In April 2018, Powervault launched Powervault 3, which is currently one of the smartest home battery storage systems on the market. The system specification was updated in July 2018, with a change of size and chemistry.
Powervault 3 is a single unit, available in four different capacities: 4.1kWh, 8.2kWh, 12.3kWh and 16.4kWh. Key features are as follows:
|Charger rating (maximum power input):||3.3kW||3.3kW||3.3kW||3.3kW|
|Usable inverter rating (if dc-coupled):||4.6kW||5.5kW||5.5kW||5.5kW|
|Continuous power output:||4.6kW||5.5kW||5.5kW||5.5kW|
|Round trip efficiency:||> 90%|
|Mounting:||Wall or floor-mounted|
|Location:||Indoors, kitchen, utility, garage ideal|
|Dimensions (Hcm x Wcm x Dcm):||120 x 98 x 25||120 x 98 x 25||149 x 98 x 25||177 x 98 x 25|
|Weight:||129 kg||179 kg||229 kg||279 kg|
Ask most people which chemistry the typical home battery storage system utilises, and you will get the standard response, 'lithium-ion'. However that hides the fact that whilst the anode of lithium-ion batteries is basically the same (carbon/silicon and graphite), the cathodes vary considerably, leading to trade-offs between energy density, life cycles and thermal stability.
The first version of Powervault 3 used a lithium ferro phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. The new version uses “lithium polymer”, or more correctly lithium-ion polymer battery. Known as a LiPo or lithium-poly, the battery uses a lithium-ion base (lithium nickel manganese cobalt, NMC for short) with a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid electrolyte.
The new lithium polymer cells contain STOBATM safety technology, which, according to Powervault, means you can pierce the cells or take a naked flame to them without risk (but we absolutely don’t recommend you try it…).
Functionality and smart features
Powervault 3 is a really forward-looking piece of kit, with all of the smart functionality that you could imagine will be required of home storage in the next decade or so. The company is well ahead of the competition in rolling this out.
Here's what Powervault 3 can do:
There is more information about FFR in our Commercial Storage section. Essentially the National Grid has to balance supply and demand, and keep the frequency of the grid within +/- 1% of 50Hz. Traditionally, coal has been one of the 'quick response' fuels to balance demand and supply, but with the closure of coal fired power stations, there is a need to find alternatives. Battery storage offers a 'quick response' alternative.
The grid pays fees to assets such as batteries that it can call upon to charge and discharge balance the grid.
The profile of electricity use obviously fluctuates during the day, with seasonal differences and differences between weekdays and weekends. Weather also makes a difference. Energy traders are able to take advantage of these variations in supply and demand - expected or unexpected - and make a profit from spot trading.
Powervault 3 has the capability to meet grid demands, but in order to benefit, owners will need to allow management (via subscription) of their battery by a third party.
Powervault 3’s initial offering in this area is called GridFLEXTM. Customers can sign up to GridFLEXTM for a period of two years and receive a flat £20 per month fee (£240 per annum) for allowing the use (management and control) of their battery to provide grid services.
There are some terms and conditions that are worth noting at the outset:
The obvious question is: does the £20 per month represent good value to the customer for giving up control of their battery?
The answer depends entirely on whether what Powervault does with the battery is in line with what the customer would have done anyway, or not, and therefore, how much does it cost the customer to provide the FFR services ( in terms of imported electricity which is then exported straight back out to the grid).
We have analysed the GridFLEXTM proposition in more depth in our Head-to-Head guide (Powervault 3 vs Powerwall 2) - see the link below.
Our conclusion is as follows:
As a guide, the installed cost of a Powervault 3 (including VAT at 5% - i.e. if installed alongside a new solar system) is likely to vary from around £5,000 for the smaller unit to around £10,600 for the largest unit.
Tesla's Powerwall 2 provides a good benchmark against which to compare any home battery storage system. Powerwall 2 offers one of the lowest cost batteries on the market (in terms of cost per kWh), it is also one of the most popular batteries, and one that most people have heard of.
Powervault 3 compares well with Powerwall 2 although in our view Powerwall 2 gives a better warranty. Tesla promises a lower lifetime output than Powervault 3, but backs it up in its warranty. Powervault 3 promises over twice as much output per kWh rated capacity as Powerwall 2, but, if you are using the battery at a rate of 1 cycle a day or less, much of the promised capacity sits outside of the warranty.
In conclusion, both Tesla and Powervault have produced ‘market-leading’ technologies, embracing the opportunity that battery storage presents.
Overall, the buying decision requires the homeowner to weigh up:
To fully compare Powerwall vs Powervault (with economic analysis), click on the link below to download our Head-to-head guide:
Powervault 3 vs Tesla Powerwall 2
Click on this link to download the Powervault 3 datasheet.
Click on this link download the Powervault 3 warranty as at July 2018.
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