A Northern California man in PG&E’s electrical service territory had his electricity turned off by the utility for high wildfire risk for a full 42 hours yet was able to run his home on his Tesla Powerwall for the entire duration. The Powerwall installed in the remote home came out at the other end of the 42-hour outage with 9% charge remaining.
The Tesla Powerwall 2 is, at its core, a backup battery for the home that provides power in the event of a planned or unplanned power outage. In the remote woods of Northern California where this particular customer lives, power outages are rather common, with 3 outages recorded in just the last few months of summer, making an investment in a residential energy storage system a no-brainer.
During the 42-hour outage, the homeowner shared on Reddit that the Powerwall performed flawlessly. He noted that the strength of the Powerwall is highlighting gaps in other industries. His internet company, Comcast, and the local cell towers stayed online for the first 9 hours of the outage but went offline after that.
Over the last decade, internet service has evolved to the point where it is clearly one of the more critical utilities running to a home, providing data about outages and fire risk while also often acting as the sole pipeline for emergency services. It sounds like cell providers should be looking into Tesla’s energy storage systems to provide solar + storage backup solutions for their critical infrastructure.
The initial installation of the Powerwall was not done to the customer’s spec and had the AC unit on the backup circuit. The Powerwall 2 can only support 30 amps of output per Powerwall, so when the power went out a few months ago, the AC kept overloading the system and knocking the entire Powerwall offline. After some troubleshooting, the homeowner identified the issue and worked with Tesla’s service team to get the issue corrected.
The Powerwall has the capability to pre-charge if it detects a severe weather event coming thanks to its Storm Watch function, but high wildfire risk is not included, so the unit did not pre-charge in this case. This specific homeowner does not have solar and uses the Powerwall solely for backup power in the event of an outage, so the Powerwall is set to maintain a full charge at all times anyway.
Looking to the future, this seems like an opportunity for Tesla to create an API tie-in for utilities to allow them to trigger the equivalent of a “Storm Watch” event manually, requesting all batteries in the affected area to fully charge up in advance of a planned outage or grid outage not related to weather.