Orison is a San Diego–based technology company that offers customers a 2 kilowatt-hour plug & play battery that fits into a standard wall outlet and can keep an electrical circuit hot for several hours or more if a power outage strikes. It comes in two styles — the tower looks like a simple floor lamp while the wall unit resembles a sleek picture frame on the wall.
The concept Orison home battery was introduced on August 20 at the University of California San Diego. Len Hering, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Energy, praised the 2-year-old startup’s efforts in a news release, according to the San Diego Tribune.
Orison CEO and cofounder Eric Clifton, drawing on seven years of experience in green technology startups, believes the battery tower and wall unit can play a prominent role in the emerging Internet of Things, just like the Nest smart thermostat. “The way we look at it, we are the Nest of the energy industry,” he says.
Clifton believes that other household battery entries — most notably the Powerwall from Tesla — miss the mark when it comes to bringing energy storage to the masses. That’s because Tesla’s home battery requires its own inverter and has to be professionally hardwired into the household circuity, potentially involving inspections and permits.
With the Orison home battery, customers don’t have to own a home, or even live in one. The units are perfect for apartment dwellers as well as suburban homeowners. Wireless controls and smartphone-connected software set the Orison battery apart from utilitarian emergency batteries like a Duracell Powerpack, and, at under 40 pounds, it is light enough to ship by mail.
How much electricity can it hold? It can easily keep lights on through the night, or run a dishwasher four times. “Two kilowatt-hours works well if you’re trying to offset a fridge and a television,” Clifton says.
The wall units can be stacked to provide additional power storage and cover more circuits. The tower has an LED lamp built in, along with a series of USB charging ports and a bluetooth speaker. Controls work through a smartphone app.
The tower will sell for $1,995; the panel for $1,600. Additional batteries will be priced at just $1,100 each. That means 8 kilowatt-hours of storage will cost as little as $4,900. By comparison, Tesla’s home Powerwall battery comes as either a 7 kilowatt-hour daily cycle unit for $3,000 or a 10 kilowatt-hour weekly cycle unit for $3,500. Neither Tesla product includes installation or an inverter (though, an inverter is presumed to come with a solar panel system on your roof). By the time installation is factored in, though, the Tesla system can cost as much as $7,000.
With the Orison home battery, customers just plug it into the wall. Everything needed is included in the price; there’s nothing else to buy. No permits are needed and there’s no need to hire a professional electrician.
Clifton says Orison is exploring lease and warranty arrangements that will lower upfront costs and build in service and software updates. He thinks interested utilities could sell the batteries themselves and provide on-bill financing to make things even easier for customers.
If all goes as planned, the first units will be available in the spring of 2016. A Kickstarter campaign is planned later this year. Customers will be able to reserve a unit for a $100 fee.
The secret to success for Orison is the proprietary software and power electronics technology that help isolate or “island” the connected electrical circuit, says Clifton. The company will rely on outside manufacturers to keep up with the latest battery technology and safety, he says.