Panasonic and Pika up the pace

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If we take the results of surveys as truth, then 74% of solar customers are interested in energy storage. That 74% is interested for different reasons: a few because the technology is cool and Elon sells it, some as a backup in case of power outage, others to arbitrage use (TOU) rates in California, a few to protect against natural disasters, and some just to stick it to the man.

While prices are still settling downward, manufacturers have a little bit of time to get their features right, and also make sure they figure out the right storage sizes and solar power combinations.

Pika Energy is continuing its product evolution with the Harbor Plus Smart Battery line – expanding the system to 17.1 kWh (MC0001-22 Harbor Plus Smart Battery – PDF specification page) in usable energy capacity and 6.7 kW continuous output, while refining the software tools:

  • Self-supply mode – Maximizing electricity usage from solar plus storage on a daily basis.
  • Time of use – Optimizing scheduling of grid use vs solar+storage use to minimize electricity costs.
  • Clean backup – Making sure your battery is charging from solar power to offer backup services.
  • Priority backup – Making sure your battery is fully charged in case of expected outage event, such as scheduled rolling blackouts or an impending storm.

These are tools that already existed in the battery line, but as batteries get to the point where a larger portion customers beyond technology enthusiasts are buying them (the Salt River Project has seen more than 50% of its battery incentive claimed since May 1st), they’re becoming a focus.

Panasonic, which makes the lithium-ion cells that fill the Pika battery, sees the product line as a logical partner to its high efficiency HIT solar panels, which are peaking at 330W in a residential format at 19.7% efficiency (PDF). The company is including the coupled products in its ‘Eco Solutions’ platform that includes lighting, construction materials, ventilation systems and home building materials.

The Harbor Plus Smart Battery offers a higher energy rating than many competing products. The LG Chem unit that Vivint Solar is offering tops out at 9.3 kWh of usable energy while the Tesla Powerwall (which also just added time of use capabilities) is currently sized at 13.5kWh of usable energy. Sonnen offers a top sized unit that peaks at 16 kWh, but the company also offers a full family of hardware in 2 kWh steps starting at 4 kWh.

Sonnen has had the software features in place for intelligent home energy storage for a decade now. The sonnenCommunity carries with it the ability to tie together entire… communities.

At this time it seems the biggest players are jostling to get their pricing and packages right while finding strategic policy structures, such as TOU rates in California, to market into.