Tesla announces low cost batteries for off grid homes

solar-and-wind-energy

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Elon Musk has announced the release of a new storage battery for home use. The new battery in principle dramatically reduces the cost of going “off grid” – powering your house entirely from solar or wind, and using the battery to provide backup power, to ensure continuous supply.

According to The Guardian;

The electric car company Tesla has announced its entry into the energy market, unveiling a suite of low-cost solar batteries for homes, businesses and utilities, “the missing piece”, it said, in the transition to a sustainable energy world.

The batteries, which will retail at $3,500 in the US, were launched on Thursday at a Tesla facility in California by the company’s ambitious founder, Elon Musk, who heralded the technology as “a fundamental transformation [in] how energy is delivered across the earth”.

Wall-mounted, with a sleek design, the lithium-ion batteries are designed to capture and store up to 10kWh of energy from wind or solar panel. The reserves can be drawn on when sunlight is low, during grid outages, or at peak demand times, when electricity costs are highest.

The smallest “Powerwall” is 1.3m by 68cm, small enough to be hung inside a garage on or an outside wall. Up to eight batteries can be “stacked” in a home, Musk said, to applause from investors and journalists at the much-anticipated event.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/01/tesla-announces-low-cost-solar-batteries-elon-musk

I’m excited by this announcement, not because I’m currently considering buying a Tesla battery, but because of the potential this announcement has, for exerting downward pressure on household electricity bills.

Assuming the battery has around 1000 charge / discharge cycles, paying $3500 every 3 years is approaching price parity with some of the more ridiculous electricity utility charges. When you factor in the satisfaction of tearing up your last electricity bill, there is a real chance a significant number of people will be tempted to make the leap.

How will utility companies respond? I suspect they will be forced to cap household bills, to put as much price distance as possible, between the Tesla option, and staying connected to their grid. It will no longer be possible to make electricity rates skyrocket, to treat household electricity consumers as an inelastic revenue source – because now householders have an alternative, to putting up with endless price rises.

The biggest losers from this potential game changer, in my opinion, might be large scale renewable energy providers. Since households now have an alternative to paying ever larger electricity bills, electricity utilities will be forced to keep costs down – they will no longer be able to ignore costs imposed by government mandated renewable schemes. Either the government will be forced to provide higher subsidies, or large scale renewable schemes will have to be scaled back, to keep grid electricity price competitive.

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299 thoughts on “Tesla announces low cost batteries for off grid homes

    • John you must be invested in Lithium futures.
      Have you thought how much Lithium would be needed even for a small town? So you are now thinking this could be done for hundreds of millions?
      Get an envelope work out how much Lithium per dwelling, and per car and per every other electronic battery device.
      Now check that amount of Lithium against known world wide reserves.

      • While lithium is fairly common, there is a problem with lithium batteries that greatly reduces their number of charge/discharge cycles. Every time you do on, you cause a dendrite to grow a bit from one of the electrodes. When it hits the other electrode, the battery shorts out. That is ok if you are talking only having the battery for a couple/several years. You will dump the laptop or whatever before the battery quits on you. Not so good with a solar system. You cannot afford to replace the battery every 5 years. Even worse, if the battery shorts out, you have a bomb on your hands. Lead acid also fails eventually due to the sludge at the bottom of the cells, but the fail is less catastrophic and takes longer. My lead acid cells are probably good for 20 years given they are the highest grade industrial cells I could buy and have been shown to have that sort of lifetime. The downside of lead acid is that they are not maintenance free and you have to deal with the hydrogen, etc. that vents out of them. I think my lead acid 100 KWH bank is about the same cost and same total volume as the “musk wonder” with an equivalent amount of storage and will last several times as long as it would.
        Musk harvests subsidies, not a lot more. Like P. T. Barnum, people pay to see the show. Nothing against solar or wind properly deployed, but the economics are not what folks think they are.

      • @IanW:
        One can just as easily make Potassium Ion batteries and Magnesium Ion batteries are proven (though not commercial yet). There are dozens of alternative battery chemistries that are show to be about as good as Lithium, or better. As soon as lithium costs too much, the others will substitute. (Already are in some cases).
        With that said:
        There are also already many battery chemistries that are cheaper than Lithium and work just as well in stationary applications. THE one feature of Lithiums is the light weight in mobile (cars) applications. Not relevant to my garage wall… So (as pointed out below and in the posting I did on this referenced below) simple deep cycle lead acid batteries are about 1/3 the cost, while the old Edison Cell Ni-Fe battery has a multi-decade life span for about the same cost (less in bulk) and are still used in such applications.
        This is just a Subsidy Farm for Musk, not a game changer.

      • Alas, I tend to agree. They will store ‘up to’ 10kWh of energy for $3500? SO to run a 2kW radiator for 5 hours will cost you $280 at 8% interest – about 15c/kWh just for the storage component. This price will undoubtedly come down, but it is not cheap storage – and there will need to be capacity in excess of demand to charge the battery.

      • Right. The idea that this is innovative or new is … well, suckered by good PR.
        It’s an amazing thing only if he gets the cost down. Hasnt done that yet.

    • 50 years ago I worked summers on the railroad Signal department. Mostly trimming weeds and trees. At that time they had four large lead acid batteries in the bottom of each of the crossing guard control system. There were a rectangular glass jar about 12 inch wide, 18 inch long and two feet high and Each of these had dates of instillation on them. Other than those that were replaced due to cars hitting the control cabinet every one of them I saw was over 20 years old. About every five years we would pump out any sludge from the bottom, like you might do in a fish tank, with a glass – turkey baster – looking device. The Signalman I worked for said that many of these batteries were over 40 years old. On the other hand, I have never had a battery in any power tool of any type last longer than four years – and I am retired and only use these tools as a hobby, Same for all of the LiIon batteries in my many laptops/cellphones.

      • I’m off grid and use 6 volt golf cart batteries. Assume 5 years max and that at 20% discharge nightly. Increase that to 50% and figure 3 years and that’s if you don’t screw something up. Sorry but that’s pretty much the facts of life. Solar is great but batteries suck.

      • @EXPAT. These large glass lead acid batteries only use the same type of electrodes and acid. In my 20 years of service in the Nuclear Navy on submarines I only knew of on Battery replacement (Battery meaning the entire set). Yes, occasional an individual cell needed replacement but most of the time there were extenuating circumstances for this replacement. They usually lasted the life of the sub and then some. When the sub was decommissioned the battery (all of the cells)m were salvaged reconditioned and used again. Same for the Emergency batteries that are at every Nuclear Power plant. These cells can be cleaned, and sort of flushed out [like a radiator flus or transmission flush at your local auto repair shop.] I have done this to my car battery and gotten another two years from a standard cheap car battery. Just empty the dirty sludgy acid, flush out with distilled water three or four times, fill with NEW acid, recharge. This has recovered the bad individual cell in a 12 volt battery giving me full power and voltage from the battery. The glass jars in industrial cells just make it easer and let you see the sludge in the bottom.

    • “Tesla is currently taking orders for the systems, with the first units expected to shift in August.”
      You may want to wait, before thanking them, until they actually build and ship a product. In addition, though the company web page says these batteries are warrantied for ten years, I cannot find any specifics about what the warranty covers.

      • Not to worry Janice, the hype fits the needs for Paris in December and that is what is important right now. After Paris we will start to learn if these batteries change anything very much.

  1. So, the on-demand power bank, that holds a buck worth of electricity, costs 100 bucks a month. I imagine each pack comes with a nifty decal for my front door, though.

  2. And I’ll strap a massive heat-sensitive fire hazard to the side of my house? I like the idea of the battery, but I’d never put a giant block of lithium anywhere on my property.

    • This is potentially good news as Eric Worrall said – How ever your right, lithium-ion batteries have a dark side = fire and explosion potential, a degrading life span. Also ask the people in snow country how the Solar panels stood up to 2 to 6 feet of snow on the roof, Stressing the panels, roof mounting brackets and the roofing material causing stress leaks (shingles /tiles etc…) or the panel performance when they get dirty???
      Just asking?

      • Snow country here. We have a metre of snow on the roof from end of December to early March. No solar panels here. Nope, not going to happen.

    • Especially if the lithium container is breached and water gets introduced to the lithium. Water on lithium makes a fire much bigger and spectacular.
      I don’t think the firemen would be amused when chunks of molten lithium are blown out of the battery and lands on the firemen (& fireladies).
      I would expect that new building codes would require lithium batteries located in a separate building built out of reinforced concrete or cinderblock open to the sky.
      So much for off the grid.
      Anyway the batteries are still far to expensive for me.

      • There have been several reports lately of the problems caused by solar panels during a fire.
        I’ve been reading about some fire depts. talking about creating a standing policy of only fighting fires in building with such panels from the outside.
        Between the danger of the inside wiring still being energized, to the additional weight causing roof collapses to be more likely, and more deadly, to the problems of trying to ventilate a roof covered by such panels, it just isn’t worth the risk to them.

  3. More importantly, coal and gas power stations won’t have to keep burning to have back up power for erratic energy demand from “renewable” sources, if everyone who installs it also installs a battery.
    However, from an environmental perspective,” renewables” just became more detrimental than fossil fuels (which are still needed to dig the toxic cocktails out of the ground, transport them, smelt them, manufacture them, install them, maintain them, repair them and eventually dispose of them)

    • +1,
      The “hower ever, from an environmental perspective”…. that has been my biggest opposition against the so called renewables for years, there has never been that part of the equation talked about on the so called “green” side.
      Hypocrites.

    • coal and gas power stations won’t have to keep burning to have back up power …“.
      Regrettably, that won’t be true for a long time yet. There will still be enforced unreliables on the grid. A big move off-grid simply means higher costs for retail consumers. Another “regrettably” is that the only reason this off-grid stuff can even remotely compete is the high power price created by the mandated unreliables. It’s a double whammy for the long suffering ordinary citizen.
      Here in Oz there’s a battle going on in govt circles about whether to increase or cut the RET (renewable energy target) . Hopefully sanity will prevail, i.e. a cut.

    • And, then, there are taxes. Energy is highly taxed. It might be “political” to look the other way in some cases but, if this sort of thing takes off, it will be heavily taxed too.

    • Sorry wickedwenchfan, coal and gas stations run at their most efficient at rated power. They have to keep going.

      • However, combined cycle ng plants do not have to run continuously, they can start up and shut down quickly. Coal is another matter all together.

      • @ShrNfr
        Where did you get that information? 40 Years experience in the electrical utility generation and I have never heard that. Yes, it does have a faster startup/shutdown time HOWEVER, the efficiency comes from the combined cycle part – that is steam generation from the waste heat, then the steam driving another generator. How long does it take for you to get heat out of you car heater on a cold day. 15 minutes, more? that would be great but it is longer. By the time the CCTG is at peak efficiency the storm cloud has passed or the wind is blowing and you don’t need it any more. Meanwhile you are using the power of just the gas turbine part of the generator and you need two to get the power of one working at full efficiency. Thus you are pumping just as much CO2 into the air as the dirty coal plants that the Envirowhacos want to get rid of. No net reduction in CO2 just double, triple the cost for electricity. Don call me nuts do some research and discover the FACGTS, not the propaganda.

      • Some perspective here. The 10kWh can be used daily for solar and intermittently for wind power.

      • So if can handle 1,000 cycles, then the battery cost is $350/1000 or 35cent / KWh ???
        Huh, only 3x my utility bill cost for electricity for the battery alone. The math doesnt add up.

  4. Could be a big opportunity to save power company costs if the batteries can be optimized for load shifting to pull power from grid during low demand periods and running on battery during high demand periods, perhaps the integrated power management of the battery can be controlled by power companies as to when to draw power from grid or to run on stored power. Power companies may include these a premise equipment complementing the power meter, or provide a special rate for consumers who use load-shifting versions. Load shifting at premises could reduce the cost peak load requirements on power plants and distribution systems and thus save everyone money.

    • If everyone is charging their battery from the grid during the low demand period, when will the low demand period be?

      • “when will the low demand period be”
        Exactly. Trim the peak, raise the valley, it’s for load leveling. I suspect they’ll only be economical in areas that have really high rates. I haven’t looked into what power they can output, but they probably can’t run your home without the grid either.
        Is an Inverter included?

      • Paul,
        “You can go to the Tesla website – wwwDOTtelsamotorsDOTcom/powerwall…..and see some of the limitations. There are several, but the important ones in my view are the “Power” rating of 2.0 kW continuous 3.3 kW peak and the “Installation” where it says AC-DC inverter not included.
        What the “Power” limitation means, is if you want air conditioning….it better be a room air conditioner because that will take 1.1 kW. Central Air is more like 5 kW and way too big for one Tesla unit. You also probably do not want to cook anything, wash, iron, heat, dry your hair or a whole other list of things we take for granted. Google “household power requirements.” 2 KW….2000 watts…is not a lot of power.
        The other big limitation is the “AC-DC inverter not included.” Since the battery is DC….and everything in your house is typically AC…..you need something to convert that power. You can buy a decent inverter built for solar panel systems for around $2000….so now your basic Tesla battery / inverter system that will run (1) hair dryer, a TV and your electric toothbrush costs you $5000….before paying for installation.”
        If you are connected to PG&E in Southern CA, you can save 4 cents per kWh by charging at off peak times. A 10 kwh daily use Tesla battery will cost you $7000 installed with the required AC/DC inverter and will save you 40 cents per day. (10 kWh x 4 cents savings per kW)

      • @Ann Banisher
        Yes I’m aware of residential power and energy requirements. And that this wouldn’t allow you to go off-grid, even with a massive lifestyle change. But I don’t expect rates to remain stable in the future, at some point this concept might be effective?
        I’m not in CA so I’m guessing here. I pulled up the PG&E TOU rates March 2015. The basic energy charge Schedule E-7 Tier 1 off=peak – peak: $0.11129 – $0.35944 (yikes!) That’s ~$0.25 delta for summer. And you are correct on the $0.04 delta for the winter rate.
        Assuming net metering, the investment would be better spent on PV.
        BTW, I find the idea of the California Climate Credit amusing.

      • Paul,
        Yeah, net metering would wipe out any benefit of peak offpeak saving.
        I already have solar here is SoCal to insulate myself from future Ca Climate stupidity.
        Unless I was off grid and wanted to piggyback 3 of these packs together, I can’t see the retail use of this.
        As for utility scale use, if one $3500 wall pack of batteries will get you 3 hr of peak use of an average household, how big a facility would your average utility need to house that mountain of batteries?
        And we haven’t even addressed lifespan and storage loss.
        BTW, my rates for net metering are $.19/kWh base, $.29 tier 2, $.43 tier 3 & $.46 tier 4 (tier 2 kicks in at 150, 3 at 300, & 4 at 400/kWh per mo) talk about yikes!

      • A typical American household uses about 10,000 kWh yearly*, which would average out to about 27 kWh per day.
        “…designed to capture and store up to 10kWh of energy from wind or solar panel. The reserves can be drawn on when sunlight is low, during grid outages, or at peak demand times, when electricity costs are highest.”
        So, would you need three of these things to go “off grid”? That would be about $10,500 for independence… replaced every HOW often?!
        I also wonder about whether his cost is based on the projections of what Musk’s “gigafactory” will do once it hits full stride, which may take years; and finally, whether, some of that production cost is factoring in start-up subsidies still being handed out for solar enterprises. Solar still looks like one of the most expensive energy sources, considering panels, converters, maintenance, batteries, and costs to the environment.
        * Organization of American States Office of Sustainable Development

    • How will the power company save costs when they have to pay homeowners that are giving them electricity 5 times as much as it costs them to make electricity? And provide all the power distribution costs on top of that. Nuclear and Mine-mouth coal plants can make electricity for about $0.03 to $0.05 per kwh. Net meter programs make the utility pay the home owner $0.12 to $0.20 per kwh how does that save money. How long could you sell donuts if you sold donuts for $6.00 BUT had to by back any donuts the costumer brought back during the same day for $0.50 each?

  5. There are other companies producing similar technologies. There is a company in Calgary, Alberta supplying control systems for LG systems. This is a potential winner for all parties – off grid, solar PV storage, wind storage, peaking storage in home, and someday, industrial, load balancing, remote site and developing nations, etc.
    Elon Musk is a super promoter but this is an emerging technology that could help in a lot of areas once all the issues are worked out. But all technologies are like that.
    150 years ago, who would have guessed that something as simple as reinventing Roman sewer and water systems would increase our life spans and reduce death and disease … and that we are still working on providing these services in the developing world.

    • OK – So it costs $1 per day within its 10 year warranty. Double that to £2 to include a similarly-priced inverter (that likewise is likely to fail in that time) and installation costs.
      Soooo, can anyone save $2 per day just on the difference between peak and low electricity costs now?
      It’s certainly not a slam-dunk money saver.

      • “can anyone save $2 per day just on the difference between peak and low electricity costs now”
        IF you peak rate is $0.30 kWh, and charged it with PV, your 10kWh battery potentially contains $3 worth of electrons, no?
        IF they made system controls for a home battery, the PV inverter would become a DC/DC converter that feeds into the battery, and then use the battery’s inverter (DC/AC) to push power to the grid. That inverter would need to be bi-directional to pull power from the grid to charge the battery at night. It’s the same topology as a fuel cell vehicle.

      • You’ve also got to make the electricity to go in them: add the cost of the solar panels.

    • It would cost the entire village’s annual income.
      When you are living hand to mouth using dung for fuel and ox carts for transport, with the nearest power line a few hundred miles away, being offered a garage wall battery is way up in the ‘let them eat cake’ level of understanding.

      • Certainly true right now, but on a national level compared with the costs of developing high voltage generation, distribution and transformer substations; a solar array and a really good battery could be a cheap way to light up a village.

      • Re gymnosperm
        May 3, 2015 at 8:20 am
        If you wish to keep that village a village and the people in poverty and in hoc to whoever paid for the batteries, PV cells, inverters etc., That of course is the current approach try to keep the poor in poverty and prevent development that reliable power could bring. Reliable real power would provide 24/7 refrigeration for medicines and veterinary supplies, as well as lights power for cooking, perhaps televisions for the entire village. No…… “pat villager patronizingly on the head’ it’s cheaper for us just to give you enough for lights at night and, as we gave it to you we expect your vote in exchange for our largesse.

      • How about a 12V DC system, a little windmill with a 90A altenator, a couple solar panels and a few 12V car batteries or equivalents …… and the villagers could live in their non-mobile RV with many of the comforts of home.
        Wiring a structure (house) for 12VDC is a lot cheaper than wiring it for 110VAC. And just about every RV Dealer can sell you just about any type of appliance you want.

      • Samuel C Cogar says “How about a 12V DC system, a little windmill with a 90A altenator,(…).
        90 Amps is for arc-welding – it’ll find any poor joint and make a fire. A 48V DC system is better
        because it quarters the current (22.5A), so smaller switches, thinner wires and reasonably safe to handle. Above 50V DC you get into shock-hazard territory.

    • The best thing those villages could use has existed for more than 150 years – a windmill water pump with a tank at the top of the platform. Just like many plains state farms had before the Rural Electric Power act. Two of my great uncles had them.

  6. Wouldn’t it make as much sense to charge the battery from the grid during low cost power between midnight and dawn and draw on it during the high cost afternoon?
    If it will store 10KWhr and take 1000 charge cycles (probably at 75% draw down) that is 7,500 KWhr per $3,500 battery. That means you need at least $0.47 / KWhr rate differential between the high cost afternoon and the midnight recharge. You would need to get 5000 cycles (14 years) out of the battery to bring the differential down below $0.10/KWhr
    In Houston, TX, our electricity rates are in the neighborhood of $0.09 to $0.11 / KWhr – flat rate.

    • Stephen Rasey May 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm
      Wouldn’t it make as much sense to charge the battery from the grid during low cost power between midnight and dawn and draw on it during the high cost afternoon?

      My understanding is that’s one of the use cases being suggested. Two problems with that. The first, as your numbers show, is that you need a whopping difference in peak versus off peak costs to make that viable. The second problem is that widespread adoption would quite potentially be self defeating. If everybody tries to charge at midnight in order to use the electricity the next day, the peak (and hence any surcharges associated with the peak) then moves to…. midnight. Of course you wouldn’t get full adoption, nor would this be a solution for industry, so you may get some net benefit out of it. Too early to tell, and the things that could potentially go wrong with that much energy stored on the wall of your garage are pretty lengthy. As good as it sounds, just generating the stuff inexpensively in the first place seems much more rational.

      • Just when would the household be charging their electric cars?
        This is not just a case of moving peaks, this is a case of rewiring entire neighborhoods.

    • The website says that the daily cycle model is only 7 KWhr at $3000 each, guaranteed for 10 years.
      On that basis, you would get 3650 cycles for a total of 25,550 KWhr of storage. That gives a $0.12 / KWhr storage cost.
      I wonder what those devices will do to your homeowners insurance (fire) cost? Probably minimal. If even as bad as 1 in 10,000 batteries catches fire over its life to put a $500K home at risk, that is only a $5 / yr / home surcharge.

      • That gives a $0.12 / KWhr storage cost.
        + shipping +mounting +integration into existing electrical system +inspection…,
        This easily gets to double that.
        And I expect the insurance companies will demand a much higher premium until there’s enough track record to assemble some meaningful statistics.
        I can see some jurisdictions even regulating against them. First fire fighter that gets fried fighting a fire because of one of these things and look for serious push back…

      • ” the inverter alone for a solar system of the size to make this a viable proposition costs around £2,600 ($4,000).”
        I didn’t see where they gave power output, so it MIGHT only output 500-1,000 Watts.

      • It’s not just the fire you have to worry about. If the fire causes the case to crack or melt, and some water gets into those batteries, the possibility of explosion then exists, putting the lives of fire fighters at risk.
        I’ve read that some fire departments are talking about possibly only fighting fires from the outside if they see solar panels on the roof.

      • From what I have been reading about inverters it is recommended that to purchase a premium inverter. Prices for top line inverters start close to $2,000 and go up from there.

      • I’m off-grid. I paid £0.99 (yes, 99p!!!) for my inverter, off of eBay.
        It’s 3KW pure sine wave.
        It has been working reliably for over 8 years.
        It’s powering my house now.
        Here’s the trick – you just shop around for redundant UPS systems.
        Problem solved.
        Huge numbers of these units are scrapped, simply because people widely do not appreciate that they can be operated as stand alone inverters.

      • That article from Forbes has a very large misstatement of how much power an American home uses on average. The article says “The average American home draws an average of 1,200 watts of power around-the-clock, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.” but even the site cited says the average use is 909kwh per month which (if my math is correct) is 30 kwh per DAY and more to what my experience has been.
        With those kinds of errors, one might wonder what else Mr. Helman got wrong in his article.

      • @jakee308
        1200 watt, 24 hours => 28.8 kWh. This is about 30 kWh as by your calculation. Where is the error?

      • Frog, your solution would only work so long as only a tiny fraction of the population was doing it. More than that and the supply of surplus parts dries up.

  7. Business should be very good in Hawaii where the cost per kWh is 34 to 46 cents depending on which island you’re on. I’m not sure of the laws about living off the grid, but it would make sense considering the high price of electricity:
    http://www.heco.com/portal/site/heco/menuitem.508576f78baa14340b4c0610c510b1ca/?vgnextoid=692e5e658e0fc010VgnVCM1000008119fea9RCRD&vgnextchannel=2c65a51aaabd6110VgnVCM1000005c011bacRCRD&vgnextfmt=defau&vgnextrefresh=1&level=0&ct=article

  8. Sorry, Eric, but this is just more Tesla hype. 10 kilowatt hours of storage for $3,500? Not impressed. I can purchase today, off the shelf, a 12 kilowatt-hour battery designed for 20 years of solar storage use for $2,750.
    Tesla’s battery is just another rich man’s toy, backed by lots of hype and publicity. Folks, you can buy more storage for less money, no problem, trucked to your door. Here’s one of many batteries on the market that give you more for less.
    w.

    • It is only 12 volts in the link. Dryer use 220 volts 30 amps power.
      Need an inverter ?
      What am I missing here?

    • Whenever I read stories like this, I’m reminded of the scene from the movie Dumb and Dumber, when Jim Carrey’s character exclaims, “We landed on the moon”.!
      Just a battery folks. No quantum leaps here.
      Move along.

      • But it’s a fancy, sexy battery. Cool people will buy them. Made by Tesla.And gets great press (free publicity) because “green energy“.

      • PiperPaul,
        Very funny. You hit the nail on the head.
        By the way, love him or hate him, Alex Jones is pretty darn funny when he imitates chicken-neck trendies.
        Alex’s Bill Gates Chicken-Neck Bastard Rant

    • I have been thinking about going with this company,s products for a solar/battery setup….http://www.rollsbattery.com/
      They sound like they are durable easily maintained batteries with a good track record for longevity. I was thinking of going with their 3 of their 4 volt batteries which are rated at 1350 AH/20 hr each.

    • Should have known you’d know a better value deal Willis 🙂
      What impressed me is that the push for cheaper off grid storage technology has the potential to cap electricity bills. If electricity suppliers start permanently haemorrhaging customer base every time they set the price up to stupid, they will start to show at least a little caution about their pricing.
      What I said;
      … around 1000 charge / discharge cycles, paying $3500 every 3 years is approaching price parity with some of the more ridiculous electricity utility charges …
      My three year estimate was an underestimate – Harry Buttle discovered there is a 10 year warranty on the Tesla batteries (and a 20 year expected lifetime on the battery you linked).
      http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall
      Obviously this is never going to compete, if you are paying reasonable charges for reliable electricity. But if you are paying say Hawaii prices (Bob Dias’ links – 34c – 46c / KWh), or even some Australian prices (around 30c / KWh, more in some places https://www.yourpowerqld.com.au/energy-pricing-and-economy-rates/electricity-pricing-explained/201415-prices ), then having another option on the table, even if it is not quite price competitive with any but the most extreme cases, has to be a good thing.

      • Thanks for your comments, Eric.
        The difficulty I have with Tesla is that it’s all hype. Their batteries are not cheaper. They are not new and improved. They are not even as good as any of a dozen other batteries.
        In a previous post I discussed the oddity that the only technology from the 1800s that is almost entirely unchanged is the automobile battery. Nothing has ever beaten it … and as my example from above shows, that includes the Tesla battery. Technology from the eighteen hundreds still beats Tesla’s finest. Go figure
        You claim that this represents some kind of milestone, viz:

        Either the government will be forced to provide higher subsidies, or large scale renewable schemes will have to be scaled back, to keep grid electricity price competitive.

        But since what Tesla offers has been on offer for over a century, I find it hard to believe that Tesla changes anything. Even with cheaper technology, it hasn’t made inroads even in Hawaii unless it is subsidized.
        You also say:

        … around 1000 charge / discharge cycles, paying $3500 every 3 years is approaching price parity with some of the more ridiculous electricity utility charges …

        The problem with your numbers reminds me of the old sailor’s lament, which is “Yes, the wind is free … but everything else costs money”. In the same way, yes, the sun is free but everything else costs money.
        And in this case, you’ve only included the money for the battery. You haven’t included the cost of the panels, or of the inverter, or of the wiring, or of the battery-to-grid phase-locking, or of the safety interlocks, or of the frames to mount the panels, or the skilled labor costs of the installation of all of the above, or of the maintenance of the same. You also haven’t included the costs of power for those times when your battery goes flat, which a 10 kWh battery will do in short order in the winter … unsubsidized solar is a great solution for niche markets. I lived off of the grid for a couple of years, and solar was my salvation. I ran a 24-volt system using a dozen of the big phone company 2-volt batteries, and it kept my lights going and my computer in operation.
        But for replacing grid power? The only solar making inroads there is subsidized solar, and as someone who is paying the subsidies, I’m not impressed in the slightest.
        Thanks for your post,
        w.

      • If the batteries can last 10 years while cycling 7KWh per day, then the $3,000 price is looking like a good deal if the electric utilities are allowed to do net metering on a time of day basis. That works out to about 14 cents per KWh, which will likely be less than the difference in rates between 11am and 7pm.
        My understanding is that the cycle life of Li-ion batteries is much longer if the batteries are cycled between 40 and 60% depth of discharge. This suggests that stabilizing the grid for wind generation may be even more cost effective than for solar as the batteries would potentially be cycled several times a day. This would require some sort of interaction with the utility, with Tesla’s business model is providing the signalling infrastructure for a fee.
        In regards to Willis’s comments about lead acid batteries: The initial price per KWh of storage capacity is cheaper with the lead acid than Li-ion, but not quite so sure if cycle life-time energy storage is cheaper. The graph on the Trojan website indicated that the cycle lifetime was inversely proportional to depth of discharge (i.e. 25% DOD gives 2X the number of cycles as 50% DOD). One other knock against lead acid is the charge discharge efficiency is significantly poorer than Li-ion.

      • Seems to me that the next charge that the residential customer is going to see is the “electrical demand charge” (businesses are charged this to cap their electrical draw). So the upshot is that despite not “using” any grid energy most of the time, you will pay a substantial monthly fee to “reserve” backup power, unless you want to go dark.

    • If this technology was cost effective, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric would be using it.. Also you don’t need an Al Gore mansion to burn through 10KWh quickly. If you need the air conditioning on and you cook dinner and breakfast you will blow through 10KWh in no time. Your solar panels only work from 10am to 5pm at full power. You need to be specially located in California for wind to work in your back yard.

    • These are 12V lead-acid. While cheaper and generally safer than Li-Ion, they are larger and much heavier. Wouldn’t be thatmuch of a detriment for home use though.
      I agree, there is nothing earth-shuttering about Tesla’s batteries. It is more of a marketing issue that can mainstream batteries and turn them into accepted thing instead of something that only “off-grid crazys” would be interested in.

    • Willis,
      12 kilowatt-hour $2,750 is still about $230 per 12 kW-hr, about 2/3 of the cost of Musk’s batteries. By the time you factor in an inverter and installation, the fractional difference in cost will be much less. In a few years it the cost will probably be the same since lead-acid batteries are a mature technology while Li-ion is relatively new and still improving. And Li-ion is much smaller and lighter.
      The real issue is how many charge-discharge cycles you get. The link guarantees 1500 cycles for Pb-acid, that is 4 years if you cycle it every day. So you are looking at $0.16 per kW-hr just for the capital cost of the batteries. That is not competitive and it is not going to get better. I have not seen anything on how many cycles can be expected from Musk’s batteries, but I doubt it is even close to 1500.
      Battery storage for load leveling is still not close to being economical. What is intriguing about Musk’s project is that it *might* get there whereas Pb-acid never will. And his hype and salesmanship means that he might be able to get rich people to pay for the development until it is cheap enough for the masses.

    • Much agree – existing lead acid battery banks been around for YEARS and are LOWER cost. I trying to figure out why using expensive lithium batteries in place of lower cost lead batteries makes any sense?
      For a car (or laptop), then weight is a HUGE issue (and li-ion is rather lightweight), but for a pallet with some batteries on it for home use, the case for li-ion batteries makes little sense.
      Of course building that massive plant (with lots of government funding and tax breaks) means that it makes business sense to “try” and sell such banks.
      The main problem is lead-acid banks exist, are a mature technology and are cheaper, better choice and longer lasting.
      Regards,
      Albert D. Kallal
      Edmonton, Alberta Canada

    • Hi Willis Eschenbach
      I enjoy you take on things.
      Just wondered if you had checked out LENR recently?
      Mr Rossi has Got a LENR power plant in operation at this time.
      So soon Tesla will be making steam powered cars.

    • Exactly Willis …. or I believe 9 or 10 standard deep cycle 12v marine batteries would give you the same effective power – for about $100 each.
      The Tesla battery is all hype … it is nit revolutionary, it does not change the world, it does not make it any easier, more efficient or more likely that people can go solar (or wind) and most certainly is no game changer.
      It is a hugely expensive plain old battery … in a pretty wrapper. Supported by a whole lotta pure hype – all hat, no cattle kida claims.
      The average US home uses appx 30kWh per day … one of these will barely provide 1/3 of a single days avg usage. To provide even 3 days backup would require at least 10 of these – or realistically more (considering you cannot discharge them 100% without destroying them)… and 3 days is not enough to cover the regular periods where there is no sun and/or minimal wind for extended periods.
      The ONLY hing they are really good for is IF enough home had them, then can perform some load shifting – with utilities drawing on them at peak demand periods ad then recharging them during cheaper off peak hours.

  9. Power: 2.0 kW continuous, 3.3 kW peak. yay, hooray- i can run the toaster- but not the fridge…
    i’d have to spend 7000$ to run the fridge.
    well, i’d have to spend 7k for a promise, at least. actually running the fridge is still just pie in the sky.
    is it not a red flag warning when somebody is selling, with great fanfare, something that does not yet exist?
    i’m sure he’s done the numbers, though- would be interesting to see how much of the accounting depends on money piped in from the taxpayers’ main vein.
    all this tell and no show… it has a certain familiarity…

  10. I wouldn’t put it up the wall… since entire solar installations get stolen from roofs, how convenient would it be to just take it off the wall? Hope it comes with GPS tracker and alarm…

      • Yes. I didn’t buy a Ferrari today and I’m still wondering what to do with the money I saved.
        Tomorrow I think I’ll not buy two Ferraris. At this rate I’ll soon be rich.

      • “Tomorrow I think I’ll not buy two Ferraris. At this rate I’ll soon be rich”
        Hmm, similarities. Do you happen to work as a climate scientist?

  11. Tesla Home Battery Hype
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/tesla-home-battery-hype/
    So is this a giant breakthrough in $/kWh of storage? Let’s see…
    ————————————————————————————————-
    Why Tesla’s Powerwall Is Just Another Toy For Rich Green People
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2015/05/01/why-teslas-powerwall-is-just-another-toy-for-rich-green-people/
    “And here’s where the economics of the Powerwall break down. If you do not have a big enough solar system to get your home entirely off the grid, then there is simply no point whatsoever in paying 30 cents per kwh to get electricity via the Powerwall. At night, when you’re not generating solar power, you could simply get your electricity from the grid. For an average 12.5 cents a kwh.
    I’ll say it another way: unless your solar-powered home is entirely disconnected from the grid, or your solar system is big enough to provide for all your electricity needs, an expensive battery backup system like Powerwall does not make economic sense.”
    ————————————————————————————————-

    • I guess that “not making economic sense” thing is what guarantees it success amongst
      – Obamas subsidies ranking and other carpetbagger programmes
      – the low information Green voters

  12. As others have said: How are these “low cost”? 4 lead acid deep cycle 6 V batteries, 420 amp hours per battery cost me $1600 (Canadian). Suitable for use with my 2 110 watt panels. I still need to run my generator whenever I have a serious power draw (such as a toaster). Not to mention lead is recycled, but lithium isn’t. As Willis says. More Tesla hype.

  13. If I could get a 1.5 to 2kiwh battery I’d be in the market for one of these, price being acceptable. I’m a low power user, have solar hot water and wood fired heating and have a 1.5kw grid connect solar system. Half of the power from the grid connect system goes back into the grid, I consume the other half. I get paid for the half that goes back into the grid.
    I’m in the process of setting up an additional solar (with battery storage) system, more as a project than for any other reason. Unfortunately the 7kwh and 10 kwh batteries are much bigger than I need and way outside my financial capacity. I guess I will be buying 1kwh worth of solar gel or AGM batteries to do the job that I want. I’m open to any other “polite” and useful suggestions.

    • Ted, get a scrap Prius battery. About USD 150. car may be a write off but the battery good. Make sure it comes complete with all safetys etc

    • Check out Aquion Energy. link
      These batteries are designed for stationary use and thus can be relatively large and heavy. No hazmat or rare materials are used. As far as I can tell, the performance equals or exceeds Tesla’s. They are much cheaper than Tesla batteries (close to the cost of lead-acid).

      • Of course now Aquion, Rolls and others will be able to increase prices. They may have to put existing product in a fancy case with blinking lights in order to compete on esthetics though.

      • @ Piper… I have noticed that Rolls has increased the price on all of their products from what it was last year, by a substantial amount to boot. That is unfortunate, and I see that as a business mistake on their part. It equates to a similar issue that Hughes Sat had with their pricing range and limited features with their service. Would you rather have 1 million customers paying high prices, or would you rather have 50 million satisfied customers making a reasonable monthly payment?

  14. Hello to all.
    I read the article here on WUWT, then I went to the Tesla website ….
    http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall
    …. and read through their material.
    Here is the opening paragraph from their web page:
    -begin cut & paste-
    Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.
    -end cut & paste-
    Ok, sounds like a clean, complete, automatic power storage unit.
    Accepts power from the line, or solar panels, etc, stores the power, then provides useable power when needed.
    However……
    On the Specifications, an item caught my eye.
    Here are the specs, cut & pasted from the Tesla webpage:
    -begin cut & paste-
    Technology Wall mounted, rechargeable lithium ion battery with liquid thermal control.
    Models 10 kWh $3,500 For backup applications 7 kWh $3,000 For daily cycle applications
    Warranty 10 years
    Efficiency 92% round-trip DC efficiency
    Power 2.0 kW continuous, 3.3 kW peak
    Voltage 350 – 450 volts
    Current 5.8 amp nominal, 8.6 amp peak output
    Compatibility Single phase and three phase utility grid compatible.
    Operating Temperature -4°F to 110°F / -20°C to 43°C
    Enclosure Rated for indoor and outdoor installation.
    Installation Requires installation by a trained electrician. DC-AC inverter not included.
    Weight 220 lbs / 100 kg
    Dimensions 51.2″ x 33.9″ x 7.1″
    1300 mm x 860 mm x 180 mm
    Certification NRTL listed to UL standardsdo
    -end cut & paste-
    What stands out to me is ‘Installation’, where it specifically states “DC-AC inverter not included” (!)
    Having repaired a neighbor’s sailboat power system, I learned very quickly that the inverter/converter is an expensive unit! The specifications state that this is not included.
    Does this have to be purchased separately?
    As furnished by Tesla, does this unit provide 60-cycle AC power, as one would assume from the smooth-reading opening paragraph, or as the specifications state, 350 – 450 volts (DC? The spec sheet does not specify AC or DC, but I have never seen an ‘AC’ battery!)
    What’s the scoop?
    Anyone?……

    • Voltage 350 – 450 volts
      If there was an inverter included, its would output would be standard household voltage or there would be no point including it. And as your cut/paste says, it doesn’t.
      They seem to be glossing over charging system as well. If your going to charge from the grid off peak, you’ll also need an AC to DC converter that puts out the same voltage as the battery, 450 volts! The more we learn the sillier this thing gets.

    • 350 – 450 V/DC? Strewth! Some rail transport systems uses DC power not too much more than that. I would not like to have one of those stuck on ANY wall in a house. I saw an article on an Aussie MSM website. The article included no details about the system at all, just how much it cost and how much was being invested. As has been said in other posts, it’s just an expensive toy for rich boys.
      As has already been said, there are plenty of deep-cycle, lead-acid batteries available which, IMO, would provide a proven, reliable and safe storage system.

    • Question based on the specs you pasted, specifically: “Operating Temperature -4°F to 110°F / -20°C to 43°C”
      Doesn’t that rule out places that are fantastic for solar, such as Arizona (Phoenix averages 113-115 F in summertime) and the lower Nevada desert?

      • Also means you can’t place it outside anywhere much north of the Mason/Dixon line.

  15. 3500? Hot D@mn! Add that to the cost of my array, plus the charge controller and sine wave inverter and my system pays for itself in 15 years!!! Woohoo!!!!!

  16. The $100 a month for the battery is just part of the cost of course. You still need a few of those solar panels plastered to your roof, lots of wire and controls, switches, etc. So unless your power bills are among the highest in the US, or you really need to be off-grid, the economics don’t work. Power here, for example, is about .09/KWh, so it won’t be too attractive to us.
    Musk’s business relies on government largess to succeed. This is no different.

  17. So you go off grid. Instead of off peak hot water at its hottest in the morning you run it at 3pm. Because it’s way too big a drain for late night.
    What if we have a string of cloudy, rainy or snowy days? Are people going to be left to have no power at all?
    Are they going to go off grid in the long summer days but then reconnect mid winter? If so, no grid charges for 8-9 months a year is going to annoy utilities immensely. They should have the wires physically removed and serve the same waiting period to switch back on.

  18. So can most people afford to buy, or is it even practical, to have enough solar on your roof to run a washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, air conditioner and your daughters blow dryer?
    I can see battery power for a few lights, a TV and computer for an evening.

  19. As he is not selling toy cars, except in California, he is dumping batteries. To max his profits he had to buy millions but the stock is mounting up.

  20. Ted M says:
    I’m open to any other “polite” and useful suggestions.
    Get a gasoline powered generator. About $1 per 10 Watts is typical. A 4 kW generator for $400, etc.
    Store a few 5-gal. gasoline containers with preservative. If you need power, that $400 generator will supply enough for your refrigerator, computer, and a few other appliances.
    If you need more power, get a 7000 – 8000 Watt generator for ≈$700 – $800.
    Tesla’s idea might be practical in another 10 years. But let the rich folks pay to bring the costs down. In the mean time, you can have backup power for about one-quarter of Tesla’s. And the technology is off the shelf and proven.

    • “Let the rich folks pay to bring the costs down?” Economy of mass production only works on the overhead component of item cost. Overhead costs for material-intensive items (like batteries) are minuscule. The commodity material cost of 1000 batteries is 1000 times as much as for one battery. The costs ain’t coming down.
      Total power failures (right now) are rare events and of short duration. You might price inverters that will produce enough AC power from your car’s alternator to keep a computer running during a temporary outage. (Not a fridge, sorry.)
      This is, at best, just a scheme to sell extra Tesla spare parts.

      • “You might price inverters that will produce enough AC power from your car’s alternator to keep a computer running during a temporary outage. ”
        Consumption of a notebook computer can be brought down to about 50W, at least if you throttle the CPU via power management accordingly. A matching inverter to supply the notebook power supply is readily available for about 50 EUR /Dollars; plugs into the cigarette lighter. I have one in my car for eventual emergencies.

  21. I’ve run the numbers and the numbers don’t work. Even if the power to charge the Tesla battery were free, using a realistic service-life expectancy for the battery you’d wind paying more in capital cost per average useable kWh than the typical utility home rate of 12-cents. And that’s without taking the time-value of money into consideration. But then, of course, the power to charge that battery isn’t free and the presumption is that you’d replace purchased utility power for that purpose with power generated by solar cells or wind. Run those numbers on an unsubsidized basis along with the cost of the battery and the result is ludicrous!
    If unsubsidized wind and solar economics don’t make sense with cheap fossil sources taking up the “reliability slack” (and which cost is not even counted in the typically promoted “green power equation”), how does anyone imagine batteries costing many times that of fossil sources of power (fuel costs included) can possibly make economic sense as the “slack taker”?

  22. I fail to see how the battery solves anything. It’s quite expensive and, as Willis noted, there are cheaper batteries already available. You need to purchase an inverter and it requires certified installation. Last I looked, too, average electrical consumption was around 18 kWh so you’d need two devices. Then, of course, there’s the solar arrays on the roof. They cost, what?, $30K to $40K. When you’re paying $.10 kWh from a utility, how does any of this make sense? The only way it does for the homeowner is if there are substantial government subsidies. those subsidies are being paid for by taxpayers and, in effect, you have a transfer of wealth from poor to rich. I know a lot of people see this battery as a wonderful technological advancement, but to be honest it really looks like a gimmicky toy for the rich and deluded — no different than the Tesla car.

    • It doesn’t solve anything. I suspect who advocate solar power using home systems are unable to do the math. Or they are simply solar groupies. Tesla products are toys for the upper class.

  23. Tesla’s idea might be practical in another 10 years. But let the rich folks pay to bring the costs down.

    They don’t call them ‘tooling costs’ for nothing.

    • Good point again. Li-ion is an expensive technology. Its good side is the small weight and size per kWs (the little brother of kWh) in cars and mobiles. Installed at home, the weight has little meaning, price/kWh * cycles is the thing.

  24. Claude Harvey,
    Correctomundo. Batteries aren’t cost effective.
    Gasoline or other fossil fuels like propane and NatGas are the best. They provide lots of power, cheap.
    Don’t believe me? Then put your car in neutral, turn off the engine, get out, and push it about twenty miles down the road. Then tell us what a gallon of gasoline (petrol) is worth.
    Tesla’s batteries are good advertising. But they can’t compete on either price or peformance with a simple gasoline generator.

  25. The entire third world is trying to figure out how to get their populations onto the grid.
    We’re being persuaded to get off the grid and triple our costs to do it.
    There’s a reason why grifters don’t target the dirt poor. It doesn’t matter how stupid you are, if you are dirt poor, you have nothing to be conned out of.
    how is this better than a bank of car batteries at a fraction of the cost?
    It is better. For Tesla. Musk will have star struck politicians lining up to offer incentives and tax breaks to locate his high profile manufacturing plant in their state. If he plays it well, he might get the thing built for free.

    • back in the old days you could run a u- boat for 18-20 hrs on batteries , then one day somebody discovered they could use nuclear power.

  26. As other posters note, more expensive that current solutions. I own an off-grid house in Arizona. I and my neighbors use golf-cart batteries. (Better than car batteries, designed for deep cycle.) The Tesla battery is about 4x as expensive per kWh. Not clear it will last any longer. Li is good for low-weight, but that it immaterial for a dwelling …

  27. One advantage of the Tesla lithium batteries is efficiency. Those lead forklift batteries are only 60% efficient if you charge them fully (and if you don’t, the service life goes way down). 92% efficiency is quite impressive, the power saved adds up quickly.
    If I were building an off-grid residence, I would seriously consider using these batteries. They would be in a separate ‘battery shack’, but that would be true for lead or NiCd as well. As far as an on-grid home, well… no thanks.

    • I just did a search to confirm those efficiency figures and have only so far found this:
      “Typical efficiency in a lead-acid battery is 85-95%, in alkaline and NiCad battery it is about 65%. True deep cycle AGM’s (such as Concorde) can approach 98% under optimum conditions, but those conditions are seldom found so you should figure as a general rule about a 10% to 20% total power loss when sizing batteries and battery banks.”
      From here: http://www.solar-electric.com/deep-cycle-battery-faq.html
      So, who is right and who is wrong?

    • Efficiency of the cycle may be very important for grid storage, but is less important for today’s off-grid rural dwelling. Why? Because solar cells are so cheap these days. A “standard” off-grid installation wants about four days worth of storage. Today, those batteries cost more than the solar cells do. So if I can halve the cost of my batteries by cutting the efficiency 25%, that is a win: I add 25% more PV cells and I’m $ ahead.

  28. I don’t quite get it. I can do 30kw/hrs with a lead acid marine battery for the same price, that will last 5 hears and several thousand cycles.

  29. To go totally off grid from a fully on-grid position by choice requires a huge investment, 6 to 8 of these batteries, 8KW solar PV array. Do they come with an inverter man enough to cope, unlikely so one of those as well, Without any taxpayer input who can afford that kind of investment other than Elon Musk, Al Gore and others making a mint from renewables.
    How long are people in the “third world” going to be happy with a communal TV and a few LED lights. Once they start wanting their own TV, more and brighter lights a fridge of their own an oven than will work in the evening one battery each will be required. Again that is a lot of expense for a community currently on a subsistence model.
    I have a friend who will spend 4€ driving many more miles than to the nearest petrol (gas) station to save 3c a litre, as his fuel tank when dry holds 55 litres so I tell him it isn’t saving any money and he then looks at me as if I’m slightly deranged. He’ll be an ideal customer.

    • When I did my research back in 2000-ish, the most efficient system was to match your generating system with your appliances. So a 6, 12 or 24 V/DC generating system would need to be matched with 6, 12 or 24 V/DC appliances. No inverter. Inverters are better these days, but still can cause issues with some appliances. It proved to be way too expensive to build a properly sorted off-grid system.
      Where most people live, we already have an efficient electricity generating and distribution system.

      • “When I did my research back in 2000-ish, the most efficient system was to match your generating system with your appliances.”
        That’s sadly complete nonsense peddled by people who want to sell an off-grid customers a whole range of quirky low voltage dc equipment.
        220Vac is more efficient than 12Vdc for a very simple reason. For any specific power rating, the 12Vdc must supply 18x the current since P=I*V. Losses are a factor of current. To calculate the loss in an section of resistive material you just need P = I^2 / R. So the losses are proportional to the square of the current!! Where P(power) I(current) R(resistance) V(voltage).
        So the power losses are vastly increased (per watt of usable power) at low voltage.
        Add to that concern the increased fire risk from the burden on cabling and connectors.
        This is the reason why power is transmitted on the grid at a minimum of 11,000V.
        Because, higher voltage is more efficient.
        I run all the normal appliances in a household directly off of a sine wave UPS/inverter. Every kind of tool and household appliance.
        It’s a simple system – once your inverter is set up, you just buy regular electrical goods and plug them in. (And my inverter cost me only $1.50 – see above!!).

      • Correction – where I wrote P =1^2 /R – I meant, of course, P = I^2 *R
        Silly me!!!

      • Nope. I was not being sold a thing. I agree, inverters are much better these days, but still have issues. I would still go with a system that did not need inverters.

      • I have no idea where you live, but where I am from the UK national grid transmits at between 130 – 200kv/ac. And the efficieny comes from three phase transmision. But you’re talking here a national transmission grid, NOT off-grid, local generation and consumption. You don’t need high AC voltages for that.

  30. My green friends are all celebrating about this one. It’s the end of nuclear power! Finally we can store renewable energy! Etc. etc…
    I don’t live in a sunny country. We got 5 hours of sunshine in December and January altogether last winter. Yeah, that’s a total of 5 hours in 2 months, not daily! Even though we have constant daylight during the summer, I don’t really get the point of everyone having their own solar array and their own personal storage system. That’s because I prefer to look at the grid as one big solution:
    Before the renewables, the grid was simple. We use electricity and the power companies produce it according to the needs. There only needs to be enough of producers to make sure that the lights are on when it’s -30C. This all is a challenge but professionals are really good at running the show.
    Then came the wind mills. They mess up the production of energy as wind has the RIGHT to sell every single MWh they produce but not the RESPONSIBILITY to produce energy when it’s needed. They are like spoiled rich kids: Demanding a work and huge salary but coming and going as they please. All the other producers makes sure that the lights are on and they are paid less for their important work.
    Then came the household solar messing up the demand. The power producers get paid less as people produce their own electricity but still they need to make sure there’s enough for the rainy day and the night.
    Then came the brilliant idea that everyone should be entitled to sell their own electricity to the grid. Suddenly everything is not so simple any more. Now the grid can’t even plan any more. They need to balance a system where people are not only using electricity at random but also producing it at random.
    So what we’ve got is a great mess: Those who cause trouble to the grid and make it more expensive for everyone are being paid huge subsidies. They cause horrible problems to reliable energy producers and to the grid. As a result we’ll eventually get to the point where we simply won’t have the capacity needed for the rainy day/week. Or if we do, even that will get horribly expensive and require subsidies.
    So we’ll have huge subsidies, expensive electricity, complex grid and that’s going to be called progress.

  31. I don’t see the point. The whole reason for installing solar panels is to extract subsidies from the government (well, from your neighbor via the government).

    • Well, the whole point of Tesla’s announcement is to get people to push their representatives to enact subsidies for Tesla’s batteries.

    • Simples, you package the battery as part of the “renewable installation” and collect a larger subsidy.

  32. What about battery degradation? For every charge/dicharge cycle, the battery loses capacity. For a Panasonic NCR18650A, rated at 2.9Ah when new, this goes down to2.1 Ah after 500 cycles. This is 27% capacity loss, and on a daily basis, 0.05% per day of use. Assuming that most of the cost of the system are the batteries, this boils down to a loss of value of the system of 810$. This should at least be compensated for by savings in th value of the electric energy stored during this period. Do the math.

  33. One important question: according to a professor electro-mechanics here on the news, the Tesla pack is batteries only, without the necessary DC-AC converter. If you like to have a nice sine wave at high power, you can double the price…
    Seems to me more hype than solution…

  34. I think a diesel generator is cheaper especially if you use the waste heat for water heating

  35. I thought this was going to be a major step forwards in electricity storage when I saw the pre-release hype, so I was quite interested to see the announcement. However, when I got the bottom and saw 10kWh , I thought I’d misread it. My eye’s were tired, I’d lost a zero or two ??
    The energy density is surely better than lead-acid but this seems like a small step forwards rather than a major innovation.
    A cheaper alternative is used lead acid cells from forklifts. They are not ideal technically but are usually taken out of service when the can’t deliver the peak power needed to lift a heavy load. For moderate continuous power required for an inverter, they have many years of service left.
    you can pick them up for scrap metal costs, and when you are done, you can still sell them as scrap and recover the cost.
    Obviously you need to choose cells in a serviceable condition, some may really be beyond use.
    I have a mate who runs a forklift business and he’s happy for me to take them away if I give him the scrap value. Saves him the trouble.

  36. In Denmark (and I kid you not) the government will tax the saving you make by not buying electricity from the grid (The logic – a saving is the same as an earning – which is taxable)

  37. Has anybody noticed the CO2 projection up to the year 3000 in Elon Musk’s presentation?

  38. Did a price comparison with my NiFe batteries. NiFe’s are more expensive than most storage batteries, but are supposed to last longer. Longer than 10 years. The Tesla batteries appear to be about the same price. Considering most people think the NiFe’s are overpriced, so are the Tesla’s.
    I love the concept, but price is a big issue for any battery system. I can see some advantages in the Tesla system that are not mentioned in the publicity fluf. There is just too much detail missing at the moment.
    Tesla need to spell this out before the ordinary plebs like me will pass them buy.

  39. More subsidy-farming from the draft- & war-dodger Musk.
    I’ve spotted a few Teslas lately. I get an urge to ram them every time.

  40. Three decades of green hype. And we have been told on a weekly basis that some company or group of scientists have invented a completely revolutionary battery, wind turbine, wave generator, solar panel, solar thermal plant etc.
    Meanwhile, back in reality the only renewable systems generating low cost kilowatt/hours (before subsidies) are hydroelectric and standard vertical axis on-shore wind-turbines.
    P.V. solar costs are falling, as they have been historically by about 50% every 7 years.
    They observe a trend that is much like Moore’s law. So they will soon hit parity with grid electric.
    But, the basic technologies that work in energy storage and generation are almost exactly the same technologies as 30 years ago. AGM lead acid batteries are widely used in telecoms and data-centre back up systems. Wind turbines got bigger. Hydroelectric is the same as it always was – big and cheap.
    What is most fascinating to observe is that every single whacky idea produced in the interim seems to have fallen by the wayside.
    And yet still, announcements like this can pull in a fresh wave of investment and govt. subsidies.
    When I see these units being bought by industry to replace AGM lead acid banks – then I’ll take interest.
    Until then, I’ll stick this in the “green hype” category. Along with almost every other bullshit revolutionary idea that has come and gone.

    • Apologies – I mistakenly wrote kilowatt/hours. When I meant, of course, kilowatthours. Whoops.

    • I’m clearly half asleep, I also wrote “vertical axis wind turbines” – when I meant “horizontal axis”. I’ll have to make more of an effort to proof read these posts in future. I sometimes forget that you can not edit. Apologies again.

    • What has not been falling is the amount of CO2 emitted to produce the silicon metal for the most common type of PV cell. It is a very large number

      • What’s the total budget? For CO2 produced by manufacture versus CO2 not produced during the lifetime of the unit (compared with coal gen. for example.)
        Anyone know?

  41. jakee308
    May 3, 2015 at 1:18 am
    1200 watts x 24 hours is 28.8 Kw-h. Close enough to 30 Kw-h per day.
    What’s your problem?
    Our house’s daily useage is about half that.
    Musk drives me nuts. SpaceX is the best thing to happen to the human race in a long time. Hope is somewhat alive that it in fact *has* a future, even though I think Elton John had it right about Mars (How about an cis-lunar, space habitat based civilisation instead, Elon).
    Yet he’s dicking around with electric cars and “renewable” energy etc. WTF?????

    • Usage varies with house size, heating and cooling systems, insulation, household equipment and amount of electrically heated hot water used.

  42. Nearly 100 comments already, but I feel this needs to be said. Of course this is a good idea, everyone knows it’s a good idea. But like most green energy technologies, it’s not quite there yet.
    10 kwh is a joke. It’s a relatively tiny amount of power. Let’s put this into perspective… Mr. Musk’s fancy car has up to an 80 kwh battery! In the announcement video, he explicitly refers to electric heating, i.e. not having to worry about the cold if you lose power. Unless this battery is simply providing a spark for a gas powered furnace, it’s an even bigger joke. An average space heater draws up to 1500W… so you can keep one room warm for about 6 hours, yay… Electric resistance heat takes huge amounts of energy. A small window A/C, maybe around 500W… so if you happen to live in a trailer, or single room apartment, it might keep you comfortable over night… but if you live in a trailer or single, you likely aren’t affording the cost and space requirements for this thing.
    As for keeping this battery charged, one would need quite the solar system or turbine! Which is going to be significantly more expensive than the battery itself, if you can even have the generation where you live (good luck getting a turbine permitted unless you live in a rural area).
    Let’s talk about energy consumption. I do some energy consulting and efficiency audits in Texas, one of the sunnier states. Yes, some people have solar panels, but they are still very rare, and in practically no cases a “good deal”. When asked about them, I usually just tell customers that I don’t think breaking even in 10 years is a good way to invest $5000.
    I’ve seen literally thousands of customers across the state, and can tell you first hand that 99% of them have absolutely no conception of what a “kwh” is, or how much energy they consume. This is partly the fault of deceptive or fraudulent sales people, hawking windows, radiant barriers, and other expensive nonsense, and partly just a lack of education and understanding. In fact, most people have no idea how their HVAC system works, or how their car works, or how to take care of a home, but they spend tens of thousands on these things – how can we expect the general public to worry more about something that costs them so much less? Also typical home square footage is a premium with no basements, which means stuff like HVAC gets pushed into the attic. Stupid, but standard. Where is this closet sized beast going to go?
    http://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/reports/2009/state_briefs/pdf/tx.pdf
    An “average” home here consumes around 40 kwh daily. Of course this is in reality heavily weighted toward summer and winter seasonal usage – meaning when you need power most, this battery will help the least. It *might* be able to power a smaller, efficient home with conservative occupants, in spring and fall months, without letting everything drop off in the middle of the night. But that’s it. Unless you live in something that meets Passivhaus standards or close to, this is really a tiny amount of energy to be able to store and draw upon. We need at least 10 times this in a smaller and cheaper package for it to matter to anyone. But for that to matter, we need distributed generation to be 10 times cheaper and more available. So good luck with that. The grid isn’t going anywhere, any time soon.
    /rant… It’s just plain frustrating to see something so pitiful get so much attention. Stick to the car for now, that’s not so terrible… we’re all waiting on the “affordable” EV for the average layperson to really “revolutionize” things, and not just be a tax shelter for the wealthy.

    • Math, it is a….. reality kind kills it. Something with 10x the capacity would might just cut it for the normal USA home.

  43. ‘When you factor in the satisfaction of tearing up your last electricity bill,
    Straight after you live in area where the lack of sunlight or wind is never a problem, and when you no longer need to connect to any grid , some of the charge covers the cost of the physical make up of the grid no matter what the power source .
    So the author may have a long wait .
    Still Musk’s abilities to self promote remain high and no doubt fat government subsides , payed for by the taxpayer , will be winging there way to him , so it is not all bad news.

  44. I have read nothing about this battery that would make me think that it is cost effective. In fact, the 1000 cycle limit, which is new information to me, makes it worse…Imagine having to replace thousands of dollars worth of batteries ever three years.
    That said…this is another small incremental step toward what one day might prove to be a viable energy storage medium sometime (in the distant future).

    • Proud Skeptic,
      Cars are not ‘cost-effective’. Neither are clothes or food. If you up-size them, they are even less cost effective. But we do it anyway and all the time.
      The wealthy will buy these to feel good about saving the environment. The off-grid cabin types will purchase them because they can actually supply the low energy needs of a small abode or trailer with just a few PV panels. The third world chronically poor can be provided with these by their governments to power refrigerators and lights with the addition of a small windmill or PV system.
      Not everyone thinks, or can operate by, the ‘cost effective’ psychology. This system will win or lose based on how it sells and functions in the real world. But one thing is for sure…it will lead to better and more cost-effective systems in the future. And that is what is so important about Musk pursuing leading edge thinking in potentially future technologies.

  45. jakee308 apparently has a challenge with multiplication, so his concerns about the Forbes article lose all credibility.
    Li ion batteries have two distinct advantages over other designs; energy density and depth of discharge. Neither of these advantages is of significance in a stand alone home system. Li ion batteries have several disadvantages compared to other designs; thermal runaway, hazardous materials, cost of materials and disposal of materials. All of these disadvantages impact their use in a stand alone home system through increased cost and safety concerns. As an engineer, I am frustrated to see an excellent technology misused in an application where it can only fail to compete successfully.
    The 300+ VDC battery working voltage is appropriate for large scale inverters in the 100kW size and up. There are plenty of these available for utility and commercial installations, not individual homes.
    There is nothing in this promotion by Tesla that is new or different from the present state of battery technology, which means that it is all hype.

    • “The 300+ VDC battery working voltage is appropriate for large scale inverters in the 100kW size and up…not individual homes”
      That’s not true at all. Some residential grid connected PV inverters run up to 600 VDC, 480V nominal, transformerless (I assume they mean 60Hz), conversion efficiency ~96%.
      SMA’s SB 3000TL-US ~$1,500 USD

      • Paul –
        Yes, Sunny Boy inverters allow solar panel strings to be anywhere from 5 to 14 panels long, with an input voltage range of 150VDC to 450VDC for grid connected systems. SMA Sunny Boy’s target market is grid connected 240VAC, so their system design did not have to consider the impact of long strings of 12V batteries to match that voltage. The Tesla Li ion batteries would match their input voltage, but SMA’s inverter design is focused on grid connected operation. Their Secure Power Supply feature does claim to provide daytime power during grid outages, so the inverter may well be able to stand alone, but battery sourced operation is not referenced at all. Although it appears that SMA’s inverters may work in a stand alone system with batteries connected, their inverters were designed for PV panel power control, not batteries as a source of power. Do you have experience that they will operate reliably with batteries as a source?

      • James, the SB series of PV inverters (and most others) will not export power unless there is already a grid present to push into. It’s a safety feature to prevent islanding. They do make other inverters that target micro-grid applications that might be suitable.
        I have no experience operating the SMA on batteries (or even PV, but hopefully soon). I would imagine the MPPT feature wouldn’t be the thing to use on a battery, or maybe it is? The Secure Power Supply feature requires a manual switch to work properly, and to restore grid output operation. Not very useful in my book.
        If we are really serious about efficiency & cost reduction, the best approach would be to drop AC for home power, in favor of high voltage DC. The first stage of almost every electronic device and appliance is a rectifier and filter to turn the AC into DC for a SMPS or motor inverter.

  46. I have a plan. Drill and frack for gas. Build super efficient gas power station. Use electricity from said station. Relax in warm glow. (I cannot see a flaw in my plan)

  47. Here’s a rough and ready price comparison chart for various battery technologies.
    The figures presented are per kWh: $150 for lead acid. And $400 for lithium.
    Those figures make sense.
    It seems to me that the battery reported here is therefore unremarkable.
    Tesla have only managed to reduce the lithium price to $350 per kWh. If you buy 10KWh’s worth for $3500.
    Probably because they have cleverly designed it to provide a weirdly high DC voltage that necessitates having it and all related components purchased from and fitted by Tesla.
    It’s possible therefore that they are promoting the battery in order to attempt to lock people into using their system and services.
    It’s still more than double the cost of the same capacity of lead-acid.
    Maybe that is why industry power back up is all lead-acid rather than lithium.
    People will fall for this though.
    And sadly, many of the people who fall for these scams are technically illiterate politicians who get all excited and flustered, and rush in where angels would fear to tread – with vast quantities of taxpayers money.
    Here’s that handy chart of battery tech. costs per unit of energy:
    http://www.mpoweruk.com/chemical_energy.htm

  48. Many commenters have assumed the desirability of going off grid. some have even noted the possible economic effects of a large portion of the user base going off-grid. So I pose this question.
    As public policy, for an entire society, which is the more effective strategy:
    A) Use subsidies, user fees, rate increases, taxes, surcharges, etc. to coerce consumers to go off-grid, by increasing prices until they have no choice, except for some otherwise unaffordable solution.
    B) Maintain a grid which is as cheap and reliable as possible, making maximum use of economies of scale.
    Lets see what people have to say.

    • B. An analogy would be that there is massive support for high-speed rail (Option A) between the major cities here in Australia. As yet, I have not seen how that would be paid for and how that would compete with the, current, most efficient means to travel between the major cities in Australia which is by air.

  49. The Tesla lithium ion batteries have a considerable cobalt content. Where will this metal come from? Not the USA which has zero cobalt producing mines. Tesla will almost certainly rely on China which processes cobalt from the Democrattic Republic of the Congo. The DRCongo in central Africa supplies more than 60% of the world’s cobalt supply.
    Cobalt prices will almost certainly appreciate if Tesla progresses with these energy storage systems.

  50. I like the idea of moving partially or fully off the grid. In many locations, electricity costs are greatly increased by nonsensical grid-connected wind and solar schemes.
    Grid distribution and administrative costs add greatly to the burden. In Calgary, the cost of electrical generation is relatively low – about 6 to 9 cents/KWh, but that cost is then doubled or tripled by high distribution and administration costs.
    Rather than using batteries, I am more encouraged by other off-grid technologies, such as those that convert methane (natural gas) directly to electricity.

    • You oant like it in a cold winter when the wind and solar output is negligible and the battery is flat. Survival in that scenario means means burning anything flammable – if you have a fireplace or stove that is.
      Using methane is NOT being off grid , it simply changes the nature of the grid and the most efficient way to turn gas into electricity is a Combined Cycle gas turbine plant such as the installations in Calgary owned by ENMAX.

      • Keith,
        Your first paragraph clearly does NOT refer to my comments – you are probably correct, since I’ve lived through a long winter power outage and it was certainly difficult, but you are off-topic.
        Your second paragraph is interesting. The grid is defined in my comment as the electrical grid, nothing more. Your comment about GTG’s is valid to the extent that mini-GTG’s are available in sizes suitable and affordable for homes or apartment buildings, and progress is reportedly being made in this field.
        My main point is that electricity from the electrical grid has been made much more expensive (and less reliable) by foolish grid-connected green energy schemes and by excessive administrative and distribution costs. Getting off-grid will, I suggest, become the best way to overcome this politically-driven excessive increase in our home energy costs.
        Regards, Allan

  51. Is anyone doing research into more efficient compressors for cooling and refridgeration? It seems another way to skin this cat is to target the big draws.

    • Simple, use a heat exchanger on your outdoor unit. rather than driving a fan and chucking heat out into the desert air, You heat your hot water and make your unit more efficient at the same time.

  52. All of this, the “green energy” market, ‘lectric cars, and the resultant high cost of electricity is thanks to CAGW – the biggest lie in human history. We’ve been sold a pg in a poke and we’re arguing about how to keep the costs down for feed and housing.

  53. Green free renewable energy results in electricity at four times the price that is also unreliable.

    • Here in the UK, many solar panel farms are being paid 43pence/kWh for their output to the grid.
      The current wholesale price of electricity is about 4 to 5pence/kWh.
      So, in this instance the solar p.v. is costing us 10 times the market rate.
      And bear in mind that it is actually worth less than a dependable supply.
      Since it is unpredictable, unreliable and the peak solar output occurs when there is low demand.

  54. This Tesla battery is utter crap and the idea is stupid. BTW it’s nothing new, some tech freaks with PV-panels use such batteries since years. BTW you can just take a bunch of car batteries and connect them with a control devices (example: http://www.solaranlagen-portal.com/photovoltaik/stromspeicher/energy-3000-powerstation). Beside some tech-nerds nobody does this – because it’s far away from economic. The price of 350 $/kWh storage is crazy. In a large scale this price goes down to maybe 10 cents per kWh, google for Batterie-Speicherkraftwerk Berlin Steglitz or Golden Valley Electric in Fairbanks battery for more details. The best solution are still pumped storage hydro power station, if you storage there energy for a day, the costs go down to maybe 3 cents per kWh. If you store energy for a longer time, the costs increase accordingly. But 350 $/kWh is just a ridiculous pile of turd.
    For German speaking people read more about the topic:
    http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/lesezeichen-anzeige/stromspeicher-was-sie-sind-was-sie-taugen-was-sie-kosten/

  55. Would a flywheel stepped up during the day by a solar panel and turning a generator at night be useful?

    • Gribbenski

      Would a flywheel stepped up during the day by a solar panel and turning a generator at night be useful?

      Consider that most people can no longer be trusted to turn their car headlights on, to change gears with a clutch, and regularly change their oil, oil filter, and AC fan filter, do you “trust” a normal householder to safely operate a multi-ton high-speed generator-motor with oil system and filter and oil reservoir and regulator and controller at 3600 rpm? In their ? basement? garage? Back shed? Back porch?
      A lead-acid has the same problems: Gallons of high-concentration sulfuric acid, lead plates, and an un-regulated DC voltage (think arc welder in a basement that can be “turned off” when the shelf tips over, gets climbed on 6 year olds, gets in a house fire, gets the lines “touched” disconnecting/re-connecting the batteries, doesn’t get the acid-covered copper bars torqued down firmly, gets the house broken into to steal the copper wires and regulator/converter, needs regular recharge/discharge/floating charge/overcharge maintenance cycles.
      I build and re-build power plant-sized and industrial-sized turbines and generators – they are very, very tough to work on. Very easy to screw up while working on them. (For a house overnight, think of a rotating motor-generator the size of your car, and a stator frame weighing just as much.)
      The flywheel? When it breaks, or when the bearings break, what stops it? The house across the street? The house behind you? The wall of the apartment house basement – as it chews up all of the structural members columns and beams holding up the apartment building?

      • A few years back, there was some group trying to push the idea of using flywheels to power cars.
        I got them all to thinking when I asked what would happen when you tried to turn the car.

    • An old idea but used in back generation to keep power up while the backup generator starts. I sure other people have though about it but I have not looked at it for 30 year. Like everything just run the numbers to see is economic. It maybe

    • +1
      For 4-12 hours maybe if your not cooking, washing or drying or cooling/heating your house.

  56. 10 KWh is the same energy as in a quart of gasoline, and storing it costs $3,300??? I’ll sell you my used oil containers for only a hundred bucks each, and they’re reusable indefinitely.

    • “10 KWh is the same energy as in a quart of gasoline”
      ICE that gets 40 miles per gallon = 1 mile per kWh.
      Volt users report >3 miles per kWh. YMMV
      “they’re reusable indefinitely.”
      Both oil and electrons are free for the taking, but on a small scale it’s cheaper to harvest electrons.

  57. Global resource economics.
    Each year about 60,000 tonnes of new uranium is mined then purified.
    This eventually produces several % of global electricity.
    Each year about 40,000 tonnes of new lithium is mined and purified.
    This produces zero % of global electricity, but can be used for storage then release on demand of about 0.00001% of global electricity.
    Please check my last figure. It looks too high.
    For the Musk battery to have global impact, the known lithium reserves are several orders of magnitude too small. It would take decades to upscale. The recovery cost increases as the quality of the ore source gets less as demand increases if indeed there is that much lithium to be found.
    If either of these has a future, it is NOT lithium.
    (Joke. Besides, who wants a new rechargeable, multi use battery versatile enough to be used off-peak in a mobile smart phone that is six feet high?)
    Geoff.

  58. Others have pointed out already that if you want a stationary battery, you have no need to use an expensive Lithium battery, as the reason to use Lithium is its light weight, which is of no use in a stationary installation.
    I’d like to add: Tesla Motors seems to try to find bigger markets for its automotive batteries; but these batteries are already prepared to survive most car crashes. This is ANOTHER feature you don’t need in a stationary installation.
    So, we have a completely wrong requirement analysis. Tesla Motors obviously thinks that advantages incurred by experience curve / economies of scale outweigh these false requirements; but I don’t think so. IF a viable market for stationary household batteries develops, the economies of scale of that market alone would make it worthwhile to develop a system that avoids the false requirements.

    • …also, the price of Lithium per tonne is going up and up and up over the past years EVEN as the global economy continues to stagnate, due to Lithium’s popularity in mobile devices and drones, so the consequences of Tesla Motors’ wrong decision will get worse as the price rises further….

  59. I generate over 1000 KWh excess electricity a year on my 6.7KW PV array. Fortunately, since I have net metering, I can recover a few shekels @ wholesale rates rather than dump those extra watts into the water heater or A/C. If my utility operator wants me to store it on my property they will need to pay me to install a battery system, I will buy a battery backup system someday when it starts saving or earning me money so I am a future customer when the price is right.
    Tesla’s grid scale batteries will be the tipping point though, not the small scale home units.

    • I see that the difficulty is that you voluntarily signed up as a customer of the supply company. You accepted the terms and conditions because you required (or wanted) a cheap reliable source of electrons.
      When you decided to start producing some of your own electrons instead of buying them, why did you expect your usual supplier of electrons to buy your excess at random times and quantities, at retail price instead of the production cost that they usually pay for their electrons? You appear to require the supply company to make a compulsory loss so that you can make a compulsory profit! The market should determine the returns of your generation not some political compunction.

      • Richard of NZ,
        Did you miss the part where I said I get paid at wholesale rates? Granted that’s more than the price of electrons at the nearest central power plant but I assume the cost of building, operating and maintaining my equipment and I don’t get credit for that, nor should I.
        PS: Guess what the cost of electrons are when the grid in Texas is at peak demand? Two years ago our PUC (public utility commission) raised the system-wide offer cap (SWOC) to $9,000 per megawatt-hour in 2015. (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ERCOT-Will-Raise-Texas-System-Wide-Offer-Cap-to-9000-in-2015). You don’t suppose having your grid bought out by a bunch of Wall St. banks and hedgefunds (look up TXU and Energy Future Holdings) who then proceeded to bankrupt the company just might be more important than me selling solar electricity back to the grid? Maybe your concern about me gaming the system is misplaced?

  60. The hit of $3500 per battery is not going to make it for most of the people of the world, who must build their systems component-by-component as they can afford it.

  61. Ah….hold of on that expected savings just yet.
    Electricity is publicly regulated and as such……if the utility can’t meet costs (for whatever reasons in it’s non competitive business models), they will simply raise rates to compensate.
    So, without true market forces at work. History has shown us that this will most likely have the opposite intended effect regarding the public’s saving of money…….
    The only way this (or frankly any) attempt to reduce electrical costs would work is if the grid was open to any provider and the monopolies to customer bases eliminated. Without that, you could have FREELY generated power and would still cost more.

  62. Mistake in tjhe headline:
    Should read “Tesla announces very slightly lower costs for incredibly expensive batteries’.

  63. the way I see it, the main role of this battery is to store solar produced energy so that it can be used at night.
    Tesla’s business model is that early adopters pay a premium while funding the R&D that will lead to less expensive, more mainstream models down the road. this is how they are doing their car production…

    • What car production? Most major car makers around the world have solved how to build a car..

      • @greg – there is actually a lot of innovative technology in a Tesla car. Their latest model will go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, as I recall. The entire dash board is an LED screen. If they figure out how to get twice the range at about 1/3 the cost sales will increase a lot. The number of charging stations is increasing every day and it only takes about 30 minutes. There are 10 charging stations conveniently located in Yuma, Az. and another 7 at Gila Bend, 116 miles up the road from Yuma on the Interstate.
        I’m not that big a fan of electric, however. If everybody were to convert over a short period there would not be enough generating power in the U.S. to keep them all charged, I am told.

      • Um, the electric cars that Tesla makes. The Model S runs $70-100k and the upcoming Model X will be around $70k. The Model E will be out in a couple of years and the price should be in the $35k range. The early adopters that bought into the Model S are paying for the research that will allow the Model E to be half the cost…

      • “The entire dash board is an LED screen.”
        I see you haven’t seen the inside of a Mercedes S class lately.

      • Marcos
        May 3, 2015 at 8:53 am
        “Um, the electric cars that Tesla makes.”
        The FEW and EXPENSIVE cars that Tesla makes.

      • DirkH
        May 3, 2015 at 8:57 am
        “The FEW and EXPENSIVE cars that Tesla makes.”
        I’ve seen more Tesla Model S’s driving around Houston than I have Chevy Volts, and I sell Chevys

  64. -☺-
    Three blind mice, three blind mice,
    See how they charge, goin’ off grid,
    The wind didn’t blow, ‘no sign of the sun,
    The laundry’s all damp, their toast is not done,
    And lIving in darkness is really not fun
    For those three blind mice.
    – sp –

    • The average house, 1 kwhr. Tesla 85, so to charge in one hour uses 85 houses load of electricity. .0 to 60 wow but runs out in 30 mins with no a/c. Range nowhere near 265, but Tesla knows the true figures from its service data but will not tell anyone.

  65. Tesla’s batteries are simply a repackaging of his car batteries. They are worthless for home use. The number of discharge cycles is limited as is the lifetime. Until the cost is about halved and the lifetime at least doubled lithium batteries are a rich man’s toy. Also, in Arizona the two major power companies have added grid access charges for solar producers to compensate, supposedly, for not paying their fair share of baseline operating costs. Suddenly, generating excess solar power doesn’t look so good.
    A consumer’s best bet is still putting in energy efficient appliances, gas-filled windows, and a heat pump with a high efficiency rating, not to mention more insulation. I have allowed dealers offering both leasing and purchase options to make presentations at my home. None of their solutions would have saved me money. I am 71 and am not interested in twenty year solutions, especially involving current battery technology.
    Do not think for a minute that public utilities are not poised to alter their charge structures to make sure they continue to be very profitable. If a lot of people go “off the grid” they will probably end up paying a fee to do this to compensate for their lack of usage of the grid. It has gotten that crazy out there. Remember, home owners in some states have been fined for daring to collect rain water on their property on the theory that rain is a resource belonging to the state.

  66. Simply google Elon Musk rent seeker. He gets rich from from U S government transfers of wealth (money) from middle class taxpayers.

  67. if you get subsidies/tax break I think (if I remember right) you HAVE to hook to the grid to backfeed it.
    I very well may be wrong though so if someone knows for sure (this is in US) please correct me.

  68. Lead acid batteries are heavy, lithium batteries are light. That’s so very important when you have to install them in your home or a garage. /sarc

  69. After reading through the comments, I’m surprised no one has mentioned that Musk is going to provide Apple and Google(?) batteries for their mega-sites in CA and China.
    I love the idea of letting all those smart, rich companies work out the laws of physics so we can benefit later.
    It is also key to the mega installation near Reno that Tesla is building. Your stock price may vary accordingly.
    Lastly, I’ve played with electric/hybrid sailboats (poorly). There is a Greman outfit, Torqeedo that is promoting a similar battery for electric propulsion. Might be Tesla’s.

    • “I love the idea of letting all those smart, rich companies work out the laws of physics so we can benefit later.”
      Has all been worked out long ago.
      “There is a Greman outfit, Torqeedo that is promoting a similar battery for electric propulsion. Might be Tesla’s.”
      No. They’re all alike. SAFT makes some, for instance, used in hybrid high end limos .
      Musk tries to do volume business to reduce cost. That’s all.

  70. Where do all of the vapors expelled while charging/discharging these batteries go? What will the levels be in a community when 1/2 the homeowners have them.?

  71. of good lord … its not cheap (lead acid batteries for the same capacity cost less than $1,000) its not new … nor will it save you money over a good coal fired plant …
    Musk is great at marketing and this author is just another sucker that Musk will prey on …

  72. It appeared to me upon seeing a pic of a Tesla car battery internals, that, they use Kapton insulation. Research Kapton in aircraft wiring. In aircraft wiring it represents an extremely serious known fire hazard once environmental degradation occurs. While the circumstance of usage may be different, it raised questions in my mind as to whether they understood the risks of Kapton. The application may be totally safe given the manner in which they engineered their batteries. But, they need to answer that question.
    Insofar as the battery itself, they need to post charge profiles for bulk charging, absorption charging, and float charging. From what I have seen about batteries in the past, if, you want to go solar battery back-up, or, off-grid, Rolls-Surrette lead acid, or, the old Edison nickel-iron batteries are still best in the long run on a cost analysis bases. Nickel-iron can be over or under charged, and, they never wear out. Simply disassemble and wash with water and potash once they degrade. Voila! Good as new. The first Edison batteries still run today.
    Re-cycling lithium-ion is nasty and much more expensive at this point in time according to a chemist friend. Currently, these batteries are not really re-cycled. Tesla brushes this aside saying they are incorporating this capacity into their battery plant. But, in reality, re-cycling is an exogenous variable to their cost model, which, will be incorporated at some point.

    • Bill Webb

      Insofar as the battery itself, they need to post charge profiles for bulk charging, absorption charging, and float charging. From what I have seen about batteries in the past, if, you want to go solar battery back-up, or, off-grid, Rolls-Surrette lead acid, or, the old Edison nickel-iron batteries are still best in the long run on a cost analysis bases. Nickel-iron can be over or under charged, and, they never wear out. Simply disassemble and wash with water and potash once they degrade. Voila! Good as new. The first Edison batteries still run today.

      I like the Ni-Fe – simple, heavy, reliable. Less harardous for today’s “home owners” and businesses. Certainly not “exotic” though. Are the “old” Bell telephone battery Ni-Fe, or were they lead-acid plates – but with metallic lead, not foamed crystal lead like today’s car batteries?

    • If anything like the propose Tesla system goes forward we will HAVE to recycle lithium-containing items. Let’s see, we can start with collecting Corningware pots from all those “antique” shops – they are about 5% Li2O by weight. I wonder if that will be enough?

  73. I didn’t read all the replies so this may have been brought up already;
    I don’t see how this would lower electricity prices. An electric company has a bottom line they need to meet for expenses. If many people went the battery route, those that don’t will pay higher costs to make up the difference. The batteries probably couldn’t be used in sky scrapers, so business building in say, NYC would still rely on power from the grid. If they pay higher electric rates they will just pass the higher cost to their customers.
    If solar panels last about 10 years, and the batteries about 3 years, I don’t know how much savings there actually is in going this route. I heard Donald Trump on the radio one day, he said he looked into solar for his buildings but the problem was that by the time the panels pay for themselves they need to be replaced.
    It sounds like the batteries might be the same.

    • Nancy, it won’t lower electricity costs, it increases them. It merely covers off some of the problem of irregular supply from renewable sources. It’s a battery system; it only stores electricity that you’ve manufactured or purchases elsewhere. It’s a pure cost add-on that provides electricity for your television at night after the sun has gone down and your solar array is no longer producing anything.

  74. How much does it cost to have your own fire engine?
    Because I’m guessing that the fire brigade won’t want to provide cover for a house with one of these in it. They’re already worried about the lives of their firemen if they tackle a fire with a photo electric array on the roof – because you can’t turn the damn things off from outside…

    • What is the risk? I guess there’s some fear of a fireman putting a foot or an axe through a live wire (even then, he’s wearing rubber boots and gloves), but I always wondered about the danger of electrocution travelling down the stream of water from a garden or fire hose … a discussion of this elsewhere suggests the “stream” is really a “spray”, and its separate droplets unable to form a conduction path. I would put my money on this. I never noticed whether firemen hunt for a breaker.
      http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=158561

  75. A huge Obama and Democrat Donor does a “huge” press release, which really is all about nothing, Praising a nonexistent achievement, while hiding a potential explosion hazard, And claiming that it will revolutionize the GREEN AGENDA and revitalize it….
    Sounds like Political double speak and whole bunch of Cr@p…
    ON another note, In Wyoming many municipalities are making laws which state all homes must have connection to power, water, and other utilities before they can be habitated. One home which has had its own water system, Its own sewer leach field, and off grid power for over 30 years was fined and forced to connect to all utilities even though it had no need to. The home owner is upset that she now has to pay three bills she had no need for as her systems met code prior to the newly elected liberal council pronounced their mandates… I expect the power companies will push this type of legislation on all off grid homes nation wide soon.

    • She lives in town. If everybody has their own septic tank and their own well… You get to a certain population density and it just makes sense to share water and sewer in a little more controlled manner.
      Besides some of these small towns become end-of-the-road destinations for people with absolutely nothing. They get an old house for little of nothing and they camp there. They don’t keep anything up.
      You wouldn’t want them for neighbors. They don’t want you for a neighbor either. They are looking for the end of the road – they just can’t afford to go farther. Live in the country, do what you want. Live in town, there has to be some rules.
      Now California municipalities – there is an over regulating force to be reckoned with.

      • So you like dumping the waste water to a river where it goes into the ocean rather than requiring a proper waste water system that puts the water back into the ground where it will replenish the ground water? And YES it can be done safely with absolutely NO health effects, It is use at the power plant where I worked before I retired. Waste water from the plant and over 1000 workers. The soil, vegetation above the soil and the bacteria action make the water clean enough to drink after proper processing. Sample sites around the facility verify this purity weekly.

  76. Reminds me of Ralph Sarich 40 years ago. Millions of dollars in subsidies to produce an orbital car engine that never worked. A few “revolutionary” off shoot products (such as a parking lot gate) to try to justify the money poured down the drain. Ralph Sarich is now on the BRW top 200 rich list, thanks to the taxpayer.
    Now Ralph is tackling that next big grant source: “…look at what the fossil fuels are doing,” Mr Sarich said. “They’ll start melting down the ice caps, which is already worse than scientists originally thought, and that will be catastrophic.”

  77. Wow! What a bunch of skeptics! Isn’t there anyone who thinks this is a good idea? I mean… doesn’t anyone from from Tesla read WUWT?

    • Steve Clauter

      Wow! What a bunch of skeptics! Isn’t there anyone who thinks this is a good idea? I mean… doesn’t anyone from from Tesla read WUWT?

      Is not everybody employed at Tesla paid by Tesla to make money for Tesla?
      Either from government subsidies and propaganda or Green money or from Big Finance or Big Science (getting money to build up Tesla’s pyramid schemes from politically-corrupted (er, connected) individuals before the company folds completely – AKA Solyndra and the others)? Is not Tesla “getting paid” by being closely associated with Oboma’s “war” against energy and the US and western economies?

    • Steve Clauter –
      That’s because it is clearly not a good idea. There are several superior alternative battery choices for the stand alone home application and the Tesla product offers no advantages to factor in. Even the 2 times depth of discharge advantage of Li ion over lead acid batteries is lost to the 2.5 times cost increase of the Tesla batteries. And the cost of the specialized charge controllers and inverters are not even counted in yet.

    • Steve Clauter
      May 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm
      “Wow! What a bunch of skeptics! Isn’t there anyone who thinks this is a good idea?”
      Steve, I was involved in the development of a load cycle management for a Li Ion contraption like the proposed one by Tesla from 2009-2011, in Hamburg, Germany. Everyone involved knew that the contraption would be too expensive to actually save the user money so the company continuously sent some boys to Brussels to beg for subsidies for this new, groundbreaking, sustainable thingamagick.
      It was just a devel job for me, I had no illusion about the viability of the product. All the technology hasn’t changed since then.

  78. New innovative energy products can only be a good thing no matter where one sites in the climate debate. Let the market measure its value to society.
    With more such products, though, the “capitalism was all good fun, but now that the climate apocalypse is upon us we have to get down to the serious business of socialism” crowd will have a smaller iceberg to stand on.

  79. Erik Magnuson May 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    If the batteries can last 10 years while cycling 7KWh per day, then the $3,000 price is looking like a good deal if the electric utilities are allowed to do net metering on a time of day basis. That works out to about 14 cents per KWh, which will likely be less than the difference in rates between 11am and 7pm.

    But Erik, that’s only the capital cost of storage. It doesn’t include the items I listed above, viz:

    You haven’t included the cost of the panels, or of the inverter, or of the wiring, or of the battery-to-grid phase-locking, or of the safety interlocks, or of the frames to mount the panels, or the skilled labor costs of the installation of all of the above, or of the maintenance of the same. You also haven’t included the costs of power for those times when your battery goes flat, which a 10 kWh battery will do in short order in the winter …

    So we’re still a long, long ways from economical.

    My understanding is that the cycle life of Li-ion batteries is much longer if the batteries are cycled between 40 and 60% depth of discharge. This suggests that stabilizing the grid for wind generation may be even more cost effective than for solar as the batteries would potentially be cycled several times a day. This would require some sort of interaction with the utility, with Tesla’s business model is providing the signalling infrastructure for a fee.

    And that’s another cost you haven’t included …

    In regards to Willis’s comments about lead acid batteries: The initial price per KWh of storage capacity is cheaper with the lead acid than Li-ion, but not quite so sure if cycle life-time energy storage is cheaper. The graph on the Trojan website indicated that the cycle lifetime was inversely proportional to depth of discharge (i.e. 25% DOD gives 2X the number of cycles as 50% DOD). One other knock against lead acid is the charge discharge efficiency is significantly poorer than Li-ion.

    If there were a significant advantage overall to lithium ion batteries we’d see them used more for all of the tasks for which we use lead-acid batteries. Currently they are almost exclusively used in situations where lead-acid batteries have never been used, such as portable radios, flashlights, and the like. In general, lithium batteries have replaced alkaline batteries and carbon batteries, but they’ve never beaten lead-acid batteries.
    Lithium batteries are generally used where you need to have absolute minimum weight for given power. I use lithium batteries in my power hand tools. For less weight-critical tasks, alkaline batteries and carbon batteries (“C cells”, “AA cells”, and the like) are used.
    But when you need large amounts of power, and weight/portability are not an issue, lithium can’t compete with lead-acid. It’s why car and truck 12-volt starter motor batteries are not lithium batteries, but the batteries in electric cars like the Chevy Volt are lithium batteries.
    w.

    • One thing that will compete with Batter motivated AND petrol cars will be LENR powered cars.
      Just saying! This is not wishful thinking either.
      I hope to see this in my life time.
      If not within 20years max headroom.

  80. A lot of live-aboard/long distance trawlers have lived this for years. Generally they use AGM/Glass Mat batteries or some use the 6volt “golf cart” lead acid batteries that need distilled water every week or so. But there are other costs, i.e. inverters, generator fuel when you need to run the generator to run big power users: i.e clothes dryers, davits, AC or other 220v devices. Understanding power management as a way of life, you have to get used to it turning off stuff all the time. Learning about power consumption, being curious on how many amp hours you used in the past 24 hours, and when the 156 pound 8d batteries need to be replaced – about every 5-7 years depending on how many discharge cycles and how many times you went below 50% of the remaining amp hours. Learn about floating, absorption and bulk charging, etc.
    A lot to learn for people who are used to “always on” stuff. It could be done, but it will take a few generations of learning curve and a lot more than just batteries.

  81. A quick and dirty analysis of time-shifting based on a single 10 KWH unit, lots of assumptions and sparse facts, but you may be able to adjust the component parts to suit your situation and ongoing factual updates. If you want to optimise time-shifting, then you may need additional components to manage that process.
    Assume the battery is $3,500 and the inverter and install are $1,500 for a total of $5,000. Assume the 10 KWH battery can be discharged 50% and recharged every day for 10 years before it dies: 3,600 cycles at 360/year, and assume the inverter will last forever. These are very generous assumptions.
    Each year you can time shift 1,800 KWH (360 x 5). If your $5,000 investment cost you 4% interest, then you are out $200 plus $350 battery depreciation each year, for a total of $550. If you save 10 cents per KWH shifted, then you only saved $180 against the annual $550. Your break even point is about 30 cents per each KWH shifted, but I pay less than 15 cents extra for a prime-time KWH. Not promising for me as a time-shift device.
    But wait! Each KWH you take in from the grid will be transformed and rectified to low voltage DC, then stored in the battery, then recovered from the battery, then inverted back into high voltage AC. I would be shocked if that process was over 80% efficient. So now the break-even point looks like:
    cost per KWH sold – (cost per KWH purchased x 1.25) = 30 cents
    Not worth the investment risk for me.

    • And before you reach anywhere near a 350-450 volt connection make sure your other hand is behind you back, you are wearing rubber-soled shoes, the floor is dry (no cool concrete on a warm humid day), and you have a friend across the room ready to dial 911 on your behalf. If there are smoothing capacitors in-circuit this applies even after the power is off.

  82. Upon looking at the battery pack, then reading the specs and seeing the price, my initial thoughts were ‘visially attractive product, easy to use, yet not a great leap forward and more expensive than the competition’.
    Therefore the only thing missing is an Apple logo on the front cover.

  83. Batteries
    What’s old is new again. The comments remind me of when I was a tiny tot on the farm west of Calgary in the late 40’s, early 50’s before there were graded gravel roads or power lines. My grandfather had a separate building full of lead acid batteries and 12 volt lighting in the log farm house. The electric lighting was generally only used intermittently because you had to use an old one lung four stroke with a belt to a generator to charge the battery bank (and you could move the belt power a saw for cutting lumber). There was minimal electric lighting, mostly in the kitchen. Oil lamps were the main lighting and I still have one in the basement today. No inside water, no inside toilet, I have the old scrubbing board on my porch, and the drier was a line outside; refrigeration was from ice cut and stored under sawdust in an ice house, heating was wood (somewhat the same as now); AC was sitting in the shade of a tree.
    I have pictures somewhere. It was really exciting when electricity and real roads came to the region. A 10kw battery bank would have lasted a long time in those days except when you really needed it in the middle of winter in the dark at 40 below …
    Glad to pay my current utility bill. And even though my bill has doubled in the last 15 years, it is still cheaper than running my 12 kW propane backup generator full time or installing solar panels, inverters, battery back up, etc. And, at 12kW, only half the house lighting is connected to the gen set. I live in the country. There are two wells (3kW) and a water to water heat pump (4kW) and other pumps (livestock) to run when the utility power regularly disappears for hours at a time, and at times for more than a day. The 12kW gen set is stressed at times as noted by the dimming of the lights when the refrigerator or deep freeze kicks on when the pumps are running.
    So much better than the old farm house of 65 years ago.
    In another 65, maybe there will be batteries or other technology that will work. My grand kids may look back with wonder at my farm house just as I look at my grand parents farm houses. Though I actually think we may be living in the best of times. No more late night frosty trips to the outhouse.
    I hope future generations are as fortunate as most of us living in the developed countries today.

  84. The big lie is this is new tech that allows for off-grid solar. Of course not, it’s been available for 40 years.
    The standard battery for doing this is the 220Ah * 6V = 1.3KWh deep cycle battery. The lowest price I found was $130. Put 8 in series and you get 10KWh for $1000, less than a 1/3 the cost. A 48V inverter/charge-controller is cheap today. The 3-4KW of solar panels will cost much more than the rest.
    This system will not power the kitchen range and water heater, you need gas for that.

  85. Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI™) battery , Just as bad as Musk. How does it work – give us all your details. performance data – thats a secret, Cost – Well dont ask…………….. Just what is it with these people.

  86. As always this new development benefits the rich ahead of the poor. Great if you can afford it, but it leaves the electricity standing charges shared by the remaining customers with the inevitable effect – more low income households disconnected because they can’t pay their bills.

    • Thanks, Old Ranga, but you’re missing the point entirely. This new development benefits NEITHER the rich nor the poor. It is a more expensive solution than the solution we have now (lead-acid batteries), and is also much more dangerous. So it’s not “great if you can afford it”, it’s a rip-off whether you can afford it or not.
      w.

  87. Potential v. reality: Musk himself was a bit more circumspect in a quote in an article I looked up. He sounded like it was more like a battery back up. I’ve been seeing some bandwagon, “get ii on the ground floor” investment promotion for Musk based on this. Based on the post and the comments and the article , it sounds pretty limited. And the stock price went down ahead of the anticipated announcement. It still requires higher utility prices and some crony government market interference – the story of low density, “free” production and storage since Day One.
    In terms of plentiful , cheap energy and compared to fracking, methane hydrates, nuclear, and/or coal, it’s a popcorn fart in the wind.

  88. 10kWhrs?
    That is about enough to run my house for about 6 hours on average, or about 2 hours when we are heavily active.
    While it is nice I can stack 8 of them, 8 of them will run in the neighborhood of $30,000.
    Also note that the batteries do not CREATE energy. They are not going to take you off the grid. For that you need something else to charge them.
    That something else is going to cost you money. It is going to be intermittent. It is going to have to provide significantly more energy than you need at any given point in time so you can also charge for that period.
    While solar and wind might be cheap to the end user, they certainly are not cheap. The end user gets the benefits of massive PC alternative energy save gaia subsidies in order to get to somewhat reasonable costs.
    But even if the rated costs seems cheap, most of America is not in a sun belt and many homes do not have south facing clear views to the sun to make collection or most places do not have reliable winds and when you need the wind the most, when it is hot, it is not likely to be there for you.
    Stick it to the utility companies, why? Because they are apparently evil. I certainly thought better of Watts Up With That than to have this pure garbage strewn about.
    Someone above already talked about standard batteries doing this for the last 40 years plus for about a quarter of the cost. So I did not say anything in my statement above. But it is also another point against this stupid advertisement!

  89. What will insurance companies think of their customers hanging large firebombs in their garages? What will it cost to dispose of old batteries? How recyclable are these battery carcasses? How much charging capacity does each unit have? It needs to exceed the average load, including charging the batteries. What is peak capacity for those times extra heating is needed over night when temperatures fall? How do they perform during short winter days?
    Truth is I really don’t care what the answers might be because I already know you cannot replace grid power from any other source as economically and reliably as the grid already in place. Anything done to impact the economies of scale of the grid will send industry off shore and we’ll all become burger flippers. This same reality also applies to diesel and gasoline fuel. Trucking is affordable because our fuel costs are affordable and that is true only because of the efficiencies of large scale production.
    I’m amazed that in my lifetime I’ve lived with the “Greatest Generation” and the wondrous creations they’ve given us, and the most ignorant generation which seeks to tear it all down. I much preferred the former.

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