Energy Products

Powerwall documentation inadequacies

As a new Powerwall owner I find the documentation totally inadequate. It seems to be written in a way that gives plenty of sales hype, but little detail. Like what is the real difference ( implications at a practical level) between the Advanced mode options of Balanced and Cost Saving. Like how do you control the system when day today weather variation makes a difference between 3 kWh and 13 kWh solar generation. Like how do you configure when on holiday and you only use 3 or 4 kWh per day (do I increase backup to say 75%?, why no holiday mode?). Like what does the yellow and green circles after the Storm Watch option tell me? They don’t seem to add anything obvious. Like how am I supposed to get a greater off peak charge when we are likely to use more electricity tomorrow or when we know the solar charge will be down because it is forecast to rain all day (or the converse). The only option seems to be to wake up in the dead of night, increase back up percentage to a very high level and turn it down again just before it goes onto peak time.. Like what happens when the clocks change? Powerwall time can only be seen on the graphical screen or by downloading data. How am I supposed to sync up when I don’t know if Powerwall respects local time zones and changes to/from daylight savings at the right times? I know my electricity smart meter is permanently on GMT (UTC) so do I have to change Powerwall off peak twice per year?

I can monitor what Powerwall is doing but cannot control it. Does Tesla intend to base Its design on a mantra of the customer never knows best and therefore can contribute nothing? That’s the way the documentation/app design appears to me as someone who feels he has paid out for better. Answers when I rang Tesla customer were inadequate to. They seem to have read the same manuals and knew little more, even though they claimed to have contacted their technical guys. Honestly, my confidence levels in Tesla have plummeted.

Comments

  • Reasonable questions, but I don't have many answers. I think 99+% of users just set it up once and leave it.

    The Powerwall uses local time and Tesla has nothing to do with how or what the utility uses for time. For example, our utility, PG&E, still doesn't have a clue about DST so the peak/off-peak schedules change twice a year, although they don't use UTC. Really annoying that PG&E can't spend 30 minutes coding proper local time in their system, but that's not on Tesla.

    The Powerwalls does a good job automatically doing what I want. I look at solar/PW production almost daily, but as for adjustments, once I set it up the way I want, I've never seen the need to make changes. I'm running mostly 100% off-grid.

    If you have a more limited solar system or fewer Powerwalls, perhaps adjusting it every day to save a few cents is worth it to you. I suppose you can go in daily and change various settings but seems like a lot of hassle for very little gain.

    Not sure what any of this has to do with confidence levels. Obviously, you're a more sophisticated owner, but the whole idea of Powerwalls is to make it easy, not complex.
  • Sounds like you should have built your own
  • I'm with TeslaTap. Set it and forget it is a pretty decent strategy. I am actually obsessive about monitoring mine and have spent the better part of a year fiddling on a daily basis - making constant adjustments. Ultimately - that simply yields a modest entertainment value.
    My own strategy is limited to seasonal adjustments - changing the outage reserve level (lower in summer and higher in winter based on solar production) and occasionally defeating the storm watch feature if the predicted regional calamity is judged to be of little local concern.
  • I've solved one problem. Daylight savings. I don't know if it's general in the UK, but our meter stays on GMT (UTC). So off peak rate from 01.30 to 08.30 (+1) in the summer and 00.30 to 07.30 in the winter (GMT). TESLA changes the clock correctly. So, the off peak end time should be adjusted the day before the clocks change and the start time in peak time after the clocks have changed!

    I would love to feel I can set it up and leave it; but I would like to know that I have set it up to the best advantage beforehand. I guess TESLA's logic is deigned to work in a US environment (eg. we don't tend to have outages due to storms here - maybe once a year in heavy snowfall areas in the north in winter, but does the US weather centre report on likely UK outages?). In the UK environment we have many weeks in spring and autumn where one day you can generate very little (yesterday 2 kWh) and the next a lot (today 11 kWh) and this can lead to alternating days of not enough battery and wasted solar.... particularly when average daily household consumption is almost a battery full. If we have salad our consumption goes down, if we have roast and do baking, it goes up.

    In the UK our government/suppliers limit domestic solar generation to 3.86 kW. I also suspect that in the UK a battery is far more costly than in the US (1 dollar = at least £1 in the tech world - not a great exchange rate) and I suspect our energy costs are far higher too, judging by fuel station costs. So a few cents work out at a lot more over time and over here. Why wouldn't I want to maximise savings and pay off for my purchase - so far as possible at the same time as being eco friendly?

    Surely confidence comes from understanding - that is, being able to get answers to questions. If the company that makes a product doesn't provide answers in its documentation and their helplines can't provide answers and you feel fobbed off, then surely confidence levels fall.
  • Not sure if this helps or not or even if it directly addresses your question. I'll just characterize it as data and you can judge if it useful.
    In terms of variability - my total solar output ranges from 2 kWHrs per day to 70 depending on weather, season and all else that goes into solar generation issues. My rates also vary wildly (again depending on season) where the differential between peak rates and off peak rates is as much as $0.12 per kWHr and as little as $0.02 per kWHr. My management strategy is two-fold...on days where I clearly have excess production - push as much of that back to the grid at peak rates as possible and on days where I am a net consumer, minimize or eliminate my peak consumption and second - to keep a decent reserve in case of an outage. Basically - the Tesla logic supports that scheme pretty well and the only practical adjustments that I make are seasonal changes to the reserve.
    It works for me. No idea if that works for you.
    Keep us up to date on your strategies - even if we are in different environments, you may uncover a useful nugget that we would love to know about.
    As to the weather question - the Tesla approach in the US appears to be regional and fundamentally dictated by the National Weather Service. Not sure what resources are utilized for the UK or other countries.
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