This Is What A Tesla Powerwall Really Is


This Is What A Tesla Powerwall Really Is

Sustainable energy is an important factor these days, and the Tesla Powerwall aims to play a key role here. The Powerwall provides rechargeable backup energy for your home through both solar and grid energy. What a Powerwall is may still be somewhat mysterious to some of us, though.

A Tesla Powerwall is the battery bank that acts as the source of energy when the other sources (solar and grid) are unavailable. When the sun is shining, and grid electricity is running, the Powerwall will recharge itself and store that energy. At night, or if there is an outage in the grid, the Powerwall will take over to keep your home up and running.

The Tesla Powerwall is a futuristic, convenient, and green option, making it interesting for many. However, there are also some factors to weigh in to really understand the Powerwall. Questions like, how long does one last, is one Powerwall even enough, and is it costly? Read on for the answers.

What is a Tesla Powerwall, Exactly?

Electricity consumption is a part of our everyday lives. This makes most of us dependent on the utility grids. If we have solar-powered homes, we are also dependent on weather, seasons, and daylight hours. If the solar or grid energy becomes insufficient at any time, the Powerwall comes into play.

The Powerwall is a lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide battery, more commonly and simply known as a lithium-ion battery. The Powerwall usually recharges in the daytime with solar panels. After sundown, if the solar panels do not provide enough energy and the grid has an outage, the Powerwall is used instead.

Some basic info about Powerwall:

  • History: Tesla released the first Powerwall in 2015 and then the updated second Powerwall in 2016. The second-generation
  • Capacity: Powerwall provides 8 to 12 hours of backup for a home.
  • Size: Powerwall 2.0 comes in one size (45.3″ L x 29.6″ W x 5.75″ D) that weighs 251.3 lbs. and has a 13.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) energy capacity.
  • Cost: The Powerwall is priced at $7000. This price does not include the hardware parts, which begin at $1000. Then comes the installation process, which can begin from $1000 to $7000.

What Components Make up a Powerwall?

If you choose to go with a Tesla Powerwall, Tesla has a lot of information online to help you determine just what you need. We’ll talk a bit more about how to determine what you need to power your home with Powerwall backup. But to give you an idea of what installation is like, here is what most Powerwall systems look like:

  • Powerwall
  • Tesla Gateway
  • Electrical components, based on your local code

The installation will be done by a licensed electrician; ideally, someone experienced in installing Powerwall. Tesla has excellent resources online for you to walk through exactly what installation will look like. 

Control Your Tesla Powerwall from Your Smartphone

The Tesla app lets you monitor your new home energy system with ease. As with anything Tesla, you can expect a seamless user experience aimed at efficiency and performance. You can choose one of three modes for your Powerwall, right from your device:

ModeKey CharacteristicsHow It Works
Self-poweredThe most energy independentSmallest carbon footprintOnly for use with solar, this mode stores energy, you don’t use during the day for use to power your home at night. Excess energy you don’t use gets stored on the grid.
Backup-onlyFor use during power outagesEnergy comes from the grid (or solar, if you have it) and is stored only until you need it. Automatically kicking into gear when an outage strikes.
Time-basedDesigned to save money by storing up power during off-peak timesIf your electricity prices vary during different times of day, this mode stores up during low-cost times and switches to Powerwall use during high-cost times.

As you see, Powerwall can be customized to suit your goals, whether you are just looking for some backup during power outages or you are maximizing your self-sufficiency – or anything in-between.

Pros and Cons of Tesla Powerwall

The Powerwall is promising and attractive – and is a green option for the increasing number of environmentally-minded consumers. How it looks and how it works seems to make it a great choice.

Having the Tesla name behind Powerwall sure doesn’t hurt since the company has come to represent a trusted source of alternative power and innovation – and made eco-friendly options also seem luxurious and desirable.

However, as with anything, the Powerwall isn’t perfect for everyone. Here are some pros and cons:

Advantages

  • Appearance: Powerwall comes in a minimalist design. The battery is basically a stationary rectangular block with the Tesla logo printed on it. It can be placed on the floor or mounted on the wall.
  • Ease and comfort: Tesla Powerwall promise that there will be no noise to disturb you. There will be no need for fuel, and no upkeep will be necessary. Moreover, it is child and pet friendly.
  • Monitoring: The Tesla smartphone app is all you need to set your preferences and monitor your Powerwall. Through this app alone, you can stay in control wherever you go, with internet service, and receive instant alerts too.
  • Durability: The Powerwall is water and dust resistant. It is also durable enough to be placed indoors or outdoors, whichever you prefer.
  • Cost-effective: Powerwall is smart enough to help you save your money. As electricity rates go up and down throughout the day, Powerwall will recharge when the rates are lowest. The Powerwall can also activate when the electricity rates are highest (saving you more money). You also receive a ten-year warranty with this product.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Solar panels: you do not need solar panels for the Powerwall to run in your house. For best activity, however, Solar panels should be combined with the Powerwall. The grid alone can let you have a Powerwall, but you cannot use all the Powerwall controls available.
  • Longevity: this doesn’t come with a lifetime warranty because it will not last a lifetime. The Powerwall battery, like most regular batteries, deteriorates with time. Minimum 70 percent of the Powerwall’s charge holding capacity is ensured within the ten-year warranty.
  • Number of Powerwalls: depending on the size of your house and the number of appliances you use, one Powerwall may not be enough. Powerwalls are modular, meaning multiple (up to ten) can be stacked and used together.

How Does Tesla Powerwall Help the Planet?

As you know now, the Powerwall stores energy through solar panels. It takes in the heat of the sun to recharge itself. This in itself is a big step forward towards sustainable energy.

Zero Waste and the Use of Recycled Materials

To make Powerwall more earth-friendly, Tesla uses recycled material to make the lithium-ion batteries. Tesla networks with various organizations and partners in order to get battery packs, cells, and other recycled items. Once the Tesla Powerwalls become trash, they tend to be disassembled and recycled once again.

Not merely the Powerwall, but all major Tesla products use recycled items to help ensure zero waste.

Reduced Emissions

The grid electricity requires gases, coal, and nuclear energy, which cause carbon emissions. The Powerwall, though it does not take you completely off the grid, makes you less reliant on the non-sustainable and carbon-emitting grid energy.

Are There Alternatives to the Powerwall?

In the modern-day where technology has bloomed beyond our imaginations, you may wonder if Tesla has competition for their Powerwall. Could there be other companies that sell a very similar solution?

The Tesla Powerwall is definitely the top-recommended among Powerwalls. Other alternatives do exist, including the following:

  • The LG Home Battery RESU
  • Sonnen’s SonnenCore
  • PIKA Energy Island
  • Generac PWRcell
  • Enphase Encharge

Some people may attempt to make their own DIY Powerwall-type energy storage. There are articles and videos throughout the internet explaining homemade Powerwall projects, but this can be extremely dangerous if you are not a licensed professional.

How Many Powerwalls Does Your Home Need?

Before investing in a Powerwall, you should get a good estimate of what your home’s energy needs are. You can do this by measuring the kW and kWh requirements of your lights and appliances.

What Are kW and kWh?

  • kW – Kilowatt refers to electric power, the maximum electricity output possible at a single time.
  • kWh – Kilowatt per hour refers to the maximum electricity reserved in a fully charged battery.

One Tesla Powerwall has 13.5 kWh usable capacity and 5 kW (up to 7kW) continuous power. So, if you have two Powerwalls, that means you have 10 kW of continuous power output.

How to Measure Your Home’s Energy Needs

Given the numbers, the Tesla Powerwall holds a lot of energy. Whether one will be enough for you or not depends on your home and energy usage. With this kind of investment, you don’t want to simply guess how many Powerwall units you will need.

There are two ways to understand what your home energy requirements are. The first is simply to check an energy monitoring system in your house if you have one. They usually provide the calculations. The second way is to go through your electricity bills.

Calculating Your Monthly Energy Requirements

Start by looking over the electricity bills in your house. Get out your calculator, a pencil, and some scratch paper!

  • Find out the monthly kWh, and then calculate the average.
  • Make a list of the major appliances you use in your home (TV, refrigerator, swimming pool, etc.).
  • Find the power draw, in watts, for each appliance. You can find this information on the labels of the devices or search for it online.
  • Add up all the watts of the major appliances.

This total sum will give you an idea of what your home’s monthly energy requirements are when everything is turned on and will help you determine the number of Powerwall units you need. Tesla also offers a service to help you get this right and choose the right system or systems for your home. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Now you know all the main bits and pieces of what the Tesla Powerwall is.

All in all, Powerwall is quite impressive. Its current cost, along with the costs of installation, hardware, and the recommended solar panels, is very high for the average citizen today. Nevertheless, the Tesla Powerwall comes with good intentions and lets us see a more promising future that makes use of renewable and sustainable energy.

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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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