Have you heard about the recently announced Tesla Powerwall 3? It caused quite a stir last month when some photos leaked on the internet. Tesla also recently updated their website to include some information about the new product. It’s coming.
I know I had some questions. Should I purchase a Powerwall 2 or hold out for the Powerwall 3? What are the advantages of the new energy storage solution? Is it as good as the Powerwall 2? When will it be available in Australia?
It’s a lot to wonder about. And details are limited.
The Powerwall 2 has been around since 2016 and has gone through a variety of updates and upgrades since then. It’s still an incredible battery that will not be phased out of the market. The two batteries will exist as options for solar systems.
At Penrith Solar Centre, we sell the Powerwall 2, so we’re a little biased about this piece of equipment. That being said… we’re really excited about what we’ve seen regarding the Powerwall 3. We want you to be an informed shopper who can get a view of the big picture as well as the details. Which is why we need to offer a disclaimer: the statistics regarding the Powerwall 3 only apply to the release of the battery in North America. There has not been an announcement about when it will be released in Australia.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- How Does the Powerwall 2 Compare to the Powerwall 3?
- How Are the Powerwall 2 and Powerwall 3 Different?
- What We Don’t Know
By the end of this post, you’ll know more about the Powerwall 3 and whether you’ll want to set a Google alert to keep up with announcements about it.
How Does the Powerwall 2 Compare to the Powerwall 3?
Tesla Energy is an American company known for electric car development and manufacturing. They’re focused on building clean energy solutions through solar batteries and electric vehicles. In 2012, Tesla was developing batteries for its electric cars and started experimenting with larger energy storage solutions. In 2015, the first Powerwall was released, named the Powerwall 1. It was soon replaced by the Powerwall 2 in 2016, which has been updated over the past six years as the company refined the product.
We’ve written a bit about the Tesla Powerwall 2: like this comprehensive and unbiased review of the Powerwall 2 and this article about the cost of the Powerwall 2. There’s a lot of information in those articles that will be summarised here, but if you want to explore the battery further, please go check out those articles and come back here when you’re done.
Much like the famed Rumble in the Jungle where a young Muhammad Ali introduced his signature rope-a-dope tactic to knock out George Foreman in the eighth round, the Powerwall 2 and Powerwall 3 go head-to-head in the following chart:
Keep reading as we break down each of these categories!
How Are the Powerwall 2 and Powerwall 3 Different?
Energy Capacity: The energy capacity of the Powerwall 2 is 13.5 kWh. The amount of energy stored in the “battery bucket” is measured in kWh (kilowatt hours) which is 1 kW (kilowatt) times an hour. So if you had 1 kW of power charging or discharging into the battery for 1 hour, the result would be 1 kWh.
The energy capacity of the Powerwall 3 is going to be 13.5 kWh. Which is the same as its predecessor.
Power Capacity: The amount of power flowing through the “hose” is measured in kW. The Powerwall 2 has a continuous power rating of 5 kW, which is how much power it releases during regular operation. It also has a peak power rating of 7 kW. This means that for 7 – 10 seconds, the Powerwall 2 can output at a rate of 7 kW. This is handy if you have an appliance with a motor that needs a little bit of extra energy to get started, an air conditioning for instance.
The power capacity of the Powerwall 3 is only listed as a continuous rating, but that continuous power capacity is a whopping 11.5 kW!
Operating Temperature: An additional feature of the Powerwall 2 is that it’s the only residential battery in Australia that’s liquid cooled. This keeps the battery operating as close to 25°C as possible, which is the optimum temperature for power efficiency. The operating range for the Powerwall 2 is –20° to 50°.
The operating temperature for the Powerwall 3 is the same with an upper limit of 50°. Whether or not it’s going to be liquid cooled is yet to be announced.
Weight: The weight of the Powerwall 2 is significant; it’s 114 kg. This makes mounting it on the floor a preferred option for some homes and businesses. Because of its weight, installation requires two or more people. How it’s mounted needs to be considered by the installer as well as the customer because there’s always the possibility that it will need to be serviced in the future. It needs to be accessible to the technician should that happen.
We know how thin on the ground we are for information about the Powerwall 3 right now, but we do have specs for the weight and dimensions. The weight is heavy at a whopping 130 kg!
Size: The dimensions of the Powerwall 2 are similar to other batteries in its class. The dimensions are 1150 mm x 753 mm x 147 mm. The aesthetics are nice – it’s sleek and slimming – and if you choose to wall mount it, it looks incredible.
The dimensions of the Powerwall 3 are similar to the Powerwall 2. It’s going to be 1100mm x 600 mm x 180 mm. It’s about 30 mm thicker than the Powerwall 2, but narrower and shorter and will take up less space across that axis.
Safety: The chemistry of each Powerwall is what we’ve used to determine the safety. Both Powerwalls are lithium-ion. They do vary slightly though. The Powerwall is lithium NMC (Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt), which is reasonably safe as long as the durable casing remains intact. It’s not as environmentally friendly, because it’s made with cobalt.
Powerwall 3’s chemistry is made up of lithium iron phosphate, which is cobalt-free. Being cobalt-free is more environmentally friendly and the battery can operate safely at higher temperatures, reducing the risk of fire.
Round-Trip Efficiency: With an AC-coupled battery, there’s a slight loss of electricity every time there’s a conversion from AC to DC power. This loss is measured by a statistic called round-trip efficiency. To put round-trip efficiency in simple terms: if you charge a battery with 100 units of energy and can get 90 units back when you use it, the round-trip efficiency is 90%. The 10 units that are not retrievable were lost as heat or due to the battery management system operating losses during charging and discharging. The round-trip efficiency of the Powerwall 2 is approximately 90%.
The round-trip efficiency of the Powerwall 3’s inverter is at a whopping 97.5%! Which is much more efficient than the Powerwall 2. It’s a nice upgrade.
Speaking of the inverter, there will be an inverter integrated into the infrastructure of the Powerwall 3. Whether it is replaceable or not (like the microinverters in an Enphase battery which you can read about in our Enphase IQ Battery 5P Review) is yet to be announced.
There are some drawbacks to the Powerwall 2 that we’re hoping will get updated with the Powerwall 3.
One of the reasons the Powerwall is so popular in so many households is because it’s an AC-coupled battery that’s compatible with any type of solar system. There’s an inverter in the battery that converts the AC power to DC power for storage. Because of this inverter and its working in harmony with the Tesla Gateway, the Powerwall can be added to any existing solar system and put the harvested energy into the battery.
That single point of failure is a real worry when you consider how hard that inverter is working. The inverter doesn’t just work during the day when the battery is charging, it’s also working at night when your household or the grid is taking electricity out of the battery. It essentially runs bidirectional 24/7.
If that inverter fails, it cannot be simply replaced. The entire battery is done if that inverter fails.
The other main drawback of a Powerwall 2 is that it doesn’t have black start capability. Black start capability allows a fully depleted battery to recharge from the solar panels without the need for a little juice from the grid.
For people who want to live off-grid or folks who want the assurance of electricity during severe weather, the Powerwall 2 is limited in what it can offer. Whether the Powerwall 3 has black start capability is yet to be announced. Hopefully, it will!
The major downside of the Powerwall 3 is that it doesn’t play nice with other solar batteries, including the Powerwall 2. This lack of backward compatibility is surprising. Whether or not it will be compatible with a variety of solar panel systems is yet to be seen.
In addition to not playing nice with other batteries, the Powerwall 3 also seems to be limited in its compatibility with other solar inverters. This is mostly due to the fully integrated solar inverter it has installed within its architecture. We suspect the idea is for that inverter to replace the need for an inverter installed with a string solar panel system. But whether or not that actually is a replacement is also yet to be seen.
The price is still unavailable.
What We Don’t Know
We quite simply don’t have all the information about the Powerwall 3, and there are a few points to remember regarding it. While we have discussed some of what’s available and what’s still unclear in the announcement of the Powerwall 3, there are a few things that bear repeating.
- We don’t know when it will be available in Australia.
- If the same announced features for the North America Powerwall 3 will be available in the Australian release.
- The cost of the system.
- The warranty.
- Its compatibility with other solar panel systems.
- Black start capability.
Who Is the Powerwall 3 a Good Fit For?
While there’s limited information regarding the specs and features, we can infer from what we know who this battery will be a good purchase for.
One thing to note before we get into that, however, is that the Powerwall 2 is not going anywhere. There are no plans to phase it out, and the Powerwall 3 is certainly not a replacement. The adaptability and compatibility of the Powerwall 2 will keep it as a preferred solar battery for many solar systems for years to come. There’s absolutely no reason to hold out for the Powerwall 3 if you’re considering a solar battery purchase as it still might be the best solution for your home or business.
When the Powerwall 3 is released, it looks like it will be an exceptional option to install with a new solar system. The continuous power rating is especially sexy, but the fully integrated solar inverter will replace additional equipment if you decide to install a string solar system. It just might be the preferred energy storage solution you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, for retrofitting existing systems, the Powerwall 3 is absolutely a poor choice due to compatibility issues inherent in its design.
Penrith Solar Centre at Tesla Powerwall 3 Launch in Sydney Australia.
Finaly Thoughts: Do You Want a Powerwall 3?
By now, you should have a firm understanding of what the Powerwall 3 has to offer in comparison to the Powerwall 2. While the details regarding some of the features have yet to be announced, the specs and features that have been released are informative in their own right. It’s enough to start evaluating whether or not it might be a good fit for your existing or future solar system.
While there hasn’t been an announcement regarding its release in Australia, it’s important to remember that the release of the Powerwall 2 was first in North America and then made available some months later here.
If you’re keen on keeping up with news and information regarding the release of the Powerwall 3, keep checking back with us. The second we know more; you will know more.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Powerwall 2 and other batteries in its class, you might be interested in our article comparing and contrasting the Tesla Powerwall 2 with its primary competition, the Enphase IQ Battery 5P.