Tesla's newly announced batteries promise to revolutionize the solar industry by allowing homeowners to store power from one part of the day, when it is plentiful, and use it in another part, when it is needed.
This solar revolution is already in full swing all across the nation and consumers are enamored with “going off the grid.” In order to meet the objective homeowners are counting on home batteries to be the next, very key, phase of their off-the-grid plans. It isn't just high profile Tesla that's leading the way, either. RoseWater Energy Group and a host of other companies are rapidly developing these new power storage devices for homes.
But according to industry expert Paul Self of Buildz.com, if the battery power trend really takes off, it will require that homes be equipped with more low voltage wiring than line voltage electrical, the standard in all homes presently.
An underlying issue with solar power and the Tesla battery is the fact that they run on DC while the power infrastructure in buildings is AC. Stepping power up and down from AC to DC and vice-versa wastes energy, about 20 percent is lost in the conversion. Some converters do a better job than others, but resolving this 20 percent loss is very important when working on a battery stored energy supply.
The inefficiency, a pure science limitations of AC/DC conversion, will eventually force a gigantic sea change from builders, electricians and the National Electric Code itself in the way homes are constructed and wired. Absent such a change battery tech will remain nothing more than a 'nice to have' and not a replacement for grid delivered power.
It's not far-fetched to think this could happen, as many devices, such as almost all non-incandescent light bulbs, computers, TVs, cable boxes, and cell phone chargers all can run on DC and actually currently require a transformer to step the 110 VAC down to a DC signal.
Appliances like electric water heaters, electric ovens, and air conditioners will still require 110VAC, but most of the house can move to DC without much fuss and with a ton of energy savings. Every device that runs with a converter is wasting power switching from one signal to the other. In a solar powered house this is happening twice, making it a very inefficient process.
But the change needed to convert America's homes will not happen overnight. It won't be easy to phase out all the legacy devices requiring 110V.
But until that happens consumers won't be fully taking advantage of the Tesla battery and solar power.