Tesla’s New Battery Is On the Wall and Off the Grid

Tesla makes awe-inspiring, environmentally friendly sports cars — and, now, solar-powered batteries for your home.


Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk isn’t just about environmentally friendly, insanely fast automobiles. He also aims to save the planet through your home. Last night, he personally unveiled his latest venture, the Powerwall, a revolutionary home battery system that was created to maximize energy efficiency and minimize kilowatt-hour costs. All this while looking like the world’s biggest and sexiest external hard drive. Here’s what the new Powerwall is all about.

The Powerwall is essentially a big battery for homes with existing solar panel systems. Musk’s Powerwall would store solar energy during the day and utilize it at night, or when utility prices spike. Right now, the Powerwall comes in three sizes: small (a 7-kWh Powerwall at $3,000), medium (a 10-kWh model at $3,500) and XXL (a utility-scale 100-kWh Power pack model, price TBD). What’s more, they can be joined together for more power — but it’ll cost you, of course.

But Musk’s vision is what’s driving this whole thing, and it’s a hell of a lot bigger than selling you a battery for your hippie home. He wants to revolutionize the way power is distributed, along with providing renewable energy solutions for locations where electricity is scarce or only available during certain times of the day. Musk even went so far as to say, at the unveiling last night: “We’re talking about trying to change the fundamental energy infrastructure of the world…This is actually within the power of humanity to do. It is not impossible.”

Musk’s vision is what’s driving this whole thing, and it’s a hell of a lot bigger than selling you a battery for your hippie home.

Telsa Motors will also sell larger blocks of batteries at the industrial level — where utility companies can use the big battery blocks to manage their energy grids. It’s likely that his initial customer base will be at this level, as opposed to residential customers who have solar panels. The initial cost of buying a completely solar-and-battery system for those who want to adopt is likely to be prohibitive for many, except for those who are both environmentally conscious and wealthy. But Musk’s policy is to have open-source patents; he will make those available for his Powerwall and Powerpack — so you know it’s about more than just the almighty dollar.

Units will be initially manufactured at Tesla’s Fremont, CA facility, but then production will migrate to a new $5 billion giga-factory near Reno, NV that’s already under construction. His vision is both magnificent in scale and magnanimous in its long-term plan to redefine how the world views and uses energy. This is just the start, of course, and big changes in infrastructure and pricing must be on the horizon in order for Musk’s vision to really take off — and with his open-source patents, he won’t be the only one to take up the mantle.

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