The Lightning Network is growing rapidly, at this time there are 31,965 public Lighting Nodes, (up 5% in the last 30 days as of this writing). It is hard to put your finger on exactly how many lightning nodes there are in total. This is due to the fact that some nodes only open private channels.
Private vs Public Explanation
If a Lightning Node opens at least 1 public channel, that node is now public. If a node opens only private channels and no public channels, that node is not visible to the broader network. This means that lightning network explorers and visualizers do not have data on those Lightning Nodes. An important thing to mention is that even private nodes that have never opened public channels can be discovered. All it takes is one of your channel partners revealing your private channel and public key via an invoice.
All of this being said, without a labor-intensive amount of work, we can easily see through Lightning explorers how many nodes are on the network and operating with public channels.
Visuals of Node Growth (12/13/2021)
Below is a screenshot of how many estimated public nodes are recognized on the network as of 12/13/2021.
Further, a breakdown of the total estimated public channels on the lightning network as of 12/13/2021
You can also get insights into the total capacity of the lightning network as of 12/13/2021.
Lightning Node Capacity
As the Lightning Network sees more nodes come online, and capacity increases, we will see more products and services built on top of Lightning. One metric I am personally keeping eyes on is the capacity per node and per channel. Seen below.
In the screenshot below on March 18, 2019 you see 53.7mil sats per node on average. On that date, Bitcoin was $3,986.71
As of today, we see the average capacity per node is 34.6mil + sats. Today’s value (12/15/2021 when written) of Bitcoin is $47,150. Seen below.
While total sats per node is down the $ denominated value is up. On March 18, 2019 there was about $2,144 of value in each channel. Today on 12/15/2021 we have about $16,328 of value per node stored.
Why I personally care about this metric is because I believe we should see this metric drastically increase as exchanges, products, and services adopt Lightning. okcoin node currently has 46.7 btc of capacity. While ok coin does not likely use this much capacity daily, their node is capable of connecting to other nodes of large capacity to facilitate these substantial transactions.
I hope this was helpful for those curious about how many nodes there are on Lightning, and how private channels impact the visibility we have through explorers. Keep stacking. Cheers – Bobby
PS. (a cool share)
Kollider wrote an article recently about Lightning’s impact on algorithmic trading which I find fascinating. The demand for instant settlement will increase as algorithmic trading increases, market makers demand Lightning, and users demand Lightning within exchanges. Speak up, and it will come!