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Hurricane season? Tesla Solar is not ready [because owners can not charge from the grid on demand]

niveknow

Member
Jul 7, 2020
81
42
Houston, TX
Hurricane season is here. We bought our systems to prepare for disasters and other causes of power loss. Am I confident my system provide the service I purchased? Not at all. And here's why.

The Storm Watch mode is enabled by Tesla and some triggers from the National Weather Service. At least suppose to. Been many examples, but yesterday was a prime example. I had weather pop ups on my phone warning of severe weather. So of course I went to the app to see how much battery I have and prepare for a power outage. Storm watch was NOT enabled and my battery was at 10% (my reserve based on a energy independent preference) and of course *will not charge batteries from grid*. For those that don't have a system yet, this may not make sense. Here in the US, our batteries are not allowed to charge from the grid unless Tesla allows it. Yes!! This part was not clear to me when I purchased the system. Number of reasons behind this from political, to lobbying by energy companies, etc etc. Point is it is not allowed. You cannot charge the batteries on a system that you bought from the grid unless this storm watch is on. Imagine someone being able to tell you that you cannot plug in and charge your ipad unless they allow it.

Yesterday we had a local severe storm warning. Tornado actually touched down within miles of our home (zip code 77433) and a number of power lines were down that took out power from areas around us. We were fortunately enough to not be impacted by the outage. If we were, I wouldn't have much battery left to support the home. This is an example where the Storm Watch is not effective. I wonder how many of those 50k + homes without power were Tesla Solar users that had the Storm watch fail and not allow their batteries to charge manually.

There has to be some way to convince Tesla to put the battery charge back into the hands of the system owner and at the same time appease whatever political or regulatory forces are out there. One of the reasons we have the solar is because I'm an aquarist hobbyist and wanted to make sure our family pets are also provided life support during a power failure. Imagine the home owners that buy Telsa solar as backup for human life support systems.

I wonder if my Tesla Solar will be smart enough for hurricane season ....
 

sunwarriors

Member
Jun 30, 2021
36
17
Southern CA
I think they disallow charging from the grid because it's a rule in the federal itc tax credits tied to solar panels w/batteries. If you had a powerwall without solar, you can charge from the grid (obviously). Even though some may not claim the tax credit, that's probably such a small % of people that installers and Tesla probably would block that type of configuration outside of jumping through hoops.

The thing people would suggest is increase your reserve a lot more. Cloudy/rainy days will impact solar production so 10% reserve seems risky to me personally. Outside of people participating in some National battery grid, etc (the NE mostly it sounds like from posts here), your reserve shouldn't be overridden by anyone else.

Lastly, this is more of a regulatory issue vs. a technology issue since most batteries can charge from the grid to begin with.
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,331
1,051
Silver Spring, MD
I understand your concerns, and I do think Tesla might need to reconsider how it handles severe thunderstorm warnings, which presently do not seem to trigger storm watch for most, and perhaps all, areas of the country. In particular, with the new NWS levels for severe thunderstorm warnings, maybe they could include at least the most severe of the severe warnings in storm watch. The bit of good news with hurricanes/tropical storms is those warnings definitely do trigger storm watch and the NWS and NHC are generally really good about forecasting the path of these storms and putting up warnings well in advance.

I also agree with the suggestion of increasing the reserve level. I understand the desire for grid independence, but a counter to that is that having a low reserve and expecting the grid to be able to re-charge the system before weather events is not really grid independence. And, on a larger scale, it potentially is net negative for the grid if it results in large numbers of solar+PW customers requesting extra power as storms roll in, potentially during peak usage times. I know where I am - and I expect in a lot of other areas further south - there can be multiple severe thunderstorms in a week (we had them three straight days earlier in the week) and I don't think it is reasonable to expect the grid to recharge my PWs with such frequency.
 

cali8484

Member
Jul 8, 2018
280
159
California
Hurricane season is here. We bought our systems to prepare for disasters and other causes of power loss. Am I confident my system provide the service I purchased? Not at all. And here's why.

The Storm Watch mode is enabled by Tesla and some triggers from the National Weather Service. At least suppose to. Been many examples, but yesterday was a prime example. I had weather pop ups on my phone warning of severe weather. So of course I went to the app to see how much battery I have and prepare for a power outage. Storm watch was NOT enabled and my battery was at 10% (my reserve based on a energy independent preference) and of course *will not charge batteries from grid*. For those that don't have a system yet, this may not make sense. Here in the US, our batteries are not allowed to charge from the grid unless Tesla allows it. Yes!! This part was not clear to me when I purchased the system. Number of reasons behind this from political, to lobbying by energy companies, etc etc. Point is it is not allowed. You cannot charge the batteries on a system that you bought from the grid unless this storm watch is on. Imagine someone being able to tell you that you cannot plug in and charge your ipad unless they allow it.

Yesterday we had a local severe storm warning. Tornado actually touched down within miles of our home (zip code 77433) and a number of power lines were down that took out power from areas around us. We were fortunately enough to not be impacted by the outage. If we were, I wouldn't have much battery left to support the home. This is an example where the Storm Watch is not effective. I wonder how many of those 50k + homes without power were Tesla Solar users that had the Storm watch fail and not allow their batteries to charge manually.

There has to be some way to convince Tesla to put the battery charge back into the hands of the system owner and at the same time appease whatever political or regulatory forces are out there. One of the reasons we have the solar is because I'm an aquarist hobbyist and wanted to make sure our family pets are also provided life support during a power failure. Imagine the home owners that buy Telsa solar as backup for human life support systems.

I wonder if my Tesla Solar will be smart enough for hurricane season ....

This is a well known limitation of Tesla PW. I doubt Tesla will allow owners to have direct control of charging from grid. Not sure if you did research before buying PW but most other home battery systems allow owners to charge from the grid at will.
 
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niveknow

Member
Jul 7, 2020
81
42
Houston, TX
That was my intent to increase reserve, but I did when I received the NWS advisory... when the sky was already dark and gray. = can't charge batteries when there is no sun. I was literally trickle charging my PW. The NWS should have flipped that switch. "Emergency Alert. ....Take shelter now in the basement ....." was the pop up on all my phones. Seems pretty serious right? Not enough to trigger Storm Watch

Do I change my strategy and increase reserve for the hurricane season? That's what Tesla will tell me to do. The spirit of the issue is why shouldn't the owner of the system charge his own battery in that last minute weather situation expecting that power may go out any min to grab whatever kW I could from the grid before it goes away.

Heck give me an override option and monitor/police that for offenders if that's what is needed to comply w/ lobbyist agreements. Apparently 50k+ customers lost power yesterday.. I wonder how many of were impacted solar users. I'm a huge fan of the technology and system hence the investment. Just asking for more control over my system.


And I thought I did plenty of research. Somehow missed that limitation or maybe confused it with most other battery systems that allow to charge from grid at will. Hence I wanted to highlight it here for those that may have overlooked this key piece for the benefit of the community. I referred several friends to the system and circled back with them on this situation. None of them were clearly aware either.
 
Last edited:

ZBB

Emperor
Feb 27, 2013
1,574
294
Scottsdale
I'm also in the Houston area. We were also outside the Tornado warning area -- it was SW of us... However, our Powerwalls were around 95% when I saw the weather alert. Our reserve is set to 25%, but we utilize the cost savings mode, so the Powerwalls typically charge most of the way up during the day and discharge in the evening and morning (I have peak/off-peak set to match our free-nights plan). We don't yet have PTO, so have been disconnecting from the grid between ~7am and 8pm each day.

Here's what Tesla's Storm Watch page says (the quote below) -- and I interpret that as it activates when there are major and wide-spread storm events expected to hit a broader area, not the typical small-area weather alerts. Perhaps you need to bring up your reserve %? Once we get PTO, I'll be playing with the reserve % to see what makes the most sense for us. But generally, I'd want to set it high enough that we would have enough in reserve to get through a night without power...
Note that Storm Watch only activates during severe storms that are likely to knock down power lines and cause outages, like hurricanes and ice storms. To best protect yourself from everyday weather events, keep a high reserve percentage or choose Backup-Only. As your Powerwall learns more about the type of storms that typically cause outages, events that trigger Storm Watch will be adjusted.
 
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Bitslizer

Member
Jun 16, 2021
235
80
IL
Frankly Tesla is already bending the rules with storm watch, you are asking them to just throw the rules out the window

"The main factor that influences whether your battery is eligible for the ITC or not is how you charge the battery: if you pair the battery with an on-site renewable resource (like solar!) and charge it exclusively with that renewable source of energy, then your battery is eligible for the full 26 percent investment tax credit."

 
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h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,999
646
auburn, ca
Hurricane season is here. We bought our systems to prepare for disasters and other causes of power loss. Am I confident my system provide the service I purchased? Not at all. And here's why.

The Storm Watch mode is enabled by Tesla and some triggers from the National Weather Service. At least suppose to. Been many examples, but yesterday was a prime example. I had weather pop ups on my phone warning of severe weather. So of course I went to the app to see how much battery I have and prepare for a power outage. Storm watch was NOT enabled and my battery was at 10% (my reserve based on a energy independent preference) and of course *will not charge batteries from grid*. For those that don't have a system yet, this may not make sense. Here in the US, our batteries are not allowed to charge from the grid unless Tesla allows it. Yes!! This part was not clear to me when I purchased the system. Number of reasons behind this from political, to lobbying by energy companies, etc etc. Point is it is not allowed. You cannot charge the batteries on a system that you bought from the grid unless this storm watch is on. Imagine someone being able to tell you that you cannot plug in and charge your ipad unless they allow it.

Yesterday we had a local severe storm warning. Tornado actually touched down within miles of our home (zip code 77433) and a number of power lines were down that took out power from areas around us. We were fortunately enough to not be impacted by the outage. If we were, I wouldn't have much battery left to support the home. This is an example where the Storm Watch is not effective. I wonder how many of those 50k + homes without power were Tesla Solar users that had the Storm watch fail and not allow their batteries to charge manually.

There has to be some way to convince Tesla to put the battery charge back into the hands of the system owner and at the same time appease whatever political or regulatory forces are out there. One of the reasons we have the solar is because I'm an aquarist hobbyist and wanted to make sure our family pets are also provided life support during a power failure. Imagine the home owners that buy Telsa solar as backup for human life support systems.

I wonder if my Tesla Solar will be smart enough for hurricane season ....
search for the threads to solve your issue :)
 

niveknow

Member
Jul 7, 2020
81
42
Houston, TX
search for the threads to solve your issue :)


Very helpful Einstein. lol One of those scenarios that I didn't think through during my research so didn't type that into the search box.

@ZBB When you do get your PTO and play with the reserve, you may be like many of us that want to charge your batteries as much as we can with excess solar beyond home consumption. Exactly what you described to charge by day and use your perfectly good batteries at nights to offset grid cost. And that's what we're doing, but to maximize that savings. I set to 10% to get my 2x PW through most of the night. Sure I can go 20,30,80, but the cost recover would mean to use that charge as much as possible. Which is what our home does most of the time. I just want to bump up that reserve on demand during a looming weather situation like yesterday. A situation that I would say qualifies under what you posted: tornados will trigger outages as they demonstrated yesterday.

Smaller number of voices wont' change Tesla's rulebook and I don't expect any action from Tesla, but in sharing the experience in the interest of the community that the Storm Watch needs to be improved. We were lucky not to be impacted by the 50k+ neighbors that were less than 3 miles away.
 

ZBB

Emperor
Feb 27, 2013
1,574
294
Scottsdale
@niveknow

I'm a bit confused. I received the tornado warning around 4:35pm yesterday, and it expired 15 min after that... Why was your battery at 10% that late in the day? As mentioned, ours were close to full at that time... while we were in a our own little grid outage (no PTO...), had there been an actual outage that tool several hours to a day to fix, we would likely have been OK...

In my case, I have reserve currently set to 25%. While I don't have PTO yet, I've seen the PWs typically charge to nearly full during the day, using a little bit to supplement solar in the evening, and dropping to about about 84-85% by the time I turn the grid back on and the panels off at 8pm. They then drain a bit overnight and have been bottoming out around 46-47% and charge back the next day. A couple days have been lower (today has been cloudier, so currently only up to mid 60s... But I am seeing the behavior I expected to see. Cost Savings mode is the one that has a good balance between providing backup power and time shifting our grid draw. Once we have PTO, my goal will be to find a reserve % that helps meet our goal of not drawing grid during our peak rate period while allowing for a full night with no grid power if there were a longer outage, but also high enough to supplement draw if there were an outage during the day. that probably means increasing the reserve to 40-50%, but we'll experiment with it.

As others have said, Storm Watch is already a gray area based on the tax law -- in order to get the tax credit, we must "exclusively" charge them from solar... Tesla's description of only activating Storm Watch during "severe storms" is likely to justify emergency grid charging. If they opened that up to all severe thunderstorm warnings, I could see the tax credits being voided. Since we can easily slide our reserve % up, I really don't see an issue.
 

MorrisonHiker

Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2015
10,229
9,943
Colorado
I would recommend setting your Powerwall reserve to be greater than 10%, otherwise it won't do any good in an outage if your batteries have already been drained that low. Once Powerwalls go below 10%, they go into standby and will no longer power your house.

From Best Practices During Power Outages | Tesla Support :

Running Low on Energy​

If Powerwall has less than 10% energy remaining, it will enter a standby state and stop providing power to your home. If your system is connected to the internet, you'll receive a push notification in the Tesla mobile app when Powerwall enters standby.
 

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,999
646
auburn, ca
Very helpful Einstein. lol One of those scenarios that I didn't think through during my research so didn't type that into the search box.

@ZBB When you do get your PTO and play with the reserve, you may be like many of us that want to charge your batteries as much as we can with excess solar beyond home consumption. Exactly what you described to charge by day and use your perfectly good batteries at nights to offset grid cost. And that's what we're doing, but to maximize that savings. I set to 10% to get my 2x PW through most of the night. Sure I can go 20,30,80, but the cost recover would mean to use that charge as much as possible. Which is what our home does most of the time. I just want to bump up that reserve on demand during a looming weather situation like yesterday. A situation that I would say qualifies under what you posted: tornados will trigger outages as they demonstrated yesterday.

Smaller number of voices wont' change Tesla's rulebook and I don't expect any action from Tesla, but in sharing the experience in the interest of the community that the Storm Watch needs to be improved. We were lucky not to be impacted by the 50k+ neighbors that were less than 3 miles away.
If you read enough threads you will understand why I had to say what I said the way I said it. I will take the Einstein compliment.
 

niveknow

Member
Jul 7, 2020
81
42
Houston, TX
@niveknow

I'm a bit confused. I received the tornado warning around 4:35pm yesterday, and it expired 15 min after that... Why was your battery at 10% that late in the day? As mentioned, ours were close to full at that time... while we were in a our own little grid outage (no PTO...), had there been an actual outage that tool several hours to a day to fix, we would likely have been OK...

In my case, I have reserve currently set to 25%. While I don't have PTO yet, I've seen the PWs typically charge to nearly full during the day, using a little bit to supplement solar in the evening, and dropping to about about 84-85% by the time I turn the grid back on and the panels off at 8pm. They then drain a bit overnight and have been bottoming out around 46-47% and charge back the next day. A couple days have been lower (today has been cloudier, so currently only up to mid 60s... But I am seeing the behavior I expected to see. Cost Savings mode is the one that has a good balance between providing backup power and time shifting our grid draw. Once we have PTO, my goal will be to find a reserve % that helps meet our goal of not drawing grid during our peak rate period while allowing for a full night with no grid power if there were a longer outage, but also high enough to supplement draw if there were an outage during the day. that probably means increasing the reserve to 40-50%, but we'll experiment with it.

As others have said, Storm Watch is already a gray area based on the tax law -- in order to get the tax credit, we must "exclusively" charge them from solar... Tesla's description of only activating Storm Watch during "severe storms" is likely to justify emergency grid charging. If they opened that up to all severe thunderstorm warnings, I could see the tax credits being voided. Since we can easily slide our reserve % up, I really don't see an issue.

Lately we've had very little sun in our area and thus my batteries never actually fill up when balanced with the home consumption. Texans knows the heat and my system (in signature) was sized to provide the ~80% of the annual consumption which means it's good most of the time except when it gets peak Texas summer hot and max AC. It's 4:22 outside right now and very low sun and my battery is at 19% which is near my new 20% reserve 'Self-Powerer'. So you can see that the sun never provides enough excess to charge battery and the house consumes down to the reserve. I'm basically at the reserve level. I wonder how you're able to charge that high yesterday unless you're using that little.

My friend who has a larger panel system has the same pickle. Not enough sun even with all those panels to move the needle large much above the reserve level with his AC consumption.
 

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
2,999
646
auburn, ca
Lately we've had very little sun in our area and thus my batteries never actually fill up when balanced with the home consumption. Texans knows the heat and my system (in signature) was sized to provide the ~80% of the annual consumption which means it's good most of the time except when it gets peak Texas summer hot and max AC. It's 4:22 outside right now and very low sun and my battery is at 19% which is near my new 20% reserve 'Self-Powerer'. So you can see that the sun never provides enough excess to charge battery and the house consumes down to the reserve. I'm basically at the reserve level. I wonder how you're able to charge that high yesterday unless you're using that little.

My friend who has a larger panel system has the same pickle. Not enough sun even with all those panels to move the needle large much above the reserve level with his AC consumption.
Question, I assume you have very low electricity costs? If so, why do you even need to use the batteries?
 

Bitslizer

Member
Jun 16, 2021
235
80
IL
Lately we've had very little sun in our area and thus my batteries never actually fill up when balanced with the home consumption. Texans knows the heat and my system (in signature) was sized to provide the ~80% of the annual consumption which means it's good most of the time except when it gets peak Texas summer hot and max AC. It's 4:22 outside right now and very low sun and my battery is at 19% which is near my new 20% reserve 'Self-Powerer'. So you can see that the sun never provides enough excess to charge battery and the house consumes down to the reserve. I'm basically at the reserve level. I wonder how you're able to charge that high yesterday unless you're using that little.

My friend who has a larger panel system has the same pickle. Not enough sun even with all those panels to move the needle large much above the reserve level with his AC consumption.
What mode are you in ..? I have seen in back up mode at least it the battery is low it will prioritize battery charging with 100% solar output while the house draw from the grid.
 

jhn_

Member
Jan 21, 2021
240
253
Northeast United States
Sounds like you undersized your number of Powerwalls if you want to run self-powered AND have a big reserve for backup.

And @niveknow, sorry but if you did any research let alone the amount you claimed you did in this thread and others complaining about not being able to grid charge, you would have known about this before purchase and could have purchased products that DO what you want, rather than buy a product that doesn’t do what you want and then complain about it publicly.
 

roblab

Active Member
Jul 15, 2008
3,674
3,192
Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
Hurricane season is here. We bought our systems to prepare for disasters and other causes of power loss. Am I confident my system provide the service I purchased? Not at all. And here's why.........
We get power outages every week as our supplier, PG&E seems to enjoy seeing how many homes they can cut off. Our power walls blip on in 1/300th of a second, barely enough to notice, and we sit and finish watching out TV program, then get ready for bed, leaving the AC running. The well pump and pressure pump cycle as I take a shower. In the morning I turn the lights on and toast some bread, and then get out my phone and check the app. Well! The power was restored at 3AM. But that means nothing. If only my power company were as reliable as my power walls.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,722
12,418
Riverside Co. CA
If you read enough threads you will understand why I had to say what I said the way I said it. I will take the Einstein compliment.

Ill say what you are hinting around ( I do appreciate you hinting around the topic, though).

OP, if you are willing to log in as an installer on your system, there is apparently a way to configure your system so that you can charge from the grid. This involves changing settings we as homeowners are not supposed to change, and is also likely logged by tesla (since our systems upload all usage data to tesla unless you completely cut yourself off from teslas ecosystem like a couple of people have mentioned here.

Its not something thats supported by tesla, and if you mess up settings that you are not supposed to mess with, then need assistance with something, none of us know how that might come out.

So, I personally wouldnt do it, but everyones risk tolerance is different.

Here is a post from someone who describes it in generalities. If you want more information, perhaps PM them and see if they are willing to discuss it with you in PMs.

 
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Flick75

Member
Aug 11, 2020
80
43
Hawaii

This^^^^^^^^^^

swedge was real nice when I pm'd him. You should PM him @niveknow. I now have a hybrid system that if I get enough sun for my X4 PW's, I'm good, but if not, I now have the ability to pull power from the grid at will with out any Tesla intervention. It's a fabulous feeling. I'm on a TOU program so I can pull, at will, from the cheapest period if I don't get enough sun.

Thanks again @swedge!!!!!
 

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