It’s easy to get swept away by a well-executed marketing strategy, as proven time and time again by Elon Musk’s huge success with the Model 3 and the Powerwall.
Not to say Tesla hasn’t delivered on its promises, but the overwhelming fanfare that surrounds companies like Tesla can sometimes drown out healthy competition.
It’s important to remember the other brands out there are struggling to get a headline when they unveil the next LG chem battery pack or Redlow’s Zcell. So this article will aim to shine some light on what you might have missed from inside the industry that's pegged Australia as its first mass market.
First, LG Chem has been swiftly lowering its price point over the past couple of months. This may seem like a cheap tactic but for the battery industry, the price is everything.
LG Chem understands this and has recently lowered its 6.4 kW system down to nearly $1000 per kW of storage, at a total price of $AUD$6,898. The Tesla is by comparison, around $500 more expensive.
It is also important to understand that while companies may advertise one storage capacity figure, they often provide a warranty for a lower figure. LG offers a warranty of, “at least 80% of Nominal Energy 6.4kWh for 7 years...and at least 60% of Nominal Energy 6.4kWh [for the following 3 years]”.
Tesla, on the other hand, has a slightly more complex warranty that offers 5.4 kWh for the first two years, 4.6 kWh for the next two and 3.8kwh for the remaining 5 years.
Overall the LG Chem battery solution offers a longer standing warranty at a higher capacity than the Tesla Powerwall, which says something about the company's faith in products long term efficiency.
The warranted capacity is also important because it enables consumers to calculate how much they could theoretically save if they were to invest in a storage solution, meaning the more complex, the more difficult it is to know whether you're getting a sizeable return.
As well as this, the actual price of the standalone unit differs from the final out of pocket expense. This is because batteries can only be paired with select inverters, therefore the more expensive the inverter, the more you may be looking to pay if you have your eyes set on a particular type of battery.
LG chem is paired with the Sungrow inverter making the total installation cost of your system much cheaper. The Tesla Powerwall is paired up with the more expensive single phase Solar Edge and the Fronius three phase inverter.
Another popular alternative is the Redflow Z Cell which is considered to be our Aussie champion, being 100% owned and developed in Australia.
The Z Cell actually uses an entirely different method of chemical energy storage. Rather than use a standard Lithium-Ion battery, the Z Cell uses Zinc-Bromide flow technology, which is obviously the inspiration for the name.
This gives it a safety advantage as Lithium-Ion technology does come with a fire hazard, especially when exposed to the Australian Sun. It makes sense that the Australian company opted for a product that can easily withstand our wild weather.
It also differs in that it has a 10 kWh storage capacity, rather than the 6.4kwh maximum shared by both Tesla and LG Chem. The Z cell, however, is overall a heavier, more expensive, and less efficient battery in comparison to both the Tesla Powerwall and the LG Chem model, weighing in at nearly 300kg with a cost of $10,000.
The internal round trip efficiency sits at around 80% in comparison to 94% for the LG battery and 92% from the Powerwall. However, the Z cell gives the Powerwall a run for its money in regards to design, which can be important when it sits in your garage.
So all in all, the best system depends on your circumstances, or whether you've already put down a deposit for the Model 3 and you were hoping to live the ‘Tesla life’.
However, in all seriousness, the LG Chem competes on nearly all fronts with the Tesla Powerwall, yet the companies obscurity (it mostly deals with chemical and material manufacture) has lead to it being sidelined in favour for the Muskian alternative.
We aren’t advocating for one over the other, as there is a significant shortage of choice in the battery industry, to begin with. We think it's important to understand the facts behind the hype and to take a look at all your options.