Model S owner may be a few steps ahead of Tesla Motors

In a recent interview, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed, “the biggest problem we need to solve on Earth this century is sustainable production and consumption of energy.” Well, it turns out that one Model S owner has been tinkering with a solution to this problem at his home in New Jersey, down in his garage. He’s taking apart the mysterious inner-workings of Tesla’s state-of-the-art Model S battery pack. 

 tesla model s owner may be a few steps ahead of tesla motors

Image: Hackaday

But, we’ll get to that later, first some context. Recently, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced the following via Twitter…

 Elon Musk announcing a new product on twitter

And, although Tesla’s push towards electric cars move us closer to sustainable consumption of energy, this April 30th announcement might just move us closer to sustainable production. And, if we listen to clues from other key executives at Tesla, it’s likely this upcoming announcement will reveal the next big thing at Tesla Motors.

As reported yesterday in the Guardian, “…probably the most interesting thing about Musk is that he has focused on solving the problem that keeps us in a world that depends utterly on electricity but lacks a way of storing it efficiently and cost-effectively: the problem of battery technology. For some time, Musk has been building a huge [Giga]factory to make such batteries... Until recently, most people assumed that his new factory would be making improved batteries merely for powering electric vehicles. But if the rumor mill is correct, Musk has set his sights higher – on new battery technology that would make it possible efficiently to store the quantities of electric power needed to run modern homes. If he has indeed managed to do something like that, then it would be a game-changer on an epochal scale.”

 tesla solar city home energy storage solutions

Image: SolarCity (FYI – Musk also happens to be Chairman of SolarCity, the largest provider of solar power in America)

So, as we try to get a handle on what all this means, we’ve become more and more intrigued by the “heart” of the Model S, the battery pack. After all, Tesla’s revolutionary battery pack has the advanced technology that just might make stationary storage mainstream. So we wanted to learn more about it.

What did we uncover? Let’s revisit that fellow from New Jersey in his garage -- it turns out he has done a complete Model S battery pack teardown. Even better, he's already working on converting a Model S battery into stationary storage. His name is Jason Hughes, a Model S owner who took apart a Model S battery, by himself. Want proof? Here is a time-lapse video at 15x speed showing his battery teardown*…


*BTW, we do not recommend doing this, but, wow… it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.

According to Bloomberg: “Hughes spent the better part of last year hacking a 1,400-pound battery recovered from a wrecked Tesla Model S and reworking it into a stacked array that can store energy from his solar-power system. A day trader by profession, the 31-year-old doesn’t want to save the world. He just wants to get off the grid. He did his homework and concluded that off-the-shelf batteries just don’t yet have the heft he required to achieve that. The mattress-sized Tesla battery did — it’s elephantine as lithium-ion batteries go — even if it cost him $20,000 and hundreds of hours of tinkering to make it work...

 tesla model s owner using his solar-power system to power his tesla battery
tesla model s owner using his solar-power system to power his tesla battery

Images: Hackaday

... [Hughes explains] "This is going to be my electric company.” In his battery obsession and ambition, Hughes turns out to be emblematic of something much grander... to amp up, transform and reinvent the humble battery into an element that could profoundly change the global energy paradigm... In the case of Jason Hughes’s Tesla hack, it feels like one of those shape-shifting moments. The fossil-fuel grid has been a marvel but its time has come and technologically savvy people — rapidly becoming the majority of us — are seeking to connect to the new thing. “I’m not going to drill for oil and refine gasoline in my basement,” says Hughes, “but I can hook up solar panels and run my car.” Hughes is convinced his thinking will spread as high-performance batteries get cheaper. “I don’t see how it can’t,” he says.

Is this Model S owner, Jason Hughes, a few steps ahead of Tesla Motors? It’s possible Hughes may be foreshadowing what Tesla’s battery pack technology is capable of – it could actually be the key to an upcoming energy revolution. Tesla’s announcement on April 30th may give us a glimpse into a more sustainable (and exciting) energy future. It’s a future that Model S owner, Jason Hughes, may already be tinkering with in his garage.


[If you're interested in further reading about a more comprehensive Tesla Model S teardown, take a look at these prior blog posts as well: Part 1 and Part 2]