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Tesla Powerwall Has Competition

Posted by richmore on November 22, 2015 in Electronic |

Energy storage has a number of applications for residential and commercial customers. First and foremost, homes with solar panels could benefit from energy storage, especially if net-metering laws, which let customers use the grid for “virtual storage,” disappear. (Off-grid users with PV systems obviously need storage as well, but that’s a pretty small market right now.) Secondly, as more electric utilities incorporate smart meters and time-of-use pricing, customers may use behind-the-meter storage to reduce their consumption during peak demand hours. Commercial and industrial customers already use energy storage for load shifting and demand management. Finally, on-site energy storage can provide short-term emergency backup power when the grid goes down.


Tesla’s Powerwall works for all of those applications, but it’s not the only player in the game. Other companies – some established and some upstarts – are tossing their Li-ion batteries into the ring as well. Let’s look at a couple.



Schneider Electric’s EcoBlade is a modular, scalable, and fully integrated storage system designed for homes, businesses, and microgrids. About the size of a 30” (76 cm) flat-screen TV and weighing 55 lbs (25 kg), the EcoBlade is designed to hang on a garage wall, much like its Tesla counterpart. Unlike the Powerwall, which needs a separate inverter, the EcoBlade is fully integrated: Li-ion batteries, charge controller, inverter, and energy management software are all included

The 10 kWh Tesla Powerwall is expected to sell for $3500, but adding the cost of an inverter and professional installation brings the price tag closer to $6000, which equates to roughly $600/kWh. The 5 kWh EcoBlade, which will be available sometime in 2016, has a target price of less than $500/kWh installed. A pair of EcoBlades will provide 10kWh of storage for about $5000, including installation.

Like the Powerwall, the EcoBlade is scalable. For commercial and industrial applications, several EcoBlades are mounted into a rack (hence the “blade” designation), providing up to 100 kWh per rack.

Schneider also developed a pre-engineered pod for microgrids. When fully loaded, the pod can store 1 MWh of energy and deliver up to 3.2 MW of peak power.

The Physics Bus STEM on Wheels Powered by Renewable Energy

Posted by richmore on November 15, 2015 in Electronic |

When my son was young, our family had a membership at our local hands-on science museum for kids. There he was exposed to a lot of cool scientific exhibits and displays, and I’m happy to say that at 20 years old he continues to have an interest in science and technology. Unfortunately, many kids don’t […]

Living Building is a Net-Zero Energy Education Center

Posted by richmore on November 4, 2015 in Electronic |

The Alice Ferguson Foundation recently cut the ribbon on its new “Grass” education center, a net-zero energy, net-zero water, carbon-neutral structure that’s designed to meet the strict requirements of the Living Building Challenge. Located on the shore of the Potomac River just a few miles south of Washington DC, the building will support the Foundation’s […]

Vizio Smart TVs Snitch on Viewing Habits to Advertisers

Posted by richmore on November 1, 2015 in Electronic |

Most smart TVs connected to the Internet do not track your viewing habits by default. But the 10 million Vizio smart TVs sold so far will automatically track viewing habits and share information with advertisers from the get-go unless customers disable the option. That opt-out default of Vizio’s “Smart Interactivity” feature was discovered by ProPublica doing a close reading of the […]

Experts Still Think uBeam’s Through-the-Air Charging Tech Is Unlikely

Posted by richmore on October 29, 2015 in Electronic |

uBeam, a high-profile startup backed by some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors, has become a tech-industry sensation because of the wireless charging technology it claims to have in its labs. Scheduled for delivery next year, uBeam promises to use ultrasound to charge a mobile phone wirelessly, as you go about your business at home […]

Gourmet Coffee? High-Protein Insects? There’s a Desktop Gadget for That

Posted by richmore on October 11, 2015 in Electronic |

The San Francisco Bay Area tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to food trends, and if those trends involve high tech gadgets, all the better. So there’s usually a smart food or beverage-preparing gadget at hardware launch events—in past years we’ve seen automatic bartenders, robotic stir-fry gadgets, and countless ways to […]

Parrot Pitches BeBop 2 Drone As “Flying Image Processor”

Posted by richmore on October 1, 2015 in Electronic |

If you’re already drone crazy, here’s what you probably want to know about the latest Parrot drone, the BeBop 2, introduced today in San Francisco. The 500-gram drone has a 2-kilometer range, a 25-minute battery life (twice as long as its predecessor), a top horizontal speed of 60 kilometers per hour, and can resist headwinds up […]

Teaching Children to Talk, Not Text

Posted by richmore on September 24, 2015 in Electronic |

My children, young American teenagers, don’t have cellphones yet. They think I’m monstrously out of touch with the century into which they were born. I think I’m conflicted and all over the place on this issue. As the editor of IEEE Spectrum, I could be showering them with all the latest and greatest devices. But […]

Rushing to Join the IoT Web-Enabled Window Blinds

Posted by richmore on September 22, 2015 in Electronic |

It’s a principle in the startup world: if you see a need for a product and think the technology for creating it is ready, you can be pretty sure you’re not the only one who has that same idea. So you need to get it out fastest, do it best, and offer it at the […]

Mobile Phone Data Predicts Poverty in Rwanda

Posted by richmore on September 12, 2015 in Electronic |

A picture of how wealthy or poor people are can be reconstructed from anonymized data generated by mobile phones, according to researchers analyzing cell phone data from Rwanda. Personal information that mobile devices gather such as a person’s location often gets anonymized by stripping it of names, home addresses, phone numbers, and other obvious identifying […]

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