Batteries electriciq

Published on January 31st, 2016 | by Jake Richardson

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ElectrIQ Offers 7.5 kWh Or Larger Home Energy Storage Solution

January 31st, 2016 by  

ElectrIQ Power is a Palo Alto, California–based company offering a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a charger, battery management, a DC to AC inverter, and a smart DC-DC converter in one system. Kevin Manning, Chief Revenue/Strategy Officer, answered some questions about the energy storage technology for CleanTechnica.

energy storage

1. Your energy storage system includes an inverter and a converter….for people who are interested in lithium-­ion batteries for their home solar power system but are unfamiliar with battery technology, can you explain how the inverter and converter work, and why they matter?

Inverters and converters are electrical devices that “convert” electricity for its intended use.​ See the energy storage system block diagram below.

electriciqpowerdia

Solar panels collect sunlight and strip off the atoms, resulting in a flow of electricity. This electricity is in the form of a Direct Current (DC). To be usable in one’s home, an inverter is used to convert this electricity to an Alternating Current (AC). ​One of the benefits of “energy storage with solar” is the solar energy is useable by the home and batteries when the grid is down.

The inverter we use is a Bi­directional Hybrid Inverter. Because it is a “hybrid” inverter, it is capable of taking energy from the system’s internal DC buss and put it to either the load or the grid or both at the same time. Because it is “bi­directional,” it is capable of taking energy from the grid and charging the lithium ­ion batteries.

Our inverter is also a remarkably smart inverter designed specifically to our specifications. This is a critical part of making Lithium Ion batteries safe. The special features of this inverter know, for example, the battery state of charge, state of health, cell to cell balance, temperature, etc. and adjusts how it charges and discharges to keep the batteries within safe operating conditions. There will be no system on the market more integrated or safer as a result.

Converters are much simpler and usually much more efficient than inverters. They convert Direct Current (DC) to Direct Current (DC). Our system uses two types of converters. One for the solar panels. It is a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) converter to maximize the energy output from the solar panels to the energy storage system’s internal DC buss. The second converter is used to charge the lithium-­ion batteries (sometimes just called a battery charger).

2. The warranty is 2 years with a 10 ­year option… what does the option include, and what is the cost?

We are currently refining and defining our warranty program and anticipate this being closer to a 10 year warranty. This would be the norm given the expected life of 10+ years for our product. The cost of the warranty will be included in the price of our product.

energy storage

3. What is the cost of your system?

Our product offerings will allow for flexibility in the size of a system which could range from 7.5KwH up to 37.5KwH (or more). We expect the 7.5KwH pricing to be between $12,500 to ­ $15,000 MSRP. After California state incentives and Federal tax credits, the price will drop to approximately $3,000.

4. What is the cost of installation?

Installation costs will vary depending on the location and local laws/practices as well as the skill of the homeowner. If installed by an electrician or solar installer, we would estimate installation costs to be approximately $1,200 +/­ We see ‘storage’ becoming a common component in any generic solar installation and we believe solar installers want to include it in their package deals which will lower the individual component installation costs.

​5. Who is qualified to install it?

Qualified installers include trained electricians who specialize in alternative energy or national/regional solar companies. Given the simplicity of our design, savvy homeowners with good mechanical and electrical skills could also easily perform this installation with training.

6. Is there any maintenance, and if so, what is required?

There is no maintenance required.

7. Who is your competition, and how does your offering differ from theirs?

There are a handful of competitors in this space focused on residential consumers. Most storage companies are targeting commercial markets. Tesla is the best­ known in residential, but they are currently providing only a battery which needs to be paired with an inverter. There are some other players that have entered the space, most recently Sunverge (but without a software management system), JuiceBox (but without an inverter), and JLM Energy (batteries and inverter are in separate boxes).

Besides being a fully integrated, all ­in ­one solution that not only functions very efficiently and looks sexy, our key differentiators are focused on safety, state of the art efficiency and ease of use. We are partnering with world­ class organizations on our components, both of which are extremely concerned with ensuring safety for our consumers. In terms of “ease”, our solution will be very easily connected to the grid and/or renewable energy source (solar) which is very important for our installers. Our user dashboard will be very user friendly and provide plentiful information to make better informed decisions about energy consumption and since our batteries and inverter are all in one box, we eliminate an installation step and its cost.

8. What does your battery management system do?

The battery management system ​knows important status on the batteries and communicates the information to the smart hybrid inverter and battery charging system to keep the batteries safe and prolong their life. Some of the parameters it monitors are battery state of charge, state of health, cell to cell balance, temperature, capacity and internal resistance to name a few. This integrated system ‘mothers’ the battery back and insures safety. All the components of the system have been designed to work in unison unlike our competition where any inverter or battery may be used but with the risk of something going wrong between the disparate components.

9. What is the learning curve for a consumer who is interested in solar power and wants to know more about energy storage… how long does it take a new customer to learn to operate your system?

The system will initially be set up by the installer, generally. Our system also has high level functions for someone who is not familiar with solar power or energy storage. For example, the user could choose to operate the system in the “backup mode” where it will configure itself to make the most efficient use of renewable energy and provide battery backup when the grid is down. Some of the other operating modes are Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), Grid Zero and Mini­Grid.

Additionally, we have created a friendly user interface on the system and website. One of our primary engineering goals was to translate complex issues in plain English well enough for a non­technical person to understand. We have really made an effort to create a user interface (like the very popular books) “energy storage for dummies.”

10. You say your system can be used to charge a battery when electricity rates are low, to avoid paying for it when rates are high. Does the system do this for you, or do you manually charge it when you know there is less demand, like late at night?

The beauty of our system is that the user sets high level parameters (like how long should the system be able to provide backup power to your home) and the system learns your consumption habits, knows the weather forecast (when the sun is producing electricity) and calculates battery levels accordingly. The system will also minimize electrical cost; on its own it will draw energy from the grid at night (cheaper rates), store it, and utilize it when you need it most (typically when rates are higher).​It will also know if the system is part of a solar installation to insure operation and that 100% of the solar tax credit can be taken on the energy storage system.

11. By using a battery system to store electricity to use when rates are high, would a customer expect to save a little money each month, and if so, how much?

This depends on a number of factors including, the size of the system, the price for a respective customer’s electricity in their area, the primary purpose of the system and their energy usage habits. When taking these factors into consideration a customer would expect to save a little money each month. This could be anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars every month depending on how the system is set up, size of solar installation and energy usage.

12. Could you charge an EV at home using your battery storage system?

If an EV needs to be charged during a utility’s peak demand period versus off­ peak, a battery storage system can greatly reduce the demand on the grid. It can also reduce the cost if the user is paying more for peak rates.

Image Credit: ElectrIQ

 
 
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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.



  • Andy

    Are any of these “all in one” and “plug and play” systems for sale yet? They all talk about how great the product is on the company site, but there is no ability to actually purchase them. At least not in the states.

    • Kevin Sean Manning

      Andy: unfortunately, the impossible takes just a little longer. You are correct about availability. Our product will be available Q4 2016. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a revolutionary product. If we could bring it to market sooner, I’d jump for joy. Leave your contact info on our web site and you will be the first to know.

      • Andy

        Thanks, I’m interested. I live in MA, but the utility doesn’t support net metering.

  • Marion Meads

    The prices won’t justify the purchase given the lifespan. For California with the current net metering, this is an utterly useless technology. When net metering starts to become unpalatable in 2019 and then declines after that, one has to compute the economics of this. You have three years to wait it out if the prices will go down or not.

    Since no roundtrip efficiency was stated, I am assuming that it is on the low end, around 80% efficiency, lower than that of Tesla’s powerwall, otherwise, they would have already stated and bragged about it. So the lower efficiency rating is suspected.

    So effectively, you will get 80%*7.5 kWH/cycling = 6 kWH.
    Assume off-peak is $0.12/kWH and peak price is $0.35/kWH

    Off-peak consumption = 7.5 kWH * $0.12 = $0.90
    Peak supply from battery = 6 kWH *$0.35 = $2.10

    Net Savings/day = $1.20
    Total Savings = $1.20/day *365.25 days/year *10 years = $4,383

    Cost plus installation: $15,000+ $1,200 = $16,200

    Your net loss; ($11,817)

    If you buy this device as priced, you’re a real moron.
    This company should go back to the drawing board. I’m not an idiot to lose money on this thing!

    • vensonata

      You are right, Marion, it is overpriced. Why do these companies keep doing this? Is it just desperation? Until a bottom line of about 5 cents kwh for battery storage, after rebates and subsidies is reached, there won’t be much interest from people who are math literate. 5cents kwh means that the 7 kwh Powerwall needs to be installed for $1500 total. That is actually possible with the right rebates and subsidies, but that is where the price has to go.

      • eveee

        I believe I read that unit would go for 3k after gov rebates?
        Frankly, at even 10c/kwhr, you can be ahead where TOU rates jack the price differential to over 20c. I hadn’t factored the rebates in before. So, I don’t think 5c is necessary. The rebates make it a whole new ballgame. What do you think?

        • vensonata

          I would go for 10 cents kwh. But that requires about a 75% reduction in price on this unit. If it is 98% efficient as Kevin Manning says, that is great. If the unit includes the inverter for $3000 then they are actually giving the battery away for free! I will take one…no three, for that price! But it seems Marion is suspicious of all these rebate claims, I fear to tread amongst the fine print myself. But yes: if the bottom line is $3000 for a complete 98% efficient inverter/ battery plus $1200 install it is good deal and can return on investment with California time of use shenanigans factored in.
          I encourage you all to let the implications of rebates and subsidies on batteries and inverters sink in, because it turns all previous calculations on their head. Storage suddenly becomes economical and even off grid may be in the running as well. It is sudden…very sudden.

          • eveee

            Gimme a dozen. 🙂

    • Kevin Sean Manning

      The unit is 98% efficient. You are assuming the
      utilities and the old centralized power grid concept will win out over a
      decentralized, solar model. With all due respect, you are likely taking
      the wrong side. Federal tax credits are easily found on the web. Fed
      tax credit can be found here:
      http://energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit

      Moreover, homeowners are increasingly interested in back up storage for nature disasters. If you price a good gas generator which is noisy and requires the storage of fuel, the price would be the same plus you avail
      yourself of all the energy saving software.

      • OOO

        Kevin, congratulations on introducing the products. Suffice to say that a storage product that has an all-in package that can be straightforwardly installed – would appeal to other broader markets than US only, if packaged affordably. You may want to be first to reach certain craving (solar+storage) markets. In fact, to para-phrase Professor Whitacre – your competitor in storage technology; Aquinon Energy, he understands and noted few years ago – during a GTM sponsored lecture on Storage technology – by Eric Wesson; that storage technology will be proven to be more useful/more acceptable and show better utilization/adaption, in developing markets that has power crisis.

        Given the fact that other commentators here have expressed comments, advice and feedback on where pricing, etc needs to be – I won’t comment on that. Suffice to the point that US market has constant supply of various option of generating and using the electrical power. We are an American new Start-up firm, PV+Storage, that may have opportunity for your products in an emerging market that we could massively deploy and will perhaps see daily use/recycle of your products. As you know sometimes; ‘first to the market -could be the king’.

        We are interested to discuss further. Please send an email where our business synopsis could be sent to you directly, to Triplo@msn.com where we could share ideas. There could be mutual benefits here. Good luck and best regards.

      • GCO

        Allow me to express serious doubts about the efficiency figure you
        quote. 98% one way already exceeds current
        chargers/inverters alone.

        More importantly: IRS form 5695 [link] states that the federal credit is for “energy savings improvements”, specifically “solar electric”, “solar water heating”, “wind”, “geothermal heat pump” and “fuel cell” costs.

        I fail to see how a battery system qualifies; could you please clarify why you think it does?

        You also haven’t stated what other subsidy/rebate would bring the cost all the way down from 12~15k$ to 3k$. This seems highly optimistic to say the least…

        • Kevin Sean Manning

          Dear GCO: Our hybrid inverter has three patents pending. It uses technologies that have not been used. The exact efficiency is 97.8% It would hardly make sense for us to raise VC money only to come to market with current technology! Ours is a revolutionary product, not just another runner. This is , after all, Silicon Valley
          The Federal tax credit has been extended to include energy storage. Additional savings are provided by State rebates which vary state-to-state. I quoted California’s law.

          • GCO

            Thank you for the reply.

            You seem to be confusing the peak efficiency of a single component, vs. the average, system efficiency. Only the 2nd matters.

            I also found nothing to support your claim that the FTC has been modified to include storage. Could you please provide a source?

            I’m in California. What law were you referring to?

            It’s great to see you apparently enthusiastic about your product, and I hope it’ll be successful, but you may want to realize that your initial market will include a lot of techies like myself, who’ll demand tangible, verifiable data, including financials — not marketing pitches.

            [And it’s kW⋅h. Uppercase K and H refer to temperature and inductance, respectively.]

    • Andy

      My utility can set whatever net-metering policy it wants. Therefore, my POCO gives me 2 cents per kWh generated, while charging me 18 cents per kWh consumed. On the east coast, this makes my solar panels nearly useless in the winter. I will definitely be buying battery storage.

  • newnodm

    A battery like this unit should be judged first by its warranty and the likelihood of warranty support.

  • vensonata

    “We expect the 7.5KwH pricing to be between $12,500 to ­ $15,000 MSRP.
    After California state incentives and Federal tax credits, the price
    will drop to approximately $3,000.”
    That is the most remarkable statement in the article! This is where storage economics are completely altered by tax rebates and state incentives. Calculators need to be pulled out, that is a staggering difference in the LCOE (levelized cost of electricity).

  • eveee

    The short warranty period is a downside. The batteries and inverter should last more than ten years. If the inverter life and warranty are over 20 years, its much better for costs, and the solar system lifetime is over 20 years. I wonder if all in one system would create more problems for installing a new inverter every 12 years.

    Other companies, do provide systems with intelligence now. StorEdge,
    http://www.utilitydive.com/news/tesla-collaborator-solaredge-rolls-out-inverter-to-work-with-powerwall-batt/412182/

    • Riely Rumfort

      More than likely with a decent amount of use you’d be under the warrantied efficiency by 9 years, then you get the power pack portion replaced, and by then with battery tech it may last 12 years, so you could easily get 21 years out of such a product with tractical degradation monitoring.
      If you ask me that’s a huge win as long as the company still exists to cover the warranty.

      • eveee

        The PowerWall lasts 15 years. Microinverters are vying for business with 25 year warranties. Solar lasts 25 years. Big box inverters are also starting to supply 25 year warranties. The cost goes up if replacement happens sooner. A 2 year warranty with an option for 10 is way too low.
        I dont agree that batteries won’t make their warranty. Tesla PowerWall warranty is ten years. That means its likely life is longer.
        Better to get an infinite battery replacement than go through all that finagling, IMO.
        Its best not to fool with Tesla. They have eyes and ears like Santa. ;o

        • Riely Rumfort

          I honestly don’t think the PW would last 10 year of full daily utilization with going under their efficiency. I think they just know, by the time they have to foot a warranty bill it won’t matter, volume and cost reductions will make is cost nothing and they’ll be ‘too big to fail’ by then anyways.
          Most products have a warranty they plan to exceed, solar is this way, most hit 80% after over 30 years minimum. But battery storage I think is a game of realizing declining prices and having a huge warranty to win you a customer base.

          • eveee

            Its not the efficiency that drops. Its the energy capacity. The warranty is for 80% capacity. Thats the same as the the EV standard and common in the battery storage business.
            If anything the declining price curve is faster for solar than storage.
            Your comment is about the warranty from the manufacturer perspective.
            I am talking about the buyer perspective. Longer life means lower costs. A short warranty is more risk for the consumer. I don’t want a product that doesn’t cover me. In a sense, the warranty is not what really matters. Anyone can write a piece of paper. Its a possible proxy for lifetime and thus cost. And the manufacturer has to survive for the consumer to benefit.

          • Riely Rumfort

            Yes, but in the same breath, if at 9 years it’s replaced to work for 9 more is that not better than a more costly 15 which craps out at 16?
            You see warranties as a point of longevity determination, I see them as a point of possible replacement under failure(as long as the company still exists).
            Potato Pototo
            I wouldn’t buy a product below it’s industries standard though.

          • eveee

            Take it easy. 🙂 I need numbers to answer your question. We don’t have those kinds of numbers. I was just making a simple observation comparing the PW to this offering. This one is more expensive and less warranty, thats all. For sure, I agree a longer warranty is not always better. But there needs to be way more verifiable details to tell which is best on a case by case basis.

          • Riely Rumfort

            I do like the inverter being specifically paired though in one housing in this case, I have no intentions to grid tie my system.
            Automated, self-sustaining, futureproof housing is my goal.
            No wood, no glass, no drywall, no exterior wires.

          • eveee

            You get my vote for no muss no fuss installation. Sure.

  • Benjamin Nead

    Kind of hard to determine how large/small this thing is. From the company’s web site, this can help . . .

    https://electriqpower.com/system_dimensions.png

    • Calamity_Jean

      Thanks, that’s helpful. Five feet by three feet by one foot. A modest size.

  • newnodm

    “Solar panels collect sunlight and strip off the atoms”

    Yikes

    • Benjamin Nead

      Yeah, that’s a comment that I’m sure would make someone with a technical background cringe. But ask a typical homeowner how the PV panels on top of their roof works and I’m sure you would hear some even goofier explanations.

      The product actually looks pretty good . . . a Tesla Powerwall with all the missing stuff included.

      • newnodm

        Wave/particle duality sounds pretty goofy too. Maybe should just accept “sun atoms”. Cleantechnica discovering new science.

      • eveee

        I don’t care if its one box or two. There are plenty of PowerWall collaborators. SolarEdge just announced StorEdge. Does the same thing. With a longer warranty…. and lower cost.
        http://www.solaredge.us/groups/us/service/warranty
        http://www.solaredge.us/files/self_consumption_and_backup.png

        • Benjamin Nead

          Fair enough. I haven’t been monitoring PowerWall coverage all that closely. Last I checked in, the product was declared very promising, but with no (or very little) compatible ancillary gear available.

          • eveee

            Fronius and Sunny Boy are coming in. So we will have three compatible inverters, soon. All have intelligence, I think. Those are cheaper than this offering. At least this company didn’t bother to bore me with we are better than Tesla stuff. They hid it more. But really, so far, nobody is competing with Tesla that I have seen. Not when you add up the dollars and cents. Wish they were, though.
            Closest is LGChem in car batteries, it seems. But IMO their offering in home storage is disappointing by comparison.

          • Riely Rumfort

            Samsung may jump in that ring too in the coming years if they do well in the automotive.
            LGchem, Samsung, and Tesla/Panasonic all may have their go at the >10 billion dollar industry.
            It interesting Panasonic is a partner to Tesla yet trying to undercut and race to market in Germany and AUS. It’ll be a very competitive market just like PV.

  • Freddy D

    How does it know what current power prices are? Historically, time of day power prices have been published way ahead, like cheaper at night, but this model is antiquated and days are numbered. I would think that we’ll see very dynamic power pricing coming, where it’s super cheap during late mornings in the springtime (overgeneration of solar) and very expensive in summer evenings (high AC demand, no solar). This will require dynamic communication.

    I don’t even know if there’s a standard for this yet – anyone know?

    • eveee

      You have a point. The energy business is changing rapidly. Real time energy prices may happen. In any case, its not clear how this system will interact with variable pricing. Consumers will want to program the system for best economy and avoid doing the math themselves.

      • Freddy D

        Good points that a well engineered user interface will allow a consumer to somehow discover and articulate and program their value structure so the thing behaves as expected. Difficult to get such a great user interface when there are so many bad user interfaces out there, but it’s definitely possible – think Nest thermostat that took hundreds of bad implementations before them and created something that programs at the human level.

        and “real time energy prices may happen”…. well, they’re already there at the wholesale and commercial level and it’s a matter of time before more real-time demand response works its way into the retail market.

    • Ronald Brakels

      In Australia it would know what the current power prices are by looking them up on the internet. Here the Tesla Powerwall comes with software that allows it to trade on the electricity market. And other types of energy storage can use the same software. I presume in the future electric cars will have it as well. Anyway, at times someone with home energy storage can sell electricity for $10 Australian a kilowatt-hour and at times they should be able to be paid for storing electricity on account of how sometimes electricity prices go negative.

      • Otis11

        Any idea on how much an Australian could expect to make per month from these ‘services’?

        • Ronald Brakels

          That’s a good question, and at the moment households are hobbled in how much they can earn as the maximum they can get for selling electricity is set at $10 a kilowatt-hour while a couple of weeks ago in Victoria the price briefly went up to $90 a kilowatt-hour. (I think that was due to a long distance transmission line failing.) But even with hobbling, I suspect that a household with a Tesla Powerwall or something similar in capacity could make a couple hundred Australian dollars a year or more from selling electricity during when the price is high. So over $150 US. A nice bit of money to help offset the cost of energy storage, but not a huge amount. Enough to get someone to go from, “I’m not sure this will save me money,” to, “Yes, this will save me money.”

          But note that in a few years as more people install home and business energy storage the opportunity to make money from electricity arbitage will decrease, but by then energy storage costs will have come down, more than making up for it. But also note that my estimate is just a guess.

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