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Pooled staking

  • Stake and earn rewards with any amount of ETH by joining forces with others
  • Skip the hard part and entrust validator operation to a third-party
  • Hold liquidity tokens in your own wallet
Leslie the rhino swimming in the pool.

What are staking pools?

Staking pools are a collaborative approach to allow many with smaller amounts of ETH to obtain the 32 ETH required to activate a set of validator keys. Pooling functionality is not natively supported within the protocol, so solutions were built out separately to address this need.

Some pools operate using smart contracts, where funds can be deposited to a contract, which trustlessly manages and tracks your stake, and issues you a token that represents this value. Other pools may not involve smart contracts and are instead mediated off-chain.

Why stake with a pool?

In addition to the benefits we outlined in our intro to staking, staking with a pool comes with a number of distinct benefits.

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Low barrier to entry

Not a whale? No problem. Most staking pools let you stake virtually any amount of ETH by joining forces with other stakers, unlike staking solo which requires 32 ETH.
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Stake today

Staking with a pool is as easy as a token swap. No need to worry about hardware setup and node maintenance. Pools allow you to deposit your ETH which enables node operators to run validators. Rewards are then distributed to contributors minus a fee for node operations.
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Liquidity tokens

Many staking pools provide a token that represents a claim on your staked ETH and the rewards it generates. This allows you to make use of your staked ETH, e.g. as collateral in DeFi applications.

Comparison with other options

Solo staking

Pooled staking has a significantly lower barrier to entry when compared to solo staking, but comes with additional risk by delegating all node operations to a third-party, and with a fee. Solo staking gives full sovereignty and control over the choices that go into choosing a staking setup. Stakers never have to hand over their keys, and they earn full rewards without any middlemen taking a cut.

Learn more about solo staking

Staking as a service (SaaS)

These are similar in that stakers do not run the validator software themselves, but unlike pooling options, SaaS requires a full 32 ETH deposit to activate a validator. Rewards accumulate to the staker, and usually involve a monthly fee or other stake to use the service. If you'd prefer your own validator keys and are looking to stake at least 32 ETH, using a SaaS provider may be a good option for you.

Learn more about staking as a service

What to consider

Pooled or delegated staking is not natively supported by the Ethereum protocol, but given the demand for users to stake less than 32 ETH a growing number of solutions have been built out to serve this demand.

Each pool and the tools or smart contracts they use have been built out by different teams and each come with their own risks and benefits.

Attribute indicators are used below to signal notable strengths or weaknesses a listed staking pool may have. Use this section as a reference for how we define these attributes while you're choosing a pool to join.

  • Open source
  • Audited
  • Bug bounty
  • Battle tested
  • Trustless
  • Permissionless nodes
  • Diverse clients
  • Liquidity token

Open source

Essential code is 100% open source and available to the public to fork and use

Open source

Closed source

Explore staking pools

There are a variety of options available to help you with your setup. Use the above indicators to help guide you through the tools below.

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Please note the importance of choosing a service that takes client diversity seriously, as it improves the security of the network, and limits your risk. Services that have evidence of limiting majority client use are marked as "diverse clients."

Have a suggestion for a staking tool we missed? Check out our product listing policy to see if it would be a good fit, and to submit it for review.

FAQ

How do I earn rewards?

Typically ERC-20 liquidity tokens are issued to stakers that represents the value of their staked ETH plus rewards. Keep in mind that different pools will distribute staking rewards to their users via slightly different methods, but this is the common theme.

When can I withdraw my stake?

Currently, withdrawing funds from an Ethereum validator is not possible, which limits the ability to actually redeem your liquidity token for the ETH rewards locked in the consensus layer.

Alternatively, pools that utilize an ERC-20 liquidity token allow users to trade this token in the open market, allowing you to sell your staking position, effectively "withdrawing" without actually removing ETH from the staking contract.

Is this different from staking with my exchange?

There are many similarities between these pooled staking options and centralized exchanges, such as the ability to stake small amounts of ETH and have them bundled together to activate validators.

Unlike centralized exchanges, many other pooled staking options utilize smart contracts and/or liquidity tokens, which are usually ERC-20 tokens that can be held in your own wallet, and bought or sold just like any other token. This offers a layer of sovereignty and security by giving you control over your tokens, but still does not give you direct control over the validator client attesting on your behalf in the background.

Some pooling options are more decentralized than others when it comes to the nodes that back them. To promote the health and decentralization of the network, stakers are always encouraged to select a pooling service that enables a permissionless decentralized set of node operators.

Further reading

  • Staking with Rocket Pool - Staking Overview - RocketPool docs
  • Staking Ethereum With Lido - Lido help docs
Image of the Rhino mascot for the staking launchpad.

Join the staker community

EthStaker is a community for everyone to discuss and learn about staking on Ethereum. Join tens of thousands of members from around the globe for advice, support, and to talk all thing staking.

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