Using a Tesla Powerwall For Tiny House Living

Using a Tesla Powerwall For Tiny House Living

For lots of people, downsizing is the logical next step in their lives. Some take the extreme route and try to fit everything into a tiny house, only taking the bare necessities along for the ride. Tesla’s Powerwall can help you save on energy costs and energize your tiny house living.

Tesla’s Powerwall is an excellent choice for tiny house living because it monitors and stores excess energy, with or without solar power, for later use by the homeowner.

If you have been considering living in the tiny house lifestyle, keeping the lights on is essential. This article takes a deep dive into the mechanics behind Tesla’s Powerwall and how it powers your home’s independence. Stay on the grid and keep the money in your wallet with the Powerwall backing up your tiny house.

How Does the Powerwall Work?

Tesla’s Powerwall works by absorbing free or low-cost energy in multiple ways. It is a battery pack for the house and significantly lessens your energy expenditures. By monitoring your energy levels and saving energy, the Powerwall can give you back the stored energy when it would be most expensive to buy, thereby saving you the cost.

The Gateway

Also, the Powerwall comes with the Gateway. The Gateway measures your energy levels throughout the day to give you an idea of when you use the most energy and how the Powerwall saves you money by kicking in exactly when it’s needed. It learns your habits and adjusts to compensate for them as time goes on to optimize your energy efficiency continually.


With few exceptions, everywhere in the world sees the sunrise in the morning and set in the evening. During daylight hours, the Powerwall absorbs excess solar energy produced by solar panels and keeps it ready for the homeowners whenever they need to use it. If they don’t, the Powerwall simply stores the power for a rainy day or a long day’s night.

No Solar

For many areas, the price of electricity fluctuates depending on the day of the week and the time of day. When electricity costs are down, and the solar panels aren’t producing excess energy, the Powerwall charges up so that when the costs increase, your house can draw on the Powerwall’s stored energy instead of paying the higher price.

What The Powerwall Can Do For You

Essentially, Tesla’s Powerwall works as a battery for your house. In full-sized homes, it merely provides a reliable back-up for people who live in areas with frequent storms or other natural disasters that can knock out the community’s power grid. No one likes being left in the dark, and the Powerwall means you can stay in the light.

However, in a tiny house, your energy upkeep is much smaller. You have worked hard to downsize everything, including your energy expenses. The initial cost of the Powerwall is far outweighed by the savings it generates by soaking up the sun and then turning that into energy to power your home.

The Powerwall relies on either a solar roof or independent solar panels, which generate the energy stored in the Powerwalls. In regions with many long, sunny days, your solar panels will spend most of the day producing more energy than you are using, assuming that you are careful with your power. The Powerwall holds on to that energy so that nothing is wasted.

It helps keep your energy clean and renewable by powering your house at night, when the solar panels cannot keep producing, using the energy from that day. Ten hours of sunlight can easily be enough to power through the entire twenty-four-hour day!

What Does the Powerwall Power?

The Powerwall mainly applies to the lights in your home, electrical outlets, and 120V small appliances. There are three sizes of Powerwall currently available. The smallest size only includes the items mentioned above. When installing it, you can talk to the installation team about the best size for your house. The medium and large sizes can also power:

  • Compatible central air conditioner
  • Electrical range/stove/oven
  • Compatible well-pump
  • Tesla EV charging is compatible with a minimum of two Powerwalls needed. If multiple EV chargers need to be powered, you may need more than two Powerwalls.
  • Electric dryer
  • Electric water heater
  • Pool equipment

Compatible Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner will have a Locked Rotor Amp rating, or LRA, which will be listed on the side. If it’s blank, labeled N/A, or less than the Running Load Amps, or RLA, it’s a variable speed A/C and can be powered by two Powerwalls.

If no LRA is on the label, you will need to determine the compressor’s type to see if it is compatible. Possible compressor types include:

  • Scroll Compressor – easily identified by the tall and skinny body, this compressor will either have an LRA of less than 139, which can be powered by two Powerwalls, or more than 130, which will need a third Powerwall to power.
  • Reciprocating Compressor – the opposite of the scroll compressor with a short, squat body. Its LRA level dictates how many Powerwalls are needed.
LRA RatingsNumber of Powerwalls Needed

Extra Features

Part of the reason that most people choose tiny house living is to do their part for the environment. The Powerwall’s clean energy storage works in conjunction with the Gateway app, which monitors your tiny home’s energy usage so that you can be conscientious about how much power you are using versus making.

Tesla’s Gateway works in tandem with the Powerwall to accurately measure and report on your energy usage and production throughout the day. By seeing when you use the most energy, compared to energy cost increases and decreases, you can try to time your energy usage for the cheapest times of the day or see how well your solar panels are generating.

How the Powerwall Fits Into Tiny Living

With its largest dimension at less than five feet, the Powerwall can easily fit on the side of your house, no matter how tiny it is! You only need a few solar panels to connect to the Powerwall, and soon, you should be making more than enough energy to fuel your tiny lifestyle.

When you buy the Powerwall, the Tesla team will evaluate your house and energy requirements to determine how many solar panels you need to be powered entirely by the sun. It’s worth the initial investment of installation to lighten the load of your local electrical grid, and the environment will thank you.

Tax Credits

Tesla’s Powerwall has been designed to qualify for the Federal Tax Credit under certain circumstances. If it is installed on a new or existing solar panel system and only uses solar energy, it can qualify. However, if it is installed with a solar system, or if the solar system is installed after the Powerwall, it does not qualify.

However, to secure those credits, the Powerwall must meet specific regulations and expectations throughout the year. As long as the Powerwall is set to either Time-Based Control or Self-Powered, you can qualify for the tax credit program. Those modes allow the Powerwall to charge and discharge depending on the time of day and the solar power produced.


If you have been coveting a smaller carbon footprint to match your house’s size, Tesla’s Powerwall might be just what you have needed. The Gateway measures your solar panels’ energy production and keeps it safe for you to cleanly power your tiny house living throughout the days and nights.

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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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