Tesla’s Powerwall is an energy system that’s designed to work automatically after installation and requiring minimal user upkeep. However, the design doesn’t always live up to reality. And when this happens and your Powerwall stops working, it’s time to troubleshoot.
Troubleshooting your Tesla Powerwall is a systematic process that works through the most likely to the least likely scenarios. Users should check their current settings and common problems, before moving onto targeted topics and related issues.
A key component to troubleshooting is understand how the Powerwall works. This helps users more quickly identify affected components and what may be causing the issues. Keep reading to learn more about common issues and how to solve them.
Troubleshooting Your Tesla Powerwall
It’s unsurprising that a system as complicated as Tesla’s Powerwall would occasionally have issues. It’s also not surprising that a system like this can be difficult for users to learn about in detail, further complicating troubleshooting attempts.
Luckily, there’s a fair bit of information available to users of all skill and knowledge levels. Even people who have just had their Powerwalls installed can find information about their issues quickly and easily.
Before you look deeper into your problems, make sure you’ve tried the following solutions. These focus on the Powerwall itself and the related app, which every system comes with:
- Check Phone Settings – The Tesla app needs to be actively running at all times to control the Powerwall. Similarly, your notifications need to be turned on in order for you to receive updates about outrages, energy use, etc.
- Check App Modes – On the Tesla app, make sure the modes are set to your preferences and either turned on or off. Additionally, make sure any customizations are still in place and correct.
- Reference Sources – You can use the Support pages to learn about common best practices and issues. Tesla also has a forum dedicated to energy products like the Powerwall that users can post on and read through.
Common Issues with Tesla Powerwall
If you’ve checked these three aspects related to your Powerwall, it’s time to move onto some of the more common issues. Problems that you’ll often see discussed (and perhaps experience) include:
- False Power Outages – Users who receive frequent false power outage notifications should check their energy grid to ensure it’s not faulty. The Powerwall had strict voltage and frequency grid standards; the Powerwall will kick on if either of these are off.
- Unexpected Grid Charges – If your home or Powerwall is being charged via energy grid despite your settings, check to see if Storm Watch is activated. This feature automatically prepares for an outage by charging Powerwalls and using grid energy while its available.
- Storm Watch Random Activation – If it seems like your Storm Watch feature is randomly activating, you may be in a zone affected by a Red Flag Warning or Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). Both automatically trigger the Storm Watch feature.
- Feature Switch Not Effective – If you switch features, such as from ‘Self-Powered’ to ‘Cost Savings,’ don’t expect the change to take effect right away. It may take a specific amount of time or a certain event for the Powerwall to register the change.
- Open Powerwall Circuit Breaker – To close your breaker, find the electrical panel the Powerwall is connected to (usually located at the bottom of the main panel and labeled ‘battery’ or ‘Powerwall’). Switch the breaker back to the ‘on’ or ‘closed’ position.
Like every piece of technology, the Powerwall is not infallible. It can break, suffer from damage, and even have unforeseen malfunctions.
However, not every unexpected or confusing event means that your Powerwall is in need of repair. Troubleshooting is an efficient way to figure out whether your Powerwall issues are related to internal features, user error, external factors, or something else entirely.
Learning the source of your issues will let you know whether you can fix your Powerwall or if you need to contact Tesla directly.
More Common Powerwall Issues and Their Solutions
Both new and experienced Powerwall owners should take the time to learn about their system. They should be aware of which components are the same across every Powerwall, such as the primarily and backup gateways, as well as components that are specific to their Powerwall, such as any mode customizations.
This will make the troubleshooting process easier, as you’ll be more likely to be able to identify which specific part of the Powerwall is affected. And instead of trying to learn about the system while diagnosing it, you’ll also be able to make educated guesses as to which topics to research.
Topics that frequently pop up when users are trying to troubleshoot their Powerwall issues involve those listed below.
There are three Powerwall modes that you can use and customize to best meet your specific energy needs through the Tesla app. These control how your Powerwall charges and produces energy.
- Self-Powered – This mode minimizes your home’s carbon footprint and focuses on energy independence by pairing with solar panels to produce energy
- Backup-Only – This maximizes your protection against outages and only uses Poerwall energy when the grid goes down
- Time-Based Control – This maximizes savings by allowing you to set your solar and Powerwall energy usage times throughout the day
Different modes can be combined or used independently of each other. Additional modes include Storm Watch and Preconditioning.
They’re also related to other app features, such as the reserve percentages and energy statistics, discussed in more detail below.
Energy Production and Consumption
Using the Power Flow feature on the app’s home screen allows you to see how the Powerwall is interacting with your home, the grid, and your solar panels in real time. This gives you access to two of the most important facts you’ll need to be aware of:
- When, how often, and how much energy your house consumes per day
- When, how often, and how much energy your solar panels and Powerwalls produce per day
You can access the first by clicking on the home icon and the second by clicking on the solar panel icon. Learning about these statistics, as well as peak energy grid consumption times, will help you understand your home’s energy needs.
Learning about the nuances of your energy production and consumption will help you understand:
- How much energy you need during specific times (day, evening, night, etc.)
- How much solar and/or Powerwall energy you need on average
- When your house consumes the most (or least) energy
- How much you rely on each energy source (grid, solar panels, Powerwalls, etc.)
- How much energy you’ll need during an outage
- How much energy reserve you’ll need per day in case of cloudy days, outages, etc.
This is particularly useful information if you’re preparing for an extended outage. Most Powerwalls can service a house for short periods, such as few hours or a day. But if you’re unsure about how much energy you’re using up or how to conserve it, you’ll likely lose power after the first day.
So, if you’re unsure about why your Powerwall batteries aren’t charging to 100% every day or why your Powerwall loses so much energy when it powers your home in the evenings, start monitoring your energy production and consumption.
The way your battery is charged depends on your features. Typically, users have one of two setups:
- Powerwall First – In this scenario, your Powerwalls and the batteries are charged first. Then, excess energy goes to charge your solar panels.
- Solar Panels First – Opposite of the previous scenario, this way charges your solar panels first and only excess energy goes to your Powerwall to charge the battery.
The Powerwall will never technically go dead. When the battery level drops to 10%, the Powerwall will enter a standby state and attempt to recharge. No matter what, it will always maintain a 5% reserve so that the Powerwall itself can continue functioning.
The battery won’t be able to power your home once it reaches this point, rendering it functionally useless for the time being. Your Powerwall will resume function once it is sufficiently charged, either via the grid or solar power.
Once the batteries are charged again, your Powerwall should automatically restart and resume function. It’s possible that you’ll have to flip your breakers to reactivate it, but this is less common.
Grid vs. Solar Energy
Your Powerwall will not automatically be able to charge using both solar and grid energy. Rather, your Powerwall will primarily rely on solar energy.
Depending on your settings, the Powerwall may be charged using excess/ leftover solar energy after the house is taken care of or vice versa.
Users can only access energy from the grid under specific circumstances:
- Activated Storm Watch Feature – If the Storm Watch feature is activated, then your Powerwall will automatically be charged from the grid in preparation of an expected outage.
- No Solar Power Available – If no solar is available in your area at all, then you may receive permission for your Powerwall to draw energy from the grid.
- No Grants or Tax Credits – A common condition of receiving federal money to fund your Powerwall, such as through a grant or tax credits, is agreeing not to draw energy from the grid.
It’s not as common for U.S. customers to be able to draw energy from the grid as it is in different countries such as the UK or Australia.
Storm Watch Feature
Powerwall’s Storm Watch feature often pops up in forums and blogs and is linked to a variety of issues. Some of these are covered in this article, such as automatic grid charging and random activations, while others are not.
The most common questions users ask about the Storm Watch feature are:
- What Is It? – An automatic feature that prepares for outages by charging your home and solar devices from the grid for as long as possible; this preserves your solar energy and Powerwall battery for when the power finally goes out.
- What Triggers It? – A Red Flag Warning or Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) warning from the National Weather Service (NWS) will cause the Storm Watch feature to turn on and begin preparing your home, solar panels, and Powerwalls for the outage.
- How Do I Turn It Off? – The Storm Watch feature comes automatically turned on. To manually turn it off, go to the home screen, click ‘customize,’ scroll down to ‘Storm Watch,’ and move the slider bar to the ‘off’ option.
The default Powerwall backup threshold is 25%. Whereas normally users can set this threshold to any value they want, the Storm Watch feature will automatically and temporarily raise it to 100%, prioritizing the battery for the expected outage.
No matter what context it’s brought up in, the Storm Watch feature always seems to invite discussion and, at times, controversy. Though it’s a useful feature, users benefit from understanding how it works and (if necessary) how to turn it off when it causes problems.
Powerwall Not Covering Outages
If your Powerwall isn’t working during outages or frequently fails during outages, then there are several possible reasons:
- Exceeded Charge – It’s possible that you’ve run through your Powerwall’s battery and there’s insufficient solar energy to power them again. If users are unaware of their energy consumption vs. production, this is likely to happen during extended outages.
- Exceeded Amperage – Each Powerwall has a limit for how much amperage they can feed (i.e., how much electricity they can supply to a certain number of devices). It’s possible that your Powerwalls are overloaded and unable to handle outages as a result.
- Flickering Electricity – If your lights and other devices are flickering on and off, it may be a result of momentary surges. These will prevent the Powerwalls from initializing, but they’ll continue to try, causing the flickering. Reduce the amperage load to solve this.
- Dead Battery – Unfortunately, it’s possible that your Powerwall battery may go dead during an extended outage if you lose access to both grid and solar power. If this happens, you’ll have to wait it out or use an alternative power source like a generator.
When extended outages are expected, users should take care of energy-intensive activities first so as to spare the Powerwall when the grid goes down. Appliances that use the most energy are washers and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners and heaters, and car chargers.
If you’re unsure about why your Powerwall isn’t supplying your house during outages, check to see if one of the scenarios above could be the source of the problem. If it’s not, contact Tesla directly to see if they can run an outage test or poll your Powerwalls.
Resetting the Tesla Powerwall
It’s possible that you’ll need to reset your Tesla Powerwall, either as a way to fix your current issues or as a part of regularly scheduled maintenance. If the latter is true, you’ll usually receive a notification to do so, along with instructions.
In case you’re missing instructions, or the ones provided were unclear, here’s how to reset your Powerwall:
- Turn off the circuit breaker isolator
- Turn off the Powerwall by switching it to the ‘off’ position
- Turn off the normal supply main switch to the house
- Turn off the main Tesla switch
- Wait for at least one minute (60) seconds
- Turn on the normal supply main switch to the house
- Turn on the main Tesla switch
- Turn on the circuit breaker isolator
- Turn on the Powerwall by switching it to the ‘on’ position
After you follow these steps, wait roughly five minutes. Then check to see if the LED indicator light is on. If it’s showing a steady light or slowly pulsing, then it’s on.
You’ll also know that the reset has been successful if your Tesla app is receiving real-time data again.
When to Call Tesla Support
We’ve already covered a variety of issues that you can fix on your own, ranging from default app settings to battery consumption to charging options and more.
These issues won’t be outright dangerous for you to attempt to resolve, though they may definitely lead to some headaches. It’s also possible that some of these are a result of user error, in which case you may be the best person to diagnose and fix them!
Conversely, problems that you should refer to a professional are:
- Incomplete or faulty installations
- Problems with internal wiring
- External or internal damage
For all of the issues above, you should contact Tesla or your Powerwall installer directly.
Tesla also advises customers to call them or their installer if their Powerwall experiences unusual behaviors. These include:
- Repeated breaker trips
- Breaker or conduit unusual odors
- Discoloration on the wiring
There’s certainly nothing wrong with troubleshooting your Powerwall on your own. And if you can identify the issue and confirm it’s safe for you to do so, you can absolutely attempt to resolve the problems.
But it’s just as important to know when to escalate. Trying to handle more serious issues, such as those that involve wiring, can cause more harm than good. Besides doing more damage to your Powerwall, you may also accidentally injure yourself.
Still Need Help?
Similar to when you experience unusual behaviors, if you’re still not finding the answers you need then it may be time to contact Tesla directly and ask for help. Review their Contact page and choose the method that works best for you.
You can chat with a representative, contact your Project Advisor, submit a question, or submit a technical assistance request.