Home battery systems

Our project is not fundamentally a high tech one. Most of what we plan to do is deliberately relatively low tech and affordable. But a reliable and efficient off-grid electricity generation system is the one exception. A breakthrough in battery technology is a necessity for a renewable energy based society, but is the recently announced home battery system from electric car manufacturer, Tesla, it? As we’re in the process of building an entirely solar-powered house which will be finished when this new battery is supposedly going to be available, we are naturally curious about this…

The Tesla home battery is relatively small and light compared to lead acid batteries

The Tesla home battery is relatively small and light compared to lead acid batteries

The standard battery technology for renewable energy at the moment isn’t fundamentally much different from lots of linked-up old-fashioned lead-acid car batteries, and these need ventilation because of the dangerous off-gassing, and preferably should not be inside a Passive House envelope at all. but Tesla’s electric motor doesn’t work that way at all. It uses a very dense array of Lithium-Ion batteries, familiar to many of us as the basis for most rechargable batteries used in consumer electronics and presumably the new home battery system will be based on similar technology. Lithium-Ion batteries are smaller, less bulky and contain less toxic material than either Lead, Cadmium or Mercury based batteries. There are some suggestions that can be less safe and are vulnerable to overheating, and the consumer varitieties have a life in constant cycling use of no more than 3 years – athough supposedly 30 year lifespans are not impossible in theory.

If these batteries do become available when Tesla is saying that they will, at a price that makes sense, I’ve no doubt we’ll be among the first to install them. However, even if not, there are other less publicized Lithium Ion battery systems available or being developed from Bosch and others. What it means that is we are almost certainly going to have the panels installed but if we have to, wait until we can get a lithium ion battery array rather than buying lead acid.


2 thoughts on “Home battery systems

  1. David Post author

    As an additional comment, I think that it’s important to consider what is behind the recent decisions by right-wing governments in the UK, Australia and other countries from cutting state funding for wind and solar power just as these sectors are becoming vital in the fight against the worse effects of climate change. It’s not simply about reducing budgets and taxes. I would say that it is no coincidence that this is coming just as we seeing transformations in battery technology that will allow households and communities to generate, store and use their own electricity more easily. These policies are entirely the result of corporate lobbying from Big Energy (Coal, Oil, Gas etc. and Distribution companies) trying to prevent their hold on electricity generation and distribution being broken. In Australia, the growth of solar power has led to decreases in energy prices – in other words, whatever the corporate lobbies say about needing coal and oil to keep prices down, the drive for profit in the energy sector is being threatened and they know it and will do anything, even risk the future of life on earth to keep their profits.



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