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What About the Tesla Powerwall?

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

SolarKobo Score: 4.9/5

Introduction

In August last year, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite earned himself some clout when he revealed that he had turned down the world's richest man's request to mine raw Lithium in Nigeria. Before then, probably only primary school students knew who Nigeria's minister of mines was from quizzes on current affairs.


In 2019, lots of articles and 'fact-check reports' were written to put down news about Tesla being offered in Nigeria, including this famous one by Pulse. This made it difficult for us to share our thoughts on Tesla's Powerwall with our readers. It would have seemed silly but in January 2021, a power project was commissioned to power government buildings in Abuja that incorporated, not Tesla's Powerwall, but the more commercial powerhub battery. Granted, now that the project has been completed, we will take that piece of news as a cue to proceed.


Since there is an avalanche of information about the Tesla Powerwall on the Internet which would make Solarkobo's contribution a drop in an ocean, this article will provide only a glossary of the Powerwall, its history, industry impact and our thoughts about it with the Nigerian solar energy enthusiast and potential buyers in mind.

Fashola Inspecting the Installation Source: @DamilolaSDG7
Source: @DamilolaSDG7. Notice the Buildings in the Background and How they Make this Photo a Perfect Depiction of the Contradictions of the Nigerian Society.
History

The Tesla Powerwall battery pack was launched in 2015, and followed by the mainstay battery pack, the Tesla Powerwall 2 in 2016 and the Powerwall Plus. The Powerwall has been superseded.


Impact

The Powerwall is regarded as a groundbreaking event in the history of home storage systems. It made home storage systems mainstream and set the pace other brands have striven to follow.


Description

The Tesla Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery that uses lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) chemistry cells developed in collaboration with Panasonic and are similar to the Lithium NCA cells that Tesla uses in its electric vehicles.


Liquid Cooling

The Tesla Powerwall incorporates a liquid thermal management system that enables it to operate in a wide range of temperatures from -20 to +50°C. It is the only battery system on the market to do so.

Powerwall 2

Types Of Powerwall

  • Powerwall,

  • Powerwall 2 and

  • Powerwall+.

The Powerwall 2 is an upgrade on the Powerwall and the Powerwall+ is an upgrade on the Powerwall 2. Both the Powerwall 2 and Powerwall+ have in-built inverters and rectifiers to convert electricity between AC and DC, the only difference being that the Powerwall 2 uses the inverter only for the battery, while an external inverter for solar panels, is needed. The Powerwall+ incorporates a 7.6kW solar inverter. In other words, the Powerwall 2 is just an AC-battery system that stores AC from grid-power, while the Powerwall+ incorporates a hybrid inverter that can work with solar panels.


A Powerwall 3 has been announced but is yet to be released.

Powerwall+

Power Rating

Both Powerwall systems provide 5.8 kW of continuous power in the absence of sunlight. However, the Powerwall+ can deliver 7.6 kW at full sun. This makes them very large systems. To reach larger capacities, the Powerwall can be set up in split or 3-phase configurations with up to nine Powerwalls linked together to reach up to 40.5kW.


Warranty

The Powerwall 2 is covered by a 10-year warranty with the battery guaranteed to retain at least 70% minimum capacity by the end of the warranty period or Tesla will replace the battery or refund the cost.

Cost

The Powerwall sells at $11,500, approximately NGN8M, this excludes shipping costs and installation fees that may bring up the total investment to NGN10M.

Our Thoughts

Unfortunately, we would not recommend the Powerwall to our clients. We consider it a niche product that is made for the premium market where price is hardly a consideration. We would instead recommend equally impressive but not as nearly popular brands, like Huawei, Jinko, Growatt, Simpli Phi, BYD, PylonTech and Felicity. These brands are manufactured in China where manufacturing costs are much lower impacting the final retail costs of the products. Also, those brands manufacture their products specifically with the mass market in mind. For instance, Chinese brands have driven the three premium brands, Sunpower, LG and Panasonic out of the solar panel industry for this very reason. While they may not succeed with Tesla, they are introducing equally-sophisticated energy storage systems into the market at great succession and Tesla should have a reason to be worried.


Even if we could recommend for those who could afford it, buying the Powerwall will prove to be a hassle as Tesla no longer sells it alone. Tesla offers the Powerwall as an add-on to the purchase of a Tesla solar panel system and Tesla's solar roof. (For buyers in the US, this affords them a 30% tax rebate.) Also, it can only be purchased through a certified Powerwall installer or a third-party solar retailer, but this will mean being put on a long list and having to wait for a rather long time. We do not recommend the solar roof for this same reason.


Also, majority of users want systems that can supplement grid-power and not live entirely off-grid in the case of which the Powerwall becomes a great option, that is, if price is not the main consideration.


Our industry experience assures us that for majority of users, cost is always the primary factor when making a choice of inverter, batteries or solar panels. And we have to be real about this. Regardless, we must also make it clear that the Tesla Powerwall has earned all the accolades it has received from industry experts and users alike. As far as energy storage systems go, it is the very best of its kind.

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