Why I Bought The Tesla Powerwall
A lot has changed over the last 30 years since I bought my house in Curl Curl. The traffic is getting worse, I’m getting older and my house is now worth millions, more than I could ever have imagined when I bought it in 1992.
I must admit I’m not entirely comfortable with how much money my house is worth. My kids are now in their late 20s and they are finding next to impossible to get a foot on the property ladder. But that’s only the start of my worries.
Things are changing at an incredible rate. Like a lot of people, I think the severity of the recent bush fires really woke me up to the reality of this uncertain future.
We recently also had two major storms that knocked out the power. Of course, it wasn’t the end of the world to have to throw out all our food from the fridge and freezer, but there was something symbolic about throwing away so much food, only to stroll down to the shops the next day to replace it all. Life is good, but the future seems uncertain and it’s making me uneasy with only a few years left before retirement.
I installed a solar power system about 3 years ago to help ease the pressure on our rising power bills. We have a 5kW system with 20 panels, and ever since we put it in it has been great. Our bills went from around $1000 a quarter down to about $500-$600 depending on the season and how much power we were able to use during the day.
But there was a major problem.
The solar system turns off if the grid goes down. I also didn’t want to have a $600 power bill every quarter when I retire.
I looked into the option of installing a few more solar panels as a way of preparing for retirement. I’ve got equity in the house and good cash flow for the moment; I wanted to see if I could invest some money now to help reduce my bills once I retire.
That was when I first discovered battery storage. Of course, I had heard about it around the place, but I just hadn’t connected the dots that there really was a viable option of living without a power bill.
The battery recommended by Solaray was the Tesla Powerwall, a lithium-ion battery that requires no maintenance, and it could be installed in the garage because there are no dangerous chemicals like with the old acid batteries.
The Tesla Powerwall has a capacity of around 13kWh, which I figured would keep the fridge running in a blackout as long as it could recharge from the solar the next morning.
Because we use so much of our existing solar power during the daytime, we also had to upgrade the solar system to generate enough power to charge the battery. Solaray was able to install a second system alongside my existing panels, and they then combined the two systems in my meter board so it basically operates as the one system.
I now have 8kW of solar in total with 1 Tesla Powerwall battery. The system produces enough power to run the house during the daytime and to charge the battery. At sunset, the system changes over to battery power seamlessly to the point where I actually have to check the Tesla app to see where my power is coming from. It’s a great feeling to see the battery kick in once the solar turns off.
The first question from most of our friends was about the price of a battery. But from my perspective, our new system cost less than any other project I’ve done on the house in recent years, including a new roof for our veranda, a pool and the new kitchen.
And for once I’m actually getting a return on my investment!
But that is only part of the story because the real confirmation that I had done the right thing came last week when a major storm rolled across Sydney and knocked out the power again.
I was the only house on my street with the lights on. My fridge was fine, as was the modem.
The following evening, I invited two of my neighbours around for dinner after work. We had a BBQ with their kids so they could cook up some of the meat they had in the freezer before it went off.
During the evening there were about 10 phones all on charge and we came up with a plan to run an extension cord over the fence so the family next door could keep their fridge running.
Although this blackout only lasted 2 days, I already consider my investment to be worth it.
I now have a fully automated system that will keep the lights on for the foreseeable future no matter what is happening in the world.
What’s more, I no longer worry about getting a power bill every quarter, in fact on the last bill I got paid a small credit for the extra power I sold back to the grid. That was the Spring bill so I’m expecting the summer bill to be even better with the increase in output from the solar system thanks to the long summer days.
If you own your own house and have the opportunity to invest some money back into your home, I think installing battery storage should be near the top of anyone’s list, and from my experience, an absolute must if you are heading into retirement.
This story is based on feedback and testimonials of Solaray customers that have installed battery storage, and although fictional, is a digest of actual stories and customer experiences.