Why spend thousands of dollars on a Tesla Powerwall when you could build your own – for a fraction of the cost? This is a question many alternative energy enthusiasts have asked, and it is ultimately what has led hundreds of people to develop their own versions using recycled laptop batteries. Now that plans for DIY Powerwalls are being shared for free online, several people have created rigs capable of storing far more energy than the Tesla version.

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On Facebook, YouTube and in forums, people are learning how to safely create their own DIY versions that cost much less than a Tesla Powerwall. One of the most popular powerwall builders is Jehu Garcia. He told Vice, “It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful.” Joe Williams, another DIY powerwall enthusiast, added ”The end result is being able to rely on something I not only built myself but understand the ins and outs of to power some or all of my electricity in my home. That is inspiring.”

There are several DIY versions capable of storing more energy than Tesla’s Powerwall. On the French forum Diypowerwalls.com, user Glubux said his powerwall can store 28 kWh of energy. “I run all the house with it, in fact I even bought an electric oven and induction cooking plate to use the extra energy during summer,” they said.

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Australian YouTuber Peter Matthews claims he has created a gigantic battery that can store 40 kWh of energy. Reportedly, it harvests power from over 40 solar panels on Matthews’ roof and stores nearly enough power for his home’s electricity needs. “The only things I don’t run are the big air conditioners and the water heating system,” he said. The alternative energy aficionado created DIYpowerwalls as well as the most popular powerwall Facebook group.

Related: Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings

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Most of the powerwall hobbyists recommend using 18650 lithium-ion batteries for their projects. The batteries are usually encased in a colorful plastic and can be found inside electronics, such as laptops. If sourced online or from a computer store, the batteries will cost more than $5 a piece. If obtained second-hand, from old Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG laptops, it’s possible to save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars on the project. Of course, one might meet challenges collecting the batteries, as tech companies frown upon their creative repurposing.

A positive effect of the DIY powerwall trend is that it reduces waste. According to Carl E. Smith, the CEO and president of Call2Recycle, approximately 95 percent of consumer batteries which are sold in the US are not recycled and are ultimately thrown away. ”Virtually all batteries can be recycled into valuable secondary products which is the biggest reason why they should not be landfilled and should be recycled instead,” he said.

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Though it can be time-consuming to source the used batteries, it’s a worthwhile investment according to DIY powerwall enthusiasts. And, if one carefully follows instructions when building their own version (such as those that follow), the risk of burning down one’s house is minimized.

Ultimately, there is a risk associated with creating your own energy storage device, but the trend can’t be ignored as it grows in popularity.

Via Motherboard Vice

Images via Daniel RömerJehu GarciaGlubux