Who needs Tesla?
By Louise Matsakis | MOTHERBOARD
In May of 2015, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s Powerwall. The battery allows homeowners to store electricity, either from the grid or solar panels. The tech was alluring to those interested in alternative energy, but for many, the starting price of $3,000 was too steep. The battery could only store up to 10 kWh of electricity, or around a third of the amount the average American household consumes a day (the newer version can hold up to 14 kWh).
For some alternative energy enthusiasts, Musk’s deal wasn’t good enough. Instead of buying Tesla’s Powerwall, they build their own DIY versions using recycled batteries for a fraction of the cost. Then, naturally, they share their creations and swap knowledge with other hobbyists across the internet. DIY powerwall enthusiasts congregate on a dedicated forum, in Facebook groups, and on YouTube. They live all over the world: I spoke to makers on three different continents and a half dozen time zones.
„It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful,“ Jehu Garcia, one of the most popular powerwall builders, told me. He and people like him are deciding for themselves what the future of alternative energy will look like, instead of waiting for technology companies to shape it for them. „The end result is being able to rely on something I not only built myself but understand the ins and outs of to power some or all of my electricity in my home. That is inspiring,“ Joe Williams, another powerwall builder, told me.