How to use the Tesla Powerwall during a power outage

A Tesla Powerwall promises backup power during outages, but what best practices can users follow to make the most of an extended outage? Neighborhoods can experience power outages for a variety of reasons, with power surges and bad weather being some of the biggest culprits. Households can take advantage of alternative power solutions to manage their energy needs for a short period of time, from a few hours to a few days. As the push for clean energy grows, people are exploring other ways to keep the lights on beyond a diesel generator.

Interestingly, some electric vehicles have demonstrated their ability to act as backup generators thanks to their large battery packs. With two-way charging technology, the home charging an electric car can now be powered by the same electric model. In September 2022, a doctor used the battery from a Rivian R1T to power the operating room, allowing him to perform a vasectomy during a lunge. The Ford F-150 Lightning, meanwhile, can back up a home’s electrical system for up to 10 days, depending on the charge.

The Tesla Powerwall can be used for longer power outages, but usage determines how long it lasts. To help customers maximize battery efficiency, Tesla offers some helpful tips. When the grid is inactive for more than five minutes, the Tesla mobile app sends the user a notification asking them to use power from the Powerwall. Users must confirm that their phone settings allow alerts from the app. Users are also advised to perform energy-intensive tasks before potential outages, such as charging electric cars and doing laundry. The Powerwall’s “Storm Watch” feature helps prepare the system for a potential outage by increasing its backup reserve percentage. If the Powerwall is not in Storm Watch mode, users can manually extend the battery using the app.

How to extend Powerwall battery life

When the Powerwall is active, households can use appliances and accessories such as coffee machines, televisions and light bulbs as normal. However, the dishwasher, air conditioner and heater should not be used often. Although the Powerwall is designed to deliver up to 5kW of power, exceeding the maximum system value can overload it and then prevent it from working. If this happens, users should turn off all heavy devices and the Powerwall will try to restart in one minute. Weather conditions such as snow can also prevent the solar panels from generating enough power. Users can remedy this situation by frequently checking and cleaning the panels in inclement weather.

When the Powerwall’s battery drops below 10%, it goes into sleep mode and turns off the power supply to the house. The Tesla mobile app sends a push notification when the system goes into sleep mode, even if there must be an active internet connection. In sleep mode, the Powerwall will try to recharge its battery using the solar panels between 8:00 and 16:00 local time. When there is enough solar energy to charge the Powerwall while it is running, automatic charging will resume. If the battery drops to 2.5%, the Powerwall turns off and tries to recharge for the next hour.

The Tesla Powerwall is a compelling product capable of meeting a household’s energy needs during outages. After a power outage, the system comes online in a fraction of a second, which is faster than conventional standby generators. Integration with a mobile app makes it even more convenient to control. Plus, incentives like eligibility for a federal tax credit are even more reasons to invest in a Tesla Powerwall.

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