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Tesla have been forging a path for greater automotive responsibility since they first arrived in the car industry in 2003. Developing a number of luxury cars powered by electric motors, Tesla have been the vehicle of choice for the indulgent yet environmentally conscious motorist.

Not satisfied with cleaning up our roads, Tesla are now taking aim at your house- and the Powerwall be their tool.

 

Making Solar Sensible

Whatever your individual standpoint on global warming and its validity as a scientific phenomenon, society clearly has a problem. Fossil fuels are finite source. One day, the tap will run dry. Tesla are exploring alternative, renewable energy sources- namely solar. Their new product, the Powerwall, is hoping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and maybe save the consumer some cash along the way.

 

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 Image- Tesla

The Powerwall is a 51.2”, wall-mountable lithium ion battery designed to power homes and businesses when demand is at its highest. Tesla have identified a series of issues currently hampering one of the cleanest renewable energy sources out there, solar, and hope the Powerwall will be clean energy’s eureka moment. When pondering the advantages of solar energy, the general consumer is hampered by solar’s Achilles heel- its reliance on the sun. Demand for energy is high in the mornings and still higher in the evenings, missing peak solar time during the day. That block of unwanted energy is sold back to the energy provider, who then sell it back to the consumer at a time when they need it most. A less than sensible (or efficient) system.

This is where the Powerwall comes in. Suspended either inside or outside your home, the 4 foot battery collects all that previously unwanted solar energy, storing it for use when you need it the most. The battery pack also handily seconds up as a backup pack should you experience a pesky power outage. Not only is this a more efficient process, relieving our reliance on fossil fuels, it may also save you a few pennies. Energy companies charge higher rates when demand is high. Using a Powerwall, you can reduce your reliance on energy companies when demand is high, using energy that was stored from a renewable source earlier in the day.

The battery itself comes in two separate models. The 7kWh model can be used for supplementing a home’s daily energy cycle, or upgrade to the 10kWh model which is more suited as a backup application. As you might expect, the price tag attached to the Powerwall does exceed your normal 4-pack of AAAs. At $3,000 (£1919) for the 7kWh “daily cycle” model and $3,500 (£2239) for a 10kWh “backup applications” model, Tesla’s energy revolution comes with a significant initial outlay- particularly when you consider that does not include any solar panel installation. Batteries can also be stacked next to one another. For those with a greater energy need, Powerwall’s can amount to a total supply of 90kWh.

 

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The costs are actually reducing however. Installation fees have fallen by over £1,500 from January 2012 to September 2014. Savings are estimated at an average of £800 a year for your typical household. Coupled with the extra efficiency a Powerwall could provide you, solar panels are becoming a more intriguing investment thanks to Tesla’s invention.

But wait, some words of caution must be made before you rush out and buy your Powerwall. Tesla cite that one Powerwall can deliver 2.0kW continuously and 3.3kW at its peak. They also note that one cycle on the clothes dryer amounts to 3.3 kWh per use, causing a huge draw on your Powerwall’s capacity. Given that, according to the US department of energy, a typical US household uses 30 kWs per day, the suggestion could be that a typical western household might need 2-3 Powerwall units to sustainably supplement their use.

Headed by technology giant Elon Musk, Tesla are branching out from car batteries and into the home. Judging by the initial reaction to ‘Tesla Energy’, we could soon see a Powerwall installed in homes across Britain. Pre-orders have already begun in the US, and Musk himself described the response as “overwhelming” and “crazy”. 38,000 reservations have already been made, with installations beginning in the US by third-parties over the summer. Pre-orders will begin in the UK shortly, running alongside their business-related product, the PowerPack. Sticking to the formula but offering 100kWh of energy, the PowerPack costs $25,000 (£15,935) and hopes to provide businesses with a modern, eco-friendly way to power their productivity in the future.

 

Your View

What are your views on the battery powered home? If the western world needs to further embrace renewable energy such as solar, does the Powerwall plug the gap? Are you now convinced of the advantages of solar energy? Let us know.

 

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12 COMMENTS

  1. While the average US household may well use 30kW per day, the average European does not. The last stats I read it was nearer 15. Personally, my home uses 9.8 averaged across the year. I have gone all out to cut phantom power usage with LED lighting, diversion, insulation and everything switched off when not use, but I do have a low power server on 24/7 with CCTV, home automation/data collection and MythTV to record TV, which uses a bit.
    However, if I remove the power that my solar PV generates – essentially leaving just the power I buy from grid (green from Ecotricity) it’s just 5.3kW per day averaged across the year AND there is still more power that the PV exports to the grid – which could neatly charge a PowerWall… 🙂

  2. If we are talking kWh, I used an average of 4.7 last year. I live on my own, but am home nearly all the time.

    I don’t use electricity for heating/hot water, and my daily gas usage was just under 5.

  3. Would like to use the PowerWall to store electricity from Economy 7 over night them sell it back (or use it) to my supplier.

    Have had this idea for years to store in large nickel–iron battery (NiFe battery) then use a DC to AC converter to feed the power back into the grid.

    What do you think?

  4. We installed solar panels just over two years ago. I monitor gas and electric usage with a combination of Arduino’s and a Raspberry Pi and now have two years of data to back the arguement. We currently heat almost all the hot water via solar PV diversion (75 pence per month for gas in June and July anyone?)

    A ‘Powerwall’ would be useful to run the home during late eveing in the summer, TV, lights and the bedside clock etc. That is typically around 0.25 to 0.45 kw/h. It may even last from the end of the Eco 7 period until the sun hits your solar panels.

    Want to cook, boil as kettle or take a shower and you will need the mains supply.

    The main trouble comes in “How do I get the power in and back out of the Powerwall?” There is no inverter built-in and the idea of switching between charge and discharge has been carefully avoided. 10/10 for effort though.

  5. Mark, and Will in particular, please do not confuse kW with kWh. A kW is a rate of energy transfer (nominally 4 amps at 250 volts). So a 1kW electric fire that is on for one hour will use a certain amount of energy, namely 1kWh.

    So Will, you need to correct your article in a few places. For instance, 10kWh is not “10kW of power per hour”. It could be 10kW of power FOR an hour, or 1kW of power for 10 hours or anything in between or outside those values. Also I suspect that a US household uses 30kWh per day as 30kW per day doesn’t really mean anything useful.

    Anyway, now that you all think that I am a boring pedant, I will say that it’s good to bring these products to the attention of the world, so don’t stop :o)

  6. People could do with getting clear in their heads the difference between power (kW) and energy (kWh) – they cannot be used interchangeably, even with journalistic license. There is no such thing as “10,000kWh of power”.
    This is school physics. It might aid differentiating the two quantities if energy was quoted in the alternative unit of kJ, but then the numbers would be harder to relate to: 1kWh=3600kJ.

  7. The truth is, none of this stacks up.

    The costs are prohibitive and it would take years to recover the initial cost.

    Solar power is actually still a very poor producer of energy (in efficiency and space required terms, in spite of the hype) and takes only a blip to crush the output by half. Even the shadow of a branch of a tree, destroys the output. In addition, the inverters are unreliable in the long term and will need changing on a fairly regular basis at a not inconsiderable cost.

    If they ever get the “package” to a sensible cost, then it may be worth looking at. But for now, it’s dead in the water unless you’re seriously environmental friendly and it means everything to you to do what you can.

    If you live in a country with acres of ground, where you can site panels in the clear with guaranteed sunshine most of the time, the dynamics change. But for the UK, forget it.

    Another over hyped, under delivering idea that will be less than successful for the vast majority of people. Financially, it just doesn’t add up.

  8. I’ve had solar panels for almost 2 years, but I still have an old fashioned electric meter (the rotating disc version) which goes backwards when my solar panels are making more than I use (day time), and forwards at other times, this provides the same function as a PowerWall but costs nothing!

    Also there isn’t enough lithium in the world to make enough batteries for everyone! We need to perfect the Ultra-Cap.

    All we need is a couple of lines of code removing from the newer electric meters so that they will decrement as well!

  9. So it is just a battery then! It is disappointing that it does not include the essential inverter. We lived on a boat for 8 years with an 11.5 kWh battery bank that worked well using 24 x 2 volt traction cells. The problem in a household setting is the efficiency of the inverter and the charge efficiency of the batteries together make it an expensive proposition unless the energy is free in the first place. Lipo cells are usually rated for 500 charge cycles so it will be interesting to see how long a power wall lasts. My traction batteries are going well at 9 years old.

  10. at the end of the day solar like wind or water powers have to sorted whether we like it or not as the worlds accessible oil runs dry in approx 2070,so it does not matter one way or the other WE HAVE to sort it,solar,wind,water power will get better as investment increases as the need will outway the cost soon enough,saving your energy in whatever format is also an unavoidable truth if it is to be cost effective,good article bud,this subject is the biggest to hit human society this century and it will either be fixed or bring out the candles,so we really have no choice,do we?.

  11. Tom
    26 May, 2015 at 13:52 your post suggests that your meter is running backwards during power generation resulting in a false reading. If that is the case then because you know, it is fraud.
    Traction batteries do have their limits on recharges and are extremely heavy and expensive to buy new. The new battery types are the in thing ask most builders chippies etc. which they prefer, but unfortunately are still out of the reach of most people who would benefit from them. Last but not least there is at least one company in uk already offering battery to help with out of generation consumption this with the panels.Most companies keep to the code and don’t lead people up the garden path with false hopes.
    The boating caravanning and homes of the grid are usually the most experienced of what works and what does not and it is usually cost and payback. Personally I will wait to cost drop

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