Environment

Tesla gearing up for release of batteries for the home

Tesla gearing up for release o...
Tesla home battery, which is currently produced for SolarCity's home energy storage system (House Photo: Shutterstock)
Tesla home battery, which is currently produced for SolarCity's home energy storage system (House Photo: Shutterstock)
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Tesla home battery, which is currently produced for SolarCity's home energy storage system (House Photo: Shutterstock)
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Tesla home battery, which is currently produced for SolarCity's home energy storage system (House Photo: Shutterstock)

The same lithium-ion battery technology that powers Tesla’s electric vehicles will be used to develop a battery for the home, according to a statement by CEO Elon Musk during a recent conference call with analysts. The batteries would be used by homes and businesses to store excess energy generated from solar panels during the day, and drawn from at night when panels sit idle.

Official details of the project are still a ways off. When we contacted them, Tesla said they’re currently not sharing any additional information about their energy storage and home batteries for several months. What Musk did reveal during the conference call was that "we’re going to unveil the Tesla home battery, or consumer battery, that will be for use in people’s houses or businesses, fairly soon." Adding that, "we have the design done and it should start going into production probably in about six months or so. We’re trying to figure out a date to have the product unveiling – it’s probably in the next month or two. It’s really great. I’m really excited about it."

As the company’s first foray into selling directly to the home energy storage market, the batteries are expected to get plenty of attention just by virtue of the attached Tesla label. And it should be an improvement from the home batteries Tesla has been quietly supplying to its sister company, the solar panel maker SolarCity, located up the road from Tesla in San Mateo, California. Those batteries are currently available in select markets within California, and only through SolarCity. The new batteries would be more widely available.

Tesla would face plenty of competition for their batteries, with names like Bosch, GE and Samsung involved. Honda has unveiled a demonstration smart home that features a rechargeable home battery, along with an electric vehicle, solar panels and geothermal heat pump, and is driven by an energy management system.

Researchers from both Harvard and MIT have developed flow batteries for renewable energy storage, while Bloom Energy’s fuel cell boxes act as a power source as well as an energy storage device.

One area where Tesla might stand out is in cost. Tesla assembles its battery packs from battery cells provided by Panasonic, and is about to do it on a massive scale as soon as 2016 at its gigafactory currently under construction in Nevada. Such an economy of scale – producing 50 gigawatt-hours of battery capacity each year – is expected to push the company’s car battery costs down by 30 percent. Based on the same technology, Tesla's home battery costs should come down as well.

Home batteries have the potential to be a boon to homeowners who draw energy from rooftop solar panels, particularly those whose homes are connected to the grid via utility companies that offer variable rates that depend on the hour of day, aka Time-of-Use (TOU) rate plans. PV users typically have to draw power from the grid in the afternoon and evening when the sun wanes, which is also when a utility’s energy rates are highest. Home energy storage systems help homeowners keep costs down by drawing from the battery instead, and recharging the battery during off-peak hours.

Sources: Tesla, SolarCity energy storage

18 comments
Nairda
There is no benefit in using the same vehicle batteries in a static environment unless you are really in a nook. Seems archaic, but unless you live in a small apartment and single car port, there is way more saving in a lead acid / gel deep cycle battery bank.
windykites
I wouldn't fancy that sitting outside my front door! It's huge! Seriously, though, this battery bank will cost more money than you can save on electricity. The payback period must run into years (rather like having solar panels) Really the best use for solar panels is either charging an electric vehicle, which probably only works when you have two electric vehicles, as you want to drive it during the day, and that is when the electricity is available. The other way to use the daytime electricity is by heating an insulated tank of water, using a circuit which detects when spare electricity is being generated.
Vadim Romanovich
Tesla if you need a home to test the system on, I'm more then happy to have you install this system on my home. I'm in the Chicago suburbs.
Glers
Good to see that so many Companies and institutions are investing and researching better ways to get us off of oil and coal,
drender
How do they handle the flammability of lithium batteries? House fires are very common. Homeowners know better than to store gasoline or propane inside the house, so.. I guess this home battery needs to be outside? Seems like a very costly warm-climate only solution.
steveraxx
Do you not simply adore all of the negative comments and naysayers who post on gizmag. . . Nothing is ever going to work according to the resident pundits.
I love this, so easy to have this as a one stop backup to house power. Now when power goes out this would kick in and we are set to go. I do see a lot of people seem to be to poor to enjoy new technology or just paranoid about using new things.
YukonJack
I guess it all depends on what your 501 is invested in. This is great news for me since I live in the southwest where we have a free power source and all you have to do is spend a few hours with a pencil and paper to draw up a way to harness it or at least store it a few hours. Kudos to Tesla.
Ray Boggs
Sounds romantic, doesn't it ? Free yourself from the evil grid. What you are all ignoring is the cost. Tesla might have some advantage due to their relationship with Panasonic but that probably still won't reduce the total cost of this type of system low enough to make the use of Li-ion batteries in residential storage applications pencil out financially. The cost of Li-ion batteries would have to drop to about $100 per kWh and that won't happen anytime soon. Even cheap lead acid battery technology doesn't pencil out for daily cycling use when compared to the cost of grid power so how could hyper expensive Li-ion pencil out today? Better go back to sleep for another 10 years because maybe then Li-ion might make sense.
John Birk
There are a plethora of energy storage technologies coming to market starting this year, Tesla, Aquion, AMBI and many others. Some can stand hundreds of 100% discharge with no degradation, as well as being non-toxic and non-explosive. Some such as AMBI's Liquid Metal Battery will degrade to only 80% of capacity after only ........... 305 years! www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iwG32R2R5o We are approaching a tipping point, UBS consulting and Bloomberg have predicted by 2020 it will take only 6 years to pay off your home solar/energy storage/ electric car all of which will easily last 20 years plus, much of the annual 7 trillion dollars spent on energy will remain in the pockets of billions worldwide, the resulting increase of disposable income will engender a cleaner greener future and finally the average citizen will get a fair deal. If you think this will not come to pass, consider this, the Rockefeller family is getting out of the fossil fuel business. When low cost energy storage comes to market and you are in the fossil fuel business, be afraid ....... be very afraid! Scientia Non Domus, (Knowledge has No Home) antiguajohn