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Everything You Need To Know About the Tesla Powerwall

Tesla Powerwall 3

If you’re in the market for a home battery, you’ve probably heard about the Tesla Powerwall. And if you’re like a lot of Californians and Coloradans who are concerned about failing power grids and energy rate hikes, you’re probably wondering if the Tesla Powerwall is a reliable backup battery choice. 

As a Tesla Premier Certified installer with more than 10+ years of experience installing thousands of Powerwalls for our customers, we know a lot about the product, its history, new models, and how well it performs. We also love passing on our knowledge to help others. So, in this detailed guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know, including:

While the upfront costs can seem high, the long-term savings, environmental benefits, and backup security it provides make the Tesla Powerwall a wise choice. There are also some enticing tax credits that can substantially reduce your upfront investment. If you’re someone who likes to get down to brass tax, make sure to check out our other guide, Tesla Powerwalls & Tax Credits: What You Need To Know.”

Interested in adding a Powerwall to your home? Contact Photon Brothers for a FREE estimate.

Contact Photon Brothers today to receive a free, no-obligation quote on your Tesla Powerwall installation. As a proud partner in the Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer program, we promise top-tier service and a seamless integration with your home’s electrical system. All installations come backed by Tesla’s 10-year warranty, and you can relax knowing our master electricians have a perfect safety record. 

Need financing assistance? We’ve got that covered, too. Visit our solar financing page to learn more about the attractive options we have available, including $0 down!

What Is the Tesla Powerwall?

Developed by Tesla Energy (whose parent company is known for its electric vehicles), the Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that’s designed to store energy from solar panels or the grid. With a capacity of 13.5 kW, the stored energy can be utilized during power outages to safely power your home, or to maximize energy usage during peak rate periods when electricity costs are higher.

Historically, the two available Powerwall models were the PW2 and the PW+, and now the newest release is the PW3. Each model is sleek, modern, and easily wall-mounted to fit into small spaces like a cabinet or the wall of your garage. We’ll detail the tech specs of each model below.

For earlier models, you had the option to stack multiple Powerwall units to enhance your energy storage capacity. The upcoming Powerwall 3 will continue this capability with a new feature; instead of additional Powerwall units, you will be able to add Auxiliary Packs.” These packs will be stacked in front of the Powerwall 3 to increase storage capacity. This new addition is expected to be available in Q4 2024, although the specific design details of the Auxiliary Packs have not yet been released.

The Powerwall 3 offers an exciting development for homes with existing solar and inverters. It introduces an AC-coupled version that incorporates a different software built into the battery, designed to work seamlessly with existing inverters. Meanwhile, the new PW3 is DC-coupled, enhancing its integration capabilities with modern solar systems.

This is especially helpful for homes with higher energy needs or those looking to extend backup power duration. To learn more, check out our article, How Many Tesla Powerwalls Do You Need For Your Home?

All Tesla Powerwalls come backed by a 10-year warranty and have a significantly longer (and more efficient!) lifespan than other batteries on the market.

Key Benefits of the Tesla Powerwall

Powerwall3 Home Night

Protection During Power Outages

A Powerwall can automatically serve as your home’s primary energy source during a power outage. In regions where allowed by local utilities, Tesla’s state-of-the-art backup switch enables your Powerwall system to power essential appliances such as refrigerators and your HVAC system, as well as maintain the operation of lights and WiFi routers for several hours or even days, depending on your Powerwall setup. We install a Gateway to ensure functionality in areas where the backup switch is not permitted. This setup allows you to continue living, working, and enjoying your day without waiting for updates from your local utility company about power restoration. 

One of the most common misperceptions about Powerwalls is that they require solar panels to function. This isn’t true. Powerwalls can store power from the grid to be used during an outage, similar to how a backup generator would, minus the natural gas, propane, or diesel– and without much quieter operation too. For more information on this, check out our article, Backup Battery vs. Generator for Your Home — Which is Better?

Maximize Energy Use

Photon Brothers Power App
Image credit: Tesla

The Powerwall allows users to monitor and manage their home energy usage. The system’s smart controls adapt to your home’s energy usage patterns over time, optimizing energy consumption and storage for maximum efficiency.

For example, you can program your Powerwall to charge during low-rate periods when the demand for grid electricity is lower. Then, that same energy is discharged during high-cost peak periods, saving you money on energy bills. Commonly referred to as load-shifting” or peak shaving,” it’s a huge benefit for homeowners in areas with sky-high utility rates. Plus, Tesla makes it easy for homeowners to monitor and control their energy usage through the Tesla app.

Energy Independence

Energy independence with the Tesla Powerwall means more control over your energy sources. This autonomy is particularly valuable in regions where the power grid is unreliable due to aging infrastructure or natural disasters. The Powerwall ensures that essential home functions — like lighting and heating — continue uninterrupted during power outages, enhancing the home’s resilience against external disruptions.

Furthermore, owning a Powerwall can lead to significant financial independence from utility companies. As electricity costs tend to rise, using stored solar energy reduces the need to purchase expensive grid electricity, leading to noticeable savings on energy bills. This economic benefit makes the Powerwall a smart investment in both environmental sustainability and financial health, allowing homeowners to efficiently manage their energy usage while supporting the shift towards renewable energy sources.

Increased Property Value

Homes equipped with advanced energy storage solutions like the Powerwall are increasingly seen as more valuable– especially in areas like California and Colorado, where energy costs keep climbing and planned power outages are becoming more frequent. The installation of a Powerwall can potentially increase property value, making it a wise investment for the future.

Environmental Impact

By enabling homeowners to store excess solar energy during periods of high solar output, the Powerwall reduces the need to draw power from the grid, which is often supplied by fossil-fuel-based power plants. This shift from traditional energy sources to renewable solar energy directly decreases the amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions released into the atmosphere.

The Different Tesla Powerwall Models

Now comes the tech part. Let’s dive into the different Powerwall models and their respective features.

Powerwall 2

The Powerwall 2 was designed to complement existing solar installations without needing to modify the existing inverter setup. It can be integrated with all major inverter brands, making it versatile for those who already have solar power systems. The new AC-coupled Powerwall 3 is replacing the Powerwall 2 and will work seamlessly for those with existing systems. Here are some key features:

  • Energy Capacity: 13.5 kWh, allowing for significant energy storage and backup capabilities.
  • Power Capabilities: It offers 5 kW of continuous on-grid power and can provide 7 kW of peak backup power. It’s particularly suited for homes needing a robust backup during grid outages.
  • Installation: It can be mounted on a wall or floor, indoors or outdoors, with the ability to connect up to 10 Powerwall units together for larger homes or higher energy requirements.
  • Operating Conditions: Designed to operate between ‑4°F to 122°F, it’s water and dust-resistant.
  • Warranty: Comes with a 10-year warranty, ensuring long-term reliability and support.

Powerwall+

The Powerwall+ has been officially discontinued and replaced by the newer PW3 model. However, for those who may still own a Powerwall+ or are interested in its specifications, here’s a brief overview of its key features:

  • Energy Capacity: Like the Powerwall 2, it offers 13.5 kWh.
  • Power Capabilities: It provides up to 7.6 kW of peak power from solar to grid and 5 kW continuously, with the ability to surge up to 9.6 kW during peak performance. It also ensures a seamless transition to backup power.
  • Advanced Inverter: This model boasts a solar-to-grid efficiency of 97.5% and includes four solar inputs with Maximum Power Point Trackers to optimize solar energy conversion.
  • Installation and Operating Conditions: Designed for integration with new solar and storage systems, it features a more compact setup compared to the Powerwall 2.
  • Warranty: Comes with a 10-year warranty, similar to its predecessor.

While the Powerwall+ is no longer available for new installations, understanding its features might be beneficial for current users or those interested in the technology.

Powerwall 3

The newest addition to the lineup, the Powerwall 3, is built for larger homes or higher energy demands, offering the most robust features among the three. Key features include:

  • Energy Capacity: 13.5 kWh, consistent with other models.
  • Power Capabilities: It stands out with 11.5 kW of continuous on-grid and backup power. It can handle up to 185 LRA motor start, providing significant power for larger or more power-intensive homes.
  • Advanced Inverter: Integrated inside the battery and features 97.5% efficiency with six solar inputs and Maximum Power Point Trackers, offering enhanced performance.
  • DC-Coupled System: Fewer energy conversions are needed as solar energy is converted directly to DC, stored as DC, and then inverted to AC only once to power your home. This single conversion process contrasts with older systems that required three conversions, resulting in greater efficiency and less power loss.
  • Installation and Operating Conditions: Tailored for both indoor and outdoor use, with robust resistance to environmental factors.
  • Warranty: Maintains the 10-year warranty promise.

Each version of the Tesla Powerwall is engineered to provide energy independence, significant cost savings, and a reliable energy storage solution that integrates seamlessly with solar power systems. However, if you’re interested in the latest model, the Powerwall 3, make sure to check out our guide, What Is Tesla Powerwall 3? Everything You Need to Know.”

Tesla Powerwall Installation and Setup

Photon Brothers Tech Powerwall

Installing a Tesla Powerwall requires specific expertise and knowledge to ensure it functions safely and efficiently. For this reason, it should only be installed by Tesla-certified technicians. Photon Brothers is recognized as a Premier Certified Installer by Tesla, a prestigious designation that highlights our extensive product knowledge and commitment to high-quality installations and exceptional customer experiences. While it might be tempting to cut costs by hiring a local electrician or attempting a DIY installation, the complexities and risks associated with improper installation make it crucial to choose a certified installer.

Safety

The installation process involves high-voltage electricity and requires adherence to strict safety standards to prevent electrical accidents, fires, or damage to the system itself. Tesla-certified technicians are trained to install the units following all safety protocols, minimizing the risk to themselves and the homeowner.

System Performance

Proper installation directly impacts the performance and efficiency of the Powerwall. Certified technicians ensure that the system is correctly configured to interact with the home’s solar panels, the electrical grid, and the Tesla app. This includes setting up communications for monitoring and updates, optimizing energy usage, and maximizing cost savings.

Warranty and Support

Tesla’s warranty often depends on the Powerwall being installed by certified professionals. Improper installation by non-certified personnel can void the warranty, leaving homeowners without support or coverage in case of malfunctions. Certified installers not only help preserve the warranty but also provide ongoing support and maintenance.

Software Updates and Configuration

Tesla frequently updates the software that runs its Powerwall to enhance features, improve functionality, and add new services. Certified installers are trained to ensure that these updates are successfully implemented and that the Powerwall is configured to communicate effectively with Tesla’s servers for continuous improvement and troubleshooting.

Costs and Incentives

The cost of a Tesla Powerwall starts at around $18,500 before rebates and tax credits. However, this does not include design, permitting, and installation costs. While the upfront investment might seem high, it’s important to consider your long-term energy savings, which can be significant. Better yet, there are several incentives and rebates available:

  • Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): When installed with solar panels, the Powerwall qualifies for a 30% federal tax credit, which can significantly reduce the overall cost. This credit will run through 2032 and is one of the best incentives available.
  • State and Local Incentives: Many states and local utilities offer additional incentives for energy storage systems, which can further lower investment costs. Visit our California tax incentives and Colorado tax incentives pages for further information. 

Additionally, if you’re enrolled in a net metering program in your area, you can sell unused power back to the grid for further savings. Akin to having an electricity bank account,” for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you feed back into the grid, your utility company credits your account with a corresponding energy credit. This electricity bank account” holds these credits, which you can use to offset your monthly or annual utility expenses.

We strongly recommend homeowners also consider opting into the Virtual Power Plant program. This initiative compensates you for selling part of your stored energy back to the grid during times of high demand, providing an additional way to earn from your investment while helping stabilize the local power supply.

At the end of each billing period, the net cost of your electricity is calculated by subtracting the net metering credits you’ve applied from the total amount of electricity your home has consumed from the grid. To learn more, check out our article, What Is Net Metering?

Get a FREE estimate for a Tesla Powerwall installation from Photon Brothers.

Say hello to energy independence and goodbye to energy rate hikes with a Tesla Powerwall installation from Photon Brothers. Our master electricians and Premier Certified Tesla installers will ensure your home is powered efficiently and sustainably. All installations come backed by Tesla’s 10-year warranty, and our in-house service department makes any potential repairs or maintenance a breeze.

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