Over the years I’ve enjoyed experimenting with new technologies as they appear. Which is appropriate for a futurist. This week we started another such pilot, and I wanted to blog about it.
We now have a Tesla PowerWall installed in our house.
A little context: my family are homesteaders in Vermont, our house up on the Green Mountains about half off the grid. We get water solely from our well, heat the house exclusively with firewood, raise plants and animals for some of our food, and so on. (Here’s our hibernating blog) (photographic evidence) Electrical power, though, is a serious problem. We’re dependent on a fragile series of above-ground cables running along our mountain and through woods. Each basic storm has the chance of knocking us off-line for hours or days. We’ve been eying generators for a while, but haven’t yet made the considerable investment in money (plus gas dependency and emitting plenty of carbon fumes).
Enter Green Mountain Power, our state’s electricity utility. They have a lot of experience dealing with outages – remember that this is a very rural, underpopulated, and not wealthy state. They decided to pilot the PowerWall to help homeowners deal with such outages experimenting with these. GMP actually got ahead of the curve, since the devices aren’t commercially available until next year, according to Wikipedia.
So they called us, having selected our home at random, and asked us if they could trial one with us. Being the ideal candidates (homesteaders, me a futurist and social media hound) we jumped at the chance. GMP hired a squad to install it this past weekend, and did the job heroically, fending off our dog’s confused attentions.
I think we’re the 3rd installation in the state of Vermont.
So, how does it work?
These PowerWalls are designed for solar. I really want to feed solar power to ours, but we can’t. Our land is thickly forested, so we’d need to bring down a *lot* of trees. We’re also partly in the shadow of the mountaintop, so receive less sun than we should. One solution involved sticking panels on top of an elevated structure, which is susceptible to being knocked over by wind. (We could also put one on top of the house, in which case a strong wind might peel off part of the roof along with the PVs.) So for now we feed the Wall with grid juice.
We tested it by turning off power to the entire house. All the lights and appliances besides the fridge and water pump went off, but the fridge, pump, and digital machines smoothly kept on trucking. So far so good.
Some stats: the manual claims the Wall will give 3.3kW of power each day. That’s enough to power our refrigerator, water pump (as long as we don’t overdo it), and a bunch of electronic devices (laptops, desktop, routers). Maximum DC current: 9.5 A. So far it recharges very fast, as in filling up under one hour.
I’ll keep you all posted as we test it out through May weather. In the meantime, what else would you like to know?