Energy Products

Prospective buyer with question about powerwall functions without internet or cell connection

We live in the mountains where we have frequent multi-day power outages that take out the regional Comcast internet service, and where there is no cell coverage. (1) If we install a powerwall + solar, how do we do monitor the state of charge in the powerwall so we can conserve remaining power if it is getting low? I’ve wired a cabin and trailer for solar/battery, so I know how to get a rough estimate of state of charge by knowing initial charge and then tracking powerwall inputs from solar and outputs to our house, but are there better options? (2) Someone on this forum mentioned using an old cell phone to get limited information directly from the gateway (without being able to change settings). Are there instructions for how to do this? (3) If we just want to use in backup mode during a power outage, would we need to communicate to change settings? Or will the powerwall continue to work in backup mode?

Comments

  • The powerwalls automatically go into backup mode when the grid fails - a fundamentally critical feature. If you need to monitor function (state of charge) during an outage (and where you have lost internet and cellular access) - yes - you can. The Gateway has wifi access so that you can observe that data in real time if you have a wifi device. Login instructions are below. The Gateway also has an ethernet port so that you can log in directly without resorting to wifi if you have a computer or laptop.

    https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/powerwall/own/monitoring-from-home-network
  • There is always Starlink satellite...lots of reports of how well that works in remote locations. Not cheap, but certainly solves a lot of problems...
  • Thanks Jones_lab_guy. This is helpful. And I'm on the waiting list for Starlink.
  • I also live in an area where connectivity can be down. It’s really stupid that to make changes to your settings you are required to go through Tesla’s servers via the Internet. It *may* be possible to use the TEG’s REST APIs to do so on a local intranet, but it’s certainly not documented or supported by Tesla. Also, if you have your installer’s password, I presume you can do it that way — but again not supported.

    The app should talk directly to the TEG through a local internet if it can and only go to Tesla’s servers when absolutely necessary. The desktop web site should be more than read only and support the the same functionality as the app.

    This is not the only short sighted thing in the design for systems that become isolated from the grid and/or connectivity.
  • @BLD - I don't quite understand your need to change settings while the grid is down. In the last 9 months, I've never needed to change the settings, but I can see perhaps an occasional need. I suspect I'm like most users - I want it to work automatically.

    When the grid is down, either you want to use backup power or not. I guess you could trip the Powerwall breakers to disconnect the PW from the house in an outage, but I have no idea why. Even the app doesn't really allow that.

    I agree that having local web app to control the settings would be nice, but I don't see much need. The PWs work as advertised.
  • Just one example — being able to switch between Backup Only and other modes depending on circumstances when Internet communication is not possible.
  • > @BLD said:
    > Just one example — being able to switch between Backup Only and other modes depending on circumstances when Internet communication is not possible.

    When you lost the grid services you not have any setting to change. The Powerwall will enter in "off-grid" mode and you cannot change any setting. You can still monitoring the system via local gateway connection.
  • > @jackkorber_98211296 said:
    > When you lost the grid services you not have any setting to change. The Powerwall will enter in "off-grid" mode and you cannot change any setting. You can still monitoring the system via local gateway connection.

    I've had several times where I wanted to switch between Backup Only mode and my TOU mode. If I don't have Internet connectivity to Tesla's servers, I cannot do that. For example, say my Internet connection is down and I don't have cellular radio access the TEG can use -- and a weather situation comes in that Storm Watch would normally trigger. I'm stuck -- I can't force the system over to Backup Only mode to reserve my battery only for the storm. That is a design flaw in my opinion -- I should always be able to control my system locally in some way.
  • @BLD - So a solution to a hypothetical problem you've never encountered is the reason for a design flaw? I'm not saying there couldn't be features added but the PW is working as designed. No design flaws. I do agree there could be new features added for possible situations, but it's far from a critical need.
  • As a software engineer, a product working as designed is a product without implementation flaws -- which says nothing about the design. As you and I have debated in other threads, a system intended for grid independence should not be reliant on external input in any scenario. Maybe you're lucky enough to live where grid outages combined with communication outages are highly unlikely -- I unfortunately am not.
  • Storms typically don't come in with no warning. Change to "Backup Only" well in advance, like I do for possible quakes. That way, my PWs are fully charged in preparation for the possibility of a larger one.

    Whenever there's a 3.5 or greater quake within 200 miles of my house, I change my PWs to "Backup Only" from "Advanced" for a week. (The odds for a massive quake are significantly increased after a smaller one.) Would it be nice if my PWs did this automatically? You bet, but I don't expect Tesla to account for every remote possibility that affects an exceedingly small number of their installations.
  • I've seen Tesla's own Storm Watch functionality kick in the day before the expected event. We can debate the likelihood of various scenarios ad infinitum -- but I maintain that making control of a system reliant on a remote connection is poor design.
  • That's true the settings are handled via a remote connection, but I expect 99% of owners rarely go into settings. The actual control of what it does works quite well automatically and doesn't require any remote access to work.

    I'm not disagreeing that it would be nice to have manual local settings, but it is just not needed for most users. In one sense, it forces Tesla to make the automatic operation as smooth as possible.

    Perhaps another vendor will offer a PW like product with unlimited manual controls for those that require it. I'm not sure how successful they would be, as most people prefer a set and forget type setup if it does the right job automatically.
  • > @BLD said:
    > I've seen Tesla's own Storm Watch functionality kick in the day before the expected event. We can debate the likelihood of various scenarios ad infinitum -- but I maintain that making control of a system reliant on a remote connection is poor design.

    It seems to be just fine for the Alexa universe with all of the home automation (HA) controls being dependent on the voice recognition decoding AI on Amazon's servers. (Local Alexa devices are only capable of rudimentary voice recognition.) You're out of luck controlling your HA by voice if the 'Net is down.

    It's a new paradigm, and I don't like it either.
  • HA may be reliant on the Internet, but I can still walk around and manually control the devices if I must. If Tesla wants me to use a slide rule and an abacus to control the TEG with no Internet, so be it -- but they've given me ZERO options in that scenario. Unacceptable.
  • @BLD, if unacceptable, I guess your only option is to sell the Powerwalls and find some other product that offers manual controls. I don't know if it exists, but there are a few competitors now. wk056 created his own system using salvaged Tesla car battery modules. With a system like that, you can write your own controller code to do anything you want. Here's more on his system: https://057tech.com/solar
  • For those of us without that kind of time or energy (pun intended), by "unacceptable" I mean to not stop bugging Tesla until they fix it. Frankly, there are many things in retrospect I wish I had known about Tesla before signing up with them. My solar roof installation has been a complete nightmare.
  • I wouldn't mind if they add such features, but to be honest, I'm not hopeful. It's working as designed, so there is nothing to fix. They clearly could add additional features to the local web access to duplicate the app controls, which would be nice.
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