Bitcoin App: RTL – Ride The Lightning

Ride the lightning explained

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The beauty of bitcoin is the optionality, you can choose to add trust assumptions and layer risk on the way you manage your bitcoin, or you can eliminate it. You are not forced to do anything you don’t want to, and it’s up to you to decide on your exposure to risk. If you’re a long-term stacker, for example, you can largely ignore the Lightning network since all you do is send UTXOs to cold storage and carry on with your day.

Eventually you will need some Lightning exposure to keep funds on hand as we move to a more transactional bitcoin landscape, but you can choose to avoid the complexity and opt for conveinence with a range of options.

  1. You could go fully custodial and use an exchange wallet or custodial wallet.
  2. You could have a non-custodial wallet but use other wallet and node runner channels.
  3. You could run a cloud node and hold your keys.
  4. You could go full non-custodial and run your own Lightning node and trust no one but yourself and of course, the software you’re using unless you’ve refactored it from source.

Each option has its own trade-offs, and if you’re planning to go full non-custodial, you’re going to have to accept that this is going to have the most friction, planning and a lot of learning ahead.

Getting started with the Lightning Network in a non-custodial manner isn’t the simplest task in the world; what you lose in convenience, you gain in the amount of control, customisation and nuance over the management of your funds.

Managing Lightning nodes in the past has been quite the ball ache; even for an enthusiast, losing your channels and messing up my channel management was part of the journey. In my experience with Lightning, I’ve done it all wrong, from losing a bit in having to close channels at the wrong times and, in other cases, I lost my funds using shoddy software.

Managing a non-custodial Lightning wallet has its quirks, and when you layer on top of that the added responsibility of managing your channels and broadcasting via your peers and via your own node, it can get downright frustrating, especially when the GUIs aren’t showing you all your LIghtning node can do.

What is Ride The LIghtning?

If you’re thinking of moving to fully non-custodial Lightning and you’re looking for an interface that gives you a lot of control over the process without having to do any digging, then Ride the Lightning (RTL) has to be one of your first options.

Ride the Lightning is a Lightning wallet and node management tool accessible via a web interface, and is built into your node. RTL is a creation of Suheb/saubyk, and complete information can be found at Github while the developers can be contacted via Twitter at: 

You can use RTL from any browser that is able to access your node installation. Once a Lightning wallet has been created on your device, the RTL app will be available via a button on the home page.

RTL was launched in 2018 and it’s still going strong mostly because of community support.

Is Ride The Lightning free to use?

Yes, Ride The Lightning is free to download and install on the node implementation of your choice. You can download the software from GitHub or download it directly to a device of your choice if it’s running any of the platforms and services such as RaspiBlitz, MyNode, Nodl, BTCPayserver, Start9Labs and Umbrel.

It’s compatible with all versions of Lightning. If you’re using core Lightning, you should look for RTL with c-Lightning and if you’re running other implementations like LND or eClair, look for the RTL version on GitHub or in your nodes app store.

RTL is free and will always remain, being built in the open under the MIT license and is committed to being community-built and driven. If you have suggestions on improving RTL or want to contribute to the project, reach out to the team on Twitter or GitHub and help build the interface you want to use with your Lightning node.

What do you need to get started with Ride The Lightning?

You will need the following:

Once you’ve got all that going, you can start to use Ride The Lightning to open and close channels, connect with peers, conduct submarine swaps, create BOLT12 addresses, and so much more.

What can you do with Ride The Lightning?

RTL provides a full function, device agnostic, web user interface to help manage lightning node operation. It enables full control over your lightning node with rich functionality for the Bitcoin base layer and Lightning Network.

A lightning dashboard

You get access to a dashboard that not only puts all the data of your bitcoin and lightning activity at your fingertips but gives you ways to manipulate the data and pick the time frames you want.

Managing on-chain funds

  • Monitor transactions (UTXOs) and history
  • Mintor
  • Sweep on-chain funds into new addresses
  • Send on-chain funds
  • Receive Bech32 and P2SH transactions

Managing your lightning channels

  • Connect peers
  • Open and close channels
  • Manage HTLCs
  • Sign transactions
  • Make backups

Access Lightning services

  • Bolt swaps
  • Lightning loops

Activity reports

RTL offers oversight on your Lightning activity and channel performance with easy-to-use monthly and annual reports on routing fees earned and payments made/received. If you need to do some accounting and crunch the numbers, they’ve got you covered, too, with the ability to export the data.

Start riding the lightning

If you’d like to get started with Ride The Lightning and you’re looking for a detailed tutorial, you can find a written guide by Coincharge or check out the video below by Rhett Reisman

A Ride The Lightning Tutorial By Rhett Reisman

Get the app

There you have it, another tool you can use to improve your Lightning experience and take more control of your bitcoin experience. RTL isn’t the only Lightning interface around, and there are plenty of others in the works giving it a healthy bit of competition. So if RTL seems too much for you to not enough, you can try using another interface.


If you would like to learn more about Ride The Lightning and dive down the rabbit hole, then we recommend checking out the following resources.

Are you a bitcoin and lightning fan?

Have you been using Lightning to make micro-payments? Stream sats or engage with apps? Which app is your favourite? Have you tried all the forms of Lightning payments? Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments down below.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. As of the time posting, the writers may or may not have holdings in some of the coins or tokens they cover. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency, as all investments contain risk. All opinions expressed in these articles are my own and are in no way a reflection of the opinions of The Bitcoin Manual

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