When it comes to opening the market for battery-backed solar homes, hitting the right price point will be critical. But getting the right combination of services will be equally important.
Tesla set the bar for low-price home energy storage in May, when it announced a $3,500 wholesale price for its 10-kilowatt Powerwall home battery system, with key partner SolarCity offering the unit as part of new solar installations. There’s been some confusion about final pricing, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in June that it’s targeting a purchase and installation price of about $4,000.
That’s a lot lower than the prices coming from competitors in the home solar-battery space. Take Sonnenbatterie, the startup that’s sold thousands of batteries for solar homes in Germany, and has launched a U.S. partnership with solar company Sungevity. The company is pricing its 4-kilowatt battery system for $10,000.
But that $10,000 retail price includes a lot more than Sony’s Fortelion lithium-ion cells and inverters from U.S. partner Outback Power, said Boris von Bormann, CEO of Sonnenbatterie’s U.S. operations.
It also includes an energy management system — one that comes with circuit panel controls to tie certain household loads to the battery’s backup power, and just as importantly, leave non-critical loads unpowered when the grid goes down. And it comes with several “smart plugs,” networked via HomePlug powerline carrier (PLC) signals, to allow control over all the appliances, consumer electronics and other household stuff that plug into wall outlets, not the home circuit panel, he said.