Battery manufacturer LG Chem released a new residential energy storage product under a new name on Thursday.
This month, the South Korean conglomerate spun out its battery division, which serves the home, grid and electric vehicle markets, as the singular LG Energy Solution. On Thursday, the newly independent company revealed the RESU16H Prime, a residential battery geared for the U.S. backup market. Products will arrive in the U.S. in January and will also ship to Canada and Australia.
LG's earlier RESU10H provided 5 kilowatts/10 kilowatt-hours of storage. The new release expands that to 7 kilowatts/16 kilowatt-hours of usable energy, giving it more power and energy than rivals like the Tesla Powerwall.
The smaller iteration often forced homeowners to select critical loads for backup. The new and improved model is billed as strong enough to power a whole home when the grid goes down. Larger households can double up for more capacity.
That's timely, in that Americans are largely stuck at home due to the national failure to contain the coronavirus. In California, the largest home battery market, residents have endured (and are still enduring) a record wildfire season, which brought utility power shutoffs to thousands of homes in arid regions. And the U.S. residential storage market has installed record amounts for six straight quarters, according to Wood Mackenzie research.
"We all want to be self-reliant, we all want to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors," said Linh Tran, director of sales for LG's North American residential storage business, at a virtual launch event Thursday. "If there’s a power outage, we have more at risk now than ever before. We need to be prepared."
The announcement followed on the heels of a product recall of certain earlier models of the RESU due to overheating concerns, reported by Greentech Media earlier this month. Customers with affected battery packs will get a free replacement manufactured in 2020, the company said. The product recall was not discussed during the virtual launch for the Prime system.
The newly released product incorporates technological improvements such as a modular design: two battery modules slot into a connection plate, and a control unit connects on top. That is meant to make handling and installation easier than it would be with a single, heavy package, and it allows for easy replacement of control equipment, if needed. The product also comes with smart panel technology from startup Span, and it is compatible with numerous inverter providers. LG did not disclose a suggested retail price.
The more powerful design also positions the brand to compete in a more crowded market that is shifting toward more powerful and longer-lasting home backup.
Tesla has not substantially updated its Powerwall since the second-edition launch in 2016; the carmaker had its hands full making cars. But Generac, the incumbent leader in home backup via diesel generators, entered the battery market and this summer launched a souped-up product: the PWRCell delivers 9 kilowatts of instantaneous discharge capacity and holds 18 kilowatt-hours of energy. Generac said that device can turn on energy-intensive devices including air conditioners and well pumps, something less powerful storage devices cannot do.
German home battery company sonnen expanded its lineup recently with the sonnenCore, a 5-kilowatt/10-kilowatt-hour model that retails for around $9,500. That competes in the same niche as LG Chem's previous product, but it's a more affordable option than sonnen's previous offerings.