I think I have a general understanding of how the Lightning Network works. However, I was having a little difficulty in understanding what happens when a node in the middle of a "path" suddenly goes dormant, or offline for a long time. To clarify my question, consider the following example:

  1. A wants to make a payment of 1 BTC to D.
  2. A finds a path from A --> B --> C --> D.
  3. D generates an R and sends H = hash(R) to A
  4. A creates HTLC of 1.002 BTC with B.
  5. B creates HTLC of 1.001 BTC with C.
  6. C creates HTLC of 1 BTC with D.
  7. D unlocks HTLC, receives 1 BTC, and then tells R to C.

However, what if C is suddenly offline meaning C won't be there to receive R from D and thus stops the flow of R back through the path. I would assume that the HTLC's between A and B and B and C run out and so A and B are refunded.

So, would C lose out? Would A have just made a "free" transaction? I assume this is a fast process, but is it likely such an event occurs where a middle node in an LN transaction just goes down for a long while?


Unless I have misunderstood the LN, the R value gets disclosed publicly when D accepts the payment, allowing the entire backchain to claim their parts.

  • 2
    Yes, I am aware of that, but say D claims the payment and discloses R and right before that C disappears (and does not come back for the duration of the HTLC). Thus, B can claim funds twice. Is this correct and/or realistic? Or is the whole process so fast that this scenario is unlikely? – crypto_rob Oct 27 '17 at 16:13
  • yes, if C disappears after having sent value out, and before D claims the value - and stays gone until after the timelock expires, then B can claim the value from A and reclaim the value from B. – Jonathan Silverblood Oct 27 '17 at 18:26
  • Alright, that's exactly how I thought it would work. How fast does this transaction stream happen? How fast would C have to disconnect after relaying the transaction for this to happen? I assume ms or even less. – crypto_rob Oct 27 '17 at 18:56
  • depends mostly on the network latencies of involved parties. likely to be sub-second in most cases, but could go up to a few seconds in less than ideal conditions. – Jonathan Silverblood Oct 27 '17 at 19:36
  • Also, I guess that if, say B tried to force C to disconnect via some sort of attack in order to get double pay, C could commit the commitment tx and thus "pull out" of the channel. Sorry, sort of digressing into more of a discussion than a Q/A. – crypto_rob Oct 27 '17 at 19:43

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