At-home batteries are gaining consumer interest for their ability to store solar energy and provide backup power for homes.
Tesla has positioned itself as a leader in the field with its rechargeable battery system, the Powerwall. The company’s new version of the Powerwall, which is hitting the market this summer, has already sold out through the first half of 2016 after Tesla received a whopping 38,000 orders.
How Orison works
Orison works similarly to the Powerwall in a few ways.
Both batteries charge by drawing energy from solar panels or from the utility grid when rates are low. And both batteries provide excess power that can be used to run your home during a power outage or at times where utility grid costs are peaking.
But one key difference between the Orison and Tesla’s Powerwall is that the Orison will be much, much easier to install, Eric Clifton, co-founder and CEO of Orison, told Tech Insider.
“The major, fundamental difference is the Powerwall is thought of like a mechanical device,” Clifton said. “Even though they made it somewhat nice looking, it’s still monstrous.”
Orison comes in the form of a plug-in unit that looks like a lamp and a flat wall panel that weighs just under 40 pounds.
Orison doesn’t require any kind of formal installation. You simply plug the lamp-like unit into an outlet, hang the wall panel, and it’s ready to go. The units all communicate over the internet, so no wiring is necessary.
Users also get an app that lets them control how everything functions over the internet, allowing them to see their energy savings and even schedule when they want Orison to draw from the utility grid based on pricing.
But because Orison can only be plugged into one outlet, the device can only power one individual circuit in your home. The Powerwall, on the other hand, can be hard-wired into multiple circuits.
So, you could order Orison to specifically power the things that matter to you. For example, you could get one that powers your refrigerator and another that keeps the lights on in your bedroom. You can buy as many units as you want and move them around as you wish.
On the other hand, the Powerwall must be installed by a trained electrician. You also have to buy an inverter that doesn’t come with the Powerwall for it to work.
Clifton said that the Orison will be much easier to handle as a consumer because the wall panel is less than 40 pounds — significantly lighter than the 200-pound Powerwall.
One big difference
However, because it is smaller it doesn’t have as much storage as Tesla’s Powerwall.
One Orison panel only holds 2.2 kWh. There are two versions of the Powerwall right now, one that holds 7 kWh and another that holds 10 kWh. (To give you an idea what that means for you, the average person in the US uses about 30 kWh per day.) With a new version coming out this summer, the Powerwall’s storage capabilities may jump even higher.
“The fundamental pushback is that [the storage] is not enough, but the reality is if you made it bigger than 2 kWh you couldn’t physically pick it up,” Clifton said. “If you need more, just buy additional units.”
Consumers can currently stack nine Powerwalls together to generate more power. Like the Powerwall, Orison is also modular, and you can link up to five panels together per plug-in unit.
The difference: a maximum of 90 kWh of energy for the Powerwall versus 13.2 kWh for the Orison. But keep in mind for the Orison that’s just for one circuit — you can buy more plug-in units and panels for different outlets and have 13.2 kWh of power for each of the circuits you choose.
Still, hanging more than one panel on your wall may pose challenges for some home owners who don’t want to dedicate that much space to an at-home battery unit.
As far as pricing goes, the Orison is less expensive than Tesla’s Powerwall.
A 7 kWh Powerwall costs $3,000 and the 10 kWh version costs $3,500. However, once you tack on the cost of installation and the invertor, the total can amount to more $7,000, according to a Bloomberg report.
Right now, a single Orison unit costs $1,600, a price Clifton said he would like to see under $1,000. If you got four Orison panels to create 8.8 kWh of power it would cost you around $4,900. That starts to look competitive with Tesla considering you don’t need to pay for an invertor or electrician to come in an install it.
Now, Orison is still very much in its infancy. The company recently raised more than $300,000 via Kickstarter, but the company still has a long way to go before its in mass production like Tesla’s Powerwall.
And considering Tesla has been doing this for a while, the company doesn’t seem to worried.
“It’s great to see more companies address energy storage and help build a more sustainable future,” a Tesla spokesperson told Tech Insider.
Backers will get the Orison in August, and Clifton said he is interested in selling the product to consumers and utilities in the future.
“The difference that gets lost a little bit is our system was designed to be a part of your lifestyle and be in your actual space,” Clifton said. “That’s a big difference between us and Powerwall.”