Exploring the best Tesla Powerwall alternatives in 2021

Updated

Best Tesla Powerwall alternatives 2021

 

Every year, more and more homeowners choose to pair solar panels with solar batteries - and for good reason. Solar batteries continue to get cheaper year after year, and with widespread power blackouts becoming more common, people want to make sure they have access to reliable electricity.

For years, the Tesla Powerwall has been the solar battery of choice for most homeowners. But the company’s recent decision to only sell Powerwalls with Tesla solar systems makes it difficult to get your hands on one. 

So, if you’re looking for a solar battery and you already have solar panels, or you aren’t quite sold on getting a Tesla solar system, you’re going to need some Tesla Powerwall alternatives. 

To help make your search a little easier, we’ve collected some of the leaders in solar energy batteries and analyzed how they stack up against each other. In this blog, we will review the sonnen Eco, LG Chem, Panasonic EverVolt, Electriq PowerPod, and BYD B-Box solar batteries - and how they compare to the Tesla Powerwall.

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    The Tesla Powerwall

    Since the release of the first Powerwall in 2015, Elon Musk’s company Tesla has aimed to produce larger capacity, more reliable, and more cost-effective energy storage solutions. The current Powerwall+ comes with a 13.5 kWh usable capacity and is the most widely-installed battery backup for home use. 

    The Tesla Powerwall costs $10,500 for the battery, installed as part of a Tesla solar+storage system. 

    Remember - the Tesla Powerwall can only be installed alongside new Tesla solar panels or the Tesla solar roof. Tesla no longer sells the Powerwall apart from new installations with solar panels.

    So, if you can’t get the Powerwall, what batteries can you get?

    sonnenCore battery

    German energy company sonnen has long focused its efforts on the production of solar batteries. Since 2017, sonnen has marketed its batteries in the United States through a network of installers. 

    The company previously only offered luxury solar battery solutions that exceeded the budget of most homeowners. In 2020, sonnen decided to take a stab at the mainstream residential market with the release of their newest battery, the sonnenCore

    The all-in-one sonnenCore battery storage system is a 10 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery that costs $9,500 before installation. This is substantially cheaper than their sonnenEco or EcoLinx models that could cost over $30,000 to install. 

    Pros of the sonnenCore solar battery

    The sonnenCore battery melds together solar energy with features befitting even the most technologically advanced smart home, while still keeping it at a reasonable price. 

    Because of the company’s commitment to advancing technologies, the battery has many useful features that should be considered when looking at battery backup systems.

    Some features of the sonnenCore solar battery include:

    • sonnen's smart system allows owners to manage where energy is being sent
    • The sonnenCore has a variety of operating modes so you can get exactly what you want out of your battery
    • Lithium iron phosphate battery technology used by the sonnenCore is safer than the more commonly used lithium nickel manganese cobalt chemistry
    • sonnen offers a 10-year warranty that ensures the battery will maintain up to 70% of its storage capacity over a 10-year lifespan

    Cons of the sonnenCore solar battery

    • While it is cheaper than sonnen’s other batteries, it still costs a little more than other solar batteries on the market
    • The battery only comes in one size, so homes with high power usage may need to install more than one
    • The sonnenCore is not rated for outdoor installation, so it must be installed indoors

    What type of home is the sonnenCore solar battery best for? 

    The sonnenCore battery is best for homeowners looking for advanced features like Time-of-Use load shifting and those who are interested in being able to track and control where their power is going. It’s also ideal for homeowners who expect to discharge their battery regularly, as it has one of the best warranties and throughput guarantees. 

    The sonnenCore can also bring you peace of mind, as its chemistry makes it safer and easy to recycle. 

    Find out if installing solar + battery storage is worth it for you

    The LG Chem RESU Prime battery system

    The LG Chem RESU battery is a lithium-ion battery that captures solar energy and stores it for later use in residential settings. In 2021, LG Chem introduced new higher-capacity RESU Prime batteries in order to answer the needs of the marketplace affected by power outages and to more directly compete with Tesla. 

    The LG Chem RESU Prime can be used as either whole-home backup during outages or as a day-to-day battery pack, meaning it charges and discharges over a traditional 24-hour period. The RESU Prime comes in capacities of 10 and 16 kWh, and can be installed in pairs to create whole-home backup for even larger homes that use a lot of electricity.

    Pros of the LG Chem RESU battery 

    • LG’s RESU Prime batteries come with a warranty that ensures they will retain at least 70% capacity after a 10-year period, which is matches the warranty offered by Tesla
    • 16 kWh is a large enough home battery size to be adequate for most homes, and can be doubled if necessary
    • The Prime batteries are floor-mounted and LG-trained installers can service and repair the batteries onsite if anything goes wrong

    Cons of the LG Chem RESU battery 

    • The average cost of the LG Chem system, including supporting equipment and installation, ranges from $11,000 to $15,000 - depending on your location, battery capacity, and installation charges
    • LG Chem batteries are DC-coupled and can only be used for backup with a central string inverter or by adding an additional battery inverter, which adds expense and complexity

    What type of home is the LG Chem solar battery system best for? 

    The LG Chem RESU, like its competitors, is not intended for those looking to go “off grid". In fact, the batteries are designed to only work in hybrid grid-tied battery backup systems

    So instead, these batteries are best for energy-conscious homes that require energy coverage during peak consumption periods and unexpected power outages. The 16 kWh system is enough to cover a home for about a day of limited energy use, not several days.

    The Panasonic EverVolt battery

    Panasonic is one of the most recognized and trusted electronics brands in the world, and its solar and battery offerings match the company’s reputation. 

    Panasonic makes some of the most efficient solar panels on the market, and they’ve been designed to pair seamlessly with the EverVolt battery system. You can also buy the batteries separately and install them with or without solar panels.

    If installed as an AC-coupled system (connected to your home’s wiring), Panasonic offers two battery sizes of 11.4 and 17.1 kWh. If installed DC-coupled (connected to your solar inverter), the battery system is expandable from 11-102 kWh for a truly huge whole-home backup system. 

    Pros of the Panasonic EverVolt battery 

    • Can be installed either AC-coupled or DC-coupled, allowing for the battery to fit your needs
    • Can be sized large enough to provide long-term backup and charge only from solar panels

    Cons of the Panasonic EverVolt battery 

    • Panasonic’s warranty guarantees only 60% capacity after 10 years, falling behind both Tesla and LG
    • The cost of AC-coupled Panasonic batteries is between $15,000 and $20,000, which is higher than the AC-coupled Powerwall+ 

    The Electriq Power PowerPod 2 solar battery

    Electriq Power is a newer company that started in a California garage in 2014. The company has grown quickly since those early days, and it now offers the PowerPod 2 solar battery for homeowners looking for some backup power and load-shifting to prevent high peak power charges under Time-of-Use billing.

    The PowerPod 2 comes in both AC and DC-coupled versions in sizes of between 10 and 20-kWh.

    Pros of the Electriq PowerPod 2 

    • Electriq uses cobalt-free LiFePO4 chemistry in the PowerPod 2, meaning it’s less polluting than other batteries and avoids using cobalt mined under terrible conditions
    • Like the Panasonic EverVolt, the PowerPod 2 is available in AC and DC-coupled versions to meet a variety of needs
    • The PowerPod 2’s round-trip efficiency is 96.6%, meaning 9.66 kWh will be available for every 10 kWh stored. Additionally, Electriq Power’s warranty guarantees 70% capacity after 10 years, even with the LG and Tesla as the best in the industry

    Cons of the Electriq PowerPod 2 

    • The cost of a PowerPod 2 is estimated between $13,000 and $19,000, but could go higher based on your location and other factors
    • As a newer company, it’s more difficult to believe in Electriq Power’s warranty than it is in those from more established brands like Panasonic and LG
    See what local solar installers are charging for solar-plus-battery installations

    The BYD B-Box solar battery system

    BYD is a large Chinese company headquartered in Shenzhen. Despite the company’s massive size in the Asian market, they’re a relatively unknown brand outside of China and surrounding countries. While they are working on their international brand recognition, they are not likely to outpace their competitors anytime soon.

    Their B-Box solar batteries, however, do the job just fine in most residential setups. The company provides the supporting hardware which can hold up to four 2.5kW battery packs. This means the BYD is available in four different sizes: 2.56kWh, 5.12kWh, 7.68kwh and 10.24kWh. The supporting hardware costs $675.28 and each battery costs $1,548.91, not including installation costs.

    Pros of the BYD B-Box

    BYD, as a lesser known company, has big shoes to fill if it wishes to break into the solar markets in the United States and other countries. However, the B-Box has some great features that may make it the best option for your solar power setup:

    • BYD uses lithium iron phosphate batteries which are safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries found in phones and laptops
    • Large power capacities allow for optimal usage of stored energy

    Cons of the BYD B-Box

    • A large footprint makes the battery system obtrusive
    • The smallest unit - at just 2.3 kWh of usable storage - has the smallest capacity in its class
    • The optimal temperature range makes the B-box a less-than-ideal option for extreme climates

    What type of home is the BYD B-Box best for?

    The BYD B-Box might be small in terms of storage capacity, but it is mighty in power output. The large size of the device (roughly the size of a small refrigerator) makes it obtrusive, so the battery pack is best-suited for homes that have an easy way to hide the device. Its limited storage capacity and limited optimal temperature range means that it only makes sense for small homes that are in temperate climates.

    Is there a clear-cut winner among solar batteries?

    The battery that will actually work best for your home will largely depend on your budget, your location, your personal energy consumption profile, and what additional features you’d like to see in your system.

    We think the LG Chem battery is the best Tesla Powerwall alternative. It uses time-tested technology and is now on its third generation. It can be easily paired with many different kinds of existing string-inverter solar panel systems or can be integrated with a new installation. Plus, the LG Chem is already widely available. 

    The batteries from Panasonic and Electriq Power are fine products in their own rights, but generally a bit more expensive and harder to get. That said, if you find a Panasonic-certified installer, you can get both panels and batteries that are perfect for each other. If you want something with more impressive specs, then you may want to go with a sonnen battery. But it’s a luxury battery that comes at a luxury price. 

    Whether you’re shopping around for solar panels or a battery backup, it is best to speak with a qualified installer to better understand your options. We also suggest you check out the solar panel cost estimator to better understand how solar energy can work for your specific home.

    Key takeaways

    • As of early 2021, Tesla only sells the Powerwall battery to consumers who buy solar panels or solar roof shingles at the same time.
    • There are many alternatives to the Powerwall from well-known companies such as LG, Panasonic, and sonnen.
    • The LG Chem battery is our top pick for the best Tesla Powerwall alternative because it is thoroughly tested technology, can be installed at the same time as solar panels or after, and comes with a great warranty.
    • For homeowners who want a premium experience, the sonnenCore solar battery comes with top-of-the-line smart functions and a price to match.
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Andrew Sendy

    Home Solar Journalist

    Andy is deeply concerned about climate change but is also concerned about cost of living pressures on American families. He advocates for solar energy and solar battery storage only to the extent that they make financial sense for homeowners. He is not affiliated with any particular solar company in the United States.

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