Wouldn’t it be weird if one day in the future you were buying a home and the listing said, “batteries not included?” – that could totally happen. It powers my toaster, my fridge, my hairdryer, my clothes dryer, my air conditioner, my humidifier, my dehumidifier, and my PC. I think I’m gonna keep using it.
The problem is, everyone in all the other houses feels the same way, usually at about the same times of day, and they’re driving the cost of those tasty kilowatts up in the evening.
Of course, during the day if you don’t want to use power from the grid, you could get some solar panels and harvest sunlight, but that’s not helpful when the sun’s down, also known as nighttime, also known as the time I need to have electricity to turn lights on to not bang my shins on all the furniture.
The idea is a rechargeable battery stores energy from solar panels during the day or from off-peak hours when grid energy is cheapest, and uses that energy during the rest of the day.
The problem is if you’ve ever bought batteries you know they cost approximately one arm and/or one leg. Elon Musk thought that was a silly hang up for what is otherwise a great idea and decided to do something about it.
Elon Musk’s interests range from online money movement to commercial space flight to, most importantly for this topic, electric cars. His company Tesla Motors has been refining electric car batteries for years, engineering them to be lighter, longer lasting, and more efficient.
Why don’t we take all those batteries, and put them on a wall? So they did that. The Tesla Power Wall is basically a bunch of lithium ion cells in a sleek case. They’re compartmentalized and liquid cooled to solve the knotty problem of overheating and burning your house down, something that is generally undesirable.
If you wanted it as your main power supply there’s a model that can store and discharge up to 7 kWh daily and costs $3000. Best of all it should last 10 years, which is approximately 8 years longer than my laptop battery made it before it wouldn’t hold a charge anymore.
The trick to this longevity is how much power it outputs. It’s only pumping out 2 kW continuously and peak output is 3.3 kW. The problem is some appliances will use more than output. An electric clothes dryer could draw that much power on its own. If you want dry clothes, I hope you weren’t planning on using a microwave too. If you wanted to be not reliant on the grid at all, you’d probably need a few PowerWalls to go with your solar roof panels.
Depending on where you live, your power consumption can vary widely, but the average US home in 2011 used 940 kWh per month. A solar setup of that size would cost over $11,000, not including installation or taking tax credits into account. Then you’d need 5 Powerwalls to store all of that sunshine juice, so that’s another 15 grand.
It’s an expensive prospect right now, but as the cost of batteries and solar panels continue to drop, individual homes that are independently powered could become a great way to kick our fossil fuel habit. Inexpensive home batteries are looking like a promising innovation.
They’re not the only company innovating. Intel creates the breakthrough technologies that make amazing experiences possible. Having Intel inside makes for better experiences outside.
Intel drives innovation with products like processors, wearables and IOT devices, and within data centers in the PC and beyond. Going green sounds like a lot of effort. Is it really worth it?