What is a Validator node and how do you run one as a solo staker?

Ethereum solo staking is the process by which participants in the Ethereum network, called validators, contribute their Ether (ETH) to the Ethereum network as a form of stake. In return, they are granted the opportunity to validate transactions, create new blocks, and earn ETH staking rewards.

In this validator node explainer, we look at how validator nodes work, how to run validator nodes, and how to become a solo staker without having to run a full Ethereum node on public cloud like AWS. 

What is a validator node?

A validator is a virtual entity (composed of software-hardware and 32 ETH) that lives on Ethereum and participates in the consensus of the Ethereum protocol. Validators are represented by a balance, public key, and other properties, further outlined on the solo staking custody page. A validator client is the software that acts on behalf of the validator by holding and using its private key to attest transactions and propose blocks

As a proof of stake network Ethereum validator nodes propose and attest blocks in the blockchain instead of proof of work miners. Validator nodes receive ETH staking rewards in return for doing the work of attesting and proposing new blocks.

The Ethereum protocol consists of the Execution Layer and Consensus Layer. The Execution Layer is where Ethereum’s state is managed and smart contracts run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The Consensus Layer ensures Ethereum finds consensus and this is done through the beacon chain. Validator nodes connect to beacon nodes, the beacon node is connected to other beacon nodes and form the beacon chain.

An Ethereum mainnet validator node has the opportunity to earn consensus layer returns and execution layer returns, further depicted on our validator node page. Consensus layer returns are regular and frequent, execution layer returns are infrequent and irregular but they are potentially large and have the potential to significantly increase the APR that a Validator node can earn.

How to Run an Ethereum Validator Node

For anyone interested in running an ETH validator node as a solo staker it’s important to acknowledge that this process requires a certain level of technical expertise, financial investment, and commitment. The Ethereum network has set specific ETH validator node requirements to ensure the system’s security and reliability.

Launchnodes eliminates the technical hurdles of setting up a validator node by providing it as a self-serve product on AWS and via its concierge service where our engineering team assists you with the set up and support of nodes that run on infrastructure you own and only you can access. As opposed to using a “platform” Launchnodes acts as an orchestration layer for solo staking.

We also make solo staking cost-effective as we remove the need for you to run a full Ethereum node (validator, beacon and execution layer node). Full Ethereum nodes are expensive to run on the public cloud, and therefore a public cloud plane is never the first choice for prospective solo stakers. However, public cloud offers the best performance, when compared to home-based hardware or personal servers. 

We fix this by provisioning a beacon and execution layer node connection that comes as part of the validator node product. This way, you solo stake, keep all the benefits of running a personal node and benefit from greatly decreased infrastructure costs. 

You need 32 ETH to run a validator node. ETH is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. This amount serves as the stake on the node, representing a validators right to connect to the network and commitment to the network’s in terms of good conduct, functioning and availability, any failure of these commitments results in penalties charged in ETH against your balance of 32. 

Other hardware, network and software requirements are defined here by the Ethereum foundation.  

Nodes and the clients

When considering how to run a validator node, there are multiple options. Choosing a client is an important decision. The client is the software that connects your computer to the Ethereum network and allows you to participate as a validator. At the moment, the clients that Launchnodes supports are 

  • Teku
  • Nimbus
  • Prysm
  • Lighthouse. 

At Launchnodes, we enable solo staking using only battle-tested clients with good well supported open source development communities. By going with these nodes, you eliminate the set-up hurdles as the nodes come fully configured, and all you need to do is launch it on your instance or bare metal hardware and then use the deposit contract via the Ethereum Staking Launchpad

How to set up a validator node?

Launchnodes makes Ethereum solo staking easy by providing validator, beacon and execution layer nodes pre configured on public cloud and bare metal. Here are the steps you need to take in order to launch a validator node:

1. Go to Launchnodes’ Validator Node page and select between Teku or Prysm clients

2. Create an AWS account and purchase the selected client node license

3. Next, follow our self-serve node set up instructions or get in touch with us for additional support and assistance.

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