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This new Tesla battery will power your home, and maybe the electric grid too


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Has anybody here ever heard of a guy named Elon Musk? It seems he has built a few things that go fast and invested in solar after first inventing the premier online pay system. Now he is going off again on solving problems others said could not be solved, (and some didn't want solved.)

 

Excerpt:

 

"Tesla is working on a battery that can power your home and even help large-scale utilities store energy more efficiently, according to company chief executive Elon Musk.

 

On an investor call Wednesday, Musk said the designs for a home or business battery are already complete and will likely be unveiled to the public "in the next month or two."

 

Production could be as little as six months away, he added.

 

"It's really great. I'm really excited about it," said Musk.

 

While there's no word yet on price, Tesla's battery and charging technology could ultimately wind up saving you money on your electric bill. Although many of today's homes draw energy directly from the electricity grid, the spread of cheap solar panels means it's never been easier to generate some of your own energy. Storing renewables efficiently has been a big bottleneck for consumers and for utilities alike, but if Tesla's stationary battery takes off, it could change the way electricity is priced and traded on a market scale. (For years, it's been many people's dream to sell excess energy back to the grid.)

 

For the millions of consumers frustrated with their power companies thanks to frequent outages and poor customer service, the batteries could be a boon. In general, the choices for how people power their homes is relatively limited. Most have to rely exclusively on their local utility providers. Getting a generator can be expensive -- some homeowners pay around $20,000 for back-up generators that run on natural gas. So Tesla is eyeing a market that might be ripe for innovation."

 

The whole article with more is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/02/12/this-new-tesla-battery-will-power-your-home-and-maybe-the-electric-grid-too/

 

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Getting a generator can be expensive -- some homeowners pay around $20,000 for back-up generators that run on natural gas.

 

 

 

This is a bit of an exaggeration. We had a 15kW generator with automatic transfer switch (ATS) in our last S&B; it didn't power everything but it powered enough for us to live comfortably. If you've never had a backup generator installed you may not understand that an ATS can be wired to switch specific circuits so you can decide when you install what you wish to power and what you don't. That way the circuits being powered are "fully powered" and you're not forced to limit appliance usage; if a particular circuit has power you can use it normally. As I recall I paid <$6,000 for the system, installed. Yes, you could pay more if you wanted to power everything in the house, but that's not normally considered necessary for emergency backup purposes.

 

Since homeowners with solar are permitted by PURPA to sell excess power back to the utility grid I'm not convinced that having a large house battery makes all that much sense until the battery price can compete effectively with the above-cited cost for backup generator power. The generator I installed at my home ran off my home's propane tank and it could run for quite a few days depending on how full the 500 gal tank was. I seriously doubt that any affordable battery could run a house for nearly as long.

 

I thought it was amusing that some of the news stories about Musk's announcement noted that many Silicon Valley Tesla customers utilized free recharging stations in the Valley and how it would be a great idea to recharge their batteries at these free stations and then take them home to power their homes! I was surprised by the naivety of such statements; how long does anyone really expect free charging will last when there are a substantial number of users? It's not as if the electricity being used is free. Tesla can afford to underwrite such stations at present but if it actually succeeds in selling lots of vehicles it couldn't afford to continue that practice unless it embedded the lifetime cost of electricity into its selling prices which would be a very unusual business model.

 

Joel

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This is a bit of an exaggeration. We had a 15kW generator with automatic transfer switch (ATS) in our last S&B; it didn't power everything but it powered enough for us to live comfortably. If you've never had a backup generator installed you may not understand that an ATS can be wired to switch specific circuits so you can decide when you install what you wish to power and what you don't. That way the circuits being powered are "fully powered" and you're not forced to limit appliance usage; if a particular circuit has power you can use it normally. As I recall I paid <$6,000 for the system, installed. Yes, you could pay more if you wanted to power everything in the house, but that's not normally considered necessary for emergency backup purposes.

 

Since homeowners with solar are permitted by PURPA to sell excess power back to the utility grid I'm not convinced that having a large house battery makes all that much sense until the battery price can compete effectively with the above-cited cost for backup generator power. The generator I installed at my home ran off my home's propane tank and it could run for quite a few days depending on how full the 500 gal tank was. I seriously doubt that any affordable battery could run a house for nearly as long.

 

I thought it was amusing that some of the news stories about Musk's announcement noted that many Silicon Valley Tesla customers utilized free recharging stations in the Valley and how it would be a great idea to recharge their batteries at these free stations and then take them home to power their homes! I was surprised by the naivety of such statements; how long does anyone really expect free charging will last when there are a substantial number of users? It's not as if the electricity being used is free. Tesla can afford to underwrite such stations at present but if it actually succeeds in selling lots of vehicles it couldn't afford to continue that practice unless it embedded the lifetime cost of electricity into its selling prices which would be a very unusual business model.

 

Joel

Actually, it isn't all that much more for a full house transfer switch. A bit more for the hardware, but less expensive labor. I also had a 15K back up generator installed for around $6,500.000, including replacing the service drop.

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We were at a friend's house during a power outage. He lit a railroad lantern to give us light while he started his generator. Then he told us the generator could power the model railroad operating session OR the pump to flush the toilets. We voted not to flush. :)

 

Linda Sand

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A new house nearing completion near our Adirondack cabin has a propane fueled 45KW backup generator installed. The contractor told me the complete installation, including the dedicated cell phone based remote monitoring system, billed out at just under $26,000, not including the 1,000 gallon buried LP tank that also feeds the gas fireplaces and BBQ's.

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Guys,

I already have an air cooled Guardian 12.5/15kw whole house backup genset. We have city utilities and broadband but our own septic system. The genset is rated higher for propane, as it has more BTUs per cubic foot of gas. It has the inside transfer switch and its own circuit breaker box. It struggles to start and run a four ton A/C unit but runs all the rest including electric water heater. Our house heating/cooking is natural gas, but I opted to buy my own 250 gallon propane tank so I not only can be independent of any blackouts, but gas line ruptures as well. It all cost, in 2006, right at $6000.00 installed and filled. Today a genset guy is stopping by to give me an estimate to remove the wiring and system, including moving the tank out of the way, then reinstalling it in the new one. My Guardian inside switch has a full duplicate breaker board.

 

I mentioned to him over the phone that I might want to trade up, so my A/C doesn't drag it down. He said he just took in a 24kw unit, because that person wanted a 40kw system. The 24kw is a water cooled unit. That to me has advantages and disadvantages. Mine sips fuel. It won't. My tank has needed only one refill in nine years.

 

Insofar as battery price economies of scale, Musk already runs Solar City with his BIL that leases systems as well as selling outright. And he released his patents which is why you suddenly see a flurry of announcements of other companies claiming they will be ready to compete with him in 2017. I think they will take a couple of years more, as they are geared for a different approach and mindset.

 

Enter the Gigafactory now under construction near our largest lithium mine in this hemisphere. It will produce in that one factory as many batteries as all the world's current battery factories combined. His company alone would not generate enough demand for now to quickly generate the economies of scale needed. Thus his patent release. And the solar demand worldwide?

 

Let's remember we are talking Musk here, not AT&T. Not GM. They can't get out of their own way for five years which is the career span of most current CEOs in the 1% good ol boy club before they pull their golden parachute cord to move on. Musk is invested and not selling. Witness that his cars were on the road for two years successfully and sold out both years before he went public to build the Model S.

 

And then there is that silly demand for batteries that can recharge efficiently using only solar power in orbit powering satellites. And the billion Gogle just invested with Musk's still privately held SpaceX to launch mini satellites in swarms in LEO, to provide world wide cheap and fast Internet and cell service. No towers.

 

Let's remember he never releases an idea until he has already worked out the details including the numbers.

 

Gigafactory enables economies of scale only if there is demand. He now has solutions for:

 

The residential grid cutting independent solar problem - Night.

 

The now emerging worldwide EV market with the big guys allowed to play now with - his patents provided free.

 

The travel problem - fuel costs.

 

The broadband problem - Satellites.

 

And before the old iridium argument emerges let's get one thing firmly planted. Musk is a rocket scientist! He is the first entrepreneur that CAN launch his own satellites without government bureaucracies messing it up with their unique drag. Gates wanted to but didn't have efficient launch tech at his own disposal.

 

But most folks don't connect the dots. For example, he is now doing final testing on a reusable rocket, and getting paid to make ISS grocery and beer runs, so he can keep crashing the rockets trying to land on their tailfins until they get it right. Once that's perfected and I give him at max three more missions until he does. The governments don't care what he does once he delivers the goods to the space station.

 

Put it together and what have you got? Hickory dickory Dock!

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Well I just got back from the PowerUp Generator place. The guy has been in biz here for twenty years and is a great guy, and an LSU fan, not alumnus like me, even though he went to LA. Tech like my son. We are talking over his proposal to take mine in trade, not charge for the removal, and install a 25KW 60Hz 120/240 genset. baffled enclosure, powered by an 895cc 1.5 liter 4 cylinder Mitsubishi motor with 538 hours on it, and include a new 200 amp outdoor on the power pole transfer switch that is mounted and wired between the outside breaker box, and the meter. No more indoor boxes he told me and now that makes it able to run my new house and A/C unit without breaking a sweat. I decided to also upgrade our 200 gallon tank to a 500 gallon tank if the place will trade with me. They will usually upgrade a customer-owned tank for a couple hundred in exchange for a used larger tank. I'm looking for 14 days of non stop run time. He is also including the 200 Amp transfer switch and concrete pad, and since he sold it new and did all the twice yearly maintenance on it, he's including a two year 100% warranty and all install costs/taxes out the door for under $5700 bucks! I am going to do it. You know the kind of people who you would do business with even if they were higher because it is done right? He and his wife are them, AND giving me the deal from hell on it to boot! I went down and inspected it and made sure it had a new muffler on it, and to be honest if it weren't for a tiny rust spot on one of the mounting holes I would swear it was new. It has not been repainted and the hardest part to replace, the expensive muffler, is brand new.

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45 KW and a 1000 gallon tank sounds about right at $26,000 but that is a huge generator! That is about 375 amps, most houses come with a 100 amp (12 KW) or 200 amp (24 KW) service!

Since most modern houses are wired with a 120/240V service, a 100 amp service is 24KW, and a 200 amp 48KW...

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Actually, that can be a bit misleading because you can hook up a lower amp whole house back up genset than the service coming in. For example I have only 200 Amp service here and the A/C is wired separate from the house on the main board. The house main board is 100Amps. My current but about to be replaced air cooled genset is only 15KW. It is wired into the house. However today they use a $1200 200 amp transfer switch that is wired between the meter and the main outside box on the power pole. So everything on the main box is backed up including the A/C which this genset can handle. The start up load of my A/C bogs down the 15KW, stalls it if I don't trip the breakers for the electric water heater. We have natural gas but it downrates the KW output by about 20-25% over Propane. So the gas used is a factor too. For example my 15KW running on propane becomes a 12.5KW running on Natural Gas. The new to us 25KW will be powering our brand new 1780 SF house.

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Linda,

I missed your post. These gensets kick on automatically when the power has gone off for more than ten seconds and is running and transfers the house lines to its output smoothly with little or no surge. it does not transfer back until the power is steady. If the power is fluctuating it waits. So there's no need to turn it on. The UPS' we have keep the computers and entertainment units from cutting off until the genset kicks in. I don't need the bigger UPS' that give me plenty of time to shut down. They only have to keep the computers and other electronics for just 15 seconds. They auto exercise once a eek running for 15 minutes which keeps the engine oiled keeping the seals from drying out, and that is long enough to charge the battery.

 

Guys, while several of you likely can install your own whole house generator, after pouring the concrete pad, and renting the forklifts or other, and then can handle they plumbing license for gas. Here in my area, in 2006 (7?) the 15 KW genset cost $3000.00 at Homer's, that included the transfer switch. The 200 or 250 gallon propane tank new cost $1200.00, the electrician and gas certified guy and concrete pad cost another $1000.00.

 

This 25KW new would be $8299.00, the transfer switch for it is $1200.00, and install is about $1200.00 including concrete pad.

 

Mine with a two year warranty same as new is $5700.00.

 

Some gensets that cost more include a built in transfer switch. Some diesel and water cooled cost more, for example these $15,999.00 25KW diesel gensets: http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect.com/power/25-kw-diesel-standby-generators.html?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=25%20kw%20diesel%20generator&utm_campaign=fuel+dieselv

 

For most, professional installation is a must, like me. Yes I could do it. But I would take ten times longer and would have to rent my forklift and hoists and still pay for the gas connection and certification.

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Hey guys, the initial costs are going to be like the first CD player/recorders that were $1500 bucks, and then the first DVD recorders were even more. Remember the first cell phones? The exciting thing to me isn't just my investment with them, but like Jack the possibilities for a solar system with my house are intriguing. I have five acres and no zoning in my semi rural area. Like my in laws who beat me to the punch I plan on freestanding positioned for best sun and with room to expand it if I choose to. I hadn't thought of the boondocking angle, my goodness, talk about storage. Weight may be an issue but we will see after they are open for biz for a few years. I think ten years from now it will be cost doable and available.

 

Folks you have to remember that Musk, for all his arrogance is not boasting but doing. He is not profit motivated. He wants to save the planet and the first step is to get rid of fossil fuels and that wasn't going to happen asking folks to sacrifice and hug trees. Remember all the silly tree hugger comments I got here ten years ago on this forum? The many folks that said EVs could not be done economically. Then the folks that could not wrap their mind around the brilliance of starting in the Super Car class, the extreme performance cars like Lotus, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches, etc. Those cars with extreme performance start at $100k and go into the millions. The Tesla roadster beat most of them. And now the Tesla Model S P85D all wheel drive sedan is beating all but a very few of today's Super Cars, for just the price of a luxury car. Tesla's Model S sells for exactly what the top of the line Mercedes, Audi, BMW, and other luxury cars. http://www.teslamotors.com/models

 

If someone told the naysayers that they would be able to access the Internet from their phones cheaply as well as have instant access to their emails and texts 15 years ago in 2000 they would try to laugh in our face. Remember we just went through fear of the millennium bug and were running Windows 98SE or for those who didn't know to wait Windows Millenium (Ugh!) edition. That was just 15 years ago. This forum was just an idea in 2000, and Greg was trying to stand up a chat room that never really got off the ground as it needed non standard programs to kind of work. Several of us here today remember those days until the first iteration of the forum came out, which several of us still have and it is searchable thanks to a tech oriented member. ( Yes I still have a copy of it and can email it) I will be 72 in ten years and if I make it to that birthday I'll likely be ready to sell my shares in Tesla.

 

He will get enough orders for batteries for the Gigafactory from his competitors and enterprise battery backup systems and secure government contracts that the economies of scale will happen as fast. Once the solar residential and enterprise battery backups systems to power all day AND charge the batteriy/ies providing a supply of stored energy at night becomes reasonable, it will snowball. Remember, no noise, no stink, and the batteries can be kept inside the house because there is no exhaust needed like even fuel cells need. No gasoline stored for the generator and no worries for power outages, and perhaps no grid to worry about per se.

 

Insofar as winning the lottery, I told y'all about Tesla long before it IPO'd. Solar City didn't blow up my skirt because I see really big things for Tesla first.

 

Then once the Gigafactory is going and blowing he will launch satellites for cell and Internet communications with Google as a partner.

 

And once Solar City has the battery backups almost licked and before the beginning of the satellite launches, invest everything into Space X when it IPOs, and then give Solar City another look.

 

Don't say it is luck, or that one guy can't do it all and then just for kicks hand over finished plans for the hyperloop just to show them it can be done. Then when everyone is running around still saying it can't be done, and all the major companies weigh in that it is not cost effective, he will likely then get an engineering team going that he will oversee and build it. He already gave them preliminary drawings.

 

One thing I have learned from all this. It isn't the guy that claims to know it all but has no source.

 

Like Musk we just gotta make it happen.

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