Tesla lifted the veil on its Tesla Energy product line on Friday, announcing the Powerwall home battery as its inaugural product. While it’s not nearly as cool as a sleek electric car (or a new smartphone), the Powerwall will hopefully be the first of many products designed to reduce the impact of our energy addiction.
What Powerwall Does
First, the basics. The Powerwall comes in two flavors, with a seven kilowatt-hour (kWh) model priced at $3,000 and a higher-capacity 10kWh iteration priced at $3,500. While both models do roughly the same thing—go figure, they store energy for later use—they’re actually intended for somewhat different uses.
Tesla explains that the bigger battery has been “optimized” for powering a home during power outages, while the smaller model is better suited to “daily cycling,” or reducing a user’s daily reliance on conventional power sources. The wall-mounted batteries can be linked together, too—you can connect up to nine, TechCrunch reported.
The U.S Energy Information Administration says that the average American home consumes about 11,000kWh per year, or about 30kWh per day. So if an average user wants to get completely off the grid, it would only take three 10kWh Powerwall units—at a total of $10,500, not counting the cost of installation, solar cells and a pricey DC/AC inverter—for that to become feasible. It may sound like a lot of money on paper, but considering the long term energy saving benefits, it’s a steal.
How Powerwall Is Smart
While backup batteries aren’t a particularly new idea, the Powerwall takes it and gives it some brains. Tesla says the Powerwall is capable of “load shifting,” which means it will start slurping energy from the grid during low rate periods. Then it can start providing power to users during high rate periods.
That saves users money on both ends, and means that even a single 7kWh Powerwall could prove to be a valuable investment. Assuming, of course, your utility charges more for electricity at different times of day (so-called “time-of-use pricing“); not all do.
The savings get even better for houses with solar panels, since the Powerwall charges itself up while the sun is shining and discharges to power your home when it isn’t.
Moreover, Tesla Energy is going the same route as Tesla Motors with regard to an open patent policy, which gives competitors access to the company’s patents without fear of litigation. In short, if you don’t like what Tesla’s doing with Powerwall, it might not be too long before another company comes along and offers the same kind of tech for less.
All told, that’s potentially a big win for the environment, not to mention your monthly utility bill.
Images courtesy of Tesla