Tesla has made a name for itself in the world of electric vehicles (EVs) and green energy. The young company is synonymous with EVs, it is making inroads with its Powerwall for home battery backup and its Powerpack for industrial solutions, and its new solar shingles could make it a contender in the solar industry as well.
One thing many Tesla fans haven’t considered is its impact on the jobs of electrical contractors. How is Tesla affecting electrical contractors’ jobs and what effects can we expect to see in the future?
Electric vehicles need charging
The problem with EVs is that you can only drive a limited distance before you need to stop to charge them or return to your home charging station. Even the new Tesla 3, which is due to be released this year, can only travel 215 miles between charges.
That might sound perfect for your everyday travels, and it’s much higher than its nearest competitor—the Kia Soul that only gets around 93 miles between charges—but it’s still a limiting factor. Taking a road trip in a Tesla is all but impossible.
At the beginning of 2017, Tesla announced it had built 5,000 of its branded supercharger stations. These electric fill-up stations use the same heavy duty technology as the in-home charger, allowing Tesla owners to charge their EVs quickly and easily while they’re out and about. The company has also pledged to build another 5,000 of these stations in the coming year.
New electrical technology alongside these innovations in charging stations means changes for electrical contractors across the country.
Changes to electrical contracting
Though building needs are changing and power demand is growing, for the most part, traditional electrical systems haven’t changed much in the last 50 years or so, but recent trends like alternative energy co-ops and energy service companies have evolved electrical contractors' businesses and the way electricians work and become certified.
Tesla’s in-home batteries, dubbed "Powerwall," could theoretically power homes across the country, especially when you pair them with the new solar shingles.
This new advance in power storage requires electrical contractors to become Powerwall certified. Only contractors who have been certified though Tesla’s program will be able to install these new devices that are becoming popular in areas where green or alternative energy is important.
In other countries, the new Powerwall technology is rewriting wiring rules. The AS/NZS3000 Wiring Rules used in Australia and New Zealand have upwards of 300 proposed changes to handle the new technology and techniques being introduced by companies like Tesla.
Future impacts of EVs
Electrical work is starting to change in much the same way that automotive work has in the last 20 years. Newer cars rely heavily on electronics, so old school mechanics have had to learn new techniques to keep up with the times. In this case, electrical contractors may have to learn new techniques to keep up with green energy trends.
Tesla finished its Powerwall battery factory in the beginning of 2017—successfully building the largest battery factory in the world in barely three months. The company also declared a second factory and announced plans for three more. As Tesla ramps up the scale of its battery-building operation, its goal is to lower costs to make electric vehicles more feasible for the mass market as well as to make energy storage more practical, dramatically altering how we may think of power transmission and distribution and having far-reaching effects on intermittent alternative energies such as solar and wind.
Right now, contractors in California—where Tesla is planning to install 1,000 more supercharger stations in addition to its work with Powerwall—should look into Tesla’s certifications to ensure they are able to use the battery system or charging stations for EVs in a home.
Over the last decade or so, the world of electrical contracting has changed dramatically, but for the last 50 years, traditional power has remained stable—but everyone should be prepared. The changes are coming, and Tesla is leading the charge.