Tesla's Powerwall helps businesses in their darkest hour

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

The ability to help keep your business up and running during a blackout could save the day, ensuring your customers don't take their business elsewhere.

Elon Musk is the visionary behind Tesla Motors. His resume boasts revolutionising the automotive industry with the Tesla electric cars, as well as entering the space race with SpaceX. A tweet announcing a new product added $900 million to the business’ market cap.

That new product, the Powerwall, looks set to change the game for the power industry, and businesses that take advantage have the potential to reap significant benefits.

Musk’s new division, Tesla Energy, aims to increase our use of clean, renewable solar energy thanks to large Powerwall rechargeable batteries – designed to power your home or office, and even sell electricity back into the grid. At its core, Tesla Energy gives businesses the potential to curb bills and keep the lights on when disaster strikes.

Powerwall image

How does the powerwall work?

A giant rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the Powerwall draws power from solar panels on the roof. It essentially stores power during the day to use at night.

The Powerwall isn’t intended to make your premises completely self-sufficient. It aims to reduce your reliance on the power grid rather than eliminate it, curbing your bills to help pay for itself, as well as protecting the environment by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

For the times when you do need to fall back on the grid, the Powerwall can help to ensure you're paying the lowest possible price for electricity. If your energy supplier offers cheaper off-peak rates, you can set the Powerwall to kick in when electricity from the grid is most expensive so you're not paying top dollar for power during peak times.

What are your powerwall options?

The Powerwall is available in a US$3000 7kWh model, optimised for day-to-day use, or a US$3500 10kWh model optimised for backup applications. For now, the Powerwall is only available in the United States, but it's expected to come to Australia next year. Keep in mind that this pricing is only for the battery – it doesn't include installation costs, nor does it include solar panels or the power inverter.

Along with curbing your power bill, the higher-capacity 10kWh model is designed to help keep things up and running during a power outage. Essentially, think of it as an uninterruptible power supply for the building, coming to your rescue during a blackout to keep the lights on and your appliances running.

For those that use a bit more juice, you can actually run up to nine Powerwalls side-by-side depending on your power needs.

What does the powerwall offer SMBs?

If you run a small business from home, a high power bill is likely to be a regular occurrence, and we’ve covered the number of ways businesses can find green efficiency before.                        

However, the Powerwall could make a wise investment that pays for itself when it lands on Australian shores. The ability to help keep your business up and running during a blackout could save the day, ensuring your customers don't go elsewhere.

Tesla Energy is also working on Powerpacks for larger businesses, based on the batteries used in Tesla electric cars. Powerpacks will handle higher continuous and peak loads, plus they'll run longer during a blackout. Tesla Energy will start taking orders for Powerpacks later this year, but the technology is already on show – powering Elon Musk's entire Powerwall launch event in California.

The significant upfront cost might be daunting, but think of a Powerwall as a long-term investment – letting your business make hay while the sun shines, as well as keeping the lights on during a dark and stormy night.

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