Last week, Elon Musk-led Tesla Motors Inc
) introduced its Powerwall home batteries. It was believed that SolarCity Corp
) customers will be first to get their hands on Powerwall. SolarCity said that Powerwall will replace the “noisy, dirty fossil-fuel generators with zero-emission storage technology.” However, there is a big problem that prevents SolarCity, chaired by Elon Musk, from offering Powerwall for daily use.
SolarCity won’t offer Powerwall for daily use
Tesla’s Powerwall will be available in two sizes: 7-kilowatt hours (kWh) and 10kWh. The Palo Alto-based company has designed the 7kWh version for daily use, while its bigger sibling will be used as an occasional backup when the electricity goes out. SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass told Tom Randall of Bloomberg that the 10kWh version can go through only up to 50 charging cycles a year.
So, one is not designed for daily use while another doesn’t make financial sense. And you’ll have to wait if you want to use Tesla batteries to move completely off the grid, Bass told Bloomberg. Even if you wanted to use the bigger 10kWh Powerwall, SolarCity requires you to pay $7,140 outright. But with just 2 kilowatts of power, it offers little return on a customer’s investment. Bloomberg notes that 2KW can be easily maxed out by a microwave oven or a hair dryer.Despite Elon Musk serving as its chairman, SolarCity has decided not to offer the 7kWh Powerwall, which is designed for daily use, to its customers. Bass said the battery “doesn’t really make financial sense” for most U.S. customers because of a policy called net metering. It allows solar customers to sell extra electricity back to the utilities.
Tesla’s battery a costly affair?
Tesla has designed Powerwall such that you can stack them side by side if you need more power. Unfortunately, SolarCity does not offer any discount on multiple batteries. For instance, if you need 16KW of continuous power, you can buy a $3,700 Generac generator or eight stacked Tesla batteries for $45,000 for a nine-year lease.
Tesla’s Powerwall is a cool technology. But as SolarCity’s Bass says, it does not make financial sense, at least at this point. Falling battery costs and rapidly evolving electricity regulations may change the scenario in the future, though.