Tesla is now a battery company first, and a car company second. The Tesla Powerwall is not exactly the first home battery of its kind. Others exist. Most home batteries function approximately like this: batteries charge at night, when utility company’s rates are the lowest, and can then be switched on in the morning so homeowners can enjoy that cheap energy throughout the day. Batteries, as we all understand, can be juiced up from nearly any source – including a homeowner’s solar panels, provided the correct wiring is available. So, could the new Tesla battery be used to take your home off the grid?
Related: New Tesla battery could take your home off the grid
A homeowner’s individual ability to harness energy is what determines the answer to the “on or off the grid” question. For instance, does your home have enough solar panels or wind turbines to collect all of the energy you’ll need to power through another day? And not just one day, of course, because you’ll need to store enough energy to make it through the days when you can’t generate enough new power, like when the sun isn’t shining bright. How many Powerwall batteries would your home need to run day after day? You’ll have to do the math.
The Tesla Powerwall battery system is priced at $3,000 to $3,500, depending on the model your home needs, and installation charges would be additional. Although the battery itself may seem cheap compared to similar batteries on the market, it’s pretty clear that this home battery isn’t targeted at your average homeowner, considering that this cost is for the battery alone and not the array of solar panels and a power inverter that one would also need in order to harness that “free” solar energy Musk likes to joke about. The $3,500 option provides 10kWh, and is designed to be a backup power supply for power outages and people wanting to live off-grid. The less expensive $3,000 version will have a 7kWh capacity, and is designed primarily to help a homeowner deal with fluctuations in energy pricing and supply to cut the cost of their power (by charging up at night when the rates are lower).
What’s the take-away? The new Tesla Powerwall battery, which can clearly be used for either home or business use, is one more notch in the belt for Elon Musk. It’s a wall-mounted rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that looks way more stylish than its competitors. The real purpose of this battery, though, is to get people excited about the prospect of turning away from fossil fuels. Musk doesn’t envision that every home in America will have a Tesla battery in the next X number of years. What he hopes, though, is that Tesla’s newest product will light a fire under other innovators in the industry to get busy working on accessible solutions to help every day people take control of their energy consumption, and the environmental costs associated with it, over a longer timeline. Could the new Tesla Powerwall save the world? Not by itself. Will it give the world a big push in the right direction? Definitely.