Changes to how SmartShift works for Tesla battery customers


We’ve recently upgraded how SmartShift works. This is to address some of the battery control issues that some of our Tesla Powerwall customers experienced late last year. 

We’re confident that these updates will result in better billing outcomes for Amber Tesla customers over time - so much so that we will be rolling out these changes to all of our Amber for Batteries customers moving forward, regardless of battery type. 

Why are we making these changes now?

Towards the end of last year, we started hitting external limits on how many commands we could send to our customers’ Tesla Powerwalls in a given period (commands to charge or discharge in response to wholesale prices).

This happened because the amount of battery commands we were sending to our hardware partners (e.g. Tesla) had grown significantly, in line with the number of customers we were supporting. However, the amount of commands our partners’ APIs could process in a given timeframe remained constant. This ceiling was one we knew we would confront at some point in the Amber journey but it arrived sooner than expected due to rapid growth in our customer base last year. 

As a result, some batteries missed opportunities to export during price spikes (you can read our original update on this here). 

What’s changing 

In order to ensure batteries get the best results over time when interacting with the grid, we’ve taken a few steps to change how we send commands to your battery:

  • Spreading out battery commands: We will begin spreading out commands so we never send more commands to your battery at any given time than is allowed by our partners. This means all battery commands sent by SmartShift will get delivered. This is in contrast to the current approach, when some commands might time out before they can be executed. 
  • Scheduling battery commands: Previously, if a 30 minute battery discharge was required, SmartShift would send a series of six, five minute commands. This occurred even if the new command is the same as the last. The new system sends one 30 minute command in this instance. This would mean that even if the start of the command is delayed, you’ll still catch a majority of the event.
  • Grouping battery commands during price spikes: Being rewarded for supporting the grid during a feed-in tariff price spike is one of the main advantages of being with Amber, so being able to dispatch the power from your battery quickly at these times is really important. To make sure we minimise any delays in exporting during these times, we will implement a special group control mode for Tesla batteries. In cases where there’s a price spike (feed-in tariffs over $3/kWh), we will send one 5 minute group command at the beginning of the price spike to all devices in a given state. This will allow customers to get the most out of high export prices while individual commands are queued up.  

When will these changes come into effect?

These updates have now been rolled out for existing Tesla battery customers with Amber.


There are a couple of limitations to the new approach, however as mentioned, we’re confident that these updates will result in better billing outcomes for Amber Tesla customers over time. 

  1. Currently Amber customers with SmartShift disabled will also see their batteries discharged for around 5 minutes during feed-in tariff price spikes. This will also the case for customers who may have manual control commands in place when the group battery command is sent. We are working with Tesla to try to change this at present so we can exclude the limited number of customers who would be affected in these circumstances. 
  2. In addition, as we spread out battery commands, there may be times when certain commands are slightly delayed (up to five minutes), so we do suggest that if you see times when you think your battery should be taking an action but it isn’t, it may be worth waiting for five minutes. 

Onboarding new Teslas

As you may know, while this scaling issue was being resolved we paused onboarding of Tesla Powerwalls into SmartShift. With this solution to controlling larger volumes of Tesla Powerwalls now determined, we will be re-opening SmartShift onboarding for customers with Tesla batteries in February. 

We’ll first onboard existing Amber customers who have already signed up to Amber as their energy retailer but have yet to be enrolled in SmartShift, such as those in Ausgrid. 

We’ll then move to get those on our waitlist signed up to Amber and onboarded into SmartShift. And after this, we’ll be accepting onboarding of new customers. 

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  • Thank you for this explanation.

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  • Has Amber enabled solar curtailing when negative FIT for Fronius inverters connected to Telsa Powerwall yet?

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  • Your service is daylight ahead of other Energy Retailers. I definitely got the best value once I got my battery. I keep referring people to Amber. Keep up the good work. 👍

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  • As a Victorian customer with Tesla batteries, I noted that I was unable to stop them from discharging during the prolonged recent price spike event on 13 February. When their capacity fell below 30% and with no indication how many hours the $16.60 per kWh price would continue for, I become anxious that the batteries would be completely drained and we'd have no affordable energy for use in the evening and overnight. Your explanation of the group command is helpful.

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  • As for Allan' question, I'd like to know when we can expect Amber to enable curtailing when negative FiT for Enphase inverts connected to a Tesla Powerwall. Update please.

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  • Not very happy about what is happening here. Of note, the statement “ Currently Amber customers with SmartShift disabled will also see their batteries discharged during prices spikes” is a MAJOR breach of trust of what we signed up for. Amber SHOULD NOT be able to control your battery against your wishes, in circumstances such as occurred in Melbourne recently with Loy Yang going down and massive grid price spike. Amber doe NOT own your battery, and should NOT have unfettered access to the power it holds against the customer’s wishes. In my circumstance, my battery started being drained by Amber to the grid FAST, with loss of back up supply, in a situation where it was unclear as to whether we would lose grid supply. Not good enough Amber! Trying to stop this grid drain (even with Smart Shift disabled) was difficult. Eventually, activating on the Tesla app “go off grid” broke the connection.
    The elephant in the room, from my perspective, is the almost daily significant negative FIT (Feed In Tarriff) that is occurring this summer, due to (happy problem) of too much solar generation occurring for the grid to easily manage. No Incentive for those whom have gone “green” to contribute to the grid in this circumstance. So other providers that offer a continuous (albeit small) positive FIT irrespective of the National Grid price offer are now significantly more attractive.
    Have contacted Amber for reply on this one- no response after 3-4 days. Customer care very slow with this organization. Comments re “due to unprecedented demand” they are having delays in responding to customer issues is wearing thin. This “excuse” for poor customer service has been going on for months now. Was a loyal Amber customer from 6 years back. Think they have now lost there way. There is significant “greenwash” going on here, especially with how they are dealing with daily negative FIT prices. This is rapidly making Amber not competitive and not particularly upfront with the downsides of their energy pricing policies (ie always linked to grid price)..

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  • I have Enphase and agree negative FIT is an issue, but am not sure what Amber can do about this? I contacted Enphase re: if they have an API to dial up/down output and they responded that this sounded like a good idea and have allegedly backlogged this but until then what can be done? My home automation turns on the aircon to try and soak it up, but automating a "go off grid" leaves some circuits unpowered in my setup (eg aircon / stove)...

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  • Hi there, Enphase we are in the early stage of integrating with, for solar curtailment. In the meantime, using as much of your excess solar during the generation window as you can is your best bet for reducing negative FiT, or if you have a very large solar system and are unable to consume it all, you may wish to to look at a retailer who can offer you a fixed FiT while we work on curtailment.

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