Will Tesla’s Powerwall Really Change the World?

We’ve heard it before: product X will change the world. We heard it about the Segway and the iPhone. Rarely does a new product really change the world.  The iPhone changed what we thought about phones. Now Tesla and their new battery called the Powerwall is supposed to change how we use power. Will it really? I don’t think so.

Will Tesla's Powerwall Really Change the World?

Elon Musk’s new product, the Powerwall comes in two sizes, 7kWh and 10kWh. To give you an idea, the 10kWh battery can power your clothes dryer for about 3 hours. Your refrigerator for about 48 hours. This is, essentially, a backup power supply for your home. It’s designed to be charged on solar power or during non-peak hours off of the electrical mains. Tesla says:

“The average home uses more electricity in the morning and evening than during the day when solar energy is plentiful. Without a home battery, excess solar energy is often sold to the power company and purchased back in the evening. This mismatch adds demand on power plants and increases carbon emissions. Powerwall bridges this gap between renewable energy supply and demand by making your home’s solar energy available to you when you need it.”

The full specs:

  • Technology Wall mounted, rechargeable lithium ion battery with liquid thermal control.
  • Models 10kWh $3,500 For backup applications, 7kWh $3,000 For daily cycle applications
  • Warranty Ten year warranty with an optional ten year extension.
  • Efficiency 92% round-trip DC efficiency
  • Power 2.0 kW continuous, 3.3 kW peak
  • Voltage 350 – 450 volts
  • Current 5 amp nominal, 8.5 amp peak output
  • Compatibility Single phase and three phase utility grid compatible.
  • Operating Temperature -4°F to 110°F / -20°C to 43°C
  • Enclosure Rated for indoor and outdoor installation.
  • Installation Requires installation by a trained electrician. AC-DC inverter not included.
  • Weight 220 lbs / 100 kg
  • Dimensions 52.1″ x 33.9″ x 7.1″
    130 cm x 86 cm x 18 cm
  • Certifications UL listed

Now you CAN use this without investing in solar since the battery can charge during off peak hours, but I wonder how long it would take to get to full capacity? With 10kWh of capacity that could take a while. So I hope you don’t need it right after you buy it.

The price here is comparable to installing a backup generator for your home. Although it will not produce as much pollutants on a daily basis as a generator, the Lithium Ion batteries that this has aren’t exactly safe for the environment.

While interesting, I’d be more interested in a portable version of this, as it would power my ham station for weeks which is something I am very interested in for providing emergency communication services. Other than that, I fail to see how this is going to change the world. They promised this originally with solar power in the 80’s, but the majority of homes still have regular roofs on them. So I fail to see how Powerwall will change things.

What do you think? Will this change the world?


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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.