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Rooftop Solar with Tesla’s Powerwall: Cheaper Energy For Australians?
Tesla’s battery for the home, Powerwall, headed for Australia.
Tesla Motors, the clean energy innovators responsible for the most advanced electric cars on the planet, has just announced something big. In their ongoing mission to save the world from emissions, Tesla motors have recently announced that they will be manufacturing affordable batteries to power your home that allow you to efficiently store electricity and reduce your peak load on the grid.
What is the Tesla Powerwall?
The Tesla Powerwall is a large, lithium-ion home battery that is charged by solar energy. Measuring at, roughly, 1.2 metres wide, and 2.1 metres high, the Tesla Powerwall is encased in a simple, yet stylish shell — as you’d expect from Tesla. In most domestic households, peak hours for energy usage are during the morning and of an evening. What the Tesla Powerwall does is store electricity, generated by rooftop solar panels, that can be used to lighten the load during peak hours.
The home battery will even power your basic home appliances during a blackout (especially appealing to those who experienced prolonged power outages over the April storms). The battery will be available in two sizes, the 7 kWh and 10 kWh, which are priced at $3000 USD and $3500 USD, respectively. It will be a little while until we find out official Australian pricing, but it’s estimated the Tesla Powerwall will retail for around a third of the price of current home battery offerings.
What does this mean for Australian consumers?
A whole lot actually. In case you hadn’t realised, Australian consumers pay through the nose for their energy with electricity prices as high as 30c/kWh in some areas (the US averaged about 12.16c/kWh in 2014). Couple this with our growing penetration of rooftop solar (one in five of all Australian households as of December 2014) and it becomes clear that, not only will Tesla’s Powerwall save Australian consumers on utilities, but that Australia is prepared for the approaching revolution.
Because, although Australians have proven to be ever-enthusiastic about alternative energies like solar, exorbitant equipment and installation prices have stopped many from doing their bit. That is what the Tesla Powerwall will create, an energy storage option that isn’t going to break the bank.
About the Powerwall
You can get a 7 kWh daily cycle model or a 10 kWh weekly cycle model. Both provide sufficient power to take most homes through peak evening hours. If your home has higher energy requirements, you can install multiple batteries together. With 7 kWh batteries, you can add to a total of 63 kWh. With 10 kWh batteries you can go up to 90 kWh in total.
Using a Powerwall with a domestic solar power setup is fairly easy. The solar panels work in converting sunlight into electricity, and Powerwall stores any surplus energy that the panels generate. It can also charge using electricity from the grid when rates are low. An inverter converts the direct current from a Powerwall into alternate current, so it can power devices and appliances in your home.Back to top
How do I purchase a Tesla Powerwall?
Powerwall is due to begin shipping in late 2015. You can visit the Tesla Motors website to reserve a unit, and you can expect a company representative to contact you about the installation. You have a complete a basic form, which requires the following details:
- Your complete name
- Your email address
- Your phone number
- Your delivery preference, where you get to choose between late 2015, early 2016, mid 2016, late 2016 and 2017 or later
What are the pros and cons of Tesla Powerwall?
- Minimise your electricity bill. The price you pay to purchase electricity from the grid is lower than how much you get if you provide excess solar power to the grid. With this rate structure in place, making use of your own solar power makes more financial sense, and this is easy to do when you use a home battery like the Powerwall. You can also use the Powerwall to store power when utility rates are low.
- Security. If you live in an area that is prone to storms or unreliable power supply from grids, getting the Powerwall can help. This is because, in the event of a power outage, it switches to battery power automatically.
- Functionality. Typical home batteries are bulky and expensive but this is not the case with the Powerwall. It makes use of compact lithium ion batteries and it requires little in the form of maintenance.
- Requires professional installation. While installing a Powerwall does not require extensive rewiring of any kind, you still need the assistance of a trained electrician.
Double the power - The Powerwall 2
The extra power and capacity mean it's able to serve as a single, affordable home battery system, a feat that largely eluded the first model.
According to the Tesla website, a single Powerwall 2 is enough to power the average two-bedroom home for an entire day. Previously you would have needed two home battery systems, at double the cost, to get the same result.
Great strides have also been taken in usability.
The first Powerwall could only be wall-mounted and was for indoor use only, while the Powerwall 2 can be mounted on both the floor and the wall, inside or outside.
The extra power and the extra versatility, combined with the significantly smaller dimensions, mean a lot more homes will be able to use the Powerwall 2.
Australia in particular has relatively high energy costs. With the right home solar panel installation, the Tesla Powerwall 2 might finally be the technology that allows people to move off the grid.
|Storage capacity||6.4 kWh||13.2 kWh|
|Power (continuous)||3.3 kW||5 kW|
|Power (peak)||3.3 kW||7 kW|
|Current price||n/a||Approximately $8,000 per unit|
|Mounting||Wall||Wall or floor|
|Round trip efficiency||Approximately 90%||Approximately 90%|
|Dimensions||1,300mm x 860mm x 180mm||1,150mm x 755mm x 155mm|
How much can I save with the Tesla Powerwall 2?
The typical Australian household consumes about 21 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day. Depending on your power usage and your installed solar system, the Tesla Powerwall 2 could help you save well over $1,000 a year. When combined with Tesla's 10-year manufacturer's warranty, there's a reasonable chance that the Powerwall 2 could be the missing puzzle piece that will allow home solar systems to go well beyond breaking even and start delivering real solar savings.
If you've been waiting for the right technology, it might finally be here.
Note: Solar service not available in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Solar Run is a solar retailer who can help you install solar on your rooftop.
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