Tesla Powerwall on a modern home

These days it’s almost worth separating the history of solar batteries into two time periods: ‘b.t.p’ and ‘a.t.p’.

Of course, we’re talking about the time before and after the birth of the Tesla Powerwall.

It’s hard to overstate how much things have changed in what seems like a few short years since Tesla first unveiled their wall mounted Li-Ion battery.

Not too long ago, the only homeowners with batteries were off-grid enthusiasts and families in the remote regions of outback Australia without a proper network connection.

These days energy storage units are quickly becoming the next household appliance ‘must have’.

Whether it’s the sleek design of the Powerwall 1.0  and 2.0, or the success of Elon’s PR company, Tesla’s Home Battery is to energy storage what the Hoover is to vacuuming and Glad is to cling wrap.

Often time we hear our customers refer to any and all batteries as ‘Powerwalls’, and they’re surprised to hear the world’s most famous lithium battery has worthwhile competitors.

But, for anyone out there who is serious about installing a home battery, Elon Musks’ stuttered yet exciting keynote speech and well worded press releases aren’t going to cut it.

As research savvy homeowners, we understand that you are after one thing and one thing only.

That’s a technical breakdown of how the Powerwall measures up to the competition that’s lean on jargon and relevant to reducing your power bills.

So, let’s take a look underneath the Powerwall 2.0’s stylish exterior, and see what’s ‘under the hood’ of this Tesla.

System Layout and Components

Unlike most lithium ion batteries, the Powerwall 2.0 is designed to be AC coupled and comes with standard an internal inverter.

What does all that mean?

As you can see below, the Tesla Powerwall 2.0 does not connect to the solar inverter, but instead, directly to your meter box.

This is because the Powerwall 2.0 has an inbuilt inverter that converts AC to DC power when charging and DC to AC when discharging.

This is especially advantageous to homeowners who already own solar power as the Powerwall can be easily retrofitted without replacing existing componentry.

The disadvantage of this setup is that it requires your solar-generated power to be inverted twice before being stored in the Powerwall 2.0, which is less efficient than charging your battery directly from DC power.

Performance Specifications

This is because the Powerwall 2.0 has an inbuilt inverter that converts AC to DC power when charging and DC to AC when discharging.

This is especially advantageous to homeowners who already own solar power as the Powerwall can be easily retrofitted without replacing existing componentry.

The disadvantage of this setup is that it requires your solar-generated power to be inverted twice before being stored in the Powerwall 2.0, which is less efficient than charging your battery directly from DC power.

Size Matters: Capacity and Output

  Output Capacity
Powerwall 5-7kW 13.5kW

The most obvious stand-out feature of the Powerwall 2.0 is its large storage capacity. For a couple of years, most units sat at around 6.4kWh.

For example, both LG Chem’s 1st generation unit as well as the Powerwall  1.0 were both 6.4kWh units.

This time Tesla has chosen to more than double their unit’s capacity, providing a battery with up to 13.5kWh of storage and 13.2kWh of usable power.

This means that homeowners can get much more out of their batteries, and feel secure using power at night without pulling additional electricity from the grid.

Meanwhile, the Powerwall 2.0 has an output of 5-7kW, similar to the LG Chem RESU, a leading competitor.

Additional Specs: DoD, Efficiency

  DoD Efficiency
Powerwall 100% 90%

Additionally, the Powerwall 2.0 boasts a 100% depth of discharge. The depth of discharge, in layman's terms, simply refers to what percentage of the batteries capacity is used before it registers as empty.

Ever notice how your iPhone will switch off when the battery dies, but still have enough power to let you know to charge it?

That’s because the battery is not fully drained. This helps preserve the life of the battery but comes at the cost of a shorter battery life.

The Tesla Powerwall 2.0 however, drains the battery entirely each time it discharges.

This means that a homeowner can get the most out of their storage unit each and every night, but there is a trade-off.

Environmental & Mechanical Specifications

  Dimensions (mm) Temp. Range
Powerwall 1150 x 755 x 155 -20C - 50C

Now we know that the Powerwall 2.0 can perform, and can it do it under stress? It’s no good having a high-performance lithium-ion battery if it can’t stand the test of time or push past harsh conditions.

See, Australian homeowners have to take more into consideration when purchasing solar and energy storage equipment than most – the weather.

It’s good to know then that the Tesla Powerwall has been manufactured with the Aussie sun in mind.

Currently, the data sheet reads that the Powerwall 2.0 can operate between -20C and +50C. So unless you are in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert during the summer, everything should be fine.

Not to mention that the Powerwall 2.0 will operate reliably under 100% humidity, an important factor for those of us in Queensland and NT.

Tesla’s home battery can also withstand altitudes of up to 3000m, which last time we checked is higher than Mt. Kosciuszko.

In regards to the batteries size, the Powerwall 2.0  is large. Measuring up to be 1150 mm x 755mm x 155mm.

Don’t try lifting this thing by yourself, as it weighs 126 kg! Luckily our installers work in teams.

And, if you are looking to place the batteries in parallel then go ahead, as up to 9 batteries can be placed within a single system providing you with up to 121.5kWh.

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The Tesla App

As for usability, Tesla has provided access to their proprietary app for all Powerwall owners.

From the app, the Powerwall can be monitored and managed.

A few standout features include over the air updates and customised reserve backup power.

First off, Tesla is famous for improving their vehicles through over the air updates, usually occurring while the owner is fast asleep and nonetheless wiser that their car will perform better in the morning.

Similarly, the Powerwall’s management software is designed to improve over time. That being said, it’s pretty good as it is.

You can even edit how much reserve power you want in case of an emergency or blackout, directly from the app.

And, if you ever buy a Tesla Model S, your new ride can be managed from the same app.

Conclusion

There’s no doubting the meteoric impact Tesla has had on battery systems as a whole.

The Powerwall opened the eyes of homeowners and industry folk alike to a new way of using solar energy.

It comes as a relief that the Powerwall is more than just bells and whistles.  

As one of the largest Li-Ion residential batteries on the market, the Powerwall is guaranteed to help your home power through a blackout or run your home at night for little to no cost.

Plus, it is always good to know that Tesla took the Australian climate into account when designing their energy storage product.

Next Step

If you want to see how much solar or battery storage could save you over the next 5 years, then take our solar saving calculator quiz below!

Or talk to an Instyle Solar expert about the best solutions for home energy storage or PV-panels.

Otherwise, head back to the solar blog to find even more great educational content.

Photo credit: Tesla

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