What If Consumers Could Just Buy Batteries and Plug Them In?
U.S. startup Orison is ready to test its “energy storage as home appliance” concept in Australia and Europe following an $8.5 million seed round.
Home battery storage has grown precipitously in recent years, but it still doesn’t match the scale and accessibility of a home appliance.
Orison has been trying to change that since 2013. Now, the Wyoming-based startup is preparing to ship its sleek, plug-in home battery panels in July for field tests in Australia, Europe and the U.K., where it has met the safety standards for operation.
“We wanted to be more of a consumer electricity product, a simple solution for consumers,” founder and CEO Eric Clifton said in an interview. “The idea was an appliance that is not infrastructure, because the entire storage industry was still looking at it as infrastructure.”
The formerly crowdfunded company announced Monday that it closed an $8.5 million seed round and is opening up a Series A. Australian electricity retailer Origin participated in the seed funding and signed a memorandum of understanding to put up to 4,000 Orison battery devices into customer homes starting early next year.
A full U.S. commercial launch is expected by year’s end, pending UL safety certification of the product model geared for the American grid.
Lowering barriers to adoption
Home battery companies aspire to make essential connected home devices. Shell subsidiary sonnen stuck its ecoLinx batteries in every living room of an apartment complex in Utah to emphasize the personal connection. But today’s battery offerings still require specialized installation, permitting and utility involvement. They’re a long way off from the experience of buying a TV or smart speaker.
Orison took a different approach. It will ship the components to a customer, who can then assemble them — no piece weighs more than 28 pounds — and plug the system into the wall. Once installed, the battery and a connected home energy monitor will coordinate charge and discharge around rooftop solar production and time-based utility rates. In an outage, the battery can’t automatically island the home, but devices plugged into it will continue to operate.
The energy monitor costs $300 and the battery system costs $2,200 for 1.8 kilowatts/2.2 kilowatt-hours. That translates to a far less favorable system price per kilowatt-hour than Tesla’s Powerwall, which packs 13.5 kilowatt-hours for $6,500.
But Powerwalls require wiring auxiliary equipment and hours of installation labor, and Orison’s product does not. That makes the all-in price more competitive on a dollar per kilowatt-hour basis. And Orison has the benefit of a considerably smaller entry-level price point, which could entice customers who want to try storage but don’t want to drop upward of $10,000.
With products made by “the competition, you’re looking at permits, you’re looking at utility approval, multiple estimates of construction costs,” Clifton said. “Ours, literally, we can ship it to you within a week and you can be up and running. […] It’s instant gratification.”