Some people think of cryptocurrency mining as playing with fire. The industry requires an enormous amount of power–144 terawatt hours of electricity each year by current estimates. It’s entirely possible to have a wealth of mining knowledge but not fully know the ins and outs of its complicated electrical equipment. When setting up your mining infrastructure, it’s crucial to understand the associated risks. You don’t have to become an electrical engineer by any means, but it’s best practice to do some research in order to protect yourself. Here are the major safety hazards involved with mining and how to avoid them.
All electrical equipment, not just mining infrastructure, poses three significant threats:
This should come as no surprise. Miners must ensure their setup has systems in place to respond to potential ground faults and short circuits to avoid electrocution.
- Arc flash:
Arc flash is an explosion of heat, pressure and sound that can occur when there’s unintended contact between an energized conductor (such as a busbar or wire) with another conductor or the ground. The heat from an arc flash explosion can reach temperatures three times hotter than the sun, but it’s usually the pressure that can be fatal.
All it would take is an insect to crawl into a panel for an arc to occur. What’s more, a mining container can become pressurized by the large amount of incidental energy put off by the miners inside. So, once that arc flash happens, the high-pressure environment can create a substantial explosion.
Electrical fires are the most common type of fire to start in a home or commercial building, making overheating a common concern in the mining community. Not only is a reliable cooling system for your mining setup critical, but proper wire sizing is as well. Electrical code standards dictate wire sizing based on ambient temperature, which is of course much higher in a mining operation than a regular building. That means even a structure following code can have a substantial risk of fire.
How can you minimize these risks? By partnering with a high quality manufacturer who prioritizes safety and quality. When evaluating vendors and manufacturers to work with, consider asking the following important questions to begin to understand how they have designed their solutions for safety:
What safety and quality controls do you have in place?
Does your mining infrastructure include an arc flash mitigation system? All of DELV’s medium voltage products have this system built into the switchgear, and we offer it as an optional add-on for low voltage equipment as well.
Do you know your product’s AIC rating? This rating indicates the highest amount of current that a circuit breaker has been tested to interrupt before the breaker fails or explodes. Your manufacturer should be able to confirm that the AIC rating is high enough to interrupt the maximum current flow from a transformer in the event of a short circuit.
What is the interrupting current rate? DELV products, for example, can withstand up to a 100,000 amp fault.
What types of compliance and certification do you and your products have?
Make sure your manufacturer upholds high standards for themselves. All DELV products are UL Listed, making them fully code compliant. It also means they undergo significant testing, and our facility goes through quarterly inspections. Ask your manufacturer if their infrastructure is certified by a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Lab), such as UL, ETL, or CSA.
It’s tempting to think that in a widely unregulated industry like crypto mining, electrical codes and certifications can be ignored. This is simply not the case. If you can walk into a structure that’s connected to a permanent utility (such as a shipping container converted to a mobile data center) it must meet all the standards of International Building Code. Uncertified and non-compliant mining containers can welcome problems beyond safety concerns, including lack of insurance coverage. In the event of an unfortunate accident causing damages or injuries, insurance companies are more likely to deem it as a case of negligence on your part if they can argue you were knowingly operating dangerous equipment.
If you’re going to invest in crypto mining, don’t give anyone a reason to shut you down. We recommend working with trusted vendors and manufacturers throughout the entire process to ensure products of the highest quality and safety standards.