Umbrel Bitcoin / LN Node
How to get started with a powerful node
This guide is also available in Spanish here.
If you are a new user of Umbrel node, here you have a mini guide and links about how to use this amazing simple software node. It is important that if you start from zero knowledge, to begin with reading about what is Bitcoin Lightning Network (LN) and how to use it, basic concepts and functionalities. In this guide you will find many links to those resources. Do NOT ignore them, read them and then put them in practice with your Umbrel node.
A BTC/LN node is like a living organism, like a mycelium that needs more connections. For more you connect it to other peers, more is coming to life. So think wisely how you connect your node.
Why are you running a node? Why are you opening lightning channels?
You don't skate to where the puck is, you skate to where it's going to be. Lightning will onboard the next 7.9B people to Bitcoin. I'll be there with open channels!
While some claim that running a node today is purely altruistic, there are incentives for doing so:
Investment: If you’re highly invested in bitcoin, you may wish to support the network in order to protect that investment.
Performance: It is orders of magnitude faster to query a local copy of the blockchain as opposed to querying blockchain data services over the Internet.
Permissionlessness and censorship resistance: By receiving and sending transactions from your own node, no one has the power to stop you from doing so.
Privacy: If you’re querying other nodes or services about blockchain data, they can use those queries to try to deanonymize you.
Trustlessness: Owning a copy of the ledger that you have validated yourself means you don’t have to trust a third party to be honest about the state of the ledger.
Why You (Yes, You) Should Be Running a Bitcoin Node - video by Jonathan Levi
Question to yourself, the new user of a Bitcoin / LN node:
WHY do you want to run a node?
A. You are a simple LN user that just want to pay with sats your shopping
you will need more outbound liquidity
but also some inbound in case you need to receive from friends or others.
good peers to connect so your txs will go through easily and cheaper
you don't need to use too much funds in your LN node, enough to cover your spending
B. You are a merchant or freelancer or service provider selling online or physical products/services using LN
you will need more inbound liquidity, that means other peers or even your own customers to open channels towards your node
publish your node ID to your customers and encourage them to connect to your node and pay you directly, even without fees
empty periodically your filled channels so you will have again "space" for more income payments. There are many ways to do this.
you will need good, big channels to be able to receive as many payments you can
you don't need to put too many funds from your side, you are the receiver not the spender
C. You are just a node operator, you are more interested in routing txs through LN
you do not make too many payments using your node (bad, really bad)
you will need both inbound and outbound liquidity. And a lot, so be prepared with large chunk of funds to put into your LN channels. So if you want to be a routing node with 20k sats or 1M sats... FORGET IT! Go back to sleep.
you will need balanced channels, so you better join into Rings of Fire
you will need to know how to do fees channels management, so start learning
you will need to have a strong hardware and always online node. This is not a joke!
you can slowly enter into Lightning Pool and "rent"/auction your node liquidity. But you will need a strong node and lot of liquidity to really see some "income".
D. You are testing and learning, or a developer using a node as a base
you need just some few inbound and outbound channels to play with
you do not need too much funds in it
is better to inform your peers that you are a temporary peer for them, your node is just a testing ground, so they will not expect you to be online or forever peer.
E. You want to be "Uncle Jim Bank" for your family and friends
you will offer BTC banking services for your family and friends. That means a lot of responsibility and trust. This is not a joke, your are a real bank now.
you will need some liquidity in both ways (in/out) to cover your "customers" needs. Remember: your node liquidity is their "water in the pipes" not their funds. So keep your pipes always filled with water.
you will need to educate your customers about how to use these services, so start making your own simple web guides for them
F. "I want to earn money with my node, I want gainz, I want a certain % to give me every month", "I want to mine bitcoins with my node", "I want passive income"...
FORGET ABOUT IT!
This is wrong mentality, this is lazy communist mentality, get money for doing nothing. To earn money you and your node need work hard.
A BTC/LN node is not a shit DeFi shitcoin airdrop, it's a serious thing. If you came from that "dark side" there's "no soup for you".
Stop thinking like that and review the previous 5 points
First and foremost: default password of Umbrel node is moneyprintergobrrr
2nd - EACH Umbrel app, will have a different onion address, so if you plan to use it outside your LAN, save those onion addresses in your Tor browser bookmarks, but NEVER expose/share them in public. Remember that using onion addresses there's no need to open any ports on your router and the traffic is secured.
3rd - change the default password of you Umbrel node, but keep in mind that for the moment Thunderhub and Lightning Terminal app will not update that password and will still have the default password. You can change that password, digging up manually into the belly of each app docker repository.
4th - WAIT for the node to fully synced and don’t send any funds to your node wallet until then. You can’t use them anyway until is synced, so why so much rush? Patience is the key for a node operator.
5th - Have in place a power backup UPS. It is very important, in special for Rasp Pi machines. Any power fluctuation, even if is short, can affect your hardware and in special what is more important - the hard drive.
6th - the mSD card is where the Umbrel OS resides, it can be re-flashed as many times you want (as you did at 1st install), always using the latest version of Umbrel. It will not affect the node data in any way. Do not remove that card! Without OS your node is DEAD.
7th - your SSD/HDD drive is where the user data and bitcoin data blockchain resides. That means - keep an eye on that not to be broken.
8th - Backup your channels! Every time you open/close channels or make updates for your system, do a static backup of your channels status. Go to Umbrel dashboard -> Lightning --> click on the right 3 dots and select backup channels. Optional you can add a WatchTower to your node.
A. Using a Raspberry Pi 4
Please use the Hardware tutorial from Umbrel for RaspPi models that were tested for Umbrel node (to avoid future hardware issues).
Optional here you have a list of hardware by Jonathan Levi that he used with success for Umbrel node.
Optional you can use also TheBitcoinMachine RaspPi versions, works nice and look nice.
I would recommend to start with the 8GB memory version directly.
Video tutorial (by BTC Sessions) about install/setup an Umbrel node from zero, using a Raspberry Pi 4
B. Using a normal PC/laptop/NUC/Barebone
Recomended min. hardware configuration: x64 CPU, 8GB RAM memory, 1TB HDD (optimal SSD). One example here: Gigabyte Brix NUC, more other models here.
Pantera Pico PC are also really nice and tiny.
Github Umbrel install instructions for Linux – just follow the simple instruction and in 5 min you have it installed. The process is simple: install linux OS, update OS, install Umbrel pre-requisites (Docker & co.), install Umbrel suite with just one simple terminal command. Done!
Step by step installation guide of Umbrel on Linux Ubuntu - by CryptoGarage
Once is installed and running, will start syncing the full Bitcoin Blockchain. In this moment you just relax and wait to be synced. It will take 4-12 days, depending on the hardware and internet connection. Meanwhile I invite you to learn more about Lightning Network and how to use and be prepared to use an Umbrel node.
As a general note: if you are new into this area of LN (Lightning Network), please educate yourself, at least the basics of LN, BEFORE starting the Umbrel node.
1 - Channel size
When you open channels, DO NOT start with small amount like 20-50-100k sats. That ridiculous low amount will not be enough not even for the open/close fees. Low amount channels are doing more harm than good, to you and for the rest of the network.
Example: If you have a 20k channel open with my node:
that will barely the open/close fees and remains only dust to spend.
If I want to use that channel to send 50k sats it will not be possible. So the channel will be useless and will lower the node score for both nodes.
Open channels with min 500k-1M sats. That will offer a better routing, for you and for all others that will route txs through your node.
“Bigger is better” DO NOT apply too much in this case, so now don’t go to the other extreme and open massive 0.5BTC channels. Much better the approach of having 5-6 outbound channels with each between 500k to 1M sats and also, depending of your needs, 3-4-5 inbound channels, with the same amount.
Now, yes, more channels is better, because your node will be better connected and will find a better route and faster.
OUTBOUND Liquidity – You have a LN node to make LN payments, buying stuff, sending to friends, paying services etc. So try to open LN channels with those merchants you are willing to trade (merchants, exchanges, wallet operators, LN services, friends with nodes).
INBOUND liquidity – So find some peers that are willing to open some channels TOWARDS your node. Check the Umbrel Discord server and Telegram group, where you can ask for peers to open channels with your node. The inbound liquidity IT IS NECESSARY in order to be able to receive LN payments.
What/with who should I open channels?
First, with those merchants/shops that you will do txs, you will buy from them, the txs will have zero fees and you have direct routing.
Second, with friends/LN freaks you know and can create a ring of nodes with specific amount os sats for channels, balancing the funds and lowering the fees between nodes in the ring.
Third, your ring of nodes can have some “external” connections/channels with other good nodes (ideal that each member of the ring with a different node) so you can route easily and fast anywhere.
2 - Node Operator
Operating a node, doesn’t mean automatically “I will get rich earning sats“. Move away from this wrong mentality.
You run the Umbrel node to protect your privacy, to protect your keys, to protect your money, to protect the custody of your wallets.
Yes, you will earn some sats, but only if you will manage your node in the right way. But even then, those earnings will be insignificant to be considered “earnings”.
You run this node to LEARN more about Bitcoin and find solutions for real life applications. Umbrel is offering that opportunity with many apps included (see LNbits, BTCPay, LN Pool, Whirlpool) ready for use cases.
DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR NODE! I’ve seen people turning off their node at night (they complain that can’t sleep). Why have you run it if you don’t have it ON 24/7/365? A node has to be ONLINE as long is possible. It is also advisable to put a UPS and avoid power outages. This is your Bank and also others depend on it!
Opening channels with other peers means you sign a contract, a smart contract. Please don't consider running a node as a stupid game, it's a serious thing. Your promise to keep the channel active is very important and running a honorable contract. If your node is in maintenance is having real problems and you have to shut it down, is better to inform your peers.
You can also put contact information in case of SHTF on Amboss.Space page, signing a private message with your node. So other peers can contact you in case they see your node offline.
3 - Managing funds - think like a bank
Do NOT keep all your BTC in the node wallet! This node consider it as your "commercial bank". Your "vault bank" should be your HODL wallets (hardware wallets HW, cold wallets) that you barely touch/open. This node will be just a "middle-man" for managing your funds and spending.
Do NOT send straight to your node funds from KYC exchanges, in special those which request address verification. Don't reveal yourself. Avoid the KYC creeps!
Try using one UTXO per channel open, with all available sats in that UTXO. You save in fees, you do not leave dust in UTXOs and also is more private. Here you have a guide about how to consolidate the UTXOs for your node.
Use the three levels stash approach:
HODL = HW/cold wallets, big amount of BTC that you barely touch/move, just deposit into those addresses using watch-only xpub options.
CACHE = temporary transfer wallets, from exchanges or any other wallets, where also you do the coinjoin/mixing (if you do), keep medium amounts from where you are moving into HODL or SPENDL. This cache is mostly used with desktop/node/hot wallets, where you could do coin control.
SPENDL = small amounts for spending, day to day usage. Can be LN node wallet, other LN wallets (intermediaries), mobile wallets. Use the option from your node LNDhub, creating separate LN wallets, with small amounts moved from your LN node, that will not reveal all your LN balance from your node. See this guide about LNDhub wallets. When you pay a coffee, don't reveal all your stash... many will try to sneak into your wallet when you pay. Play the "poor guy" role, don't attract the bad guys on you.
4 - Consolidate your UTXOs
This is a special chapter and I put it into a separate mini guide here. Sometimes you can mess up UTXOs and your node will act weird. Worth reading this.
Now, what I suggest, for any new node user, in special with Umbrel:
1 – Wait to sync the blockchain
It will take time, I know, but be patient. It will get through, no worry. Don’t do anything (stupid) until is not ready. Depending on your hardware configuration and internet speed, it could take between 3 and 12 days. After the sync, it will take another 8-12h to sync the index for Electrum Server.
2 – Keep your software updated
Not just Umbrel, if you are not using the Pi mode install. So once is synced, check if there are new updates and apply them.
If you are using RaspPi option, updating Umbrel will update also the OS.
If you are using a Linux machine with Umbrel in docker, I would recommend to do the following procedure (in Terminal):
Make a channels backup. Go to Umbrel dashboard - Lightning and on the right top side, 3 dots, save backup on your local PC.
Login using SSH into your node and cd umbrel
Stop Umbrel node:
Save your lnd.conf file if you edited (add color, name or specific features to your node). How to edit lnd.conf in Umbrel, see here. More details about what you can add to a lnd.conf file here. After version 0.4.0 this file is not overwritten anymore with a default one, but just in case, make a backup.
sudo apt updateand then
sudo apt upgrade
cd ~/umbrel && sudo ./scripts/update/update --repo getumbrel/umbrel#v0.4.2
(replace version with the latest release)
Replace lnd.conf file with the one you save it before update
Leave the node to catch up with blocks and logs, usually takes several minutes, be patient. Now you can enter into dashboard Umbrel
3 – Install minimum required apps
These are minimum necessary apps to have installed on your Umbrel node, to be able to manage like a PRO your BTC/LN node.
Here is also a full list of app ports used by each Umbrel app, in case you want to open them in your LAN.
Ride The Lightning (RTL) – management for node, wallet, channels, routing. Tutorial video here. To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3001
ThunderHub – management for node, wallet, channels, routing, chat, tools. Tutorial video here. To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3000
BTC RPC Explorer – Blockchain explorer and tools. To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3002
Mempool – watch mempool fees, blocks, check txs, blockchain explorer, very handy. To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3006
NOTE: If you use a RaspPi 4GB, you better not install mempool app, it will take quite some memory. Strongly recommend to upgrade to a RPi 8GB.
4 – Install optional apps
Bluewallet Lightning (LNDHub) – Be the “uncle Jim” bank for your family and friends. To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3008
BTCPay Server – very good backend for webshops/shops, donations, POS, business tool, YT channel here. REMINDER: BTCPay on Umbrel works by default behind Tor, so if your shop is on clearnet, you will need to do a reverse proxy so your customers can be able to pay on clearnet. Here is a great guide, how to do it.
Samourai Whirlpool – privacy and mixing tool, connection for your Samourai wallet. A great detailed guide here: https://bitcoiner.guide/whirlpool/ and an interview with the developer of Samourai wallet here
Sphinx Chat – very interesting tool for podcasters, private groups chat using LN for tips and chats. Be aware! In order to NOT be charged a fee EVERY time you login or change profile, you will have to open a 100k sats channel with Spinx app node. If you need more help from them, contact on their Telegram group. To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3300
Lightning Terminal - useful tool for rebalancing channels and operate with Lightning Pool (renting liquidity). To access directly from LAN you can use http://<your-node-IP>:3004
5 – Connect some wallets to your node
Electrum Desktop - https://electrum.org/#download
Go and copy the onion address from your Umbrel node for Electrum.
Open Electrum, go to Network – Proxy and activate Tor with local proxy enabled. Go to previous main tab and unselect “use random electrum server” and paste your Umbrel onion address.
Restart Electrum. Done, now you are connected to your node and all your txs will be validated by your own server.
Open a channel towards your node. Go to your Umbrel node – Lightning and copy the node URI onion address. Then go to Electrum – channels – open, paste your node URI, put the amount 1M sats and click open. Done, wait until the tx is confirmed and your channel is ready to be used (to send sats from Electrum). This channel is good for your node as inbound capacity. But keep in mind, when your Electrum wallet is not open, the channel is not online, so cannot receive payments to your node or route others txs. Another aspect of this is that you can easily make swaps in/out from LN with this channel, into Electrum.
You can also open a channel FROM your Umbrel towards your Electrum Node ID, if you want a private channel to move sats around. You can see your Electrum node ID in “Wallet Information” menu.
Zap wallet – https://zaphq.io
On your mobile you will need to have a Tor service running and setup to use Zap app.
Go to Umbrel node – Lightning and copy the node URI
Go to Zap and connect it to your node by pasting that URI
Wait to connect and done, from now on you have full control of your node (onchain and LN), opening channels, make/receive payments
Zeus wallet – https://zeusln.app
With the latest version 0.5.0 Zeus have already integrated Tor service, no need to run any other one on your phone.
Go to Umbrel node – Lightning and copy the node URI
Go to Zeus – settings, activate Tor box. Restart app.
Go to add node and paste the onion URI, but add in the beginning the “https://” if is missing. Click and save node.
Wait to connect and done, from now on you have full control of your node (onchain and LN), opening channels, make/receive payments.
Great video tutorial Zeus + Umbrel node management - by BTC Sessions
BlueWallet - https://bluewallet.io
This wallet app you can have it connected to your node in three ways:
a. As standalone onchain wallet + LN wallet hosted on Bluewallet servers. Your onchain txs will be broadcast from your node only, but LN txs will be still custodial from Bluewallet node. If you use only an oncain wallet, you just have to connect BW app to your Electrum Server. So go to Umbrel dashboard - connect wallet and select "Electrum wallet" (not Bluewallet!). That's it.
b. BlueWallet Lightning + LNDHUB wallet - this is an advanced mode and is described in a separate guide here.
c. BlueWallet + LNBits LNDHUB - another advanced way to use LNDHUB from your node. A detailed guide here.
6 – "Restore" your node wallet
There are 6 methods to "restore" your Umbrel node and to have a better explanation I made a separate guide for that "not desired chapter" of recovering your node.
FUNDING/CONNECTING YOUR NODE
Keep in mind: your Umbrel onchain wallet should act as a bridge/ramp between your many other wallets or BTC sources and your LN channels. This wallet is used to fund the opening and closing channels on your LN node. So in order to be able to open LN channels you will need to send some funds into this onchain wallet.
Go to your Umbrel main interface, Bitcoin wallet and click “receive”. From any other wallet send some funds (usually for 3-4 channels, each 1M sats). Wait to be confirmed then go to next step.
You can use Lightning wallet, from the same main Umbrel interface, but I suggest to use Thunderhub app. Why? Because you can control better the miner fees for opening the channel. Also RTL app is good, but still you can’t see how much fee in total you are paying. So use one of these 3 interfaces and go to open channels. Select a node desired and put at least 500k-1M sats and open a channel. Start with one good node (see amboss.space or ln.bigsun.xyz or 1ml.com or ) which node has longest history or number of channels) and later continue with other users nodes. Help new users that post their new nodes URI in the Umbrel Community Telegram group and ask for new channels. TOGETHER STRONGER.
Once you open a LN channel, until is not confirmed (usualy takes 3 confirmations) the UTXO from where you used the sats to open the channel will not be usable until is not confirmed the new UTXO. See here what means UTXO. In other words, until is not confirmed, you cannot use those remaining sats for opening a new channel. Wait. Be patient.
Balance your LN channels. You can use the Umbrel app Thunderhub to open and balance your channels with the peers. This will provide a better routing for your txs and also for other users txs that are routing through your node. Here you have a simple guide using Thunderhub. Another option could be: open a channel towards a peer, let’s say 1M sats. Then once is open, go and make a payment to an external wallet (for example Bluewallet) with half of the balance. In this way you are balancing the channel for in and out txs. Optional, you can loop out from the same channel, back to your onchain node wallet and re-use that amount to open another channel with another peer.
Are you going to do some shopping with LN? Good, then go and open channels with those merchants you are planning to buy from. In this way, you get to pay less fees, your txs will get through faster, you help also the merchants to have better inbound. Optional you can ask them to lower the fees for your channel. Even if you are not planning to do that shopping with them, doesn’t matter, just open the channels. It will be used also for routing, if there are with a good amount.
Here more video tutorials about funding and managing LN nodes and also Telegram groups for Rings of Fire to get more liquidity and routes.
If you want to open a channel with my node, I will lower the base fee to 0.21 sats and apply a 42ppm for that channel. Or if you want a balanced channel as I described in my other guide, contact me in Umbrel group chat https://t.me/getumbrel
I am NOT looking for people to open channels with my node. My node is running to be able to help others with information and support. So open a channel only if you really want to have a connection with my node. But this node is NOT dedicated to make gainz or routing.
Wait for the opening channel to be confirmed (usually 3 confirmations) and done, you are ready to start lightning, using the wallets I indicated before.
If you appreciate DarthCoin work, you can send some satoshis through LN:
using @LNtxBot Telegram DarthCoin donation page
or simply send using Lightning Address to email@example.com
MAY THE ₿ITCOIN BE WITH YOU!