Tesla Powerwall Zombie Mode Explained


Tesla Powerwall Zombie Mode Explained

The Powerwall from Tesla has an integrated zombie mode that protects your reserve power in the case of both the grid and internet failing. Although the system is complex on a technical level, it is easy to understand how this zombie mode works when you learn basic operations.

The Tesla Zombie Mode keeps power running, even when the grid is down, it can’t communicate with Tesla servers.  The battery will run until depleted. If you have a solar panel system integrated into it, you will have as much power as the sun provides.

This is just the simple explanation, though. Below, we will get more into the nitty gritty of how zombie mode works and how the system as a whole works.

Zombie Mode Explained

According to Tesla.com, “Powerwall is a battery that stores energy, detects outages, and automatically becomes your home energy source when the grid goes down.”  It is paired with the grid or solar panels, which charge the device.

When questioned on how the powerwall reacts when aspects fail, a Tesla representative responded, saying in summary:

  • When power goes out, the Powerwall separates from the grid and acts as a power source for your house.
  • When internet goes down, the Tesla gateway will provide internet connection so the device can report outages to Tesla.
  • When both go out, the Powerwall goes into Zombie Mode.

As you probably know, Zombie Mode is not something that literally activates in the event of a zombie apocalypse. It is just an unofficial term used for what happens in the event of a power and internet failure.

If this were to happen, there are Zombie Mode failsafes in place that keep your system running. The Tesla representative noted that the Powerwall has several steps it will follow in the event of a power and internet failure:

  • The contractor creates a microgrid for backed up power.  This will be done for the solar inverter if solar is connected.
  • It will try and communicate with Tesla’s servers using 3G
  • If the grid and communications are disconnected, the system will begin operating autonomously until the charge in the Powerwall battery is depleted.

So, with Zombie Mode, you will have extra power to get you by until everything is restored. The nice thing about having the Powerwall connected to solar panels is that the Powerwall can still be charged even if the grid is down. Thus, you will not have to worry about eventually losing power completely!  This is especially helpful in the event of a major multi-day power outage.

Cost of Installation and Possible Savings

With the prospect of having backup power in case of a zombie apocalypse or the more likely scenario of a boring old power outage, you may be considering buying a Powerwall.

The Powerwall sets a high bar when it comes to price, though.

ItemCost
Powerwall$6,500
Hardware$1,100
Installation$2,000-$8,000
(Optional) Solar Installation$9,000-$15,000
Total (Without Solar)$9,600-15,600
Total (With Solar)$18,600-$30,600

Data gathered from energy usage,

The price you pay will depend on several factors such as where you are located. Although the price may be steep, there are examples of this investment paying off in the long run, or at least breaking even.

  • According to electrek.co, savings will be seen by those who live in areas with high electricity cost.
  • A research paper conducted by a Stanford student found that most people in the US with an average electric cost will at least break even.
  • In the US, some states offer benefits for using greener energy sources.

For more accurate pricing, just your home, go to Tesla’s Design Your Powerwall webpage. Here, you put in your

  • Home address
  • Electricity bill
  • Whether or not you have solar

From here, Tesla gives you a recommended setup, and they tell you how much it will cost.

Before you go and buy a Powerwall, it is highly recommended that you thoroughly assess all aspects of price and possible savings. Also, take into consideration how much you need the backup power.

How to Get your Powerwall Installed

If you decide to get a Powerwall installed, you will need to find someone to install it for you.

You should not install it on your own. Even if you are familiar with electrical work, you need to let the experts do the job. That way, your warranty will be accepted in case of any issues. Also, they will know what to do if problems arise during installation.

“Where can I find someone to install it though,” Well, Tesla makes it easy. They have a support page where all you must do is type in your location, and the website locates certified Tesla installers that are nearby!

Tesla notes that you will need to be at home and available the day the installation is done. Installation takes all day, and you should expect to have no power for about 4-6 or up to 8 hours.

Can the Powerwall Fail?

Like all technology, there is a chance that something can go wrong resulting in a system failure. Some Powerwall users have experienced this firsthand.

The Tesla forums have several threads with users discussing their system going down for various reasons, such as the gateway failing.

This resulted in the system being non-operational, so the homeowners had to rely solely on their grid or solar panels to get by.

People also reported issues with getting in contact with Tesla and scheduling a technician appointment to fix their Powerwall.  Some went weeks, even months, with their Powerwall down.

For those DIY types, the Tesla Powerwall is not something you should fix on your own. Because of its complexity, trained techs are the only ones who should work on it. Trying to fix it on your own would void the warranty.

Privacy Concerns Over Data Sent to Tesla Servers

The Powerwall’s operation relies in part with its communication to Tesla servers.  The Powerwall sends data about your system’s operation to the Tesla servers so that its operation can be monitored.  If anything significant happens to the system, they will send you a notice that something is wrong with it.

There are some privacy concerns over this data being sent continuously to Tesla servers since they are an out of home server. So, some may choose to disconnect from the servers.  This unfortunately could result in Powerwall issues going unnoticed.

Fortunately, there are ways to have the data sent at set times, so you can still get information about your system while maintaining a certain amount of privacy.

Even with the system disconnected from Tesla servers, it should still operate as normal, since the Zombie Mode allows for operation without connection to the servers.

If you choose to disconnect, you should know that there are possible warranty problems you could run into if you aren’t connected. This is because you could miss out on firmware updates that help improve and repair your system.

Conclusion

Through the use of the Zombie Mode, the Tesla Powerwall can give you power even when the grid is down, and the system is disconnected from Tesla servers.

Although the device and installation are expensive, it may be a good option for those who live in areas where the electricity bill is high. Also, that extra power you get if the grid goes down could end up being useful, especially in the event of a major power outage.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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