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  • chinese alibaba powerwall (GSL Energy) or Bigbattery.com? Which way to go?

    Hey all, I've finally got my panels and inverter and now need to make my final decision on my battery bank. I have done quite of bit of research but I'm still a brand newbie to solar so I wanted to bounce my two finalist off you experts and see if you have any opinions. My system will be an off grid, emergency power system for short to mid term power outages to support the basics of life such as refrigerator, freezer, toaster oven, charging phones & laptops, and if we get a lot of sun we may splurge and run a dishwasher or washing machine once a week. I will have 16 x 250w solar panels which I may expand later depending on my final system. I have 2x 48v 3000w Growatt all in one inverters that I can connect in series for 6000w inverter system. I live in an area that's rated for 4.75-5.5 sun hours and have plenty of yard space to ground mount my panels and expand later if I decide to do so. So the battery packs I'm considering is the 48v Li-ion powerwall from Bigbattery.com which is rated at 3.8kwh. If I go this direction I will be getting 4-5 of them. I understand these are 'repurposed'/ used and only have a 1 year warranty but are expected to last much longer than that of course. The biggest plus is that they are domestic and I should be able to get them quickly. The second option I have is a company from China, GSL Energy, off of Alibaba. I have looked at a dozen Chinese companies and I think GSL has the best price at the best quality. I have been 'talking' to their owner and sales manager for 2 weeks and they have a 48v 10kwh powerwall with a 10yr warranty and rated at 6000+ cycles. If I go this direction I would get 2 of them. The benefit of the powerwall is it's brand new and from what I as a newbie can understand the specs look good. The biggest negative is that it would take 6-8 weeks to get it and that's if the world doesn't come to a halt again or if Trump throws up some sanctions/ tariff action against China and I never get my stuff. And of course the warranty, even though 10 years, it's only as good as the company's word and of course we're talking about a Chinese company. The cost difference is negligible (about $800 more for the Chinese import) considering one is new and the other isn't as long as the batterpack lasts as long as it should based on what they are telling me. I have attached the specs for the GSL powerwall if anyone cares. What I need to know, is which direction would you go in? All opinions would be appreciated. If I don't get any reasons to change my mind I'm leaning toward placing my order with GSL for 2 powerwalls this weekend and hoping for the best. Thanks so much for your time, help, and expert advise.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I would do neither. If you want to take a risk on a Chinese product buy LFP cells, assemble your own pack and install a good BMS that you can get support for. I belong to another forum and most people there who have purchased the BigBattery can't get support for the BMS so they have had to put in their own anyway.
    Almost any Lithium battery you are going to find is manufactured in China so the question is what process are you going to use to mitigate risk. You can find good quality LFPs on Alibaba from $125 per kWh for generic LFP to $250 per kWh for CALBs which are a well know quality brand. Or you can buy CALBs from a supplier in California for about $450 per kWh. If you want more information just holler. I am on the verge of buying 28 KWh of LFPs and I have done some research.
    Last edited by Ampster; 05-07-2020, 11:32 PM.
    9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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    • #3
      What sort of experience do you have being off grid ? If none, I would strongly suggest learning with a cheap set of flooded lead acid batteries to get your system dialed in, and insure your loads are all going to play well with each other.

      The toaster oven is a red flag item - that's going to be a real hog if you use it more than 10 minutes. For plain toast, a regular toaster is good.

      What is your water source city water or a well ? Do you need to pump water ?

      Dishwasher and wash machine can be load shifted to daytime use, not a big battery load. Gas dryer and cooking range I hope ?

      Any plans to qualify for grid tie and reduce your monthly electric bill, or just planning on letting the solar gear idle till the grid goes down ?
      Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
      || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
      || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

      solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
      gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

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      • #4
        Here is an earliar thread from this forum that might help inform your battery decision.

        https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...o4-legit-offer
        9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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        • #5
          And here is a thread about the BigBattery, It is actually more favorable than I may have conveyed. That doesn't change my opinion but I am more disposed to wanting to build my own pack:
          https://diysolarforum.com/threads/ch...-battery.6765/
          9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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          • #6
            Hey Ampster, I appreciate the advice. I'm new to this stuff so I may sound ignorant. Are you saying that you believe buying the cells and assembling my own powerwall is better than buying a plug and play powerwall as I've considered because of lower cost or better quality? If I understand your point then I'm going to pay $125-$250/ kwh for a cell, that's going to run $1250+ for the cells, plus a BMS which I'll guess will be at least a couple hundred, plus a case and wiring is going to run me around $2000+ if I'm guessing correctly for a 10kwh powerwall. The powerwalls I'm looking at from China are running me $2400 (plus shipping of course) each and that's assembled in a nice little, pretty looking package. I would also have to assume since I don't know the difference between a LFP cell and my ass then it would probably be put together better and safer than I would do it myself, unless the factory in china employees monkeys. I would also have to assume that if the LFP cells that you're suggesting are from china then GSL will probably be using the same cells that I would use in the powerwall. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be an smartass, but please explain why you think going the LFP cells and self assembling the battery pack is a better option. The reason I was leaning toward the Bigbattery option was it was suggested by Will Prouse on youtube on a video or two of his. I found the GSL Energy battery powerwall on Alibaba myself and after several weeks of talking with several companies I liked them the best and I like the idea of having a brand new product vs the 'rebuild' of the Bigbattery. Since I'm new to solar I was trying to get the easiest and safest system put together that I could without having to screw up building it and burning my house down. I'm willing to pay a little more if I'm getting quality and safety in return. If you think the self assembled option with the Chinese LFP cells offer me more longevity at a safer level then that is a route that I need to investigate instead of ordering the powerwalls.

            If you don't mind me asking, how much are the 28kwh of LFPs you are buying going to run you? is it as easy as connecting them together, putting them inside a metal case, and attaching a BMS? It sounds too simple so I must be missing something. Also, what is a good BMS and around what's the cost?

            Thank you very much,
            Andrew

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            • #7
              Hi Mike,

              I very much appreciate you jumping in on the conversation. I am brand new to all of this solar stuff, hence my desire to get as plug and play a system as possible. I am not an engineer or super handy when it comes to building stuff. Also I am very busy so don't really want to spend days or weeks setting up something that I may screw up anyway. So that's what led me to buying my Growatt all in one inverters as explained above, nothing to build and with what I have read they were a very good reliable inverter ready to go. The panels are pretty easy to handle and figure out, connection in parallel and series to my inverter and I am good to go. As far as my plan it would allow me to have 16 x 250w panels at around 5 sun-hours a day feeding into a 20kwh battery powerwall. On good days when we have excess power coming in, that's when we run our dishwasher or washing machine for convenience sake. When we are running bad weather or overcast and don't have extra power going to waste we wash dishes and clothes by hand, we have all needed for that option as well. For clothes drying we'd do it on a clothes line for a natural air dry, in this hypothetical power down situation. We are on well and have a well pump, however, in a power down situation we don't need to use the well pump, I have installed a hand pump and can access any amount of water we need via that option so our water needs wouldn't be relying on my solar system. For cooking we have several options; gas grill, charcoal grill, regular house electric range, small bread toaster, small portable electric cooking eye, and a bigger 12" size toaster. In grid down we'd use the gas option along with the 2 toasters and electric camping eye, even our bigger 12" toaster is only a 1500w machine so again, on good days we could probably get away with an hour or so of use. I am not going to grid tie anything, it will be solely an off grid set up. I will use it periodically, a few times a month, for our freezer and some other small odds and ends to cycle the batteries a little bit and to make sure everything stays up to par and we don't have any issues. At least that's my plan, but as they say, all plans fall apart when you get hit in the face with reality. So I'm sure I'll be living and learning as I go and tweaking our plan along. Basically you could look at this as a solar prepper set up for emergency use. (the word prepper isn't a bad or scary word, lol, I'm not a loon) Any slap in the face that I'm on the wrong track or other advice is appreciated. Please let me know what you think or if you have any further questions. While I have tried to plan and think this through, my biggest concern is the battery powerwall, am I making a good/ right decision for my use to get the powerwall from a company in China. The specs look good to me and the people I have been talking to seem to be very helpful, knowledgeable, professional, and eager to help. Thanks again.

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              • #8
                Hey again Ampster.

                Yes I read that first thread before I posted my question. I did a search on the forum before posting and didn't find much but that was one of the threads that came up. I did not understand everything that was being discussed through that thread but, while he was ordering different items than I am looking at, he seemed to be pleased with the service and product he received. He said that it was up and running as expected. So unless I'm missing something that would reinforce the direction I'm leaning. As far as the thread from diysolarforum, I read that one too. They have quite a bit written about the Bigbattery options and other companies that do the same exact kind of rebuilt/ repurposed used battery thing. They seem to rate them high in general even though some people had some issues awhile back that the companies selling the were advertising them in their listings at full power wattage but were in the small print saying they would be at 70%. Misleading advertising, whether honest mistakes or intentional but that was all corrected as far as I know. I just reason that if I can get brand new powerwalls that are built for exactly what I want them for and only spend around $800 more on them then that's probably a better option for me. I have never ordered anything direct from China before and so wanted other opinions to see if I was going in the right direction or was running right off a cliff into hell town and a big bunch of headaches and wasted money. I also am concerned about getting my product before we get another lapse of C19 and have more shipping/ import problems. So again, any help or advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you once again!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dawgleader1 View Post
                  Hey Ampster, I appreciate the advice. I'm new to this stuff so I may sound ignorant. Are you saying that you believe buying the cells and assembling my own powerwall is better than buying a plug and play powerwall as I've considered because of lower cost or better quality?
                  No, I am saying it is better for me because I already have the experience. I have been assembling LFP cells since I converted a VW to electric in 2012. I can understand your reluctance to do that. Years ago I purchased new Winstons and Thunderskys and then evolved into Nissan Leaf modules that were used. Since I can now get get LFPs for less money than adding more Nissan Leaf used cells it makes sense to start new. I am making an investment to increase my pack size because I want more flexibility and resiliency. . I also think LFP is safer than the NMC chemistry used in the Leafs.
                  If I understand your point then I'm going to pay $125-$250/ kwh for a cell, that's going to run $1250+ for the cells, plus a BMS which I'll guess will be at least a couple hundred, plus a case and wiring is going to run me around $2000+ if I'm guessing correctly for a 10kwh powerwall. The powerwalls I'm looking at from China are running me $2400 (plus shipping of course) each and that's assembled in a nice little, pretty looking package. I would also have to assume since I don't know the difference between a LFP cell and my ass then it would probably be put together better and safer than I would do it myself, unless the factory in china employees monkeys. I would also have to assume that if the LFP cells that you're suggesting are from china then GSL will probably be using the same cells that I would use in the powerwall. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be an smartass, but please explain why you think going the LFP cells and self assembling the battery pack is a better option. The reason I was leaning toward the Bigbattery option was it was suggested by Will Prouse on youtube on a video or two of his. I found the GSL Energy battery powerwall on Alibaba myself and after several weeks of talking with several companies I liked them the best and I like the idea of having a brand new product vs the 'rebuild' of the Bigbattery. Since I'm new to solar I was trying to get the easiest and safest system put together that I could without having to screw up building it and burning my house down. I'm willing to pay a little more if I'm getting quality and safety in return. If you think the self assembled option with the Chinese LFP cells offer me more longevity at a safer level then that is a route that I need to investigate instead of ordering the powerwalls.
                  You will get more useful feedback on that other forum. You can ping the group and see if anyone has any experience with those GWL powerwalls. There is not the depth of Lithium battery experience here, That is not to say that there are some very good solar experts here including some who are professional installers and designers. I frequent several forums for the diversity of thought and the special skills each has to offer.

                  The BigBattery boxes are used if I remember but I will read that whole thread. I have no way of knowing if the cells inside are the same. All I can tell you is they are all made in China anyway but what I do know is the Grade A stuff goes into EVs and some of them trickle out as generic Grade A. There is a whole 45 page thread about the particular cell I am buying.
                  If you don't mind me asking, how much are the 28kwh of LFPs you are buying going to run you? is it as easy as connecting them together, putting them inside a metal case, and attaching a BMS? It sounds too simple so I must be missing something. Also, what is a good BMS and around what's the cost?
                  ....
                  .Until I started reading that forum I did not believe there were good BMSs for less than $150 and there is a thread with pages of user input. I already have a $600 BMS from my existing pack that I have had a long relationship with. It has almost been as long as my marriage and I do not want to give it up.
                  Those cells cost $3,335. Ping my on the other side and I can send you a copy of the order.




                  9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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