Then Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened the doors to what has turned out to be a vast, new global retail market for smartphones and mobile/wireless telecommunications when he introduced the first touchscreen iPhone to the world in January 2007. It’s far from clear as yet, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk may have done the same sort of thing by introducing the Powerwall 1 and 2 home battery energy storage system in May 2015, with the intention of pairing Powerwalls with solar PV panels from now wholly owned and assimilated SolarCity for power generation.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tesla’s new solar PV roof tiles and electric vehicles (EVs) – and the lithium-ion batteries therein – which round out and complete the pioneering distributed renewable energy corporation’s vision of households and families as self-sufficient, environmentally friendly energy “prosumers” (producer-consumers).
As big a media splash as it made, a fair amount of questions were raised, and anxiety expressed online, in the wake of Tesla’s Powerwall launch, through the first six months and into summer 2017. As revealed on Tesla Powerwall user forum, the question of price ranks somewhere near or at the top of the list of customers’ questions. Exactly how much would it cost to get a fully functional Powerwall home energy storage system up and running? Musk himself announced the 7-kWh Powerwall 1 would retail at US$3,500. But like buying a plane ticket from a discount airline, that was not the final word, or in either case, the all-in cost or fully installed price.
Tesla Powerwall forum participants raised numerous other questions regarding the high-profile home energy storage solution. How much power and energy would a Tesla Powerwall 1 or 2 actually deliver – in terms of “normal” household usage everyday people could understand? How easy would it be to put a Powerwall together with a home solar PV system? Would it work well in tandem with home networks and all the other electronic devices and equipment in today’s homes? Who would it install it, how long would it take, what was involved, and what could a buyer do if something went wrong with their Powerwall?
To be fair, there’s really no one, single, all-inclusive answer to these questions given all the US state, local, sales and installation process variables involved. That said, Tesla did reconsider, and reconfigure, its original Powerwall home batter energy storage system plans.
Based to some unknown degree on initial feedback from customers, Musk in October 2016 dropped the 7-kWh Powerwall 1 and publicly launched a 14-kWh Powerwall 2 in tandem with its latest home renewable energy product line – solar PV roof tiles. With that, Tesla took explicit aim at the market for emergency back-up home power systems and diversified and strengthened its lineup of home solar PV power generation retail products and services.
All this was taking place even as Tesla continued rushing to introduce newly trained, certified Powerwall installers in initial market and service territories in the US. Powerwall 2s are also now being sold, and installed, in the UK and Australia. Some in the US were criticizing Tesla management for not having trained a corps of certified installation and service technicians prior to Powerwall 1’s launch. As vexing, if not more so, it seemed all too difficult to get a firm handle on just how much it would cost to have a fully equipped Powerwall installed.
It should be noted that Tesla is probably the single company, or corporation, furthest along when it comes to offering households a “triple play” package of emissions-free, network-connected renewable energy and clean tech products and services – solar PV panels and roof tiles for generation and lithium ion battery systems in Powerwalls and Tesla EVs for storage, dispatch and distribution.
The latter is critical when it comes to serving as a household emergency back-up electrical power system, in addition to being able to store unneeded home solar electricity generated when grid demand and prices are low for later dispatch and sale, when they are higher. Nonetheless, early Powerwall customers were anxious and engaging in a bit of online hand-wringing and conjecture while waiting for their home battery energy storage systems to be installed. Just how much the final price tag would be featured prominently among messages posted on forums, including Tesla’s own Powerwall forum.
Tesla has been addressing these issues, but the question of what it costs to purchase and have a Powerwall 2 installed remains an open one given the leeway certified Tesla Powerwall installers have in determining and setting their own system installation prices.
Zeroing In on the Installed Cost of Tesla’s Powerwall 2
A visit to Tesla’s website to obtain a price quote and order one Powerwall 2 home energy storage system https://www.tesla.com/powerwall given a 3-bedroom home with 30kWh per day of electricity consumption and one-day of back-up power for lights, power outlets and a refrigerator yields the following:
|One 14 kWh Powerwall battery: $5,500|
|Supporting hardware: $700|
|Price for Powerwall equipment: $6,200|
|Requires $500 deposit for each Powerwall|
|Typical installation cost ranges from $800 to $2,000. This does not include solar installation, electrical upgrades (if necessary), taxes, permit fees, or any retailer / connection charges that may apply. Installation cost will vary based on your electrical panel, and where you would like your Powerwall installed. Installation will be scheduled after you place your order.|
So, Tesla’s own best estimates put the cost of getting a Powerwall 2 up and running in a US household at anywhere from $13,200 to $14,400. Is that good value for money? It’s too soon to say. We really need a good, large, diverse and representative sample of data sets under actual operating conditions to say anything definitively, or barring that, the equivalent in the way of independent field tests.
By way of comparison, Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup ElectrIQ offers what it asserts is a more functional, flexible, “plug and play” smart home energy storage and management solution for $15,000. Equipped with a 10-kWh advanced lithium-ion battery system, the IQ System includes a fully integrated 7.6-kWh hybrid inverter. Centered on smart home Internet of Things connectivity and interoperability, the IQ System connects to a cloud-based home energy monitoring, control and management platform. initial shipments – concentrated in Hawaii and California, the two leading-edge US state markets by far – started in 3Q, ElectrIQ executives said in a recent interview.
In addition, Mount Shasta, Calif.-based Wholesale Solar had this to say upon reviewing the Tesla Powerwall 2 and Tesla solar PV roof tiles last November: “On paper the Powerwall 2 is a good deal, but based on specifications from Tesla and its battery partner, Panasonic, it remains to be seen whether the unit can truly live up to the hype.
“The technology seems better suited for electric vehicles, not ideally home energy storage (because this particular chemistry prioritizes smaller physical size over safety or longevity). We have systems immediately available with more storage capacity, more output, and more cycles for a competitive price.”
In fact, Wholesale Solar continues to recommend going with conventional lead-acid batteries as a back-up home energy storage solution. “Even if you are dead-set on going with the more modern lithium-ion batteries, we'd recommend at least waiting until early 2017 for competing batteries from Sony, Mercedes-Benz, etc. to come out. Some of them will use the safer LFP chemistry, and the additional time will give the market and early adopters a chance to figure out any potential kinks,” the solar PV and energy storage systems specialist wrote.Tweet