Forget Lightning Statistics, reality is even better

Since the start of the Lightning Network, people are monitoring and publishing numbers that demonstrate the growth of the network.  More specifically the number of nodes, the number of open channels and the amount of BTC locked in those channels, also know as Network Capacity.

Example of Lightning statistics

There are, however, two important aspects that you need to take into account when evaluating these numbers.

Node view

To calculate the aforementioned numbers, a node uses it’s own network graph, which may be limited. It is possible that a node does not see the entire network and that in reality, the number of nodes and channels is higher.

Public versus Private Nodes

While initially most (relay) nodes were publicly exposing their channels, it is now recommended for security reasons that wallets (nodes which you personally run on your desktop or mobile) run in private mode. These private nodes are not visible to the network graph and hence not calculated in the statistics. It is possible that soon the number of private nodes will surpass the number of public nodes as most wallet software will run in private mode by default.

Conclusion

During the next months, you may see Lightning growth numbers slow down or even decline. This is not necessarily a bad sign. Keep in mind that these are the public statistics and that the total number (public and private) most probably will be increasing although this does not reflect in the published stats.