Tesla made headlines last year with news that its Powerwall home energy system had sold out its initial run, supporting evidence for those saying we're on the cusp of an energy revolution. But Tesla is just one of a number of companies gunning to be a tech leader in a consumer-led shift towards decentralized home power generation. Orison, a San Diego-based startup, just launched a Kickstarter for its own home battery system, taking the mantle of scrappy startup in the nascent industry. And, according to CEO and co-founder Eric Clifton, the company's entry-level product—a $1,600, 40-pound tower that stores 2.2 kWh of power—offers an much easier introduction to a do-it-yourself energy future. Designed with LED lighting and a built-in Bluetooth speaker, the Orison is both functional and aesthetic by design.
"We wanted the Prius effect," says Clifton. "This is functional art, so to speak. Now, people won't just have solar panels on their roof, but visible power storage and backup inside their home."
The Orison system consists of a plug-and-play tower, which, after a quick onboarding process Clifton compared to an iPhone app, can be plugged in and start storing power in your living room. The tower can store 2.2 kWh of power, enough to run a standard television for roughly five hours, but those who want more capacity can upgrade with Orison Panels, 22-by-28-inch batteries that cost $1,100 apiece and store 1.8 kWh each. Consumers can purchase a bundle with the tower and a series of panels and create their own energy storage system that matches the capacity of the Tesla system for less money, and it doesn't require the setup time and permitting of a Powerwall. The Orison smart system, which you can monitor via an app, also analyzes utility rates, storing power when it's cheaper and running off battery power when it's more expensive, lowering energy bills and helping foster a more efficient grid.
"We're the only product that's meant to be in a conditioned space in your home," says Clifton, "We're more efficient."
Orison, which has about two dozen employees, has been working for the last few years to develop their home energy system, and just launched their crowdfunding drive. Clifton, who previously worked with utilities, wanted to create a system that helps both consumers, who will be able to store energy from solar panels, and utilities, who benefit from more stable energy consumption. It's "valuable at both ends of the meter," he says.
With a manufacturing partner in China and it's initial Kickstarter goal already met, the company looks poised to begin delivering product in August.
"We're moving towards Grid 2.0," says Clifton. "Look at the model used by cell phones and telecommunications in general. Nothing is centralized anymore. Energy will become more of a service, and as we move towards a more renewable grid, we have to shift. We can't expand the current system; it would be like running additional extension cords. We need to create a system that's more resilient and efficient."