South Africans looking for a reliable backup power solution to fend off load-shedding or go completely off-grid have the option to buy a Tesla Powerwall.
This integrated battery-inverter system packs large capacity in a clean and compact design which distinguishes it from other options on the market.
The latest model – the Powerwall 2 – comes with 13.5kWh of usable capacity, and a continuous power output of 5kW, or 7kW peak power output for short durations.
This makes it suitable to provide power to the average South African household – with 900kWh monthly usage – for almost 12 hours on its own when fully charged.
The Powerwall can be connected to self-generating solar panels and the Eskom grid to charge with excess electricity.
This electricity can then be discharged when you require, such as at night when your solar panels cannot generate electricity, or during a power outage.
Orders for the Tesla Powerwall can be placed directly on the Tesla website, with pricing in South Africa as shown in the table below.
|Tesla Powerwall – South African pricing|
All of these Powerwalls are distributed locally by Rubicon Renewables.
There are much cheaper battery-inverter options on the market than the Powerwall that offer similar or even more capacity at a lower price.
However, these can have a very rugged, industrial look, and may require greater technical expertise to install and work with.
The Powerwall is designed to be user-friendly, almost as a plug-and-play solution that can be connected easily to your home power system and the grid.
The built-in inverter converts DC-based power into standard AC output that can be connected to your home appliances.
Tesla is also a leader in terms of battery technologies, with excellent performance and a number of unique features.
The best proof of this is in its electric vehicles, which tend to have much greater range on a single charge than similarly priced competitors.
The Powerwall uses lithium nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cells, similar to those in Tesla’s vehicles, which the company has developed in partnership with Panasonic.
It is the only liquid-cooled battery on the market, which means it can operate at a wider temperature range of between -20°C and 50°C.
This also makes it less likely to have reduce power output due to very low or high temperatures.
This is an essential attribute for running the battery in the hottest summer temperatures in South Africa, which is known to go beyond 40°C during heat waves and has even surpassed 50°C in recent years.
While it’s still recommended that the Powerwall be installed in a protected area such as a shed or garage, it has an IP56 weather rating, which means it is well-protected against harmful dust and rain.
Tesla offers a long-term warranty on the battery – which allows for a switch-out if the it does not retain 70% of its capacity after 10 years of use.
The Tesla Powerwall 2 is a good option for those looking to take their homes off of Eskom’s electricity grid completely.
Rubicon SA Director Greg Blandford previously told MyBroadband that a battery system of at least 7kWh would be needed for a home off-grid installation.
This is if the house has undergone an energy-efficient audit which puts its monthly power usage at no more than 700kWh – which is still moderately high.
This means the Powerwall 2 should provide more than enough electricity for a fully-fledged off-grid system, should your house save power by using a gas stove and oven, and a solar geyser for water heating.
This house would require at least a 5kW solar array – typically 12 solar panels with 400W generation each – to be able to charge the Powerwall battery without Eskom electricity.
For those with larger energy requirements, there is good news – the Powerwall is modular and can be scaled up to 10 units running in parallel.
It should be noted that while the Powerwall has a built-in inverter which is only suitable for drawing power from the grid and not self-generation.
The latter would require an additional inverter to work with your own solar system.
The image below shows the full specifications of the Tesla Powerwall 2.
In the US, customers can buy Tesla solar panels and a Solar Roof for self-generation.
Recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that these products would only be sold as a bundle with the Powerwall in future.
A report from Elecktrek has also claimed that the reverse will become the case, with the Powerwall only available when purchased in conjunction with the solar generation products.
These products are not currently available in Europe or Africa, however, and Blandford has confirmed to MyBroadband that there was no impact on Powerwall sales in South Africa and that it would continue to remain a standalone product.