We’ve had a lot of requests to layout the difference between a Mi-Grid system and a Powerwall. So, here goes!
First, let’s define a “Powerwall”. It is a Lithium-ion battery pack. It is not a complete power system. Implementing it requires a StorEdge inverter from Solar Edge. If you have solar, you also need a SolarEdge grid tied inverter and all of the required safety systems, breakers, disconnects, to properly implement. The “cost” most people associate with the Powerwall is only the price of the battery pack.
The SolarEdge+Powerwall system is a Grid-Tied solution. It cannot be used for off-grid. The Powerwall+SolarStor is designed to supply short term power from its battery pack for short (hours) service interruptions. If solar is present, it can store and disperse energy from the solar panels after sunset. However, the cost to store and retrieve the energy may be above the cost to sell to the network, even without net-metering.
Mi-Grid was originally designed as an Off-Grid system, specifically for the Off-Shore oil industry. It is designed to allow long term or permanent power with or without a utility connection. Mi-Grid’s Energy Management System (EMS) can take in multiple AC and DC sources, supply power and recharge batteries, all at the same time. It is also rugged and can be implemented outdoors.
Mi-Grid is “Agnostic” with respect to AC power, type of and manufacturer of solar panels, battery systems, as long as they meet the specified voltage ranges. Mi-Grid even has modules which can make use of “dirty” unstable utility power and turn it into “clean” pure sine-wave power.
Mi-Grid can be connected to a generator, allowing off-grid or utility down operation. The generator is only used off-grid or if the utility is down. The Generator recharges the batteries on cloudy or high power usage days, then shuts down. Even when operating with the generator, the solar array can assist recharging the batteries and supplying power. If the batteries become full, the EMS will modulate the array to match the power required,
The StorEdge-Powerwall system cannot implement a generator safely, unless the entire Solar/PowerWall/Stor-Edge system is bypassed. It uses a grid-tied inverter which cannot modulate the solar array output. Once the batteries are full, if the solar array output exceeds the user’s needs, it would send power to the generator, probably damaging it, potentially catastrophically.
Cost: It depends. Don’t you hate it when people say that? Mi-Grid comes with a generator and many more AC and DC inputs. If you eliminate the generator, you can compare the costs of the systems. The most fair comparison would be a Mi-Grid 1000 or Mi-Grid 2000 setup in essential circuits configuration. A Mi-Grid 1000 costs around $28,000 installed with 4.7kW solar and a 10kW generator. A Mi-Grid 2000 costs around $47,000 installed with 9.4kW solar and a 16kW Generator. Depending on location and codes, these prices can vary. For a “fair” comparison, you would need to implement 2 Powerwalls with any StorEdge System. You also need to include a SolarEdge 5 or 8kW grid-tied inverter and Optimizers at each panel.