Tesla Powerwall’s 5-yr evolution highlights the power of battery tech and software updates

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The Tesla Powerwall might be one of the company’s most understated products, but a look through its five-year history shows that the humble home battery has gone a long way since it was unveiled by Elon Musk in April 2015. Tesla has introduced various improvements to the Powerwall, and today, it stands as a product that highlights the company’s subtle battery tech and software improvements.

The first iteration of the Powerwall was intended to feature two variants, a 7 kWh and a 10 kWh version. Generation 1 Powerwalls featured the same 18650 cells that are used by the company in its flagship Model S sedan and Model X SUV, as well as a curved design that looks a bit similar to the Wall Connector that Tesla utilizes for its electric cars. This makes the battery units aesthetically pleasing, but installing multiple units to create more storage required the Powerwalls to be set up side-by-side.

Ultimately, Tesla would only deliver the 7 kWh version of the Gen 1 Powerwall before it introduced the Powerwall 2 over a year later. The Powerwall 2 featured a simpler straight line design compared to its predecessor, but this allowed the upgraded home battery unit to be stacked together for easier installation and setup. The physical size of the Powerwall 2 was also more compact compared to its predecessor.

Unlike the Powerwall Gen 1, the Powerwall 2 utilized 2170 cells, which are produced in Gigafactory Nevada and used in the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover. In what could only be described as a nod to Tesla’s battery tech improvements, the Gen 2 Powerwall was a 14 kWh battery, which meant that it had twice the capacity of the Powerwall Gen 1. But despite this, the Powerwall 2 has a smaller frame than its predecessor, and it’s only 15% heavier.

Granted, the Powerwall 2 was more expensive at $6,500 per unit compared to the Powerwall Gen 1’s $3,000. That being said, the Gen 2 battery already came equipped with an integrated DC/AC converter, unlike its predecessor. The upgraded battery also featured mobile app support and off-grid usage, allowing it to be used even in the most remote locations.

These are just the tip of the iceberg, as Tesla’s over-the-air software updates improved the Powerwall 2 over time. Among these improvements are a novel preconditioning feature, which improved performance at low temperatures, time-based control mode, which allows the battery to shift energy to maximize savings, and the introduction of Storm Watch, which maximizes energy storage during inclement weather and other conditions that threaten the power grid.

These, however, are not the end of the Powerwall’s improvements. Tesla is a company that is vertically integrated, and it is noted for moving fast when it comes to product upgrades. The Powerwall is a key aspect of Tesla Energy’s business, being a component of the company’s virtual power plant concepts. Thus, it would not be surprising if a new generation of Powerwall batteries gets introduced by the company soon, particularly with the much speculated announcement of the million-mile battery.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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