Lightning Nodes

An overview of Bitcoin Lightning Network Nodes

What is a Lightning Node?

Lightning Nodes are able to connect to the Bitcoin blockchain and the Lightning Network. A node adheres to BOLT specifications and there are different implementations for Lightning Nodes. Lightning Node operators can:

  • Open Channels to other Nodes

  • Create a Lightning Invoice for a Payment

  • Pay an existing Lightning Invoice

Exploring Nodes

The Exponential Layers Lightning Explorer gives visibility into all nodes present on the lightning network.

Every 20 minutes, node details are collected, and all additions, deletions, and updates are reflected for each node on the network.

Aggregate Node Definitions

Total Nodes: Nodes can exist on the network but they may be in an offline state or not connected via any channels. Total node count consists of all nodes seen on the network. Any nodes that were once present on the network but have since been deleted, are not included in this total.

Active Nodes: Refers to Nodes that are online with at least one connected and active channel.

Top Capacity: Includes all non-deleted nodes ordered by the sum of their connected channel capacity.

Top Channel Count: Includes all non-deleted nodes ordered by the count of their connected channels.

Individual Node Properties

Nodes can be filtered via the above definitions and are also searchable by public key.

Pub Key and Alias: The identifiers of a Node. Alias is an optional field set by the Node operator, and Public Key is unique and identifies a node on the network.

Last Update: This date (UTC) is received from the Lightning Network.

Address: The IP or Tor address for communicating with the node. To connect to a node you can leverage the form <Pubkey>@<Address>

Status: Nodes present in the Network graph are marked as active. Once a node has been deleted and is no longer in the network graph, it is marked Deleted.

Node Capacity: The sum of all (non deleted) channel capacity of a node.

Total Channels: The count of all non-deleted channels of a node.

Connecting to and Setting Up a Lightning Node

One of the easiest and fastest ways to get started with the Lightning Network is by leveraging the incredible platform and tools provided by Voltage and ThunderHub.

Voltage offers AWS/Azure like infrastructure for spinning up a Node. For ~$10-30/month you can create a Node, load it with BTC and start interacting with the Network.

Voltage has native integrations with ThunderHub, which offers a great, easy to use GUI for seeing all Node details.

Voltage and ThunderHub have great documentation and getting started resources on their respective sites.

Once your node is setup (and connected to the network with a channel), you can see all of your data in the Lightning Explorer (search by your nodes public key).

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