Tesla Powerwall 2 Reviews — Hype and Hogwash or Holy Wow?

When Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Corporation, unveiled the Tesla Powerwall 2 the expectations were high. The announcement, made in October 2016 during a joint presentation that included Tesla Solar Roof Tiles, brought Ooohs and Ahhhs from the crowd. Both products may serve to revolutionize the way we think about solar power and battery storage.

The Tesla Powerwall 2 is a sleek and beautiful addition to any decor. It was designed to store the sun’s energy to provide power for homes and small businesses when the sun isn’t shining. If you strive for a zero-emission lifestyle, these Tesla products will be must-have items in your future.

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From the video description:

The sun provides more than enough energy in just one hour to supply our planet’s energy needs for an entire year.

Buckle up. The future is now, and it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

Tesla Powerwall Solar Battery

Tesla Powerwall, introduced on April 30, 2015, was pitched as a way to provide storage for solar energy during hours of darkness or failure of regular energy grids. The Powerwall solar battery is designed to power your home during the night. It can also provide electricity during power outages caused by mother nature or energy grid infrastructure failures.

The Powerwall has a built-in power inverter, it is compact, and fits seamlessly into the decor in your home. It provides a reliable self-powered storage system. The PowerPack is a more extensive version specifically designed for the higher energy uses required by businesses.

The Tesla mobile app allows you to monitor your solar usage in real time from anywhere remotely. The Powerwall can be programmed to save you money on your electric bill by providing solar power during peak energy use periods. The mobile app allows you to select different operational modes, such as self-powered, or backup-only. It also allows you to set a percentage of power in reserve in case of a power outage.

Advances in Battery Storage Continue

You can’t just run down to the local battery store to pick up a solar battery capable of storing enough power to run your entire home. Unlike computer technology, which gains remarkable strides on a daily basis, battery technology improves in fits and starts. Significant advancements in battery technology appear roughly every 10 years.

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There have been no real advances in any new battery development since 1996, but existing battery systems have improved in an astonishing way. Tesla, Inc. capitalized on many of those improvements in battery storage systems for their Powerwall and vehicle systems.

The Tesla Powerwall 2 uses a Lithium-ion battery pack. Lithium-ion batteries began development in the 1980s. The original Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery packs failed due to safety concerns caused by instability (they caught fire sometimes). In the 1990s, the Lithium-ion development began in earnest. Since then, reliability and stability have made it one of the most popular batteries for vehicle and home use.

Lithium-ion battery advantages and limitations

Lithium-ion batteries produce almost three times the energy density of the Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery. Lithium, the lightest of all metals, provides a more significant energy density than other metals. The Li-ion requires less upkeep than other storage batteries. It delivers a similar discharge as the Ni-Cd while having a lower self-discharge. There is no memory and no needed cycling of the cell to prolong life.

Lithium-ion batteries are now safer, but require a protection circuit to restrict voltage and current. Shelf-life limits can be reduced by storing unused cells in a cool area and maintaining them at a 40 percent charge. Unfortunately, because batteries are still batteries regardless of construction materials, manufacturers cannot eliminate shelf-life limitations altogether. While better engineering and use of different metals may eventually lower the expense, Li-ion batteries are still on the expensive side.

Improvements in the Tesla Powerwall 2

The Tesla Powerwall provided homeowners with an affordable way to store excess power generated by solar panels. But that was not enough for Tesla, Inc. They wanted to offer more. The improved Powerwall 2 made its debut 18-months after the original Powerwall.

The Powerwall 2 includes a storage capacity of 13.5 kWh of storage, which is more than double the capacity of the Powerwall. Another improvement was the elimination of the need for a separate power inverter. The power inverter converts energy from solar panels into electricity. The Powerwall 2 includes a built-in inverter assembly, which increases the efficiency and made the unit easier to install.

The liquid cooling technology incorporated in the Powerwall has improved. The Powerwall 2 can maintain internal temperature stability in a broader range of external temperatures. The weight of the system is 120 kilograms or roughly 264 pounds which made wall installation difficult in existing buildings. The new system included a square design which allows floor or wall installation.

Finally, the addition of an online application, the Tesla App, allows seamless monitoring from anywhere. The Tesla App will enable you to manage all aspects of your solar energy system remotely.

Ease of installation

One of the most significant advantages of Tesla Powerwall systems is that, with a minimal amount of basic electrical knowledge, they can be self-installed. Although it is recommended to have a certified technician perform the installation, adding a Powerwall storage unit to an existing solar power system is relatively straight-forward.

Scott Weston from Ballarat, Australia was one of the first owners of the Tesla Powerwall 2. He installed his system but had Tesla technicians assisting throughout the process. To provide an accurate picture of his satisfaction with the equipment, Weston produced a series of YouTube videos, viewable below.

His introductory video explains the installation and primary function of the system. He also described how his old system worked and how different and efficient the new Tesla system is.

Product reviews and satisfied customers

A full product analysis should fully explain the product and discuss its attributes. It would be impossible for us to do that here. We found two credible reviews that supplied adequate information and honest opinions on the effectiveness of the Powerwall 2. Clean Energy Reviews and EnergySage provide similar descriptions of the Tesla system. Both rate this innovative energy storage system with high marks. The data sheet with all specifications is also available online.

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If you are planning on buying the Tesla system, we recommend reading the reviews linked above and that you search for additional studies of this product. There is no substitute for due diligence. The overwhelming negative factor seems to be budget-centered. The upfront investment of solar panel installation coupled with the addition of the Powerwall system can be prohibitive. The equipment will eventually pay for itself in energy expense savings, but that payback will not be immediate.

Our primary search only turned up one instance of absolute failure of the Powerwall after installation. A followup article told of a support team of technicians that rectified the problem. The second article relayed the story of a 16-hour grid power outage caused by raging storms and boasted that the Powerwall performed admirably.

Product demonstrations

Weston’s second video demonstrates what happens during a power failure. He simulated a power failure and showed how the system reacts. He monitors his solar grid on the Tesla App and describes how the app keeps you aware of everything happening with the storage unit.

In a third video, Weston demonstrates a worst-case scenario. Although the test did result in a brief outage, the system did not disappoint. The Tesla Powerwall 2 kicked into backup mode precisely as it was supposed to.

Although Weston never blatantly says, “I love my Powerwall 2, and everyone needs one,” he does convey an overall sense of satisfaction with the system.

Future of the Powerwall Battery Storage System

Tesla, Inc. has proven their dedication to providing products that help people move toward the future. Keeping up the thought processes of its namesake, Nikola Tesla, the company is using every advantage they can to lead the way beyond current technologies. With every advancement in the design and functionality of the Powerwall, you can expect Tesla to continue leading the field.

Tesla Solar Roof Tiles

Although announced with the Tesla Powerwall 2 in October 2016, Tesla solar roof tiles didn’t begin installation until April 2018. The biggest downfall of the Tesla solar roof tiles seems to be the expense. Because they replace the standard asphalt shingles on your home, the total budget depends on the size of your residence.

tesla powerwall 2: Tesla solar roof tiles are as beautiful as they are functional.
Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc., used with permission

The biggest draw for Tesla solar roof tiles is their sheer beauty. Where people have opted against solar due to the ugliness of old panels, the Tesla system adds functionality and elegance to transform your home into a solar energy showplace. The warranty couldn’t be better either. The glass roof tiles carry a guarantee of “the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”

When paired with the Tesla Powerwall 2 these roof tiles will allow your home to be entirely off the grid and still feed your energy needs. Or it will provide a reliable source of backup power in the event of main grid failure.

Tesla Continues to Offer Innovative Products

The Tesla company envisioned by the founders is innovative and new age but follows in the footsteps of its namesake. Beginning with an electric car that exceeded all previous standards, they have continued to work toward the future. Naming the company after one of the greatest minds in the history of the world, Nikola Tesla, they do not seem to be afraid to explore where no one else is venturing.

The Tesla 3 electric automobile joins the Tesla Powerwall 2 to propel Tesla to the top of the market.
Image license CC by SA 4.0, by Cariquinn, via Wikimedia Commons

Featured image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc. used with permission

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