Tesla CEO Elon Musk reveals Powerwall home battery

“Silicon Valley electric-vehicle automaker Tesla Motors is expanding its presence beyond luxury cars with plans to produce a wall-mounted battery pack designed to store renewable energy in the home,” Nathan Bomey reports for The Detroit Free Press. “Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Powerwall unit in an event late Thursday in California that was live streamed online. The unit, he said, would go into small-scale production in three to four months at the company’s Fremont, Calif., plant. Next year it will hit production at the company’s currently-under-construction battery factory in Nevada. Customers can place orders online.”

“The reveal of the Tesla Powerwall underscores the company’s transition from electric-vehicle designer and manufacturer into advanced energy device company,” Bomey reports. “The lithium-ion, software-equipped Tesla Powerwall comes in two versions: a 7 kilowatt-hour pack for $3,000 and a 10 kilowatt-hour pack for $3,500. Those fees don’t include installation. Either version will power a typical U.S. home during peak evening hours, the company said.”

“Lux Research analysts said the actual cost of a Powerwall system could be double the sticker price when including installation and the price of an inverter, among other costs. The system works indoors or outdoors and has a 10-year warranty. It starts at 220 pounds and measures 52.1 inches by 33.9 by 7.1,” Bomey reports. “The device is designed to allow homeowners with solar panels on their roofs to store electricity generated throughout the day for use at night or during power outages.”

“Musk also revealed a bigger version of the battery pack for use in energy storage for utilities, which are scrambling to meet renewable energy requirements throughout the U.S.,” Bomey reports. “That system is called the Tesla Energy. Amazon and Target have signed up for pilots… Musk blasted current home battery options for consumers, saying Tesla’s device would look nicer and operate more efficiently. ‘The issue with existing batteries is that they suck. They’re really horrible,’ he said.

MacDailyNews Take: Wonder who he cribbed that from?

“With his typical dash of showmanship, Musk revealed to a giddy crowd that, in fact, the room where the news conference was taking place had been running on battery power generated from solar panels,” Bomey reports. “‘So this entire night — everything you’re experiencing — is stored sunlight,’ Musk said as the crowd shrieked.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ed Begley, Jr. is going to need a change of pants.

Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Powerwall offers both independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup. Power companies often charge a higher price for electricity during peak evening hours than overnight when demand is low. Powerwall can reduce your power bill by storing electricity when rates are low and powering your home when rates are high.

So, will you be buying a Tesla Powerwall unit?

More info: teslamotors.com/powerwall

40 Comments

  1. Let’s see, should I replace my 10-year-old car, or should I invest in some clean energy tech that will take 10 years to pay for itself?

    If I had $20k just laying around with nothing better to do with it, I’d have a bank of PV panels and this Tesla battery. I love the idea of it, I love the tech, and I love the idea of using very clean energy. Unfortunately, it’s all just expensive enough that even with incentives, it’s a bit too hard to justify for me and most of the middle-class who are trying to save for retirement, save for kids’ college, and still trying to have a little fun when we can.

    1. Many things we consider to be about money are sometimes more about choices.

      => Here is one scenario. Skip the Yukon SUV and get a Prius. Take the difference and buy a solar PV system with Powerwall battery. Each year, pay into an investment account: (1) savings on the car (eg, financing (if any), gas, insurance, maintenance) and (2) savings on electricity. I am willing to bet at the end of 10 years you are way ahead.

      If you have kids (or grandkids), you may earn their renewed respect for being a good steward of the planet. The younger generation “gets” being green more than boomers do. (Climate change will affect them disproportionately more than boomers, who are pretty much the worst offenders.) Change the game. Don’t compete with neighbors or colleagues on cars (or houses, or whatever), compete on being good stewards of the planet and living a fun but “green” lifestyle.

      1. Fully agree, Tom. People assume that the way they and their neighbors/co-workers live is OK because everyone does it.

        Most people have no justifiable need for a truck or big SUV, yet they’re some of the most popular vehicles on the road (as well as expensive and gas-guzzling).

        Also, buy the car used (1-2 years old, with low mileage) instead of new and you’ll save enough just to pay the out of pocket cost on my solar panels ($10K), which will cut your power costs PERMANENTLY, be good for the environment, AND your insurance & property taxes will be considerably lower on a 2-year old car.

      2. Thanks, Tom. I realize it’s just one example scenario you gave, but it’s a false dichotomy.

        For many like me, it isn’t “Prius vs. Yukon”. It’s Prius vs. a reasonably-affordable, reasonably-efficient, reasonably-interesting mid-size vehicle. So, given the difference between what I’d replace our current car with, and a Leaf or Prius, it just doesn’t offer enough in the way of savings to offset the disadvantages, not the least of which is that find the Prius beyond boring.

        For many, a car is more than just basic or practical transportation. Given how much time and money we spend on/in cars, I want to enjoy it and find it appealing or it least mildly interesting. A Leaf or Prius isn’t interesting whatsoever to me.

    2. I installed a 6000-watt system on my roof last summer. My out of pocket cost was about $10500. I’ll get that back in about 8 years, then I have free power for at least another 12-17 (20- or 25-year warranty…forget which).

      Plus, power rates are likely to continue rising, so they’ll just get more and more appealing. Oh, and I added at least $15K value to my house, probably more.

      Granted, I’m in NC, which adds a great state tax credit for solar on top of the federal one, but some states are fairly comparable, and I even got an 18-month no interest loan (through the installer) for the full cost to (1) let me spread out my $10K of it so it’s not a single big check, and (2) allow time to get most if not all of my tax credits back in my returns, so I didn’t have to fork over the full cost at install time, then wait a year or so for my refunds.

      Almost a year later, and I have no regrets.

    3. My combined gas and electric bill is $160/month (level pay plan). About $80 is attributable to electricity.

      Using a back battery to play the differences between peak demand rates, and lower demand rates is environmentally nice, but economically stupid.

      If I were to cut my electric bill by 30% (not going to happen in my wildest dreams) it would take >25 years to pay for itself.

      None of the available “eco-friendly” power generation alternatives provide enough economic incentive (even with government subsidies which no industry should get) to cause mass migration from the public grid. If they did, I would be first in line to get one.

    4. But ecrabb, the price of an Apple Watch at sometimes twice the price of this is just fine, because it’s made by Apple? Where I live a top end Apple Watch is $24k, but I don’t see the same criticism about price in this forum that the Powerwall is attracting.

    5. No upfront cost. System from SolarCity costs nothing, and your bill goes down. You just pay them (less) for your electricity. They’ll figure out how to work the battery into it.

      And the payoff is more like 6 years if you’re silly enough to buy.

  2. So what happens to all these big batteries in the coming years when they die? Will there be a recycling plan in place? You can’t just dump this stuff in a land fill.

  3. Yes, it sounds like a good idea, if only for power security. But no, not until there are answers about longevity, safety, disposal, and real world results.

    1. Longevity: Tesla Model S (warranted for 10 years) PowerWall Warrantied for 10 years.

      Safety: If they were unsafe, no way they would be in the Tesla Model S.

      Disposal: Yes (You recycle them)

      Real World: The Tesla Model S not real World enough for you?

        1. Sure Mike, you keep burning those fossils you hear!

          Just to let you know, Bendgate, AntennaGate, and now BatteryGate are scenarios that are “over hyped by those that have most to lose” in order to create FUD. That’s Fear, Uncertainty, and …….er what ever D stands for.

          Do you still fly? Or did you suddenly stop because one plane crashed some years ago? How about driving? How about crossing the road? Are you sitting in your house with all doors locked? Even then you are not safe, because an asteroid might just land on your house.

          1. Who said gas wasn’t dangerous? Seems to me that Mike has a point. The Li-Ion batteries might be slimmer and lighter for their power capacity, but they sure make a mess if they blow up. I’d like to see cost comparisons for other battery packs. I see no incentive to pay a premium price for ultralight batteries for a home installation.

  4. I can’t imagine there aren’t competitors out there for this service. My computer room has a similar system, based on lead acid batteries. It’s only designed to last long enough for the NG Generator to come online, but it covers the whole room, including AC.

    Since I have not dipped into solar, yet, do homes already have a solution? What about combining a small wind turbine, with solar?

    There’s new non-lithium batteries on the horizon, which charge in fraction of the time of L-ion.

    What I am trying to say, maybe the industry is in so much flux, that maybe this is not a really great announcement, unless Tesla is trying to make it more affordable.

  5. If it was included in a complete solar system it would make sense. But by itself I don’t see how this would be a good investment. And it isn’t affordable, just another great item for the rich only like his cars. Doesn’t help anyone else.

    1. It’s hardly “for the rich.” The average American family pisses away many times the cost of these packs in Starbucks visits, eating out, vacations, hair salon visits, massage therapy, etc, etc, etc, never mind all the crap people blow money on regularly (ie “going shopping”…aka “looking for some way to blow some cash”).

      And that’s how people waste money EVERY year. This battery pack from Tesla (like solar panels) is a one-time expense.

  6. I would love to get solar panels and a PowerWall for my house. Where I live in Florida, the power goes out every time a squirrel sneezes. Plus the occasional hurricanes. Unfortunately, no one to install and service the equipment. Meanwhile, the power company is chopping down a small forest for a solar farm. Why not subsidize homeowner’s to install solar panels? Using our homes for the solar farm is much better than killing trees.

  7. I can see, if instead of a powerwall you have a combo unit, your car caries one unit, and your house caries one or two units, but when you come home with two cars, in the evening you have a total of 4 units at your disposal. 40KWH… But since two units come with your car, they are already integrated into the cost of the vehicle. Anyway I liked the presentation, for what it is. But think this is simply a start to something bigger. But not necessarily for everyone today.

  8. In answer to MDN question about who he cribbed that from…..Well we all know who…..but its worth mentioning all the other things he cribs too.

    The “INSANE” mode in Model S is cribbed from YKW (You Know Who).

    “It just works” is also cribbed from YKW.

  9. Could be a great “add on” for builders of new “green” homes. Work it into price of construction and possible dealer pricing of units makes them more attractive option. Builders are always looking for an edge whether it be offering “safe rooms” “home security systems” special stereo wiring etc. I could see this being a nice upgrade option possibly along with a solar package.

  10. China has been planting green forests (am sure other nations as well, except Brazil), which to date has sequestered 20 billion tones of CO2. (I think I got this from Time.) C02 sequestration is an important goal. However CO2 isn’t our primary concern. What we should be concerned with is methane, which is 100 times more powerful than CO2, but has a shorter half life. If you simply dump waste in a landfill, what is produced via bio degradation is methane. However if you took the same amount of landfill and burned it, it will generate CO2 instead.

    On another tangent, CO2 combined with water, and a little electricity, can be turned into synthetic diesel. Maybe more efficiently methane could be used directly without conversion, but it has to be burned, not released.

    Ultimately sequestration with permanent storage, and capturing CO2 and methane emissions for reuse, frankly emission control, is paramount.

    What I mean is, we have to do all of it. Reduce emissions, capture emissions, and recycle what we produce to generate a reduced or zero footprint.

    The more we do this, the more people can live a happy life. If we do nothing, we will all suffer, one way or another.

  11. “‘So this entire night — everything you’re experiencing — is stored sunlight,’ Musk said as the crowd shrieked.”

    Fossil fuels are stored sunlight too – just a good bit nastier in the energy releasing aspect.

  12. Having a whole house PV Solar / battery backup makes sense in my part of the world. The delivered cost of electricity in Oceania is 0.48 USD / kWH. The payback time for my PV system is only a few years. There are frequent outages (few hours / month) as you would expect with no regional grid. The deal breaker would be the shipping cost from North America … on a real ship … and the inertia that comes knowing a few hours of no power / month is not worse than an inconvenience or a health and safety issue. My future hope is a commercially available, affordable plug in hybrid that would attach to your home inverter and supply power in case of extended outages. My car would be the portable gasoline electric generator, efficient, quiet, and low emission — backup for my solar panels. YMMV

      1. Hey, that’s interesting. I read somewhere that Toyota in Japan is testing a special inverter module for a Prius to provide emergency power for homes. Maybe the future holds a home power Apple car option 😉

        1. Yes, you are right; must have confused it with another vehicle, like the Chevy Volt? Anyway, the Nissan Leaf has an 80 KWh battery. And it does have an option to operate as a “home backup power source”. I think I read about 25% of all Nissan Leaf sales are bought with this option, so people are buying it for this reason.

          Dunno if I read this on the web or maybe in Levi Tilleman’s recent book, “The Great Race” (2015, Simon & Shuster) about the development of electric vehicles. It is an interesting book, by the way. The future of cars is electric. The car companies see it coming. There are actually quite a few brands and models of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles available for sale in the US.

  13. I just bought a house in January. It needs a new roof within the next couple years, and when I get to that I was also planning to install solar panels. I’ll definitely be adding this to it as well. For everyone saying it will take 10 years to pay for itself, I envy the microscopic power bills you must have. In ten years time, the entire package would have paid for itself twice over including the panels and all.

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