Lightning Network (Part 7) – Proportion Of Public vs Private Channels

Abstract: Following on from our January 2020 piece on our database of at least 60,000 non-cooperative lightning network channel closures, we were asked how many of these were public channels vs private ones. We have used the database of public lightning channels and cross referenced it with our dataset of non-cooperative channel closures. We conclude that around 28% of non-cooperative closures related to private channels. This 28% figure may be a reasonable proxy for the total proportion of private channels on the wider lightning network.

Estimated proportion of public vs private channels on the lightning network

(Source: BitMEX Research,
(Notes: Based on data from non-cooperative closures identified by the sweep methodology only)


Shortly after the publication of our January 2020 report on our database of lightning network non-cooperative channel closures, Bitrefill CEO Sergej Kotliar asked us if we could estimate the number of private channels within the dataset.

This is something we overlooked in our previous report and based on Sergej’s advice we have now conducted the suggested analysis. We queried the API of lightning network statistics website, which should be a reasonably comprehensive database of all public lightning channels. We used this query for all 60,000 channel closures identified by our relatively robust sweep methodology.

The results, which are shown in the table below, imply that 72.2% of channels identified by our analysis are public channels and that 27.8% are private.

Lightning channels identified by sweep transaction methodology

Channels inside the database (Public) 43,839 72.2%
Channels outside the database (Private) 16,896 27.8%
Total 60,735 100.0%

(Source: BitMEX Research,

(Notes: Data updated to 23 January 2020)


One cannot necessarily extrapolate our results, which only apply to non-cooperative closures identified by the sweep methodology, to all lightning channels. For example, there could be all kinds of reasons why private channels are more likely to result in non-cooperative closures. However, we believe this is one of the most comprehensive estimates on the percentage of private channels available to date.

Update: 05 February 2020

Following on from the publication of this post, we received feedback from the community indicating that a breakdown between public and private channels based on bitcoin value, may be more informative than the channel count based metric we provided.

Therefore we have decided to provide this data, based on the output value of the 60,000 non-cooperative channel closure transactions. These transactions spent 1,070 bitcoin, of which 939 bitcoin related to public channels and 131 bitcoin related to private channels.

Proportion of non-cooperative channel closures – Public vs Private

(Source: BitMEX Research)
(Note: Channels identified by the sweep methodology, Non-penalty sweeps only)

Around 88% of channels in our dataset are public by value, compared to only 72% by count. Assuming our database is reflective of all lightning channels, this indicates that public channels are on average larger than private channels, which one may expect.