Tesla is sending hundreds of Powerwall batteries to Puerto Rico — here's how the rechargeable battery works

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is speaking with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello about using the company’s battery options to restore power to the storm-ridden island.

Tesla has already sent hundreds of Powerwall batteries to Puerto Rico to help residents keep the lights on in their homes. Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, knocked out Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, and the island’s 3.5 million residents may not get power again for another six months.

The Powerwall could help residents in the interim by helping owners stay disconnected from the grid until repairs are made.

Here’s how the Powerwall works:

Tesla's Powerwall 2 is a lithium-ion battery that can be mounted on the wall or floor of your home. Panasonic makes the cells for the Powerwall, while Tesla builds the battery module and pack.


The Powerwall can store electricity that is generated by solar panels (or Tesla's new solar roof!) during the day to use later in the evening. It can also serve as a backup power supply in case there's an outage.


Above you see Tesla's solar roof, which can generate electricity for Powerwall 2 to store.

The battery can also draw electricity from the utility grid when rates are low and store it for later use.


Powerwall 2 differs from Tesla's first generation Powerwall in a few ways. Aesthetically, Powerwall 2 is flatter and more rectangular. It weighs 122kgs and is 15cm deep.


For comparison, Tesla's first generation Powerwall weighed 90kgs and is 18cm deep, making it a bit lighter, but more clunky than Powerwall 2.

Perhaps a more important update is that Powerwall 2 now comes with an inverter included in its price instead requiring a separate purchase. The inverter plays a critical role by converting the electricity generated from the solar panels into an alternating current that can be used for power.

That alternating current is then sent to your home's electrical panel to power your home.


Tesla's Powerwall 2 costs $6,200 and can store 14 kWh worth of energy. For reference, the average electricity consumption for a residential customer in 2015 was 901 kWh per month.

A single battery can provide 5 kW of continuous power, but will improve to 7 kW at peak. That means that Powerwall 2 has twice the energy and twice the storage as the first-generation Powerwall.

Tesla's first generation Powerwall, pictured above.

The Powerwall comes with an app so you can monitor your solar energy use and also get alerts if cloudy weather is on the way.

The Powerwall 2 can only be set-up by a certified installer. The installations, which cost between $800 and $2,000, began in early 2017. Tesla hasn't released the number of Powerwall 2 batteries it sold.


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