People Are Building Their Own Tesla Powerwalls Out Of Laptop Batteries

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May. 21 2019, Updated 4:06 p.m. ET

Unwilling to cough up $8,000 for a 14-kWh Tesla Powerwall?

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Then join a pack of industrious DIY-ers who have figured out ways to create their own home battery systems with three or four times the storage capacity of the Tesla Powerwall at a fraction of the cost.

All it takes are a few YouTube videos and a whole lot of discarded laptop batteries.

DIY culture is taking on Tesla. 

The alternative energy crowd has been experimenting with homemade, self-sufficiency for ages. Rocket mass heater stoves, wire-your-own solar setups, DIY air conditioners: The sky’s the limit when it comes to getting off-grid without the help of Big Brother.

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But making your own powerwall can be pricey. Buying bare-knuckles laptop batteries individually (and new) can cost around $5 a pop, and may wind up costing you significantly more than one of Elon Musk’s creations. So why not kill two birds with one stone and upcycle discarded batteries while also achieving energy independence?

That’s exactly the kind of thinking driving the DIY-powerwall movement; found on every corner of the internet from Facebook and YouTube to forums and websites. There, you can troubleshoot with fellow enthusiasts, download free plans, follow step-by-step videos, or lay out your own ideas for the perfect home battery pack that can cost as little as $300 and can store far more power than Tesla’s pack.

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Just make sure you follow the directions to a T so you don’t burn your house down.

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We recycle just 5 percent of consumer batteries.

Carl E. Smith, CEO and president of Call2Recycle, tells Inhabitat that roughly 95 percent of consumer batteries sold in the United States aren’t recycled; yet are perfectly viable sources of power.

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“Virtually all batteries can be recycled into valuable secondary products which is the biggest reason why they should not be landfilled and should be recycled instead,” he said.

Where to find used laptop batteries? Powerwall makers speaking to VICE struggle with this question themselves. As demand has risen, some DIY-ers have admitted to driving “hundreds of kilometers each way to pick up batteries."

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All the more reason to hop on the homemade powerwall train while the getting is good. The forums will walk you through determining which batteries are decent to use, how to find them, and how to (safely!) combine them to store power for your home. But does all this do-it-yourself-ness have the powerwall powerhouse nervous?

So far, Tesla’s declined to comment.

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