Tesla Day: Video Roundup of the Tesla Powerwall Battery System


Welcome back to Tesla Day. First we did the Model S roundup, and now we’re onto the Powerwall video roundup.

With the advent of the Powerwall, Tesla has thrown the proverbial cat among the pigeons in the solar PV industry.

While battery storage systems for solar PV installations have been around for many years, the Powerwall has seriously reinvigorated the market by offering a more reasonable priced battery option for home & business owners wanted to store their unused solar power for use after prime daylight power production times. At the launch, the Powerwall was claimed to be about 1/3 of the price of their competitors, although it’s a lot more expensive in Australia for now…

So, here’s where it all began. Elon Musk’s introduction and launch of the Powerwall to the world. Take note that the entire event was all powered by batteries, which was a clever way to prove the effectiveness of the product.

In this video from Wired, Brent Rose talks about the real world economics of a Powerwall battery system and how it’s not very cost effective in the USA because of the low price of their power at the moment. Keep in mind that in Australia, electricity is probably double or triple the price of the USA, so once the price of the Powerwall gets down to a more decent level locally, the economics of buying a Powerwall in Australia will definitely become attractive. Just don’t expect miracles yet. Think of the Powerwall as being like the first iPhone. Very cool gadget, useful, but still a ways to go before it’s a killer product. Nowadays, iPhones (and all smartphones) are streets ahead of the first models, and the Powerwall will go the same way.

In our next video, we actually step slightly away from the Powerwall itself and take a look at the Gigafactory. The Tesla Gigafactory 1 is a lithium-ion battery factory which is under construction primarily for Tesla Motors at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, Nevada, US, slated to be operational by 2016 or 2017. The projected cost to build the facility was approximately US$5 billion. Once this baby gets into production, you will see some significant improvements in the price and functionality of the Powerwall, as Tesla will be able to take advantage of economies of scale in their battery production. The video was filmed from a drone using a 4K camera, so it’s visually spectacular, if not too much finished construction to see. Enjoy.

Back on 28 Jan 2016, Channel 10’s The Project did an intro piece on the Powerwall and the first family to install one in their Sydney home.

You can watch their video here: http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/extra/season-7/tesla-powerwall (sorry, it doesn’t have an option to embed it in this page)

Lastly, here’s a good piece by the ABC 7.30 Report, where they ask the question “Is off-the-grid living a reality we can afford?” You SHOULD be aware of all the pros & cons of going off-grid, and ROI is probably not the most compelling at this stage. However, there are other options discussed in this report.

OK Tesla fans. It’s over to you. Comment below with your questions and thoughts on Tesla and their Powerwall product. Are you thinking of buying? Going fully off-grid? What are your concerns? We want to hear from all of you.


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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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