Gone solar? Orison’s home battery plugs into your outlet, no installation required

Tesla quickly sold out of the first production run of its Powerwall home battery in early May 2015. Priced at $3,500 for the 10 kilowatt-hour model and $3,000 for the 7 kilowatt-hour version, neither included installation costs. But the Powerwall is like a beautiful statue (according to Elon Musk) that can help homeowners store up energy for blackouts or for when prices are high. Orison wants to compete with the Powerwall with a lithium ion battery that weighs 40 pounds, and that you can plug into your wall outlet, no electrician needed.

The system offers 2.2 kilowatt-hours of storage, which the company says would be enough to keep your energy-efficient fridge running for about two days if the power went out. And the Orison Panel is stackable, meaning you can add Orison Panel+ units to power more appliances or devices. It automatically kicks on when there’s a power outage, and you can use the app to set schedules for charging and battery use.

The Orison units come in two types, a 2.5-inch-thick panel that’s 22 by 28 inches and a 34-inch-tall tower that also houses an LED light and Bluetooth speaker. Orison is running a Kickstarter campaign, and you can pick up the panel for the early-bird price of $1,200, and the tower for $1,550. The units will start shipping this summer. The additional Panel+ units will cost $1,100. Both options are less expensive than Tesla’s, especially when you factor in installation costs, but they don’t have the same storage capacity. If you’re paying full price for the panels, an 8.8 kilowatt-hour system will set you back $4,900.

Orison has a calculator to help you figure out how much plugging in the batteries will save you. While it asks for your monthly bill, it doesn’t take into account the amount of electricity you use. Since I don’t have solar panels, I still have to get my energy from the grid, though Orison says its cloud-connected battery can factor in when costs are lower. In an apartment in rainy Portland, Oregon, where I spend roughly $25 a month on electricity, I would save about $77 a year with five panels. If I lived in a small home with solar panels and spent around $40 a month on electricity, I’d need seven units and would save around $145 a year. The system would keep almost 30 percent of the energy generated by my solar panels from going to waste.

The company has already surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $50,000, but for a lot of people, shelling out thousands of dollars for a 40-pound lamp that can power a TV for a few hours doesn’t quite make sense — even if it is easy enough to bring it with you when you move.