After months of teasing its first venture beyond electric cars, Tesla has taken the wraps off its Powerwall home battery.
The Powerwall is a wall-mounted lithium-ion battery pack that can power a home during outages. It can also cut down on electricity costs by storing energy when rates are low, and discharging during high-cost peak hours. Owners of solar panels can use the Powerwall to store excess power, making it easier to get off the energy grid completely.
Tesla will sell the Powerwall to home installers in two sizes: The $3,000 model offers 7kWh, while the 10kWh version (which Tesla recommends for backup applications) will cost $3,500, both with a 10-year warranty. Homes that need more power can chain multiple packs together. Keep in mind those prices don't include inverter or installation costs; unless you're a trained electrician, you won't be able to install a Powerwall yourself.
The Powerwall will arrive this summer in limited quantities, with reservations starting now through Tesla's website. As CNet reports, full-scale production won't begin until after Tesla completes its Gigafactory battery plant next year.
Beyond home applications, Tesla is also working with businesses on energy storage, and with utility companies on large-scale battery blocks that can store renewable energy and reduce peak energy generation. Overall, it's a major expansion of Tesla's business beyond electric cars, as Tesla redefines itself as an “energy innovation company.”
Why this matters: While plenty of home battery backup solutions exist already, they tend to be much bulkier, and don't have the cost-saving benefits that Tesla is promising. The Powerwall is aiming to be useful even if you don't face a lot power outages, though we'll have to see how much money it can really save by avoiding peak utility usage.