Time-Based Control User Guide

Our mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Tesla’s world-leading technology enables your home and Powerwall to utilise your energy production in a cost-efficient manner. This mode of operation is called Time-Based Control. 

What is Time-Based Control

Time-Based Control (also referred to as load shifting) is an energy optimisation technique that can help you maximise savings through smart charging and discharging of your Powerwall. With Time-Based Control, Powerwall will charge when energy costs from your energy provider are low and power your home when energy costs from your energy provider are high. This is achieved through utility rate structures (also referred to as time-of-use plans) where electricity prices may vary depending on the time of day, the day itself, or the season. In order to enable Tesla’s Time-Based Control mode, you need to set up your utility rate plan in the Tesla app. 

Energy retailers usually break time-of-use plans into two or more periods: 

  • Peak: High energy demand hours with most expensive prices  

  • Off-Peak: Low energy demand hours with least expensive prices 

  • Partial Peak or Shoulder: All other times 

Once you have set up your utility rate plan, follow these steps to enable Time-Based Control mode: 

  1. From the home screen of the Tesla app, open the ‘Settings’ menu. 

  1. Open the 'Powerwall' menu. 

  1. Under ‘Operational Mode,’ select ‘Time-Based Control.’ 

  1. Set your preferred rate plan by tapping the ‘Utility Rate Plan’ card. 

  1. Set your preferred Backup Reserve by adjusting the slider at the top of the screen. 

How Your System Will Work

With Time-Based Control mode, your Powerwall creates value by helping shift your home’s grid energy usage from peak to lower priced periods. This helps minimise your bill and reduce the cost of your total energy usage. Learn more about how Powerwall works.

What is Energy Arbitrage

Time-Based Control mode enables your Powerwall to charge from and discharge to the grid at certain times to take advantage of changes to energy plan rates that occur throughout the day and season. This technique is called energy arbitrage, which allows Powerwall to store energy when energy prices are low and to sell that low-cost energy back to the grid when energy prices are higher. Powerwall optimises your charging and discharging behaviour for this arbitrage with an energy forecast tailored to your home. 

Note: Grid charging and discharging are not available with all energy providers. Refer to your Powerwall ‘Settings’ menu to show specific options available to your site.

What is Energy Forecasting and How Does it Work

Powerwall continuously runs an energy forecast, which means Powerwall learns and monitors the patterns of your seasonal energy use and solar production. When there is not enough sun available for your solar production and the forecast shows that you are likely to use energy at a high-cost time (peak period), your Powerwall prioritises charging during a low-cost time (off-peak period) and discharging during a high-cost time (peak period). This may lead to instances where your Powerwall is idle, as it waits for an optimal opportunity to discharge, resulting in the use of solar or the grid to power your home. This method enables you to keep your energy costs down and to support the grid when energy imports are needed. 

Powerwall also uses a solar energy forecast produced using satellite weather data. This forecast is used to predict your rooftop solar energy production as the weather changes and also helps Powerwall make better decisions about when to charge and discharge while it is on Time-Based Control. For example, if a forecast predicts significant cloudy weather tomorrow, your Powerwall may be programmed to charge earlier from the grid during a low-cost time period instead of normally charging from excess solar.  

Note: Because this smart forecasting needs time to learn about your energy usage, Time-Based Control mode may not behave as you would expect for a brief period of time following installation.

How Solar and Powerwall Operate When in Time-Based Control

When in Time-Based Control, you can refer to the visuals on the home screen of the Tesla app to better understand how your solar and Powerwall are operating throughout the day.

How Time-Based Control Looks in the Tesla App

The home screen of the Tesla app for Powerwall and solar displays a live view of power at your home, including solar, Powerwall, grid-use and home power consumption.  

The following sequence of screenshots demonstrates a day with Time-Based Control for a typical Powerwall owner. This example shows a home in the summer, where there is excess solar production to be stored in Powerwall for later exports to the grid during peak demand periods.  

Note: The exact times and power numbers may differ for your home. You may also see products not available in your country, but the same concepts still apply. 

8 AM Sunrise
The day starts in an off-peak period, when energy prices are low. Tesla Solar Inverter is now providing power to this home while Powerwall is charging from excess solar and storing energy for later use.
Time-Based Control at 8am
Time-Based Control at 8am
12 PM Noon
Powerwall has now fully charged, so excess solar is exporting to the grid.
Time-Based Control at 12pm
Time-Based Control at 12pm
3 PM Shoulder (Partial Peak)

This home's energy costs have partially increased during the shoulder time period. 

The homeowner has scheduled their Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) to start cooling their home before peak. Powerwall is programmed through energy forecasts to discharge energy to avoid higher grid costs. Powerwall isn’t exporting any excess energy to the grid yet. 

If your home doesn’t have enough energy to cover all your home energy consumption, you may see Powerwall allow your home to use energy from the grid during the shoulder time period.

Time-Based Control at 3pm
Time-Based Control at 3pm
5 PM  Peak

It's now peak period, where energy costs are the highest, so Powerwall is programmed to discharge to support this home's energy consumption. Any excess energy is exported to the grid to maximise economic value.

Time-Based Control at 5pm
Time-Based Control at 5pm
9 PM  Shoulder

Powerwall has now fully discharged down to the configured backup reserve after peak. It’s now programmed to allow some energy imported from the grid during this partial peak period, because this home’s consumption after the peak period is typically low. 

If your home typically consumes a lot of energy after the peak period, and your shoulder period has high rates, Powerwall may be programmed to reserve energy to use towards powering your home during this period, too. 

Time-Based Control at 9pm
Time-Based Control at 9pm
Midnight  Off-peak

This home’s off-peak period starts at midnight. There’s a Tesla vehicle now charging based on set charging schedules to maximise the use of low-cost energy. Even if Powerwall had stored energy available, Powerwall would not be programmed to discharge, even to help charge the Tesla vehicle, during the off-peak period. 

While Powerwall is not currently charging from the grid, if there is low excess solar production forecast for tomorrow, then Powerwall programming may initiate charging from the grid during this off-peak period to prepare for the next peak period. 

Time-Based Control at midnight
Time-Based Control at midnight

Understanding Energy Flows

The Energy tab in the Tesla app allows you to review system production. You may select each reporting-meter separately or overlap data displayed by tapping the bar-icon next to ‘Day.’ By tapping ‘Day’ you can also change the timescale between ‘Month’, ‘Year’ and ‘Lifetime’ views.  

The examples below show what energy usage history could look like for your home with grid and Powerwall to help understand the behaviour of Time-Based Control. However, the actual results you see within the Tesla app may differ depending on your energy costs, home energy consumption and daily solar production. 

The Energy Graph screenshots show solar and grid components. The grid view shows home usage as a positive value and grid exports as a negative value. The Powerwall view shows discharging to power your home or the grid as a positive value and charging from grid or solar as a negative value.

Time-Based Control: Summer Solar Production

The summer season brings high periods of solar production. Your Powerwall can be seen prioritising charging from solar to offset peak usage, most often during off-peak.

Solar with Powerwall

Net grid use Powerwall discharge
Powerwall charges in the morning from high solar production, reducing your need to draw from the grid during evening peak periods. Powerwall is seen below discharging to power your home and grid during the peak window. Stored energy is used to offset home consumption needs.
Solar Value Energy Value

Time-Based Control: Winter Solar Production

With Time-Based Control, Powerwall always tries to maximise your home’s energy value, even during low winter seasonal solar production, which could be less than half of your solar production during the summer. During winter, Powerwall may need to charge more often from the grid to offset your home usage during peak periods, and this charging may occur at different times throughout the day than if it were during summer. 

Powerwall takes advantage of low cost, off-peak energy to offset your home’s exposure to peak pricing. This gives you a level of flexibility to select utility rate plans with time-based periods with increased value for your system during all seasons – a value that traditional energy plans don’t offer.

Solar Production with Powerwall

Net grid use Powerwall discharge
Powerwall charges from the grid and solar ahead of peak periods to offset forecasted home usage during peak periods. Powerwall does not discharge to the grid during peak. With low solar production, Powerwall charges earlier in the day with low-cost energy from the grid and discharges to offset anticipated home energy consumption during peak periods.
Solar Value Energy Value