Tesla has been offering home solar panels and Powerwall batteries for years, but as of next week they won’t be available separately.
Elon Musk made this announcement on Twitter (opens in new tab) (as he often does), confirming that the two products will only be sold as an “integrated product.” In other words if you want solar panels, you’re going to have to find the money for a battery as well.
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According to Elektrek, Tesla has already stopped selling its solar panels and solar roof tiles without the purchase of a Powerwall. Meanwhile the Tesla solar configuration page (opens in new tab) warns that Powerwall is not available without a solar panel product.
Starting next week, Tesla Solar Panels & Solar Roof will only be sold as an integrated product *with* Tesla Powerwall batteryApril 22, 2021
There are a few ways to look at this news. The first is that forcing customers to add in a battery pack is going to have a big impact on the cost of installing home solar panels. Solar panels themselves have seen massive price reductions over the years, but batteries are still pretty expensive things.
Especially ones as large as Tesla’s Powerwall, which has a usable capacity of 13.5kWh and currently cost $7,500 each. That’s not including the cost of installation or the Gateway.
But at the same time there are plenty of advantages to having a battery pack connected to your solar array. For starters it means you can store your own energy during the day, and reuse it later. It’s free power, basically, which would normally go to waste if you automatically pump it back into the grid — even if your energy provider does pay you a small sum for it.
Similarly the battery essentially becomes a backup power supply for your home, should you ever lose mains power. Tesla claims that the Powerwall can offer up to 12 hours of backup power, which can be extended when connected to solar panels. How long depends on your generation capacity, and the current weather, naturally.
Musk went on to tweet that new installations will position the Powerwall between the solar panels and the house’s electric meter and breaker panel. So you can be safe in the knowledge that any solar energy you create will go to the battery first, and won’t end up routed out to the grid where you can’t use it.
Existing Powerwall owners will also be getting a free software update later this month, which will unlock better capabilities for your battery pack.
Powerwall 2 peak & steady power capability is better than advertised. Now that we have lots of operational data, Tesla can unlock higher capabilities for free via software update next month. Depending on production date, power increase power may be >50% at 30C ambient temp.April 22, 2021
So if you had plans to get a Tesla solar system installed, you’re going to need to account for the extra cost. That’s assuming you were able to get one in the first place. Apparently Powerwalls are the most popular kind of home batteries, to the point where Tesla has been struggling to keep up with demand.
It’s not clear whether the new mandate will affect that in any way, but we have our doubts. Solar panels and a home battery are a perfect pair, and it doesn’t make much sense to have one without the other. Assuming, of course, you have the money or credit to pay for them.