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Storm Watch failed us again [in MA, Late July 2021]

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
1,067
Silver Spring, MD
During the last 2 storms, including Henri, Storm Watch activated the DAY AFTER the storm, which isn't useful at all. Today, we're in the 2nd day of a Noreaster in Massachusetts which was even forecast as a front page headline on CNN a couple of days ago, and still no Storm Watch. There are a bunch of local power outages, and we've had one outage at our house so far. If this is the same as the previous storms, Storm Watch will activate tomorrow -- after the storm has passed.

If I had the capability to force-charge the Powerwalls from the grid, I could stay on top of this myself, but being denied that capability has really reduced the usefulness of Tesla Powerwalls during storms.

Storm Watch is a good idea, but in practice here, it's been a complete and utter failure.
Do you know how the NWS actually evaluated the storms in terms of warnings? Looking at your location right now, I see only a wind advisory, which I would not expect to trigger storm watch, but there may have been warnings yesterday/overnight. And for prior storms, sometimes the trigger seems to be various flood warnings, which can occur near the end of, or after, a storm has passed.
 
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Do you know how the NWS actually evaluated the storms in terms of warnings? Looking at your location right now, I see only a wind advisory, which I would not expect to trigger storm watch, but there may have been warnings yesterday/overnight. And for prior storms, sometimes the trigger seems to be various flood warnings, which can occur near the end of, or after, a storm has passed.
It really doesn't matter to me if NWS knows what's happening here. We have 300,000 people without power here. If this is the trigger that Tesla is using, then their system is worthless. Perhaps they should use humans. Perhaps they should let people report weather emergencies themselves. There are other ways to make this system work. What Tesla doesn't want to do is spend any money on making the system that they use to sell Powerwalls actually work.
 
It really doesn't matter to me if NWS knows what's happening here. We have 300,000 people without power here. If this is the trigger that Tesla is using, then their system is worthless. Perhaps they should use humans. Perhaps they should let people report weather emergencies themselves. There are other ways to make this system work. What Tesla doesn't want to do is spend any money on making the system that they use to sell Powerwalls actually work.
Not saying storm watch works as well as it should, but let’s not over generalize as well. As other posters have said, it currently works off of various categories of weather and their severity as labeled by the NWS for a given geographic area.

Your area, Marlborough MA, only has a wind advisory since it is nearly 40 miles inland. Coastal areas of Massachusetts have high wind warnings amongst other warnings and their storm watches were activated.

Can you still loose power from wind only in an advisory? Of course. A tree can fall over and knock out lines any day. If you want to be that protected from power outages set your reserve higher.

But let’s not start complaining again that Tesla won’t allow us in the US to charge powerwalls from the grid when we knew that before buying them and also enjoyed the tax breaks we got because of that.
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
1,067
Silver Spring, MD
It really doesn't matter to me if NWS knows what's happening here. We have 300,000 people without power here. If this is the trigger that Tesla is using, then their system is worthless. Perhaps they should use humans. Perhaps they should let people report weather emergencies themselves. There are other ways to make this system work. What Tesla doesn't want to do is spend any money on making the system that they use to sell Powerwalls actually work.

While 300k+ (looks closer to 500k) in MA are without power, Middlesex county seems to have about 4,500 (< 1%) without power. Another user in SE MA reported Storm Watch did activate for them, as I would hope it did for many in SE MA, the Cape, RI, and at least coastal parts of CT. But it seems like western suburbs of Boston and central/western MA did not get hit with the ferocity (and related NWS warnings) that tends to trigger the widespread outages that Storm Watch is generally meant to handle.

Storm Watch is far from perfect, and there are definitely ways to improve it (including emphasizing that it should not be relied on the primary means for protecting against an outage) but it seemed to act fairly reasonably in this case for what it was designed to do.
 
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This is the 3rd storm in the past few months, including Henri, where we've lost power and Storm Watch was never activated. After the last 2 storms it activated on the sunny, beautiful day following the storm. And this is all to be considered "far from perfect." It sounds like some here think I shouldn't be pointing out this issue or perhaps I should stop generalizing and complaining. However, nothing is going to improve by folks just shutting up and taking these power outages like no one could see them coming. Continual improvement requires that issues be noticed and reported. But I look at other complaints going back years now, and I don't see any structural changes happening to improve things. This system is unreliable, and Tesla is selling it as reliable. They should either stop that or actually work to make it better.
 

holeydonut

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,609
1,956
East Bay NorCal
I dunno why you guys are picking through semantics as if you're not comprehending what Skip Waffle is feeling and saying. Clearly just wants the flexibility to turn on StormWatch if he's surrounded by storms. Telling him to keep his perspectives about how well StormWatch works for everybody else is rather poor form since you know damn well why he's upset.

While we have a lot of evidence that StormWatch works when Tesla wants it to work; his point is that his own Powerwall didn't work because Tesla barred him from manually turning on Stormwatch (and having Stormwatch bank electricity). And the reason that he understands about these repeated limitations and failures is simply "too bad wrong zip code".
 
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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
12,382
14,702
Riverside Co. CA
I am just going to make a note here, that while I dont have any issue with complaining about stormwatch not being activated, or the method in which it is activated, we are not going to go down the "I cant charge from the grid on demand in the US" rabbit hole in this thread.
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
1,067
Silver Spring, MD
I dunno why you guys are picking through semantics as if you're not comprehending what Skip Waffle is feeling and saying. Clearly just wants the flexibility to turn on StormWatch if he's surrounded by storms. Telling him to keep his perspectives about how well StormWatch works for everybody else is rather poor form since you know damn well why he's upset.

While we have a lot of evidence that StormWatch works when Tesla wants it to work; his point is that his own Powerwall didn't work because Tesla barred him from manually turning on Stormwatch (and having Stormwatch bank electricity). And the reason that he understands about these repeated limitations and failures is simply "too bad wrong zip code".
While anybody has a right to be upset when things don't work as expected, the point here is that 1) expectations need to be reset for how the product actually works, and 2) while improvements can be made to the product, there are limits, including general prohibitions against grid charging, which storm watch is skirting as it is.

Storm Watch didn't fail because "too bad wrong zip code" - it didn't activate because, according to the NWS, the location was apparently not in a warning area. I can't speak for the past storms, other than to note that Henri was a tropical depression by the time it hit central MA, so it is likely that hurricane/tropical storm warnings were not issued for the area.

Constructive criticism of Storm Watch is welcome, and I think people are generally receptive to those ideas (for whatever good posting them on a non-company forum does.) Since you talk of semantics, the simplest might be to re-brand it to something like "Disaster Watch" as that is perhaps closer to what it is doing - helping where widespread/long-term outages are anticipated, and not just where storms may take out power.

But, until changes occur, the best solution when a storm is known to be coming in advance - especially where one has a history of outages - is to set a high reserve on the PWs. We all have a choice in how we use our PWs, but if outages are an issue and a concern, users do have a simple way to maintain the high reserve of storm watch on their own.
 
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bemyax

Member
Jan 29, 2020
24
4
Iowa
I'm not in the Northeast, so perhaps I'm out of order here. Earlier this year we had a red flag warning, but no Storm Watch. I called in and asked them to pass the circumstance up the chain of command. About two hours later, it activated. There are flaws in the system beyond the zip code problem. In my municipality days of soaking rain followed by a simple wind advisory will bring tree-related power outages. This situation is not covered under Storm Watch parameters. It would be nice if Tesla could recruit local experts' input based on their knowledge of an immediate situation.

David
 

holeydonut

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,609
1,956
East Bay NorCal
While anybody has a right to be upset when things don't work as expected, the point here is that 1) expectations need to be reset for how the product actually works, and 2) while improvements can be made to the product, there are limits, including general prohibitions against grid charging, which storm watch is skirting as it is.

Storm Watch didn't fail because "too bad wrong zip code" - it didn't activate because, according to the NWS, the location was apparently not in a warning area. I can't speak for the past storms, other than to note that Henri was a tropical depression by the time it hit central MA, so it is likely that hurricane/tropical storm warnings were not issued for the area.

Constructive criticism of Storm Watch is welcome, and I think people are generally receptive to those ideas (for whatever good posting them on a non-company forum does.) Since you talk of semantics, the simplest might be to re-brand it to something like "Disaster Watch" as that is perhaps closer to what it is doing - helping where widespread/long-term outages are anticipated, and not just where storms may take out power.

But, until changes occur, the best solution when a storm is known to be coming in advance - especially where one has a history of outages - is to set a high reserve on the PWs. We all have a choice in how we use our PWs, but if outages are an issue and a concern, users do have a simple way to maintain the high reserve of storm watch on their own.


You do realize that Tesla Powerwalls are literally sold as resiliency devices that can intelligently grid-charge for peace of mind? If you believe consumer expectations of Tesla's product need to be re-set, then I contend the advertising and marketing copy authorized by Tesla about its product is misleading and inaccurate. If the East Coast marketing is anything like the West Coast marketing, Powerwall advertisements frequently talk about how the system can intelligently grid-charge in advance of severe weather and other forecasted events (like a PSPS). That's literally the functionality that Mr Waffles expected to have and did not get to have on numerous occasions.

Your position of monkeying with the reserve is a valid work-around. And deep in the bowels of Tesla's support pages, they recommend this behavior. But it is not supposed to be the frontline option for people who paid a large sum of money for resiliency in the manner sold by Tesla and its authorized resellers.

Taking the recent West Coast rains, we had overcast skies for the days leading up to the heavy rain event. Yes, setting my reserve to 80% would have kept the battery well supplied, but it would have lost me a lot of TOU shifting and any self-powered benefit. I agree with you that Tesla Powerwalls work great when they work as expected. But customers shouldn't shift expectations because the product cannot be relied on to deliver on its promises.

Tesla has to approve marketing copy like the following (authorized re-sellers cannot just make up claims). How is a reasonable customer supposed to expect something different when this is what they learn when researching the product? (bold emphasis added by me)

Automatic Power Outage Protection​

Before Tesla added Storm Watch mode to Powerwall, users still had the ability to protect their homes against power outages, but the process was manual. On a daily basis, most customers are not using the “Backup Only” mode. Instead, they are using modes which store their solar production to be used at night or to store energy from the grid to use during peak pricing. With their Tesla apps, users manage their systems and choose whether they wants to store excess power or send it back to the grid. They would then have to manually switch the mode to save power before an approaching storm. This cumbersome process was the difference between a charged Powerwall and customers left in the dark during a storm. If you were not home or simply forgot to adjust the system, then you wouldn’t have any power reserved in the event of an outage. Storm Watch fixed that. The technology streamlined the process, making it effortless for solar owners to retain power in advance of a storm.
 
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holeydonut

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,609
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East Bay NorCal
I'm not in the Northeast, so perhaps I'm out of order here. Earlier this year we had a red flag warning, but no Storm Watch. I called in and asked them to pass the circumstance up the chain of command. About two hours later, it activated. There are flaws in the system beyond the zip code problem. In my municipality days of soaking rain followed by a simple wind advisory will bring tree-related power outages. This situation is not covered under Storm Watch parameters. It would be nice if Tesla could recruit local experts' input based on their knowledge of an immediate situation.

David


Yeah I agree the NWS or whatever database of Elon's Tweets + RNG isn't very reliable.

The TMC Energy sub-forum routinely sees the creation of a new California thread where folks randomly find out whether Stormwatch is enabled in certain areas.

The issue is that while the NWS will publish a "red flag warning" that basically spans every single county around, some TMC users find Stormwatch is working and others find that Stormwatch isn't doing jack all of anything.

I think California Powerwall 2 customers that frequent TMC have learned to not really trust what Tesla or Elon says; and they will manually verify that the system is doing what they expect it to be doing. But I think there are many more Tesla customers who aren't on TMC much... and they could be confused at how this new fangled tech is working (or not working). Luckily more times than not, the system does what it says it should do. But I empathize with anyone who gets left in the dark and is confused or upset.

Having a system that is marketed for resiliency and reliability fail to meet expectations is not a good feeling. People usually buy these Powerwalls for peace of mind; not to mess with their apps and settings. Although I think TMC users like to mess with their apps and settings.
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
1,067
Silver Spring, MD
You do realize that Tesla Powerwalls are literally sold as resiliency devices that can intelligently grid-charge for peace of mind? If you believe consumer expectations of Tesla's product need to be re-set, then I contend the advertising and marketing copy authorized by Tesla about its product is misleading and inaccurate. If the East Coast marketing is anything like the West Coast marketing, Powerwall advertisements frequently talk about how the system can intelligently grid-charge in advance of severe weather and other forecasted events (like a PSPS). That's literally the functionality that Mr Waffles expected to have and did not get to have on numerous occasions.
No doubt, there is a disconnect between the marketing implications and actual implementation, as is unfortunately all too common in marketing. But your words "severe weather" and examples like you cited of "extreme weather" being used in the first paragraph are the key. Just like so much marketing, the devil is in the details, and Tesla's own site describes the functionality using "severe weather" as the first words (Storm Watch | Tesla Support). I do wish Tesla would be more transparent in their marketing as they absolutely push the boundaries of being inaccurate. Their website at least indicates that they rely on the NWS as a primary driver of storm watch.

The issue is that not every storm is defined as severe, but outages can still happen. Sometimes it depends on bad luck, and sometimes it may indicate one is an area that had grid issues that make it prone to outages. Tesla cannot handle all of these cases, so users have to be prepared by setting a high reserve or accepting the risks otherwise. However they feel Storm Watch may have been presented to them, that is the reality that needs to be accepted, even if one works to get Tesla to change/improve the system down the road.
 
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holeydonut

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Jun 27, 2020
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East Bay NorCal
No doubt, there is a disconnect between the marketing implications and actual implementation, as is unfortunately all too common in marketing. But your words "severe weather" and examples like you cited of "extreme weather" being used in the first paragraph are the key. Just like so much marketing, the devil is in the details, and Tesla's own site describes the functionality using "severe weather" as the first words (Storm Watch | Tesla Support). I do wish Tesla would be more transparent in their marketing as they absolutely push the boundaries of being inaccurate. Their website at least indicates that they rely on the NWS as a primary driver of storm watch.

The issue is that not every storm is defined as severe, but outages can still happen. Sometimes it depends on bad luck, and sometimes it may indicate one is an area that had grid issues that make it prone to outages. Tesla cannot handle all of these cases, so users have to be prepared by setting a high reserve or accepting the risks otherwise. However they feel Storm Watch may have been presented to them, that is the reality that needs to be accepted, even if one works to get Tesla to change/improve the system down the road.


Are you using a semantic argument around what is "severe weather" vs "extreme weather"? What are you trying to accomplish other than pigeonhole into the most inane level of rationalization that 99% of people despise?

Bad weather is bad weather. If a local Governor is telling people to stay off the roads; and the news is squawking about inclement weather; and there are a bunch of homes getting their power knocked out... the Powerwall 2 ought to start charging under Storm Watch. Waffles doesn't want the Powerwall to read a dictionary ... he wants the Powerwall to be a form of resiliency against power disruptions the way a reasonable homeowner would want the product to work.
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
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Silver Spring, MD
I'm not in the Northeast, so perhaps I'm out of order here. Earlier this year we had a red flag warning, but no Storm Watch. I called in and asked them to pass the circumstance up the chain of command. About two hours later, it activated. There are flaws in the system beyond the zip code problem. In my municipality days of soaking rain followed by a simple wind advisory will bring tree-related power outages. This situation is not covered under Storm Watch parameters. It would be nice if Tesla could recruit local experts' input based on their knowledge of an immediate situation.

David
Where Storm Watch does not react to a covered warning, it is an issue (we just don't have the information at this time that Tesla ignored any NWS warnings that should have triggered a storm watch in these particular events.) Speculating, since Tesla has not ever been explicit about Storm Watch's inner workings, I wonder if they can or do stagger the start of storm watch when they feel it is possible and appropriate. As more PWs are deployed, there is the potential that Storm Watch could cause significant grid impacts. But, if that is the case, Tesla should at least have some sort of "pending" mode to let you know you are in queue.

Regarding the rain followed by wind example, that is an interesting situation. At one time, Tesla's site talked about Storm Watch learning, but that seems to have been dropped. I don't think it is realistic for Tesla to have experts to handle this, but it seems like it would be realistic for utilities and/or local authorities to have a standardized way to report grid risks that Tesla could act on. This might be one example as would things like PSPS events. That could potentially capture risks not tied to a single, severe weather event.
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
1,067
Silver Spring, MD
Are you using a semantic argument around what is "severe weather" vs "extreme weather"? What are you trying to accomplish other than pigeonhole into the most inane level of rationalization that 99% of people despise?

Bad weather is bad weather. If a local Governor is telling people to stay off the roads; and the news is squawking about inclement weather; and there are a bunch of homes getting their power knocked out... the Powerwall 2 ought to start charging under Storm Watch. Waffles doesn't want the Powerwall to read a dictionary ... he wants the Powerwall to be a form of resiliency against power disruptions the way a reasonable homeowner would want the product to work.
I am pointing out that not all "weather" is severe weather. There has to be a cutoff, and expecting a Storm Watch every time a thunderstorm comes through is unrealistic. From what I've seen there was legitimate, severe weather in parts of MA, but not in all of MA. Those with severe weather expected had Storm Watch activated. Those without, didn't. That is how Storm Watch is designed, and it seems an absolutely reasonable setup given the constraints Tesla is working with.

Parsing words was only because you delved into the marketing, and, while I agreed with your overall assessment of their marketing, I am pointing out where Tesla (or their partners) are slipping the qualifiers that likely keep them just with the edge of what is allowable.
 
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holeydonut

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Jun 27, 2020
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East Bay NorCal
I am pointing out that not all "weather" is severe weather. There has to be a cutoff, and expecting a Storm Watch every time a thunderstorm comes through is unrealistic. From what I've seen there was legitimate, severe weather in parts of MA, but not in all of MA. Those with severe weather expected had Storm Watch activated. Those without, didn't. That is how Storm Watch is designed, and it seems an absolutely reasonable setup given the constraints Tesla is working with.

Parsing words was only because you delved into the marketing, and, while I agreed with your overall assessment of their marketing, I am pointing out where Tesla (or their partners) are slipping the qualifiers that likely keep them just with the edge of what is allowable.


Red Flag Warnings and PSPS don't even qualify as either Severe Weather or Extreme Weather per whatever meteorologist dictionaries that I can find online. But I would wager if you query NorCal residents, the vast majority expect Storm Watch to cover these Red Flag events regardless of what semantics are applied.

I can't tell if you're intentionally trying to be difficult or not. The situation that Waffles spoke about wasn't a run of the mill thunderstorm. There were literally news articles and massive warnings being broadcast to residents in his area. We're talking about some Hurricane or whatever a Nor'easter event resulting in lots of people losing power. And one of those people who lost power literally spent money on Powerwalls with Stormwatch to prevent that outcome.

And you're talking about a thunderstorm? What am I missing here? Why are you purposely down-grading the issue to fit some semantic narrative? I know you love to be semantically right; but this seems like an odd place for you to continuously push that you're semantically right.

Someone is posting that the Storm Watch isn't working for them and they lost power. And what exactly are you trying to say in response? That it was only a thunderstorm and they should just blame themselves for falling for marketing puffery?
 
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This is the 3rd storm in the past few months, including Henri, where we've lost power and Storm Watch was never activated. After the last 2 storms it activated on the sunny, beautiful day following the storm. And this is all to be considered "far from perfect." It sounds like some here think I shouldn't be pointing out this issue or perhaps I should stop generalizing and complaining. However, nothing is going to improve by folks just shutting up and taking these power outages like no one could see them coming. Continual improvement requires that issues be noticed and reported. But I look at other complaints going back years now, and I don't see any structural changes happening to improve things. This system is unreliable, and Tesla is selling it as reliable. They should either stop that or actually work to make it better.
No we were contrite in our replies saying Storm Watch is not perfect, when you seem to want it to be.

But it sounds like you live in an area prone to power outages that Storm Watch alone cannot help with so adjust your power reserve. You can do that today without having to post more threads and cross your fingers that Storm Watch will get perfect soon. I feel your frustration, but also trying to put this in a perspective outside of your own.
 
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Red Flag Warnings and PSPS don't even qualify as either Severe Weather or Extreme Weather per whatever meteorologist dictionaries that I can find online. But I would wager if you query NorCal residents, the vast majority expect Storm Watch to cover these Red Flag events regardless of what semantics are applied.

I can't tell if you're intentionally trying to be difficult or not. The situation that Waffles spoke about wasn't a run of the mill thunderstorm. There were literally news articles and massive warnings being broadcast to residents in his area. We're talking about some Hurricane or whatever a Nor'easter event resulting in lots of people losing power. And one of those people who lost power literally spent money on Powerwalls with Stormwatch to prevent that outcome.

And you're talking about a thunderstorm? What am I missing here? Why are you purposely down-grading the issue to fit some semantic narrative? I know you love to be semantically right; but this seems like an odd place for you to continuously push that you're semantically right.

Someone is posting that the Storm Watch isn't working for them and they lost power. And what exactly are you trying to say in response? That it was only a thunderstorm and they should just blame themselves for falling for marketing puffery?
Actually yes that is what I am trying to say as someone that lives in the EXACT area as the OP. I could walk to his house within the hour if I knew which direction to go.

30mph winds and rain is all we are getting, it is not Storm Watch material. Other places where there’re are actual warning and 70mph winds got Storm Watch activated. There is a big difference in weather in New England states 30 miles inland compared to the coast for a nor’easter, which this is.
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
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Silver Spring, MD
Actually yes that is what I am trying to say as someone that lives in the EXACT same area. 30mph winds and rain is all we are getting, it is not Storm Watch material. Other places where there’re are actual warning and 70mph winds got Storm Watch activated. There is a big difference in weather in New England states 30 miles inland compared to the coast for a nor’easter, which this is.
And I think this is the key point. It was absolutely a major weather event, but the severe storms did not apparently (based on what I have seen so far of NWS alerts) extend that far inland. Having lived in that area for a number of years, I was just going to add the same point that it is amazing how different the impact of these storms can be between the coast and interior areas.
 

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