it back in, and that did the trick, my hotspot was now online.
If you run into issues, jump onto the Helium Discord where you can search to see if anyone else had a similar experience or ask a question. The search function is your friend.
Helium Hotspots Do’s and Don’ts
To ensure your Helium hotspot operates at the highest possible level, here some Dos and Don’ts for indoor hotspots.
|Do give the hotspot a nice view of the outdoors, a view with plenty of sky||Don’t hide the hotspot in a nightstand or on a bookcase|
|Do place your hotspot near a window||Don’t place it by a window where there are other buildings close by that might decrease coverage|
|Do locate your hotspot on the highest floor in your home or office||Don’t put it near a window with a bug or wire mesh screen, which can block radio signals dramatically|
|Do space it at least 300 meters from the nearest hotspot||Don’t lose your 12 seed words for the Helium hotspot app|
When Will the Helium Hotspot Start Mining Cryptocurrency?
Just because I was powered up, registered, and connected to The People’s Network, that didn’t mean the hotspot started mining immediately. It still had to sync to the blockchain.
Helium says to allow 24 to 48 hours to fully sync with the blockchain. It took my hotspot about 24 hours.
Digging into the Details About Mining HNT
You received your hotspot, check! You located it, powered it up, registered it, and synced to the Helium blockchain, check! You are ready to start mining Helium crypto, so what happens next?
How do you Acquire Helium Crypto Mining Rewards?
Once you become part of The People’s Network, you have the ability to earn HNT. How much you earn, or mine, depends upon how much your hotspot is used to transfer data and other factors. In a nutshell, here are three ways to mine HNT:
|Relay Device Data||Hotspots earn HNT for transferring data.|
|Proof-of-Coverage||Hotspots are randomly assigned proof-of-coverage tests to ensure they are located where they say they are and operating properly.|
|Consensus Groups||They validate transactions and add blocks to the chain.|
Earn Helium Crypto Transferring Data
Well, the first way to earn HNT is by simply transferring data from devices on the Helium network. Helium says that around one-third of the mining rewards are for transferring data, and how much you receive depends on how much data your Hotspot is responsible for.
Earn Helium Crypto with Proof of Coverage Challenges
A second way to earn HNT is with proof-of-coverage challenges. The network will randomly choose a hotspot to issue a challenge to another hotspot. With this activity, the challenger hotspot is asking another to transmit proof of its network coverage. This challenge is then “witnessed” by other nearby hotspots.
Each hotspot involved in the challenge will earn a portion of the HNT allocated for a challenge.
You’re going to have more opportunities to get involved in these activities if you live in an urban area with lots of hotspots around, but at the same time you’ll also be splitting those payouts with a greater number of hotspots.
Earn Helium Crypto as Part of a Consensus Group
The third way a hotspot can earn HNT rewards is when the network randomly chooses hotspots to join the consensus group for a set period of time.
The consensus group is responsible for validating transactions and adding them to the blockchain, and they get substantial rewards for doing that.
How Much Can You Earn Mining Helium Crypto?
Right now, the answer for my situation is, “Some.” There are not a lot of Helium hotspots where I am. I might look into installing an antenna to improve my coverage and help me connect with other hotspots so I can be a “witness” to other proof-of-coverage challenges.
There have been a few days when I have not earned any HNT. However, it is generally somewhere around 0.1 HNT to 0.25 HNT. There have been a handful of days when I was in the 1.42-2.19 HNT range.
How Much is Helium Worth?
Mining HNT has become a nice little stream of set-it-and-forget-it passive income. As for how much I earn each day, it depends on the price of HNT on an exchange. When I first started mining HNT, it was $7.32, and I was earning between 70 cents and $2 a day.
About a month later, HNT was listed on an exchange at $13.86. At that level, my earnings ranged from $1.50 to $30.35 a day.
Recently, HNT was trading at more than $18.
Because The People’s Network is an open, transparent, decentralized network, you can check out my hotspot’s activities and rewards online.
You can also visit Helium’s coverage page and see a map of all the Helium hotspots worldwide and how much Helium they’re earning right now. You can also see how much Helium they’ve earned historically. This can obviously give you an idea of how much HNT hotspots in your area are earning, so you can decide if it’s worth it for you.
Is Mining Helium Crypto Worth It?
You could get one coin for less than a dollar as recently as December 2020, and the price has been on a pretty consistent upward trajectory since around late January.
Now I can’t tell you whether HNT is going to keep going up or not, I don’t want to tell you how to invest your money. Personally, I think this is a really exciting project, but ultimately whether it takes off in the way the creators are envisioning is anyone’s guess.
However, as Phillips to me, there is strong demand for the hotspots. There are some people who just want to be part of something new, he said.
As with any investment, you want to use money you can stand to lose. If you have an extra $400, then getting a Helium hotspot and connecting to The People’s Network is something you might want to consider.
How to Convert HNT into U.S. Dollars
As you earn HNT, at some point you will probably want to convert that into something tangible, like U.S. dollars. To do this, you will need to move your HNT into a cryptocurrency exchange service, like Binance, where you can trade it, or convert it, into dollars.
Helium Hotspot Pros and Cons
Helium Hotspot Pros
- Helium has been growing: There’s an opportunity to be an early adopted and get involved in something and exciting
- Get started easily: Once you receive your Helium hotspot, it’s easy to set up and start earning HNT crypto.
- Earn HNT effortlessly: After you connect your hotspot to the Helium network, there’s the potential to earn a very passive form of income.
Helium Hotspot Cons
- Can be a little pricey: The price of a hotspot is more than $400 with no guarantee you will recoup your investment.
- Shipping delays: Due to demand and supply chain issues, manufacturing and delivery of hotspot units have been delayed by months.
- Earnings not guaranteed: Your ability to earn Helium cryptocurrency will depend upon how many other hotspots are in your area.
Helium Hotspot Review: Is This Device Worth It?
This is a question only you can answer, because I don’t know your risk tolerance. For me, the Helium hotspot is worth it. However, if you do not have the $400+ to invest and you don’t want to wait a little bit to receive your hotspot, then you might want to pass on this one.
I happen to think this is an exciting opportunity. Helium wants to do good things and is willing to allow people like us to mine some cryptocurrency for helping build and support The People’s Network.
The Helium hotspot allows hosts to earn cryptocurrency by connecting to The People’s Network, Helium’s peer-to-peer wireless network. Hotspot hosts earn HNT crypto based on how much they contribute to the network, through proof-of-coverage challenges, and by witnessing proof-of-coverage challenges.
Helium Hotspot Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Stash free?
While the app is free to download, in order to purchase stocks or ETFs, you will need to subscribe to one of three monthly programs. Also, if you purchase shares of an ETF, it will have an annual management fee, which varies.
- What kind of investor is the Stash app good for?
Stash's mission is to "empower regular Americans to build wealth." They want to help remove hurdles so people will become investors.
- How does Stash invest your money?
You will choose which "companies" (individual stocks) to or thematic funds (exchange-traded funds) to purchase through the Stash app. If you do not have enough to buy whole shares, Stash will purchase fractional shares for you.
- How often do merchants in the Stash Stock-Back bonus program change?
Stash updates the merchants included in the program on a monthly basis.
- Can I purchase individual stocks on Stash?
Yes. With Stash, they are called "companies."
- Can you buy international stocks on the Stash app?
You can buy some individual international stocks on Stash, and you can also purchase shares of ETFs that focus on global companies or companies from foreign countries.
- Do I have to buy full shares of stock on Stash?
You can purchase full shares, but Stash is known for allowing new investors to buy fractional shares of stocks. The minimum purchase is $0.05.
- Can I buy mutual funds on Stash?
Stash does not offer mutual funds, but it does have something similar: Exchange-traded funds. They are like mutual funds, but shares of ETFs are sold like shares of stock.
Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.