Car manufacturers are racing to get their electric cars onto the market, but that's not the only battery-powered battle being played out: they're also keen to get their batteries into family homes. Tesla has made its Powerwall plans clear, and Mercedes-Benz Energy has been talking a big game with its energy storage systems, which will soon be finding their way into homes in the UK.
Although they'll be slotting into homes, the Mercedes-Benz batteries have their roots in the automotive world. Developed by ACCUmotive, the Daimler subsidiary responsible for the batteries in production Mercedes hybrids, the lithium-ion cells can be used to store energy generated by home solar systems or wind turbines.
Each battery pack can store 2.5 kWh, and the modular nature of the system means up to eight can be combined for a total capacity of 20 kWh. Each individual unit is a compact block, and the batteries can be integrated and wall-mounted in one neat unit for a clean look. That's a different approach to the Tesla Powerwall, which comes in 7.5 kWh and 10 kWh capacities, and can be scaled to 58 kWh using multiple units.
According to Mercedes-Benz, installing a home battery pack can boost self-consumption of generated energy by up to 65 percent, and being able to store energy generated with personal solar panels does make them a more attractive option. Rather than feeding excess energy back into the grid, the batteries are able to store it, allowing home owners to use it themselves during expensive peak-rate times.
"There is tremendous interest in our energy storage units and we have already received numerous orders," says Harald Kröger, Head of Development Electrics/Electronics at Mercedes-Benz. "Over the coming months, we will continue to step up and expand sales both in Germany and on the international market." That includes plans to have the batteries available in the US this year.
Mercedes-Benz Energy says the components in its system will vary for each individual home, but most will likely include a solar system, a battery inverter, an energy-management system and (of course) the batteries themselves. Buyers will also need to pay for installation. Pricing will vary, but reports suggest a standard home system will cost around US$10,000, including installation.