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Tesla Powerwalls for Home Energy Storage Are Hitting U.S. Market

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A customer inspects a Tesla Motors Inc. Powerwall unit inside a home in Monkton, Vermont, U.S., on Monday, …

To Steve Yates, the best thing about his new Tesla Powerwall is that he doesn’t have to worry anymore about the lights going out during a storm. Or maybe it’s how cool an addition it is to the entryway of his house in Monkton, Vermont.

“I’ve always wanted to have a backup power source,” said Yates, who was without electricity for 36 hours during Hurricane Irene in 2011. He also admires the Powerwall’s sleek white contours. “It’s kind of art-deco looking.”

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A year after Elon Musk unveiled the Powerwall at Tesla Motors Inc.’s design studio near Los Angeles, the first wave of residential installations has started in the U.S. The 6.4-kilowatt-hour unit stores electricity from home solar systems and provides backup in the case of a conventional outage. Weighing 214 pounds and standing about 4-feet tall, it retails for around $3,000. But hookup by a trained electrician is required, as is something called a bi-directional inverter that converts direct-current electricity into the kind used by dishwashers and refrigerators. The costs add up quickly -- which has fueled skepticism about Musk’s dream of changing the way the world uses energy.

Net-metering policies, which allow residential solar customers to sell their excess solar electricity back to utilities, have limited the appeal of home batteries in many states. But that’s shifting: Net metering is being phased out in some states, making storage more attractive.

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“The picture is rapidly changing across several markets,” said Yayoi Sekine, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Changes to net-metering policies and implementation of time-of-use rates will improve the case for residential energy storage systems going forward.”

Sales Emerging

For Yates, money wasn’t an issue: he got his unit for free from Green Mountain Power as part of a...


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