Tesla Powerwall Backup Only Mode

Brace for a Power Outage

Everything you need to know about the "Backup Only" Powerwall operating mode, how it works and what loads and electronics will work during an outage.

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Backup Only Mode

Backup only mode means that Powerwall will remain charged and on standby, reserving all of its stored energy in case of a grid outage or power failure. Powerwall will automatically detect blackouts or brownouts and seamlessly provide power to the backup loads you designate when designing your system. If you have the “Storm Watch” feature enabled on your Powerwall, your system may automatically switch to backup only mode in preparation of a known emergency or weather event that may increase the likelihood of losing home power. 

How Backup Works

When an outage is detected, the Tesla Energy Gateway has an auto transfer switch (ATS) that disconnects you from the grid, islanding your home between your solar generation and your backup loads panel. In most cases, customers won’t even notice light flickers or anything to suggest there’s been an outage, so Tesla keeps a “Backup History” log within the app, giving a list and timestamp of any detected grid outage events. 

Does Solar Work in an Outage?

Yes. While traditional solar systems using grid tied inverters will not work in an outage because they need grid power to power the inverters themselves, solar remains powered by the batteries in a Powerwall system, allowing the home to run off solar power and even keep the batteries charging during an outage. 

What is Solar Curtailment?

During an outage, there is no way to backfeed excess solar back to the grid as you traditionally would during the day when connected to grid power. To solve this, Powerwall will curtail or temporarily turn off your solar system if it is producing more than the batteries and home can consume at any given time. It will allow the solar to power back on as soon as soon as conditions exist where the home and batteries can use the produced power. In some cases, this may show as an error on some grid tied inverters such as SMA SolarEdge or Enphase, but is a completely normal feature of the Powerwall system. 

How to Set Your App to Backup Only Mode:

Step 1: Select the “Customize” Menu from your Tesla App Homescreen

Step 2: Select the “Backup Only” Operating Mode

In an outage, your app will show the grid “X’d” out and an orange border 

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Nevada Solar Group Advantages Over Tesla

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