Tesla Powerwall Review
The Tesla Powerwall is a $7,000 home battery that just recently started shipping out to its first generation of customers. Here’s our Tesla Powerwall review.
What is the Tesla Powerwall?
The Tesla Powerwall is a home battery that charges itself using electricity generated from solar panels (or draws from the grid when utility rates are low). Then, the Powerwall uses that stored energy to power your home in the evening.
Homeowners can use the Powerwall to reduce electricity consumption and utility bills. Homeowners also enjoy having a backup electricity supply available in their home whenever they need it.
As electrical car company Tesla explains,
“Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.”
This isn’t some cheap device you can slam into any apartment. It’s priced at around $3,000 (not including installation fees).
The Powerwall was announced in Los Angeles on April 30th, 2015, when company CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company’s first non-car product. Starting in May, 2016, electrical companies across America began offering Powerwall installations.
A pilot installation project of 500 units was installed across America in 2015. Widespread Powerwall sales are not expected until a high-capacity factory in Nevada is completed in 2017.
How Does the Tesla Powerwall Work?
The Powerwall is able to provide a power output of 7 kWh for daily cycle applications.
Initially, when the Powerwall was announced, there were two versions: a 7 kWh Powerwall and a 10 kWh Powerwall. After March 2016, however, there was only the one 7 kWh version available.
That’s enough power to supply most homes during the evening using only the electricity generated by solar panels during the day. Homes that have larger power consumption needs can install multiple Powerwalls throughout their home. Meanwhile, businesses may choose to install a Powerpack, which we’ll talk about below.
The 7 kWh battery in Powerwall uses nickel-manganese-cobalt chemistry and can be cycled 5,000 times before the warranty expires. It’s rated as having a 92.5% round trip efficiency (when the product is brand new).
The Powerwall’s efficiency is expected to decline as the unit gets older, as charge and discharge rates fluctuate, and when temperatures get too hot or cold (it performs best in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius).
The Powerwall is connected to your home using a DC-to-DC converter that sits between your home’s current solar panels and your home’s DC to AC inverter.
During the day, the solar panels on your home convert sunlight into electricity, charging the Powerwall and powering your home during the day. The inverter converts direct current electricity from solar panels, the grid, and Powerwall into the alternating current used by your home’s lights, appliances, and devices. In order to use Powerwall, you’ll need a compatible inverter.
Most installations will also come with a meter that is installed to measure solar production and home energy use.
How Much Power Does Your Home Need?
The Tesla Powerwall produces 6.4 kWh of energy, which is sufficient to power most homes during the evening. Is it enough to power your home? Tesla claims that common appliances use this much energy during an average hour of usage:
- Flat Screen TV: 0.1 kWh per hour
- Lights Per Room: 0.1 kWh per hour
- Laptop: 0.05 kWh per hour
- Refrigerator: 1.6 kWh per day
- Clothes Washer: 2.3 kWh per use
- Clothes Dryer: 3.3 kWh per use
What is the Powerpack?
The Powerpack is a Powerwall-like device also created by Tesla. It’s a Powerwall designed for industrial and commercial purposes. It can be customized to meet the variety of energy needs in any industry and is “infinitely scalable”, according to Elon Musk.
Early Powerpack sales have been nearly as strong as Powerwall sales.
Powerwall is priced at $3,000 USD for the 7 kWh version.
After launching in April 2015, the company quickly sold out of product all the way until the middle of 2016. That included 50,000 orders for the Powerwall and 25,000 orders for the Powerpack.
The 10 kWh version that was initially announced was priced at $3,500 but has since been discontinued. The Powerpack, on the other hand, is estimated to cost $250/kWh. Neither of these costs include installation.
Will You Actually Save Money with Powerwall?
One of the biggest complaints about Powerwall is that it won’t actually save most people any money.
One report from Forbes in May 2015, for example, called the Powerwall “Just Another Toy for Rich Green People”. Forbes estimated that a Tesla Powerwall combined with solar panels would give you a total electricity cost of 30 cents per kWh. The average homeowner in America pays 12.5 cents per kWh – so the Powerwall nearly doubles your electricity bill based on that assumption.
Nevertheless, the Powerwall is an economic solution in certain parts of the world where energy costs are very high. Hawaii, for example, and other remote islands where electricity is very expensive, may benefit from Powerwall installations combined with solar panels.
Australia is also estimated to be one of the best places in the world for Powerwall, as it has high electricity costs, widespread solar panel usage, and a sunny climate. Germany, another country where electricity costs are very high, is another potential target.
Starting in April 2016, Tesla began emailing customers about Powerwall installations starting in June.
Tesla gave preferential treatment to homeowners who made early Powerwall reservations, had already installed solar panels, and currently owned Tesla vehicles.
Some people are calling this the “trifecta” of green energy: to have the trifecta, you need a Tesla in the driveway, solar panels on the roof, and a Powerwall inside the home.
Powerwalls are expected to begin shipping in late May 2016 in the United States for installations beginning in June.
Meanwhile, Tesla may be gearing up to release a Powerwall V2 for late summer.
How to Buy Powerwall
Powerwall is currently only available online from TeslaMotors.com, where you can’t actually buy the Powerwall directly. You’ll need to reserve your battery and hope you’re chosen in the near future.
As mentioned above, preferential treatment is being given to those who already have installed solar panels as well as those who already own Tesla vehicles.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Powerwall for your home, then fill out the purchase order here: Teslamotors.com/powerwall/reserve