Tesla Powerwall battery: how much does it cost, and is it worth it?
Individual panel prices
Prices of DIY kits
Installed system prices
Tesla has been in the battery game since its launch of the Powerwall battery in 2015. Since then, over 250,000 Powerwalls have been installed globally - and for a good reason. The Tesla Powerwall is a great battery with great operating features. In fact, we named the Tesla Powerwall the year’s best energy storage solution.
Unfortunately, solar batteries are expensive, and the Tesla Powerwall is no exception. With installations starting at $11,500, you’re probably wondering if a Powerwall is really worth the cost. The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.
The cost of one Tesla Powerwall+ battery is $12,850 when purchased through Tesla. When you pair a Powerwall with a Tesla solar panel or Solar Roof system, you get a discount that drops the price to $11,500.
It’s important to note that Tesla doesn’t sell Powerwalls for individual sale, so you have to order one with either Tesla solar panels or the Solar Roof. This means you’ll automatically get the $11,500 price if you’re trying to purchase it through Tesla because your only choice is to bundle it with solar.
Don’t worry! There are ways to get a Powerwall on its own. Certified installers throughout the country sell Tesla Powerwalls and don’t require them to be paired with a new solar system. But choosing a local installer usually means you’ll have to pay a higher price for the Powerwall. We’ve seen quotes for Powerwalls anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000.
Keep an eye out for additional charges. Some additional charges may come with installing the Powerwall, even when you get it from Tesla. For example, Tesla or your installer may require you to upgrade your electrical panel, which can add $2,500 to your installation costs!
Yes, the Tesla Powerwall does qualify for the battery storage incentives available in the U.S.
The biggest incentive is the federal solar tax credit, which will reduce the cost of a Powerwall installation by 30%. So, if you were charged $11,500 for installing a Powerwall, you would get a $3,450 tax credit from the federal government.
Aside from the federal tax credit, some states and utilities offer additional rebates and incentives. In some cases, rebates like California’s SGIP incentive and Green Mountain Power’s Bring Your Own Device Program in Vermont can cover almost 90% of the total cost of installing a Powerwall.
A Tesla Powerwall can save money on electricity bills if your utility uses Time of Use rates. With Time of Use rates, the price of electricity varies depending on the time of day. Rates are highest during peak periods and lowest during off-peak periods.
When you have a Tesla Powerwall, you can charge during off-peak periods, either with solar or from the grid. Then, you can use that stored energy to power your home later in the day and avoid expensive peak prices. This will technically save you money, but the savings will be minimal if the difference between peak and off-peak rates isn’t that much. You may not see a return on your battery investment within the battery’s lifespan.
Batteries can also save you additional money if you have solar and your utility doesn’t buy solar power for the full retail rate of electricity. Similar to how it works with Time of Use rates, you can store your excess solar power and use it later instead of sending it to the grid for a lower price. This way, you get the full value of your extra solar electricity.
But if your utility doesn’t use Time of Use rates or offers full retail net metering, then a Tesla Powerwall won’t save you money on your electricity bills.
There are two ways you can get a Tesla Powerwall:
Getting a Powerwall and solar system through Tesla is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is go to Tesla’s website, enter your address and electricity bill, and then place your order. Tesla will follow up with you to organize inspections and finalize the system design, and then you just have to wait for the installation. Which, by the way, could be a while. Some people report waiting longer than eight months from when they ordered to when their solar installation happened.
You can also choose to get a Powerwall through local solar installers, so long as they sell them. When you go with a local installer, you can install the Powerwall with a new solar system, buy an individual Powerwall to connect to your existing solar panels system, or even get it installed on its own! But remember, you’ll likely pay a higher price going with a local installer than ordering through Tesla.
So, which option do we recommend? We suggest getting a Powerwall with a local solar installer, as they usually provide better service. Ordering through a website may be the easy option, but easy doesn’t necessarily cut it when it comes to such a hefty investment. So, even though you may have to pay more than if you ordered through Tesla, a local company will give you individualized attention and find the solution that works best for you while providing ongoing support for the lifetime of your battery.
Powerwalls have long wait times. We said Powerwalls were popular. They’re so popular that Tesla can’t quite keep up with demand. There are some reports that people have waited almost two years for their Powerwall installation to happen. So, if your installer doesn’t have them in stock, or if you choose to go with Tesla, be prepared to wait for your batteries to get installed. The good news is that the solar panels can be installed first, and the Powerwall can be installed later when it becomes available.
The number of Powerwalls you install determines how many appliances you can back up during a power outage. Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
One of the biggest advantages of installing a Powerwall is having backup power if the grid goes down. But, one Powerwall won’t be able to run all of the appliances in your house when the power is out. Instead, you’ll choose your most important electrical loads, like your refrigerator, lights, WiFi, and outlets, for the Powerwall to backup.
If you’re interested in whole home backup, you’ll have to install multiple Powerwall batteries. If that’s in your budget, go for it! It’s up to you to decide if running power-hungry loads like an air conditioner during a blackout is worth the extra thousands of dollars to install more Powerwalls.
Finding the right size battery system to meet your needs is another thing that a solar installer can help you with. They’ll have insight into the most cost-effective solution and how many batteries you’ll need to run some or all of your appliances.
The Tesla Powerwall has some great specifications and some of the most impressive smart monitoring and management software in the solar battery game.
|Feature||Tesla Powerwall+ specification|
|Usable energy capacity||13.5 kWh|
|Continuous power rating||On-grid: 7.6 kW full sun/5.8 kW no sun, Off-grid: 9.6 kW full sun/7 kW no sun|
|Peak power rating||Off-grid: 22 kW full sun/10 kW no sun|
|Round trip efficiency||90%|
|Depth of discharge||100%|
|Dimensions||62.8 in x 29.7 in x 6.3 in|
|Operating modes||Solar Self-Consumption, Time-Based Control, Backup Power|
A battery’s capacity tells you how much electricity it can store. The higher the capacity, the longer the battery can power your home. With the ability to hold 13.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, the Powerwall can store enough energy to cover about half of the average American home’s daily energy usage.
With one charge, a Powerwall can likely run the essentials in your home, like your refrigerator, WiFi, some outlets, and a few lights, for about 24 hours.
The release of the Powerwall+ brought one major change: a higher power rating. The continuous power rating of a battery tells you what and how many appliances it can run.
Powerwall batteries connected to the grid can now deliver 7.6 kW of continuous power when the sun is shining and 5.6 kW with no sun.
The Powerwall can release enough power to run lights, electrical outlets, and 120-volt appliances like your fridge. If you want to run high-powered appliances, such as an air conditioner, you’ll need additional Powerwalls.
Your Powerwall will be able to release more power when it’s operating off-grid, ranging between 7 kW and 9.6 kW of output depending on weather conditions. So, when the Powerwall is not connected to the grid, like during a power outage, it can run a few more appliances in your home.
Aside from the continuous power rating, batteries also have a peak power rating, which is the maximum amount of power a battery can deliver in a short amount of time (usually about 10 seconds). The peak power rating measures the battery's ability to withstand brief power surges, like when appliances draw extra power to turn on.
No on-grid peak power rating is listed for the Powerwall, but when operating off-grid, the peak power ranges from 10 kW to a whopping 22 kW if the sun is shining.
These numbers are substantially higher than the industry average for peak power rating, usually around 7 kW of output. However, you’ll only be able to unlock the full potential if you have at least a 12 kW solar system.
The Powerwall has three main operating modes:
You’ll probably use one of these three operating modes, But, Powerwall does have additional modes to fit every situation. Energy Export mode lets you send power from your Powerwall to the electrical grid to earn credits if your utility allows it. You can also use the Advance Settings option to control how much power your solar panels send to the grid versus how much they send to your battery.
A Preconditioning setting also helps the battery operate better in cold temperatures.
The Powerwall comes with a great warranty, but the exact terms of the warranty vary depending on what operating modes you use.
The language in Tesla’s warranty can be a bit confusing because it uses older names for the operating modes. But, it seems that if you use a combination of the backup reserve, self-powered, and time-based control modes, you get an unlimited cycle warranty that guarantees the battery will operate at least at 70% capacity after 10 years.
If you use any other applications, the Powerwall will operate at 70% capacity after 10 years or after it has released 37.8 megawatt-hours (MWh) of AC electricity, whichever comes first. Basically, this means that if you completely discharge your Powerwall every day, your warranty period will be shortened to roughly 7.5 years as opposed to 10 years.
The specifics of how your usage impacts the battery life are outlined in Tesla’s warranty.
Your Powerwall will probably last longer than its warranty! Even though the Powerwal is only warrantied for ten years, that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it after a decade. The warranty means that the company can’t guarantee how fast the battery’s retention will drop after the ten-year mark. You could likely keep using your battery for another five or even ten years!
The Tesla Powerwall is an AC-coupled battery that comes with its own integrated inverter, making it easy to connect to existing solar panel systems. If something goes wrong with your solar inverter, your battery will keep working, and vice versa.
AC-coupled battery systems are a little less efficient than DC batteries, and having additional hardware means more parts can potentially fail. Ultimately, both AC and DC batteries make great choices for solar storage; the right one for you simply depends on your needs.
We think the Tesla Powerwall is a great battery. It has advanced features and impressive technical specs, all for a (potentially) great price. If it’s worth it is totally up to you and depends on why you want a battery and if you’re willing to wait over a year.
The peace of mind you get by having a Powerwall as a backup power source can be totally worthwhile if you live somewhere that experiences frequent blackouts, like California and Texas. Powerwalls also can potentially save you money on your electricity bills, especially if you live somewhere with Time of Use rates with very high peak power prices.
But, if your power isn’t going out regularly or your utility offers full-retail net metering, a battery won’t be as beneficial to you. Instead, it will add thousands of dollars to a solar installation without saving you additional money or really getting much use.
As previously mentioned, if you decide to purchase a Tesla Powerwall, we suggest getting it installed by a local solar installer. While it may be more expensive than going through Tesla, you won’t be forced to get a Tesla solar system. Plus, Tesla Energy is notorious for having poor after-sales service. A solar company in your area will be able to provide you with the high-quality support you need for such a large investment.