There’s a new battery startup on the scene angling to take a piece of the home energy storage market.
Palo Alto-based ElectrIQ Power offers a 10-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, a hybrid DC-to-AC inverter, a DC-to-DC converter, an intelligent battery management system, and a high frequency energy meter all wrapped up in a single package.
The IQ System is paired with a cloud-based dashboard that allows customers to monitor energy use and make informed decisions about their consumption. The embedded software system can also learn usage habits and automate home energy savings.
ElectrIQ's advantage is offering usage data from a solar array, the storage device and from appliances in the home all at the same time, on one device, according to Chadwick Manning, CEO of the year-old energy management startup.
“We’re taking an iPhone approach, where all of these different components are in one box. We create software that allows them all to talk to each other and use all of that information to create an automated, efficient home,” he said.
The energy industry looks at batteries, inverters and energy meters as separate products, whereas ElectrIQ views them as one offering. “We’re looking at the home as a microgrid ecosystem rather than component by component,” Manning said.
ElectrIQ’s founders believe their integrated system fills a niche that its competitors can’t, and say buyers are starting to take notice. In the past few weeks, the company has received 4,000 preorders, although the product isn’t scheduled to launch until the fourth quarter.
Solar companies have shown the most interest. The all-in-one package cuts out suppliers and cuts down installation time for new customers. And because the system integrates in AC or DC, it can serve existing solar customers without the need to upgrade hardware.
Batteries sold by Tesla don't have integrated inverters and battery management systems, and so they require additional components to be installed. The German startup Sonnen, Sunverge and JLM Energy offer integrated solutions, but don’t have the same capabilities or seamless integration as IQ, said Manning.
ElectrIQ says its real added value is its software. The IQ System energy meter samples data every millisecond, which allows the system to collect data on everything -- down to how many times someone has opened the fridge door. This real-time identification provides insight to customers on how to be more efficient via the online dashboard. The on-board analytics program can also control internet-enabled appliances to automatically lower energy usage.
Rate arbitrage can offer battery customers added value. But unless a customer faces demand charges, the returns are unlikely to be that great, said Manning. That’s why, at least initially, ElectrIQ plans to target customers that want backup power and offer them a return on investment through smart controls that improve efficiency.
Like every other home storage startup looking to make a name for itself, ElectrIQ likes to compare itself to Tesla. The Tesla Powerwall doesn’t have the same kind of software and controls, Manning said. Once their system is installed, Tesla customers have a battery and an inverter, but there’s no dashboard offering energy management insights and no way to control energy use automatically.
The IQ System is also designed to guarantee a longer life of the battery by making sure it always runs within a specific set of parameters, such as state of charge, cell-to-cell balance, capacity and internal resistance.
Manning couldn’t reveal the names of ElectrIQ’s suppliers, but said the company is working with a top-tier battery supplier, a multinational inverter maker and one of the largest chip manufacturers. The startup plans to leverage its suppliers’ economies of scale in order to compete on price.
At the outset, ElectrIQ’s all-inclusive 10-kilowatt-hour unit will sell wholesale for around $13,000 and retail for about $16,000 -- which includes a 10-year, 5,000-cycle warranty. For comparison, Tesla’s 10-kilowatt-hour Powerwall has a wholesale price of $3,500, the 6.4 kilowatt-hour version has a price of $3,000. But Manning is quick to point out that these prices don’t include key components that could add another $6,000 to $7,000.
“From a price standpoint, we’re pretty competitive,” he said.
However, Tesla batteries are expected to get even cheaper.
ElectrIQ currently has eight employees. It has been funded by angel investors to date, and is currently looking to close a major venture capital round.