Tesla released a long-awaited software update for the Powerwall 2 which will now enable homeowners to take better advantage of variable energy costs by scheduling their own time-based controls of the home battery pack.
There are a few different use cases for home battery packs.
You can simply use it as backup power in case of a power outage – just like a generator.
It can also be used to store energy from a rooftop solar array in order to maximize the consumption of self-generated energy and rely less on the local grid.
And if you live in a region with variable energy rates based on demand, you can theoretically use a home battery pack to minimize your cost by charging when the rates are low and discharging when the rates are higher.
But you can only do that if you control when the home battery pack charges and discharges, which is what this new software update enables you to do.
Last year, Tesla launched a new Powerwall and solar integration in the ‘Tesla Mobile app’. It enabled Powerwall owners to do some customization between the two first use cases above:
“Select between two modes, Self-Powered or Backup only. By selecting Self-Powered mode, Powerwall will store solar during the day and power your home at night. You also have the capability to set a backup reserve. If there is bad weather and you anticipate an outage, you can select Backup only, which reserves 100% of Powerwall for an outage.”
But now the company has released a new update with a new ‘Advanced Time-based control’ as evidenced by screenshots of a new section in the mobile app released by an owner on Reddit (via Mantaup):
The update gives the option to match the use of your store solar energy with your local pricing structure or even charge your Powerwall with energy from the grid when it is cheaper.
Powerwall owners can then edit their price schedule with peak and off-peak hours in order for the home battery pack to automatically optimized savings based on the schedule
This new feature will only be valuable where electric utilities offer variable rates, which is becoming increasingly popular.
It will also make the biggest difference where there’s a huge margin between peak and off-peak hours. We have seen places where peak hour prices are only about twice the cost of off-peak hours, which adds up to only a few cents per kWh, but in other cases, it can be 3 to 4 times the cost of off-peak hours, which can add up to up to 40 cents per kWh.
In those places, this feature can help accelerate the payback time of a Powerwall quite significantly.
We have checked with a few other Powerwall owners and not everyone seems to have received the update yet, we reached out to Tesla for a comment on the rollout and we will update if we get an answer.