French startup Quarnot recently unveiled a space heater that could potentially pay for itself — someday. By harnessing the massive amounts of heat GPUs generate while mining cryptocurrency, Quarnot’s QC1 heater will not only keep you toasty during the winter months, it could very well earn you a little extra cash.
“The heat of your QC-1 is generated by the two graphics cards embedded in the device and mining cryptocurrencies or blockchain transactions: While heating, you create money,” the QC1 product description reads. “You can watch in real time how crypto markets are trending, on your mobile app and on your QC-1 LEDs.”
Really though, the QC1 heater is a slick-looking device, and it packs some serious power — two AMD Radeon RX 580s — but it retails for $3,600. That is a huge amount of money for what amounts to a space heater, even if it can mine cryptocurrency. Keep mind, that is all it can do, it doesn’t include a hard drive or an operating system. You control it from your phone. It can’t run games, it can’t be used to check your email. For that price, you could just buy a high-end gaming PC with two comparable cards inside and set them up for cryptocurrency mining yourself.
Let’s do a little math. You would have to run the QC1 all day every day for five and a half years mining Ethereum before it paid for itself, at the most recent Ethereum exchange rate. The real story here isn’t the QC1, it’s the fact that it exists at all. Using excess heat from cryptocurrency mining to heat your home is actually a really great idea. Mining cryptocurrency generates a tremendous amount of heat and putting it to good use could make passively mining cryptocurrency more approachable.
Nobody is going to buy one of these things and strike it rich, that part of the cryptocurrency boom is probably over, but as a proof of concept, the QC 1 is a fascinating product. Waste heat has always been a huge issue for server farms, and even offices that run a lot of desktop computers, putting it to use in the home isn’t a bad idea. But at $3,600, it’s not a good one either.