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Tesla's Powerwall

Tech Talker explains the advantages and inner workings of Tesla’s Powerwall, a big battery made by the car company Tesla that can help you use electricity more efficiently at home.

By
Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #173

How it Works

Alright, now that we have covered why exactly these batteries are useful, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The batteries come in two different capacities and sizes: 10kWh and 7kWh, priced at $3500 and $3000, respectively. This charge won’t cover installation or an inverter (an inverter is needed to convert DC current that solar panels and the battery use to AC, which normal appliances and houses use).

So it’s estimated that the final cost will be around $7000 to have one up and running in your home, and even less if you already have solar panels (because you will already have an inverter). The really awesome thing about these is that they will also be able to be linked together. The Powerwall can have 9 batteries linked together, for a total capacity of 90kWh.

If you’re not sure what the term kilowatt-hour means, it’s pretty simple: it’s the amount of watts used to run something for one hour. For example, a load of laundry is about 2kWh, which means it’s the equivalent of using 2 kilowatts of electricity in one hour. A laptop is about .05kWh, and a refrigerator is about 5kWh for 24 hours of use. So while the Powerwall won’t be able to run your entire house for days and days, you could make one last for at least a day or so of off grid electricity, if the power was out.

Each Powerwall weighs 200lbs, and is about 4’ by 3’, and 7” thick. So they aren’t DIY, as these large batteries will need to be installed by an electrician. Luckily though, as more and more of these start to come out, the cost will start to be reduced.

More Powerwall Perks

When I first watched the press release about these batteries, I was expecting them to be years away. But surprisingly, they are going to be shipping in 3 to 4 months - which is insanely fast!

Not to mention, Tesla is also creating industrial grade batteries for businesses that are capable of stacking infinitely, which will allow businesses to use many of them together, for as much storage as possible. This could be a game changer for utility companies, or large producers of renewable electricity!

Another fantastic feature of these batteries is that they will have a warranty of up to 10 years, which those of you with an older cell phone whose battery doesn’t hold a charge for very long will appreciate as a super sweet deal. The batteries are also extremely efficient at around 92% efficiency, which means that there is very little power loss when storing electricity.

The last thing that I will say is that these batteries will allow for a more stable power supply not only for the people who have them, but also for the power grid overall. It will help to curb peak hour usage of electricity, and will allow for an efficient storage of electricity. You could even use these batteries to go completely off the grid, using only solar panels or some other renewable energy source to charge the batteries, and then pulling them out whenever you need them.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this is just the very first iteration of this technology. I’m sure that, just as with phones and computers, the rate of growth, features, and reliability will only get better as time goes on!

Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at quickanddirtytips.com/tech-talker. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them my Facebook page!

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple! 

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About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.