Duracell Power Center expert review: Will this be the battery you buy?

Updated

Duracell Power Center on a home
The Duracell Power Center on a handsome home. Image source: Duracell

Home energy storage is becoming a big business in the United States. Companies like Generac and Briggs & Stratton have parlayed their experience in the field of backup generators into successful home battery product launches. Now Duracell—one of the biggest names in batteries—has entered the market.

The Duracell Power Center is a new home battery system for storing and using solar energy and backing up critical appliances to keep your home running in the event of a power outage. It can be added to homes with or without solar panels, or can be paired with a new solar installation.

How does the Power Center stack up to other offerings? Is it right for your home? We cover those questions and more in the article below!

Calculate if going solar with battery storage is worth it in your area

Key takeaways

  • The Duracell Power Center is a home energy storage solution currently available in the United States and Caribbean markets.
  • The Power Center uses lithium iron phosphate batteries and can hold between 14 and 42 kWh of electricity, depending on how many battery cabinets are paired with the power control system.
  • The Power Center can pair with any existing solar inverter, or be installed in a home without solar panels and charge from the grid.
  • While the Power Center does not allow for whole-home backup or off-grid applications, it can provide backup power for critical appliances in the event of a power outage.
  • The Power Center comes with a 15-year warranty on power electronics and a 10-year power capacity warranty that guarantees the batteries will maintain at least 70% of their original capacity during the first 10 years of operation.

On this page

    How the Duracell Power Center works

    The Power Center energy storage system is a modular system consisting of two main pieces of equipment: a Power Control System (PCS) and a battery module. The PCS provides power inversion from AC to DC and back, can deliver up to 5 kilowatts (kW) of continuous power, and surge up to 8.5 kW to start motors. One to three battery cabinets can be installed to store between 14 and 42 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.

    A Duracell Power Center with one 14 kWh battery cabinet (right) attached

    A Duracell Power Center with one 14 kWh battery cabinet (right) attached. Image source: Duracell Power Center

    The battery cabinets in the Power Center contain lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells, and Duracell says they can be cycled up to 6,000 times while maintaining at least 70% of their original capacity. With daily charging cycles, that's a little over 15 years of designed life. LFP batteries are quickly becoming the preferred choice among U.S. homeowners, as the technology is safer and more environmentally friendly than lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cells in batteries like the Tesla Powerwall and Generac PWRcell.

    As seen in the picture above, the components of the Power Center must be mounted on a wall, which means you need the space to do it. The smallest footprint for the installation is 43.3” wide, 22.5” tall, and 15.7” deep for one battery, while the largest configuration with three battery cabinets extends to 88.3” wide. These are some hefty batteries - the PCS module weighs 145 pounds, while each battery cabinet weighs 223 pounds.

    AC coupling

    The Duracell Power Center is an AC-coupled battery that charges from AC power and discharges AC power back to the home thanks to the system's built-in power inverter. This gives the Duracell Power Center the flexibility to connect to an existing solar installation, or even charge from the grid in a home without solar.

    How the Power Center saves you money

    For many people, the Power Center's most effective use is to protect you from high energy costs during the daily peak hours of a Time of Use (TOU) rate plan. You can charge the Power Center with solar energy during the day and use some of that stored energy to run appliances in the evening when electricity rates are higher.

    Using the Power Center to do this can save the average household hundreds of dollars annually and still ensure backup power is available during a power outage. Right now, the savings from avoiding peak charges probably won’t be high enough to pay back the cost of the battery. If you live in a location with TOU billing, ask your installer to set the battery up for load shifting functionality during peak times.

    Licensed technology

    As we mentioned at the start of this article, Duracell is one of the biggest names in batteries. Currently owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the company manufactures dozens of products and is one of the most trusted brands in the world. But the Power Center is not among the products manufactured by Duracell.

    Instead, the Duracell brand name has been licensed by a subsidiary of Omega Electronics Manufacturing Services (Omega EMS) called Power Center+. These companies manufacture the components used in the Power Center based on technology from a third company, Eguana Technologies, and use the Duracell name to market the products in North American and Caribbean markets.

    Does this mean the Power Center is a cheap knock-off with a major brand's name on it? Not at all. The Duracell Power Center is manufactured alongside Eguana's own products in the Omega EMS facility in San Jose, California.

    The technology included in the systems meets Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) standards and complies with state energy commission regulations in Hawaii and California. Shortly after the announcement of the licensing agreement, the companies revealed that at least 10,000 of the Duracell systems would be produced in the three years following the announcement.

    This type of licensing agreement isn't exactly rare. Duracell itself has not spent a lot of time developing lithium-ion technology, but they have made these kinds of strategic partnerships with companies that have. In fact, the UK and Australia have their own Duracell-branded home energy storage solutions sold as the Duracell Energy Bank product line, which is also manufactured by a licensee of the Duracell name.

    Important specifications

    The Power Center is rated for outdoor use, with an enclosure that protects against rain and snow, and an operating temperature range of 32° to 122° F (0° to 50° C). That means it can’t be mounted outdoors in very cold environments, so be aware of that if you live in the midwest and the northeastern United States.

    In terms of performance, the PCS can put out 20.8 amps into 240 volts, or 5 kW of continuous power. It can also surge up to 8.5 kW for 5 seconds. When two battery cabinets are in use, they can release up to 6 kW for 30 minutes.

    The last important specification is the round trip efficiency, which measures how much usable energy the battery can output based on the energy that's stored inside it. The Power Center has a round trip efficiency of 85.7%, meaning that every 10 kWh of electricity sent to the battery produces 8.57 kWh of usable AC electricity. This is on the low end compared to other batteries on the market. Batteries from sonnen are a little lower, but offerings from LG, Generac, Tesla, and others have round-trip efficiencies of 90% or greater.

    Warranty

    The Power Center solar storage solution comes with a 15-year warranty on power electronics, and a 10-year warranty on the battery capacity. Power Center promises that the battery will be free of defects for 15 years and retain at least 70% of its initial capacity during the 10-year warranty period, or they will repair or replace parts that are causing issues.

    Still, the company says the battery should be able to fully cycle 6,000 times before hitting that 70% capacity limit, so the battery is designed to last for 15 years or more. After the 10-year mark, they won't cover failures, but the batteries should work just fine, and the power electronics are covered. That's a good warranty on a product built to last.

    Does the Power Center provide whole-home backup?

    The short, easy answer to this question is “no.” The term “whole home backup” implies that the battery would run a full set of home appliances when the grid is down. To do that, a backup solution has to have the ability to produce surge current to start things like air conditioners while also running other appliances. In that situation, the home would need a large battery, a very powerful inverter, and some kind of load management system to prevent the home from drawing too much power at once.

    The Duracell Power Center is not designed to do that, and neither are most other home batteries on the market. Instead, batteries like the Power Center contain enough energy to power so-called “critical loads”— essential things like water heaters, lights, refrigerators, and a few power outlets for small appliances.

    The critical loads in a typical home backup installation would use about 9.5 kWh per day in a power outage. So the 14 kWh Power battery could power the home for more than one day, and the 42 kWh installation with three cabinets could go for up to four days powering the critical appliances in your home.

    Can you go off grid?

    Similar to the discussion of whole-home backup above, the Duracell Power Center is not meant for use in an off-grid application. For an off-grid system to work properly, the home needs an oversized solar installation that can make enough electricity for at least a full day even on the darkest, least-sunny day of the year.

    Off-grid setups also need excess battery storage and even fossil-fuel-powered backup generators in case of emergency. Like we said before, the Duracell Power Center is designed to operate as backup power in a grid-tied application or to perform daily cycling to power the home during periods of peak demand under time-of-use billing.

    Cost and availability

    Because the Power Center is new on the market, there is little pricing information available. We’ll get more information as the units start to arrive at solar installation companies. Batteries with similar capabilities and storage capacities are priced between about $11,000 and $15,000, installed, so if the Power Center can be installed around the low end of that range, it’ll be competitive.

    Batteries that charge exclusively from solar panels can qualify their owner for the federal solar tax credit, and many states have battery incentives as well. Those incentives can reduce the cost of a battery by several thousand dollars, and some utilities even offer ongoing programs that can earn battery owners monthly payments for supporting the grid with some of their batteries' capacity.

    Given the promise of at least 10,000 units in the next three years, these batteries should see widespread availability in the United States and Puerto Rico, but especially in the southwest, northeast, and Hawaii.

    After all that information above, who is the Power Center actually good for?

    If you’re a homeowner who lives in an area with high electricity prices and no net metering, the Duracell Power Center is a good option for you. Similarly, if you’re a regular victim of Public Safety Power Shutdowns due to wildfires (basically, if you live outside of a city in California), the Duracell could be good for you.

    The Power Center is an excellent choice if you already have solar panels installed, as it can charge from any existing solar inverter. It’s also not a bad option if you just want to avoid peak energy charges and have a little extra backup power in case of an outage.

    The performance of the Power Center is fine, not spectacular, but the technology is solid and the warranty protection is good. If the solar installer you’ve chosen offers the Power Center at a competitive price, you can feel confident that you’re getting a good product that will serve you well for a decade or more.

    Find out if solar + storage is worth it for your specific home
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Ben Zientara

    Solar Policy Analyst and Researcher

    Ben is a writer, researcher, and data analysis expert who has worked for clients in the sustainability, public administration, and clean energy sectors.

    Related solar news