By on April 22, 2015

2013 Tesla Model S Cargo areas

Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon.

The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the unveiling would explain “the advantages” of its home and business battery products and why current options aren’t as compelling as what Tesla has to offer.

Though scant details have come out about the batteries, Tesla’s plans aim to put the automaker as a leader in the emerging energy storage market. Many players in the market look to not just supplement, but ultimately surpass the traditional electric grid. The automaker and sister company SolarCity have already signed up companies like Wal-Mart and Cargill for their energy storage pilot program in California to help establish and accelerate said plans.

[Photo credit: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

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32 Comments on “Tesla Unveiling Home, Business Battery Products April 30...”


  • avatar
    redliner

    Will Tesla become an electrical systems powerhouse that just happens to also make cars, like the GE of the next century?

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      As Edison rolls over in his grave…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This seems to be a more viable path than being just a car maker who also makes batteries.

      For Tesla auto business to thrive, they need to build economy of scale in their battery business and exponential improve the quality (e.g. density of power, lower weight, lower heat, less susceptibility to ambient environment) while lowering the costs.

      As everyone is seeing – Mr. Scott and his laws of physics put some barriers up in that path – but there are answers. Just takes time and mountains of R&D money.

      It’s an interesting suggestion – and traditional electrical grids are ripe for disruption with aging infrastructure, security concerns, rising costs and rising demands.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        I agree, it is the technology that can be used more effectively on otherproducts

      • 0 avatar
        ckb

        “For Tesla auto business to thrive, they need to build economy of scale in their battery business and exponential improve the quality (e.g. density of power, lower weight, lower heat, less susceptibility to ambient environment)”

        True for cars but the size and weight limitations pretty much disappear when it comes to buildings. Bury the batteries and you get a huge heat sink for free that’s good year round. 25% of US homes already have septic tanks.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Very true – other than shipping costs.

          With that said, the more big heavy batteries you sell the more money you have for R&D to make them smaller, lighter, more energy dense, and cheaper.

          Profit.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    It would be interesting if someone came up with a solar and battery combo that was even close to price competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      It’s got to be close. We’re under $1/peak-watt for the SPV and approaching $200/KWH for the battery. Maybe less.

      If you lived in an area with high electric rates or ugly demand pricing structure, maybe it could pay today.

      If solar panels could be partially subsidized by avoiding the cost of a real roof (i.e., solar that *is* the roof), that would help make it practical for new construction.

      But “granite counter tops” and “bathrooms big enough for entertaining a dozen guests” are way higher on the typical new construction home buyer’s wish list than “no energy bills forever” and that’s where the money goes.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Granite counter tops add value. Paying extra for electricity cuz it’s cool? No real value there. At least not last time into buying a home with solar panels. They weren’t getting anything back from their investment, and potential buyers thought it was neat until they saw all the equipment and thought about the whole thing.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Solar is close to, and for some people already at, a point of being as cheap as grid power. For example, in Hawaii where they get plenty of sun and grid power is expensive. For myself, if energy inflation is high over the next 20+ yrs, solar is probably break-even.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “Granite counter tops add value”.

          Some have been known to add a trace amount of warmth, too, due to radioactivity. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        There is a high price to access “no energy bills forever”. What’s the breakeven time for solar on a typical home? What’s the expected lifespan of a solar panel system?

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Most solar panels are warrantied for 20 yrs, and they should have no problem lasting beyond 30. They do degrade over time–meaning less power output for a given amount of sun–as do many electronics.

          Break-even will depend on local power rates & solar exposure. The last time I priced them (a number of years ago), lifecycle cost for 20 yr came to ~$0.17/kWh. Using 30 yr obviously drops that number, and I believe the panels have gotten much cheaper as well. I also have no local subsidy for solar while other communities will tack onto the federal rebates. My current electric rates are under $0.12/kWh, and future inflation (based on natural gas price) is unknown.

          With high energy inflation, they probably are already advantageous for me. However, my energy consumption has a huge difference between summer and non-summer. For me to put a reasonable dent in the summer electric bill, I’d overproduce for the rest of the year.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I live in PA which does not subsidize solar PV. The glut of cheap natural gas and efficient combined cycle power plants has made solar PV uneconomical here. And that’s just for the PV cells and inverter. Adding storage to that would only make the economics worse.

      If PV drops another 1/3 and you can finance the system at current interest rates, there might be a market here. So far, the only solar I see is on commercial or industrial sites whose economics are completely different.

      Of course YMMV

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Supposedly, there are some sort of leaseback options that make sense in some areas with subsidies. You end up leasing them, so there is no big upfront cost. Of course, every finance scheme ends up costing you more in the long run, so I doubt this works as advertised.

  • avatar
    RHD

    That day is very near.

    http://qz.com/386261/solar-power-will-soon-be-as-cheap-as-coal/

    We are now in the age of disruptors: Amazon, Ebay and the internet vs. brick-and-mortar stores, Uber and Lyft vs. taxicabs, Youtube and Netflix vs. cable TV, Ooma and other VOIP phones vs. landline phones, Tesla and other electric cars vs. GM and Chevron.
    You can staunchly defend the horse and carraige and the telegraph, or acknowledge that the times they are a-changin’, and you and the market can decide which options are best.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Stupid me, I never paid attention to the fact that the Tesla sedan is a hatchback. (face palm)

  • avatar

    I wonder if this new announcement will be something like battery-backups for suburban houses, i.e. instead of gas/diesel generators. If the batteries have enough capacity, say 24 hours for an average single family home, it would be a much better option than loud, expensive, space-hogging, high-maintenance, high-polluting generators, that are basically motorcycle engines running non-stop in your backyard. Ask any family that has sat through freezing or boiling temperatures when the power goes out due to weather if a battery backup is a good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Combined with solar it would be better than a gas or diesel unit, but for post hurricane duty, it’s going to be hard to beat a natural gas unit. Not sure how tough solar panels are, but I doubt they like hurricanes.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I believe that ‘twould be best to wait a while for batteries. Current technology is a great improvement over the old carbon-zinc and alkaline types, but batteries still need a solid improvement in areas such as total recharging cycles, recharging time, $/watt, and lbs/watt.

    Methinks those major improvements may be just around the corner. (Yup,I know, we’ve all heard that before.)

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    One of the interesting aspects of automotive batteries packs is after they are no longer good enough for automotive use, they may be plenty good enough (for years) for residential purposes. Repurposed electric car batteries can save your peak hour household solar power – or store off peak power from the grid for peak period use. This could be done at the household level or on an industrial level. The industry has to figure out whether it is better to use new batteries, used batteries or used but reconditioned batteries.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Tesla may introduce an interesting product on April 30th – from a callous marketing perspective I wonder why not on Earth Day itself?

    But the big alt-energy partners and projects being only in California is silent indictment of the underlying economics already. Either passive dynamos or energy storage mediums need to get fundamentally better.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    I think for battery systems to become a true alternative to diesel or LPG whole house generators they’re going to have to be able to run a lot longer than 24 hours. It’s not unheard of here in hurricane country for power to be out for days. If they can figure out how to do that at a reasonable price they really may be onto something. Once you factor in pouring a concrete pad, wiring, etc it’s not hard to spend 15 grand on a Generac or comparable unit. I’m not talking about the Home Depot Hondas you see for $299, those are for camping and tail gate parties. What Tesla really needs to do is have a “whole house” mode in addition to Insane mode. Lose power at home, plug in the P85D and you’re back in business. Cold beer and ESPN for XX hours then drive it to work the next day.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      You are going to plug your car in, power the whole house with it and then drive to work the next day, how is that going to work?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I don’t quite understand who would need a $15k diesel or LPG generator for their house, unless your pushing electricity to 15,000 sqft. My hand-me-down Honda generator powers the house just fine, using what electrical knowledge I have, hooking it to the fuse panel through the window does a fine job powering my house for hours on end. Can’t run the dryer with everything else, but that’s what a clothes line is for, so (not so) big deal.

      Granted losing power here is a big deal if it’s longer than an hour, I seriously haven’t lost power to my house, nor my parents house in well over 6 years that I can remember.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Your cost is way high. Your experience doesn’t apply.

        I have lost power for several days on more than one occasion in the last decade. We had a small gas generator, and became the sanctuary for three elderly. I have a coupon for a $1200 nat gas generator that would likely be about 3k after install and keep one floor cool plus refrigeration and lights.

        We actually plan to evacuate next event because the geriatric influx now includes too many health issues to risk it.

        • 0 avatar
          VenomV12

          Yeah, several of my neighbors have whole house Generacs and I am pretty sure they are only into theirs for about $5,000 or so. In all my years living here I have never had power out long enough to justify putting one in, I sure don’t have $5,000 worth of food in my fridge either and if it was out long enough in the winter that heat became an issue, I would just get a hotel room, which once again, much much less than $5,000.

  • avatar
    redav

    I would like to see used and retired EV battery packs be installed in homes. If an EV battery has ~23 kWh capacity, and when it’s used up it has only 17 kWh left, that’s still well more than my house uses most of the year. (When HVAC isn’t running, my baseline power consumption is ~5 kWh/day. When in the depth of summer, it’s over 40 kWh/day.)

    One electric retailer in my area offers a free nights program where electricity used between 10 PM & 6 AM is free. For the scrap price of a car battery and some rewiring, more than half the year I could theoretically have a zero electric bill. As more utilities push for variable plans, repurposed EV batteries are the ideal solution to taking advantage of those plans.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “One electric retailer in my area offers a free nights program where electricity used between 10 PM & 6 AM is free. For the scrap price of a car battery and some rewiring, more than half the year I could theoretically have a zero electric bill. As more utilities push for variable plans, repurposed EV batteries are the ideal solution to taking advantage of those plans.”

      Now that seems to be an intelligent solution to flattening the demand curve, and more power companies ought to offer it – or at least halved electric rates at night to offset the initial cost of the battery system. PV panels can be added later as the cost goes down. Win-win, especially up north.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Yes, combine that program with the block-of-ice commercial building cooling systems and you can save quite a lot. This system has a massive water tank that it freezes into a solid block of ice (through which many cooling lines run) overnight, and during the day, the heat from the building is removed by melting this ice by the coolant circulated through it. A wonderful idea that has been commercialized but is not widely used or known about yet.

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