It’s been a little over 12 months since I first heard of the Tesla Powerwall. It was April 30, 2015. Gee Wiz, Mr. Musk made quite a stir. Without even delivering a single battery to Australia in 2015, Elon captivated us with his vision.
Then came the naysayers. We want the battery now! And if we can’t get it, we’ll bag it out!
Ok, the Powerwall did not have the smoothest entry. Supply Chains were limited to 3 huge companies. Sun Eddison was the only one of the three that would have distributed the inverter to Powerwall-accredited resellers. However, Sun Eddison has been going through crippling financial difficulties, so they have effectively been struck off the list. So we are down to two companies that will sell and install the PowerWall. While I don’t work for either of the two remaining companies that can currently sell and install the PowerWall, I know a sparkie who subcontracts for one of them. His first PowerWall installation was in the media recently. No surprise that his first PowerWall installation gained attention from the media and that their coverage was glowing. In fact, the media pretty much reported of Elon that:
He’ll consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse. (Braveheart).
As it turns out, Elon does not poop lighting. As it turns out, revolutionising the Electricity distribution industry takes more than one charismatic announcement.
Give the man a break!
UPDATE: It’s April 2017 and MC Electrical are now proud to be Tesla Powerwall Certified Installers. Tesla have moved quickly by bringing out version 2 of the Powerwall, and have halved the price!! For more information, have a look at our Tesla pricing page.
A Tesla Powerwall test case
Last week I received a call from my industry friend who has installed more Powerwall than most. A grand total of three.
“Don’t get me started Mark!” I could hear the pent-up frustration in his voice.
As a sub-contractor to one of the two distributors, my friend was offered a price to install a Powerwall system. He went backwards.
“The first one took me all freaking day to install” he began. I took note of his gripes, and I’ll share them below. Following this, I’ll level out the whinges with a more balanced view.
Tesla Powerwall Complaints
- It’s not cheap. You’ll never see a return on investment.
- When using the SolarEdge plus StorEdge inverter, you have a beautiful-looking Powerwall, then a mess of conduit linking to the StorEdge, that then clumsily links to the SolarEdge inverter.
- It’s noisy. Pumping coolant might be a good idea, but it is noisy as buggery.
- Apparently, you can install it outside, but it does not look durable enough.
- When the media came, the customer told the camera how the Powerwall was going to turn his $1500 bill to zero.
- Linking the two together was the biggest problem. On his first installation, my friend had to run down the road and grab a USB stick, download the software and it still didn’t work! After a few “Whisky Tango Foxtrot”s he got it working.
- It’s a massive 100kG that we have to hang on the wall.
In defence of the Tesla Powerwall
- Not everything in life is about a return on investment. We have bigger things at stake, like the sustainability of our planet for example.
- The retrofit StorEdge was an introductory product. Thankfully now you can purchase an integrated StorEdge inverter. It looks much neater. With the announcement of the new Tesla PowerWall, the wiring becomes even more simplified.
- Yep, it was noisy. But who’da thought that Elon could respond so quickly? The first version of the Tesla Powerwall made a noticeable noise when pumping around the cooling agent. The next model will be quieter.
- Install it outside? It’s a freaking work of art. A modern-day Mona Lisa. Why are you even thinking about mounting it outside? It belongs in the living room. Well, maybe not. But if you are crazy enough to mount it on the southern wall, it is covered under warranty. You’d want to trust your neighbours, though.
- “He’ll change a $1500 bill to zero and save the Scotsman from the English.” Again, Mr. Musk does not fart lighting.
- There have been teething problems from installers integrating the Solar Edge, StorEdge, and Powerwall. The new StorEdge inverter and the new version of the Powerwall will simplify that process.
- It’s heavy indeed. Choose a good location and use the lifting equipment as recommended, and it’s no big deal. When it comes to durable energy storage – good things do not necessarily come in small packages.
Mr. Elon Musk
When people sit on their sofa and pontificate about Mr. Musk’s Powerwall, I wonder if they knoweth of whom they speaketh. This bloke started off as the founder of PayPal, a little company that you may or may not have used. He sold Paypal and used the money to send the first commercial vehicle to the international space station with a load of supplies.
“Ah but the bloke obviously doesn’t know much about solar!”
He’s the chairman of America’s largest solar power supplier, Solar City. He’s the boss of Tesla Motors -if you haven’t seen one yet, you soon will. In his spare time, he’s working on the Hyperloop, a transport system in which passengers are loaded into pods and fired through vacuum tubes at over than 600mph. The man is rich beyond rich and he’s stupidly smart. He dreams up things that can’t be done, then does them. One of his goals in life is to sort out the global energy problem. It’s probably not irrational to back him.
The Tesla Powerwall has divided the solar industry. It seems some confused Elon Musk for a fabled version of William Wallace. The return on investment is not quite there on current electricity charges in Brisbane. However, buying a Powerwall is not just about a return on investment – it’s about dreaming a dream. It’s buying into a vision that we can fundamentally change the way we use Electricity. No doubt there have been integration teething issues with the SolarEdge, and the PowerWall has made adjustments to the noise. But Musk knows what he is doing. With the second-generation Powerwall soon to be available and the recent release of the integrated StorEdge inverter, we have already come a long way. It’s the beginning of an energy revolution led by a leader with an impressive resume. You only have one chance to be the first person you know to join the energy storage revolution.