Which One Will Serve You Best at Home – Is it a Solar Panel or a Generator?

How can you use solar panel vs generator to keep your appliances running during winter? Yes, how can you do so when the weather goes haywire?

Traditionally, most homeowners have a portable generator kept ready, on standby, for one reason- it’s guaranteed to save them. Nevertheless, things have changed a little- more and more people are increasingly interested in solar PV or photovoltaic power systems. This system operates with solar battery storage.

Of course, we know how things went last year- many things happened that we had little control over, what with the Covid 19 pandemic? Happily, in 2021, we can still control a few things- for instance, we can control how we get energy for domestic and other uses.  Furthermore, we can control how we store such energy.

The question begs: When you must choose between a solar battery and a portable generator, what will you go for? Which is the best? How do they work? Let’s discuss this briefly to tick the questions.

Calculate the Cost of Acquiring a Generator or Battery Backup

How does installing battery backup compare to installing a generator? Put simply, the cost of installing backup power at home largely depends on the amount of power needed and the equipment chosen.

You can get a standby generator for around $3,000 and $5,000. This can power a typical home. In comparison, you can get a home backup battery starting from $6,000 (aside from installation costs). In most cases, you’ll need multiple batteries to provide enough power to run your home.

Overall, it costs around $10,000- 20,000 to install a battery backup system. In case your energy needs exceed that of your neighbor’s, you might need more batteries or a bigger generator. However, the installation costs will be a few thousand dollars over the initial price.

You can make some savings if you choose battery backup power. Do not consider the upfront price as the only cost you’ll incur. No. If you install a generator, keep in mind that you’ll buy some fuel to run the machine.  If you frequently use your generator, the fuel costs will shoot up. Expect to incur even more costs if you want the fuel directly delivered to your home.

Backup Power Options and Size Power Load

When choosing backup power options, consider what you’ll need to power your home when the grid is down. A battery will do just fine if you merely want to keep the lights on when an outage occurs. Most homeowners who pick the battery (as backup power) generally take solace in the fact that crucial loads (like lights, power outlets, and small appliances) will need power in case an outage occurs.

Not all batteries can produce adequate electricity to power energy-intensive equipment and appliances. Suppose you use a well pump, a sump pump, or similar equipment that consumes lots of power. In that case, it’s advisable to install a battery backup system (an example is the Pika Energy Harbor Battery– it works excellently as backup power.

Installing a generator means you won’t have to be anxious about things like critical loads. If you select a properly-sized generator, you will keep your home running without a hassle. Get an excellent installer to do the job. Moreover, you should have enough fuel on-site.

Fuel Supply for Power Backup

One crucial consideration for home backup power is the source of energy. When weighing your options, think about this carefully. Most generators are powered by liquid propane, natural gas, or diesel. Happily, your generator will continue running if you have enough fuel to supply the generator. Some generators can even connect to a natural gas line and continue running. If you can’t access a natural gas line, be ready to refill your generator whenever necessary.

In comparison, a home battery backup system is generally powered by electricity. You can charge it from a rooftop solar panel or directly from the grid.  If you have a solar cum storage system (as off-grid backup power), you can add a layer of security to protect you against worries with generator fuel. A battery backup system can work best in such a situation since you can recharge it when the grid is down.

Furthermore, if power outages are temporary and your priority is not saving energy, you can use portable solar generators such as Goal Zero, Bluetti, or Jackery. The choice is yours.

Note that you may not be able to recharge all types of battery systems when a power outage occurs. Hence, make your installer aware that you need this crucial feature.

Solar Power Generators You Can Use at Home

Solar Powered Generator

Generally, solar portable power stations are excellent for storing excess energy from various power sources, including solar panels. You can also use them to store power from the electricity grid- saving it for future use.

Usually, a grid-tied solar PV system will shut off, leaving you without power- just like your neighbors. Yes, this will leave you desperate amid a power outage. But when you combine the solar battery with solar panels, your battery will automatically power the home when the system disconnects from the grid. Yes, you’ll no longer suffer from power interruption!

You can set a battery backup system to run all essential energy loads. Moreover, you can use a solar battery backup when it’s dark, or the solar output is low, when there’s a power outage or when the electricity rates are high.

Advantages of Solar Battery Backup:

  • Quiet operation (noiseless.)
  • Combines with solar to create renewable energy.
  • Increases daily consumption.
  • Attracts federal tax incentives.
  • Little maintenance.
  • Seamless operation during outage.

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive to purchase.
  • Limited power output when connected to grid.

Power Backup Generators

Advantages/ Disadvantages

Most homeowners are familiar with standby or portable power generators. This backup power technology is commonly used. Backup generators burn fossil fuels to create electricity. These include diesel, gas, and propane. Just install them outside the home. Make sure there are sensors to detect a power outage and trigger automatic operation.

Such generators are affordable, but there are added costs with the weekly self-tests as well as fuel costs. Nevertheless, a well-maintained generator can do 10,000-30,000 hours throughout its lifespan. This translates into running for 3.5 years consecutively.

Backup generators have the following advantages (Pros):

  • More affordable than solar batteries.
  • You can connect it to the natural gas line.
  • Offers power 24/7(with a steady fuel supply).
  • Comes with flexible options.

Disadvantages of Backup Generators (Cons):

  • Require constant operation.
  • Comes with monthly fuel costs.
  • Noisy operation.
  • Higher carbon footprint.

Conclusion

It can be tricky trying to choose between a solar battery and a generator for your home needs. Why, both of these are excellent for providing power to run appliances at home or for business purposes.

Do you need emergency power and don’t plan to install a solar panel soon? Then a standby generator will work best for you. Do you want to power your home 24/7 regardless of outages? Do you wish to reduce your peak electricity charges? Go for a solar battery.

Consider your circumstances and make the best decision. Think of the pros and cons- benefits and drawbacks. Then choose what works best for your situation.  Happy choosing!

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