Video Of The Week: Tesla Powerwall

I am obsessed with the Tesla power wall product. We are getting them for the properties we own where we have solar.

This video below explains how the power wall works in combination with solar panels, the grid, and your electrical usage.

I particularly like this screen shot from the Tesla app that shows the power flows between the four systems:

Anyway, if you are as into this stuff as I am, you will enjoy this video.

#hacking energy

Comments (Archived):

  1. dineshn72

    Ha! I spent the entire day over this app screen, and finally called SolarCity/Tesla, who fixed a backend bug that showed much more believable data — it had been showing that most of our energy usage was being powered by the grid, which didn’t make sense for this season. In other words, trust, but verify or validate that data…

  2. sigmaalgebra

    === 3.1 KWGee, from the picture, the house gets 3.1 KW. But the US residential standard is 100 A at 230 V for 23,000 W = 23 KW=== The FloorThe Power Wall is sitting on the floor of the basement.Well, basements tend to flood, and it would be better if the bottom of the Power Wall were 2-3 feet above the floor.Indeed, apparently for safety or whatever, the current NYS building code wants a step up from the garage to the basement of the house.=== Optimal ControlThere are some decisions to be made on when to depend on the solar array and the Power Wall versus drawing from or feeding the grid, charging the car(s), etc.This problem is over time under uncertainty.There are ways to attack such problems.=== VideoI’m no longer thrilled about asking Firefox to play steaming video. So, as an alternative I use the Firefox extension Download Helper to read the video from the server, say, YouTube, and write the video to an MP4 file on my computer’s hard disk.Well Windows is not thrilled about having their current or recent versions of Windows Media Player, 10, 11, 12, play MP4 or letting me run my old version 9 which played MP4 right away.Since NTBACKUP ruined all three of my boot partitions back in September, I’ve been reinstalling software and revising software that used to work but no longer does with the latest Microsoft updates.So, after a lot of mud wrestling, I gave up on getting Windows Media Player playing MP4 files, found VLC, installed it, and have been using it.So for the Tesla video, I used Firefox and Download Helper to write an MP4 file and then used VLC to play that file. Got impeccable video quality!

    1. jason wright…he lives right here. the house immediately north of ‘Activity Camps’. the Windrush looks like a benign’s always the same with these people. they want the gain from the economics of networking the masses, but they will live ‘far from the madding crowd’. very ‘Middle England’.

  3. jason wright

    At ~1:50ish he’s briefly seen to be down on his knees praying to the White Slab. An instant conversion. Salvation is at hand.The price of a Powerwall?the UK gov has committed the taxpayer to a new nuclear power station project at a MINIMUM cost of GBP 20 billion;…even at several thousands of GBP per Powerwall that’s a lot of Powerwalls. about three million. imagine a decentralised Powerwall station composed of three million residential and commercial buildings. the stuff of nightmares for the UK gov.

    1. Vendita Auto

      One of my close friends (UK) is a Mr Angry forwarding his comments after sending him the vid:“O” why does the whole alternative energy mob, never tell the whole story. The truth!!From this video I gather that the whole installation was around £15K. Its performance will deteriorate over the years. But let us ignore that. Let’s give it a life of 20 years. If I put the £15K into a savings account I can draw out £750 a year for 20 years before it is gone.“fact” My house last year used 3371 KWH or 9.2KWH per day at around 18p per KWH. The electricity cost £606 for the year. £150 less per year than the solar panels. Yes I might sell electricity back to the grid and brake even!!A Website selling solar panels advertises a setup cost of £5K will make £2K profit over 20 years. So I have ugly rusting panels on my roof for 20 years and they might make £100 a year, the cost of half pint of beer a week!! Consider an atomic power station generates consistent electricity at 1p per KWH. The only way “alternative” energy works is we are prepared to pay an artificially inflated price for our electricity. The Grid can’t buy electricity from “alternative” sources at 25p to 40p a KWH and sell it to the general public for 18p. Hence last month British Gas put up the price of electricity by 10%. The conservatives say they will put a cap on energy prices. How the fuck are they going to do that. They will have to fill the gap with tax payers money! Sorry. I don’t buy it “The King is naked” P.S. did you know that each wind turbine in the sea cost £500 a week to maintain. So it has to generate 3000 KWH a week just to cover its maintence bill. Fuck knows what it cost to build, install and run cables under sea. It’s all financed by inflated prices and obscene grant money which, one way or another filters back to you and me to pay for.

      1. jason wright

        Nation state accounting places zero price on the cost of emissions to the environment. Quantify that with numbers and traditional power generation methods are dead.

        1. Vendita Auto

          My personal feelings are with your statement.However I am ever the optimist that CERN will discover a new method that can incorporate fail safe reactions. Then they quantify (my own soap box) the tobacco industry cost to nation state health systems.

          1. jason wright

            all of these old school industries remain economically viable only if the hidden costs stay off the books, and governments collude with them to ensure this continues to happen for their own tax revenue reasons. it’s a very dirty conspiracy.

          2. Vendita Auto

            I know I called out two international insurance groups on Linkedin for posting about health insurance products whilst holding bond/share investments in tobacco group.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        We need to know all the externalized costs before making any meaningful comparison claims ?

        1. Vendita Auto

          If I forwarded your comment to my chum he would come back with a dissertation on the subject, not going there : )

  4. creative group

    FRED:Where are the Powerwall being manufacturered?How is the trip going? Could you post some photos?Thanks in advance

  5. Ruth BT

    Love the power wal! As someone who lived on mining fields where expensive solar and a generator were the only options the development of this technology makes life so much easier. Now I’m in the city the power wall is just as nice to have.I’m sure you have heard about this but for anyone else interested…

  6. William Mougayar

    I am particularly interested in the Grid feature, which allows you to exchange surplus energy with the network. That’s a game changer, and I’m surprised micro-grid networks aren’t taking off as they should.Does someone know of you can install the Powerwall without solar panels, and rely solely on the grid?

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I believe so. There isn’t much incentive for the user to do this unless electric rates are demand variable throughout the day though, and generally utilities have been resistant to that pricing model or anything that encourages micro grids in the US. While they aren’t vocal about it, incumbent utilities tend to view solar as a threat to their bottom line.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        What’s a micro grid? The micro part is obvious, but does it also mean it uses alternative energy sources like solar, wind, etc.?

    2. Seyi Fab

      Microgrids are actually taking off in markets where there are issues of capacity (not enough from grid), price of power (too high) and infrastructure (inadequate). I’ve been involved in deploying a few in where these three constraints exist. And you have a lot more nanogrid installations in those parts too. We take availability for granted here in the US.Something I know you’ll appreciate, William, is the opportunity to use blockchain for trading between owners of these solar/powerwall assets within a microgrid.US utilities aren’t encouraging solar (and other distributed energy resources) because they can’t rate base the assets (which is their current business model) but the penetration is inevitable IMO.And yes, you can install powerwall without solar panels (especially for parts of the US where solar is not yet grid competitive but you want to store energy).

      1. Vasudev Ram

        What does “rate base” mean?

        1. Seyi Fab

          Think of it as a specified rate of return (determined by the regulators) for which a regulated utility is allowed to earn. It’s why utilities want to build big assets so they can continue to get an assured return on them. Solar panels on your roof don’t provide that.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            Got it, thanks.

      2. William Mougayar

        Wow. Thanks for this info.

        1. Seyi Fab

          You’re welcome, William! It’s a space where your expertise is much needed.Wrote about another Blockchain use case here….

  7. Chimpwithcans

    How widespread are powerwalls now in USA? In South Africa they are just getting started. The marketing pitch is different here in that they seen as a backup source for when the grid fails. Little to no environmental message. End result is the same I guess. One day I’ll get one

  8. Scott Barnett

    I’ve held off on Solar because I wanted a company that can install both Solar + Powerall and support the entire config.Fred, can I ask who you used to install/support your sites? Is it the same company for both solar + battery?

  9. Tom Labus

    Disqus hacked too!!

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Disqus Security Alert: User Info Breach (…HN thread:…Disqus also seems to have become somewhat slow to post comments, in the last few days. It pops up a dialog that says “Connecting…” which stays there for a long time. Issue of high scale maybe. Took ~10-15 seconds to be able to post this comment.Edit: I checked a bit: If I close that dialog (before it closes on its own, which results in the “Post as <myusername>” button appearing), the button appears anyway. So what’s the point of the dialog? Definitely seems like a bug then.

    2. fredwilson


        1. fredwilson

          Ah got it. I’m pleased they disclosed so quickly after being notified

          1. jason wright

            good PR

  10. sigmaalgebra

    === The End of Solar, Power Wall, etc.The guy in the video clip was having a lot of fun with his somewhat expensive, new toy. He will soon grow tired of that toy. I wonder what such a silly guy does to pay for such toys?The stuff in the video clip about residential solar panels, the Tesla Power Wall, and a “feed in tariff” are a long walk on a short pier. I see no chance that stuff will work.So, if that stuff gets very far, then the electric utilities will go to the PUCs and make them a quite reasonable offer they can’t refuse: Each electric bill will have two charges, (1) a charge just for the connection to the grid and (2) a charge for the electric energy consumed, say, in KWh.Basically (1) the charge for the connection pays for the capex of the grid for having the power capacity available when wanted, say, long cloudless days in winter, installing the electric lines, maintaining them, repairing them after destruction by storms, etc. Then (2) the charge for the energy is basically just the charge for the fuel, say, coal, natural gas, nuclear fuel rods, for generating the power once it is wanted.The electric utilities MUST have (1) for the capex or during a winter snow storm there won’t be enough power, e.g., for charging an electric car with enough energy to run the heater and window defroster, for electrically heated water for showers, or even for keeping the house warm, say, warm enough to keep the water pipes in the house from freezing and bursting.Then my guess is that in the residential electric bills, ballpark 80% of the total of charges in the bill will be for (1) the fixed charge for the connection, that is, for the capex, etc. Indeed, with capex out of way, as we know, nuclear power should be “too cheap to meter” in which case, once a connection is paid for, the electricity is for free.That will be the end of residential solar, the Tesla Power Wall, and feed in tariffs.=== Destroying the USThe US has done really well with its electric grid.Then along come people who want to destroy much of our electric grid.More generally in the US, where we have something good, there are groups eager to destroy that: So, there are groups trying to destroy also our health care system, our immigration system, our transportation system, our economy, our families, our universities, our national pride, the election of Trump, etc.So here’s the pattern, the standard playbook: Find something good about the US; stir up a lot of hysterical nonsense about why the good is really bad; raise a big stink; get the newsies to write up the shocking claims; get donations; line up lots of convenient idiots; pressure Congress; destroy something good.The media, especially the NYT, WaPo, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Politico to name the more important such sewage sources, are eager for anything to get eyeballs for ad revenue, and basically a lot of English major, formula fiction, irrational, hysterics themselves, and put out distortions, lies, nearly any nonsense they can dig up, heavily as in Goebbels propaganda, IIRC, “If you tell a lie often enough, then people will believe it and even you will come to believe it.”.So, for the example of our electric grid, we had default US Secretary of Energy at Large Jane “I’m not” Fonda, Ms. wack-o, hysterical, ditsy China Syndrome out to destroy our nuclear fueled electric power generation. She didn’t know a Watt from a Joule, a neutron from a proton, an X-ray from a gamma ray, a cooling tower from a smoke stack, but she was convinced of meltdowns headed for China. She was convinced, as in full of anxiety, hysterical, obsessed, and 100% ditsy and wrong.Since then we’ve had Saint Laureate Al Guru and his buddy Laureate Obozo trying to destroy our electric grid and much of our economy with their total, 100%, incompetent, wack-o, moonbeam, irrational hysteria that human sources of CO2 present a threat of global warming. Their evidence is just sewage, and their claims are totally trivial to debunk, but the stink has lasted for some decades now, done a lot of harm, and is eager to do a lot more harm.What we’ve got so far in greenie “renewable energy” is just from total money-burning, wasteful subsidies from the US taxpayers.Without the subsidies and/or with part of electric power billing based on capex, the residential solar panels, the Tesla Power Wall, and feed-in tariffs will quickly die, dry up, and be gone with the wind.Trying to destroy our electric grid is wasteful, dysfunctional, brain-dead, wack-o, stupid, and dumb de dumb dumb, dumb.What to do? Stop the subsidies, the feed in tariffs, enforce the laws against killing birds and bats like the wind turbines do, and stop the war on fossil fuels and nuclear power. If that doesn’t stop the nonsense, then for residential electric power have a separate charge for the connection to cover capex, maintenance, etc., and that will END that nonsense.Then for the other ways various charlatan wack-os are out to destroy the US, stop them, too.

  11. Richard Ginsberg

    Fred,Are the areas you have solar not supporting net-metering? I have a 10kw Sun Power system and as far as I’m concerned, the grid is my battery. I get back 1-for-1 kw back that I put in, which is impossible with physics and a battery.The caveat in my setup is zero power midday if grid is down, even if sun is shining. The battery would only come in handy during short power outages. Longer power outages can only be offset with natural gas whole house generator.Richard

    1. Robert Metcalf

      Richard, you’re absolutely correct that there’s no economic advantage in areas with net-metering policies.The primary perk I see (if properly configured/designed), is that the battery back-up will create a local grid at your home, “tricking” your solar into thinking that the grid is still live when it is down, so you continue to produce from the powerplant on your roof. This creates the opportunity to re-charge the battery every day (as well as power loads directly from the solar) in the case of a long-term power outage, so the stored energy really just needs to be enough to get you through the night (of course, depends on your usage, the size of your solar array, and whether it’s sunny!)I’m in CA, so the primary threat of long-term power outage is an earthquake, which will likely take out the underground natural gas distribution infrastructure for some amount of time, so I’d want a whole house generator with a liquid propane tank on-site if I was really going for “peace of mind during the apocalypse”. Even knowing how to build and permit things, that feels like a pain! But if I can add a powerwall or two to my house and retrofit my existing solar system into an equivalent genset with fuel that rises every morning, I’m much more likely to do it!I was a big naysayer when the first PowerWall was released (particularly Elon’s dicey math around it being used economically for high-peak/off-peak time-of-use arbitrage – why would any normal homeowner care about that?) – but the current iteration is much more compelling.

  12. PhilipSugar

    I’m not saying I don’t like, and they look like they’ve gone up to 7kw and you can hook together.But making Lithium Ion batteries is really nasty to the environment. Jiangxi is being destroyed, it was a magnificent place. When you go to China or other places in the Far East the beautiful tourist places are enthralling. Go to the industrial places or factories…..not so much.From wired magazine:…Rare metals only exist in tiny quantities and inconvenient places—so you have to move a lot of earth to get just a little bit. In the Jiangxi rare earth mine in China, Abraham writes, workers dig eight-foot holes and pour ammonium sulfate into them to dissolve the sandy clay. Then they haul out bags of muck and pass it through several acid baths; what’s left is baked in a kiln, leaving behind the rare earths required by everything from our phones to our Teslas.At this mine, those rare earths amounted to 0.2 percent of what gets pulled out of the ground. The other 99.8 percent—now contaminated with toxic chemicals—is dumped back into the environment. That damage is difficult to quantify, just like the impact of oil drilling.And, as in every stage of the process, mining has hidden emissions. Jiangxi has it relatively easy because it’s digging up clay, but many mines rely on rock-crushing equipment with astronomical energy bills, as well as coal-fired furnaces for the final baking stages. Those spew a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the process of refining a material destined for your zero-emissions car.

    1. JamesHRH

      And yet, Teslas and iPhones are part of the glittering clean future, while oil is a demon.Oil needs slicker packaging.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I’m not saying I don’t like, I’m not saying this is not going to push things forward, I think they will keep improving.I’m great with it.But I think this is another area where people are uniformed 🙂 Let’s not go there :-)I have had people tell me I am totally green no emissions., no environmental impact…mmm. Not by a long shot.Oh, I can go off the grid! Well not yet unless you are willing to be without power if its cloudy for a day or two.On the grid? You should pay for the grid. They already do this around here.Now if you want to have a natural gas backup, etc, and totally disconnect, yes,.

    2. Dave S

      One generation’s solution is the next generation’s problem.

  13. Andrew Mulvenna

    @fredwilson:disqus if you like the presenter, Robert Llewellyn, and enjoy SciFi parody, I recommend watching Red Dwarf (Season 6) – the show that made him a sci fi comedy icon in the mid ’90s. You’ll be chuckling through the darkness of your next night flight. Bon voyage.…From Wiki:In this space spoof, Dave Lister (a chicken-soup-machine repairman) is a survivor of a radiation leak on his mining space ship. The problem is that he is the only survivor. But wait … it gets better. Having come out of suspended animation 3,000,000 years later, Lister only has a holograph of his intolerable dead shipmate, the vain Cat (an evolvement of his former pet), old and senile ship’s computer Holly (think HAL with memory loss) and robot Kryten.

  14. Rob Larson

    Click on the link – it’s a thermal battery – first I’ve heard of such a thing.