Austin-based 'TreeHouse' first retailer to get Tesla's 'Powerwall'

TreeHouse on South Lamar is an Austin original.

The little sustainable home improvement store is the talk of the tech world right now.

Because if you want a new Tesla "Powerwall," a battery that powers your home, you'll have to line up at TreeHouse. It's the first retailer that will carry the battery.

"The potential is there for this to really change the way that electricity is used. First of all in America and potentially around the world," said Michael Kaiser with TreeHouse.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the Powerwall this week.

It's a Lithium-Ion battery based on the same technology that powers Tesla cars. The Powerwall can store as much as 10 hours of energy, either from solar panels or from when utility rates are low -- and then powers your home in the evening.

"It's the only path that I know that can do this and I think it's something that we must do and that we can do and that we will do," Musk said at this week's announcement.

The price tag is around $3,500.

Michael Kaiser with TreeHouse says they're expecting to start getting the batteries in this summer.

He says homeowners tend to use the most electricity in the morning and the evening but the most solar energy is available in the middle of the day -- that's where Powerwall comes in.

"That means that solar panels are there generating power for an empty home. And these batteries would allow you to store that and use it when the home needs it more," Kaiser said.

Dr. Robert Hebner with UT specializes in energy storage and Smart Grid technology. He says it's an interesting idea and it will be worthwhile if it can get government subsidies and changes in regulations that would make it competitive.

"The reason you plug in to Austin Energy is not because it's your only choice, it's because it's cheaper than putting your own diesel engine out in the backyard. But you could do that! It's cheaper than putting your own battery. But you could do that. If we could make it more convenient, more cheaper and more appealing to have your own battery in your own garage, we would do it," Hebner said.

Kaiser feels like soon every home will have some form of renewable energy.

"There will be others that come along. New ways to harness wind and solar power. But I think every home will be connected in some way to that, you know...everything is going to be running off a phone," Kaiser said.

At the Powerwall event this week, the TreeHouse CEO says in the future, having a battery in your home will be as normal as having a water heater or a dishwater.

The Powerwall can hang on the wall in your home or in your garage.


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