Tesla’s release of the Powerwall Plus (also referred to as Powerwall+ or PW+) adds an exciting option to Power Northwest’s portfolio of energy storage products. Should you choose to order a Powerwall+ or stick to the Powerwall 2? This article will explore each product and help you make an informed decision.
The Major Differences Between the Powerwall 2 and Powerwall Plus
Introduced in 2017, the Tesla Powerwall 2 is an energy storage (battery) system for homes. It features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack with a total capacity of 13.5 kWhs.
While the Powerwall 2 can store solar energy from the grid as well as a third-party solar inverter, the Powerwall+ takes storage to the next level by including an integrated Tesla Solar Inverter and a system controller. These features allow for the interconnection of a DC coupled solar system.
DC coupled solar systems send the DC power from the solar panels directly to the battery. AC coupled solar systems on the other hand, convert the DC power generated by the solar panel to AC, then go to the battery, where a battery inverter converts the AC power back to DC so that it can charge the battery cells. Reducing trips through the inverter increases efficiency by roughly 5%.
The one downside to a DC coupled system is that it must be paired with solar equipment by the same manufacturer. If you want to use the Powerwall + it must be paired with a DC solar system that utilizes the Tesla MCIs (Mid Circuit Interrupters) and Tesla Inverter. Long story short, the Powerwall + can not work with any existing solar systems, nor can it work with a new solar system installed with third party inverters such as Enphase or SolarEdge. It must use the Tesla inverter paired with the Tesla MCIs.
We are currently operating a waitlist for Powerwall 2 due to supply chain issues. We are hopeful to have a reliable supply sometime in early 2023, but for now customers are seeing wait times of up to a year for Powerwall 2.
Powerwall+, on the other hand, is more readily available. So if you are hoping to get storage installed at the same time as your solar system, Powerwall+ is a good choice.
If you are adding Powerwalls after a solar system has already been installed, the Powerwall 2 will be the best option as it can connect to your existing inverter(s).
If you are installing your Powerwall at the same time as your solar system, you have the option of going with Powerwall+, which may lead to some savings on inverter costs. Note that each Powerwall+ includes a 7.6kW Tesla inverter, so you may need more than one unit depending on the size of your solar system.
Opting for Powerwall+ also prevents you from using microinverters (i.e., individual inverters for each solar panel). While Powerwall+ has several advantages over the Powerwall 2, it does introduce the possibility of a single-point system failure, which would be mitigated by the use of microinverters paired with a Powerwall 2.
The Powerwall 2 and Powerwall+ have similar smart controls, both accessed via an app. This makes it simple to monitor energy consumption and plan for maximum efficiency.
Smart controls enable owners to instruct their Powerwall devices to self-power, which allows users to become more energy independent. While this function only works with power derived from solar energy, time-based control helps users lower utility bills by monitoring and varying energy use throughout the day.
Conveniently, the Powerwall 2 and Powerwall+ also offer a storm-watch setting. This setting will alert users to upcoming inclement weather, allowing them to plan for grid outages.
The reserve setting in both devices provides users with a secure energy source to utilize during power outages. Users can customize their preferred backup percentage, making it easy to manage energy backup and consumption.
One of the main differences between these two products is in their power output.
The storage capacity of the Powerwall+ is the same as the Powerwall 2 at 13.5kWh, but the Powerwall + power rating has substantially increased from 5 kW to 9.6 kW continuous power when full sun is available in off-grid mode. This means that the Powerwall+ can power larger loads than the Powerwall 2. Large loads like AC, Pumps, or ovens.
There are ways to increase the Powerwall 2’s power rating, such as combining units to increase power output. For example, if you install (2) Powerwall 2s, your total power would be 10 kW with a total capacity of 27 kWh. Overall, the Powerwall+ will give users the highest power ratings per unit.
Expense and Return on Investment
A single Powerwall 2 or Powerwall+ costs around $19,000, including installation. If you are purchasing more than one battery, you may see slightly better economies of scale when purchasing Powerwall 2 over Powerwall+.
The price tag is high, which begs the question: How long before this system effectively pays for itself?
The reality is since the utilities in Oregon and SW Washington, for the most part, don’t have time of use tariffs, a battery system doesn’t have a positive return on investment. It will however provide full power and resiliency in the event of a power outage. So if you can put a cost on being able to work from home during an outage or not losing the food in your fridge, then a Powerwall backup battery system may be worth it.
Many consumers think of this purchase as a wise investment. The upfront cost is high, but it provides a peace of mind knowing that you can withstand a power outage and be independent from the grid with your solar and battery system.
Finally, the Federal Tax Credit (FTC) can be applied to batteries such as the Tesla Powerwall. So reach out to us today to find out more about what incentives are available to reduce the upfront cost of a battery system.
The Bottom Line
You really can’t go wrong with either the Powerwall 2 or the Powerwall+. Both are premium energy storage products.
Deciding which product best meets your needs will depend on whether you already have a solar system installed on your home or not. It also depends on how long you’re willing to wait for a battery, what loads you want to back up, and whether or not a solar system with micro inverters is something important to you.