Installing a Tesla Powerwall in your home or business is an excellent way not only to save money but also to protect yourself from the risk of power outages. When you install a Tesla Powerwall outside, there are numerous things you should be aware of before beginning.
What you need to consider when installing a Tesla Powerwall Outside:
- Use Options
- Number of Powerwalls
- Temperature and Weather
- Maintenance and Cleaning
- Internet Access
- Waiting List
- Going Off-Grid
Though the Tesla Powerwall provides numerous benefits once installed, there are quite a few things to consider before installing your equipment. The considerations outlined below will help to make your installation process as smooth as possible.
Your Tesla Powerwall can be used in multiple ways. Where your Powerwall is installed outside depends on how you choose to use it. The Tesla Powerwall can be used in the following ways:
- Partial Home Backup
- Whole-Home Backup
- In Conjunction with Solar Panels
- Self-Powered Mode
- Backup-Only Mode
- Advanced Time-Based Control Mode
- Storm Watch Mode
- Preconditioning Mode
Partial Home Backup
One of the most common ways for your Tesla Powerwall to be used is for a partial home backup. With this choice, you choose which appliances you want to receive power from the Powerwall when you experience a power outage.
This requires having a certified electrician create a subpanel with the breakers for the appliances you want to be powered by the Powerwall. The Powerwall will be connected solely to this subpanel during installation. A diagram of a partial home backup setup can be found on Tesla’s Powerwall Info Sheet.
If you are looking to lower your carbon footprint and have a relatively affordable power backup option, then setting up your Powerwall for a partial home backup is the recommended configuration.
However, make sure to be aware that this configuration may require some extra upfront costs as you will be required to create the subpanel before your Powerwall is installed.
Your Powerwall can also be used for a whole home backup, which means everything is powered by your Powerwall when your power goes out. This means you will hardly feel a difference in your home when it goes off-grid. Your system will automatically switch to the Powerwall.
If you choose to have your Powerwall work for a whole home backup, you may need multiple Powerwalls to ensure you have enough power to power your home when off the grid fully. When you sign up to have your Powerwall installed, you will be required to fill out a site survey, which will help determine how many Powerwalls you will need.
The whole home backup configuration is recommended for those Powerwall users who are looking to have the most comfort during power outages. With a properly setup Powerwall system, many users are barely aware that there is a power outage in their area when there is one.
In Conjunction with Solar Panels
If you choose to, your Powerwall can be used with solar panels. This is a great way to truly take advantage of all the off-grid capabilities your Powerwall has. When using solar panels, your Tesla Powerwall will charge itself using the energy generated by the solar panels, instead of from your power company.
Moreover, your Powerwall can then be placed into the self-powered mode that will allow it to turn on during the evenings. This means that you can use solar power even at night. This is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
If you do not currently have solar panels but are interested in installing them along with your Powerwall, Tesla has various options available. These options include standard solar panels, as well as the all-new solar roof tiles.
Solar roof tiles are an excellent option for solar because they are basically invisible. Your roof is the solar panel, which also means there is more space for capturing solar as well.
When using the self-powered mode, your Tesla Powerwall will be programmed to turn on at night, powering your home with the power it stored during the day from your solar panels. According to Tesla, it is estimated that using your Powerwall in self-powered mode nearly doubles the amount of solar energy that powers your home.
The self-powered mode also has more features, including being able to select the amount of power that is reserved in your Powerwall in case of an actual power outage. You are able to designate this reserve as a percentage of the total power in your Powerwall.
Self-powered mode is a great option for those users looking to lower their electricity bill as it is one of the best ways to get the most out of your solar system as well.
When placed in backup-only mode, your Tesla Powerwall acts as a backup power source if your home or business experiences a power outage. When in this mode, your Powerwall only activates when the location is off-grid.
One added benefit is if you use your Tesla Powerwall in conjunction with solar panels — the Powerwall can actually recharge itself. This means that you will have power even in extended power outages.
This mode is suggested for those users who are most interested in having a power backup instead of reducing their overall power consumption.
Advanced Time-Based Control Mode
Your Tesla Powerwall is extremely powerful and can be set in an advanced time-based control mode that actually optimizes its energy use based on electricity rates. In this mode, your Powerwall can work to save you money.
Many utility companies have varying rates depending on the time of day or even the season. By programming the best times for your Powerwall, your Powerwall will then choose when it should charge and discharge itself and maximize your energy usage or cost.
This mode is recommended for those users who are more technologically advanced, as it requires more programming. It also requires some research and phone calls to your utility company to find out which times and seasons have higher energy costs.
Storm Watch Mode
When placed in storm watch mode, your Powerwall will keep a small percentage in time-based control or self-powered mode while maintaining most of its power for a power outage.
Your Tesla Powerwall communicates with the National Weather Service and knows when a storm is coming. It will automatically place itself into storm watch mode when the National Weather Service provides information on an upcoming storm.
When this mode is activated, you will be sent a notification in the Tesla app. Storm watch mode will stay activated until the storm threat has passed. After your Powerwall automatically returns back into the mode it was in previously.
If you do not want storm watch mode to activate, you can disable the mode entirely within the Tesla app.
Pre-conditioning mode is another automatic mode that the Powerwall uses from time to time. When the temperature is low, Powerwall places itself into a pre-conditioning mode to protect itself and improve its performance.
During this mode, your Powerwall will use a little bit of energy to heat itself to then enable itself to be charged. If the night is cold, the Tesla Powerwall will preheat automatically before sunrise to capture the most solar energy possible during the day.
This mode can not be customized by you because it is designed to maintain the Powerwall and ensure that it functions in the most efficient way possible. When the Tesla Powerwall is in Pre-conditioning mode, you may see a drop in the overall capacity of the Powerwall in the Tesla app. This is only temporary.
Because this mode is designed to protect the Powerwall, there is no way to disable it.
What your Powerwall will power will depend on the demand of your appliances. Key things to consider are weather, user consumption habits, and the age and efficiency of the machines themselves.
Tesla’s Powerwall app allows you to monitor your usage and evaluate what appliances take the most energy. The app will show your current power usage, your history of energy consumption, the backup energy reserve in your Powerwall, and the energy amounts used from the utility grid, solar, and the Powerwall storage.
A single Powerwall unit provides up to 5 kW of continuous energy. Numerous appliances can be backed up by a Powerwall as long as their combined usage is not over the total power rating of the Powerwall.
When running on the Powerwall during a power outage, Tesla states that you can use the following appliances normally:
- Coffee Maker
Tesla suggests the following energy-intensive appliances be used sparingly:
- Air Conditioner
- Electric Vehicle Charging
You can also find a list of large compatible appliances, such as central air conditioners and well pumps, on the Tesla Powerwall Site. In general, a single Powerwall should cover lights, outlets, and emergency circuits.
Number of Powerwalls
As stated above, you may need to use multiple Powerwalls in order to get the power backup you desire. Up to 10 Powerwalls can be installed in a single location. The more Powerwalls you have, the more appliances you can power and/or the longer your location can be powered off-grid.
When installing multiple Powerwalls, they can be installed side-by-side, which means you must ensure you have enough room on your wall for the multiple Powerwalls, as well as clearance on the sides for electrical connections.
Multiple Powerwalls can also be stacked front-to-back, in groups of three or less. When choosing this option, the Powerwalls are floor-mounted and then anchored to a wall. Make sure that your floor is able to have a Powerwall mounted to it and that you have clear wall space.
When installing a Powerwall outside, also take into account any growth you may want to do in the future. For instance, you may choose to start with a single Powerwall, but you may want to add additional units later on. If this is the case, make sure to choose a location for your first Powerwall that has space for more, if need be.
Your Powerwall is 45.3 inches tall by 29.7 inches wide by 6.1 inches deep. Though fairly compact for such power, the Powerwall still requires enough space to be floor or wall-mounted with clearance around it for connections. Make sure your floor and/or the wall has enough room for the equipment.
The Powerwall is also quite heavy, weighing in at 276 pounds. Because of this, be sure to choose a wall strong enough to allow the equipment to be mounted to it.
Your Powerwall should also not be installed near water sources, such as hoses, sprinklers, or water faucets. Additionally, because the Powerwall needs ample ventilation, make sure not to install it in places crowded with other items such as lawn equipment, etc.
Temperature and Weather
When installing a Tesla Powerwall outside, make sure your location is not subject to extreme hot or cold temperatures. The Tesla Powerwall can operate between –4°F to 122°F, but Tesla states that its optimum temperature range is 32°F to 86°F. If your location’s average temperature is outside this range, you should install your Powerwall inside.
Besides temperature, you also need to consider the weather in your location. Though the Powerwall is rated to withstand most weather, do not install the Powerwall in locations prone to flooding or snow build up. Your Powerwall should also not be installed in an area that will be hit by direct sunlight.
As stated above, your Powerwall requires ventilation, so ensure that leaves and other debris do not build up around it. Try to install the Powerwall in a location where such debris can not build up on a regular basis.
Because power outages tend to occur during extreme weather, you should also take this into consideration when choosing a place to install your Powerwall. If you are in a location that is prone to hurricanes, for instance, try to install your Powerwall in a location that will be mostly protected by flying debris during a storm.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Your Powerwall comes with a 10-year warranty, but it does require some maintenance, such as cleaning the air ducts and ensuring the vents have optimum airflow. Because of this, make sure you install your Powerwall in a location where you can easily reach it.
Your Powerwall also has a reset button, which you may need to push if the Powerwall has been fully discharged. Take note of where the reset button is and ensure that it is easily accessible once your Powerwall has been properly mounted outside.
You can find the full maintenance recommendation in the Tesla Powerwall Owner Manual.
Your Tesla Powerwall receives regular system updates and is fully customizable via a mobile phone app. Because of this, your Powerwall requires a consistent Internet connection. Tesla recommends using a hard-wired connection, if possible.
When choosing a location to install your Powerwall, make sure that your Internet connection is good in the location. If a hard-wired connection is not possible, ensure that your wireless signal is strong in the area you choose to install your Powerwall in.
Tesla states that Powerwall can also use an internal cellular connection to connect to the Internet. However, Tesla does not recommend this.
Depending on who is installing your Tesla Powerwall, there may be a wait of a few months before you can get your Powerwall installed. Check the Tesla Powerwall Site to see if Tesla installs in your location. If Tesla does install where you are located, your waiting time may be less.
If Tesla does not install in your area, you will have to find a certified Tesla installer. Depending on the current workload of the installer, you may have to wait before you can get your Powerwall installed. You can find a certified Tesla installer on the Tesla Certified Installer Page.
Tesla Powerwall systems are only gaining in popularity and demand. So, if you are worried about the waiting period for your Powerwall, it is suggested you order your Powerwall sooner rather than later.
The pre-installation procedure for your Tesla Powerwall consists of the following steps:
- Site Survey
- Post-Site Survey
- Preparing Your Home
- Preparing Your Internet
Before your Powerwall is installed, you will be required to complete a Site Survey, which is a small analysis of the location you want the Powerwall installed at. Tesla recommends that you choose the self-survey option as it is the fastest way to get an estimate. However, you can also schedule a survey with a Site Surveyor.
If you choose to do a self-survey, you will fill out a form online, which will also include submitting photos of your location. After this is submitted, you will soon receive an estimate.
If you choose to use a Site Surveyor, you will have to pay an additional fee. The process may also be delayed depending on the availability of the Surveyor. You also must be home when the Surveyer is on site.
Once your site survey has been completed, Tesla’s design team will evaluate your electrical system. The team will then provide you with a proposal which will include any upgrades you are required to make to your electrical system. The team will also recommend how many Powerwalls you need.
Before moving on to the next step in the pre-installation process, you will be required to review and approve the Tesla design team’s proposal.
Preparing Your Home
To make sure your installation goes smoothly, you must prepare your home for your Powerwall. Clear the wall space and ground. Also, make sure to clear out any access areas that installers will need to get to. You can find the minimum clearances required on the Tesla Powerwall Site.
Preparing Your Internet
As stated above, your Tesla Powerwall requires Internet access in order to work correctly. Make sure you know where your router is located in your home or office. Also, make sure to have the login information handy.
On the day of your Tesla Powerwall installation, you will be required to be on site. The team will coordinate with you to schedule a day when you will be available.
A typical team for installing a Powerwall will be made up of two to three people. If you are installing solar panels during the same time as your Powerwall, up to four more installers may be at your location. Regardless, the installation team will arrive in the morning. Total installation time will vary depending on how complex your system is. Tesla’s site states that a typical install takes an entire day.
Your power will be completely out during the installation—plan on having no power for at least six to eight hours. Make sure to prepare computers and other appliances for the power outage.
If being without power for an extended period of time is a problem, the Tesla Powerwall Site suggests you discuss your concerns with your installation team to consider your options.
Once your Tesla Powerwall has been installed, you will be required to get Permission to Operate (PTO) from your utility company before your Powerwall can be used. The installation team will help you with this process.
Once installed, make sure to download the Tesla app onto your smartphone, login, select your notification preferences, and choose which mode you want your Powerwall to operate in.
Many people dream of going “off-grid” and no longer needing to be connected to a utility company. However, there is more to consider.
It is technically possible to go off-grid with your Powerwall, but there is a common misconception when it comes to truly going off-grid. If you are entirely off-grid, your location will not have any connection to an electrical grid provided by a utility company.
In some cities and states, it is actually illegal to have a residence not connected to the utility company. In these locations, it is not possible to truly go off-grid.
Moreover, to go off-grid with your Powerwall, you will need to have enough solar panels and Powerwalls to maintain your lifestyle fully. You also need to consider how you will charge your Powerwalls when solar is not available. Other options include wind and water power.
Depending on your lifestyle, going fully off-grid will set you back a lot of money. On the other hand, setting up solar and Powerwalls on a grid-connected home will be more affordable. Also, it is still possible to reach zero utility electricity use or even be net-positive without disconnecting from the grid.
As with everything, there is a cost to the Powerwall. However, there are numerous local, state, and federal tax incentives to offset the price.
A Powerwall unit is usually no more than about $12,500 before tax credits. If you purchase more than one Powerwall, additional Powerwalls will not be more than around $10,000 each. The price changes based on the number of units you purchase.
In addition, your cost will be higher if you choose to buy solar at the same time as your Powerwalls. Moreover, there are numerous tax incentives if you choose to go solar along with using the Powerwall.
One such tax incentive is the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (known as ITC). Powerwalls qualify for this tax credit if they are connected to a solar system. This tax credit is only available until 2022, so now is the time to go solar if you are going to do it.
Installing a Powerwall system in your home will also increase the overall value of your home. Prospective buyers will be more interested in a home that has a power backup system installed than a home that does not.
As stated earlier, your Tesla Powerwall comes with a 10-year warranty. This warranty also includes 70% capacity of the battery. This means if your Powerwall loses more than 30% capacity during the first ten years, it will be covered by the warranty.
To ensure the warranty, you must register your Powerwall. Tesla requires that you complete the commissioning process and then send the system information to the company.
You are also required to have the gateway and Powerwall serial numbers on hand. It is suggested you make a note of these numbers prior to installation, as the numbers can sometimes be hard to read on the devices themselves once the units have been installed.
The Tesla Powerwall is a unique and powerful piece of equipment that will help you and increase the value of your home. Though there is quite a lot to consider when installing a Tesla Powerwall outside, you will be happy that you did.
Your Powerwall will not only make your home or business more comfortable and safer, but it will also save you money on your utility bills. Moreover, when properly cared for, your Powerwall can provide you with years of uninterrupted service.