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Generators vs. Batteries for Home Power Backup?

December 04, 2021

We live in a techno-centric world where blackouts bring a halt to everything. With more and more people choosing to work from home, a power outage limits our access to more than just modern conveniences like the TV and internet connection. When an outage caused by a storm wreaks havoc, and you go without power for several days, this could very well result in damaged foods in your fridge and lost income if you work from home.

Fortunately, there are options you can explore to keep your life running in times of blackouts. The two best options available are home battery backup systems and generators. So, which choice is ideal? Let’s learn some facts about the two, their main differences, and their perks. We will provide all the information you need to guide you in your selection.

Is A Home Backup Power System Necessary?

Blackouts tend to happen at the most inconvenient of moments. Home power backup systems or energy storage systems help reduce the impact of power outages on your daily life. An ideal system will serve you during emergencies and provide sustainable energy without breaking the bank. The system will kick in as soon as the power goes out, ensuring that you don’t suffer from downtime.

A lot has changed over the years, and many power backup systems come infused with smart technology. As such, they offer better energy efficiency and allow you to track your energy usage. Generally, these systems are designed to ensure convenience while still keeping your overall energy bill in check.

Understanding How Home Battery Power Backup Systems Work

Home battery backup systems come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. The modern designs comprise PV array connections that allow them to harvest power from your solar energy system. They also have electrical grids enabling the harvesting of power from your current electrical system.

Irrespective of how a system harvests energy, they store it in the batteries for use during emergencies. When the system detects unstable power or a blackout, it kicks in to keep you out of the dark. Note that battery systems differ in their capacity. While some can only deliver limited power, others are powerful enough to provide sufficient energy for a whole range of home appliances.

Understanding How Home Backup Generators Work

Generators work through a more straightforward system. They depend on fossil fuels to power up your home during blackouts. This means you have to fill your generator’s tank with gasoline, diesel, or natural gas, depending on the machine’s manufacturer’s recommendations.

Like home battery backup systems, generators are infused with technology that makes them detect a blackout. Immediately your main power supply is cut, the generator kicks in to provide power. Unfortunately, generators have not evolved much, especially when compared to home batteries equipped with intelligent technology. This means they may not work seamlessly, especially when age starts taking a toll on them.

Generators vs. Batteries for Home Power Backup—Understanding the Main Differences

Generators vs. batteries, not so different from potato vs. potahto, right? Not really. Battery systems and generators may serve the same purpose, but they are also as different as day and night in certain aspects. Both systems come with a unique set of pros and cons.

Let’s now focus on the main differences between the two to help you choose a system that best suits your home and loved ones. The idea is to settle for an option that offers you self-sufficient energy during power emergencies.

Reliability and Power Capacity

“Reliability” is a pretty subjective topic. This is because people define reliability differently. Generally, both home generators and battery backup systems are reliable sources of energy. You simply need to consider your power needs to choose an ideal option.

Batteries provide instantaneous power that can fire up appliances that require small loads of energy. For instance, a well-charged battery can light up your home and keep your refrigerator, TV, and Wi-Fi running for a few hours. It can even charge your electric car depending on the size of its power reservoirs.

Because batteries use renewable energy, they can keep power going for a decent while during the hot summer months. Even though they come with a steeper price tag than generators, they can save you money in the long run because they are low maintenance and hardly ever require repair work.

On the other hand, generators can handle higher amounts of inrush current. They can deliver larger loads of energy for more extended periods. As long as your generator’s tank has fuel, you can survive days or weeks of power blackouts with minimal stress.

Even though the upfront cost of purchasing a generator is lower, you may spend more money on your backup system in the long run. First, you must continually spend money on fuel to fire up your machine. Secondly, generators are more complex in their making, increasing the need for routine maintenance and periodic repairs. They are also considerably louder compared to battery power backup systems.

That said, you must consider the energy load you need. It is also crucial to consider whether you need a backup system for short or longer periods. If a power outage only lasts for a few hours at most, a battery backup system may be your best option. A generator is better if your area is prone to storms that cut off the main power supply for days on end.

Generator vs. Batteries; Power Output

So, batteries can provide uninterrupted energy for a few hours and power appliances that require low loads of energy. On the other hand, generators can run for hours on end and fire up heavy load appliances as long as you keep an eye on the fuel levels. But, how much power output can you expect from either system?

Well, different machines differ in their power capacity and output range. Battery backup systems have a power capacity of roughly 0.1 kWh to 100 kWh and offer a power output of between 4.5 and 5.5 KW. Depending on your home’s power consumption rate, this is plenty of power to last for a few hours or several days. When the battery is connected to your solar power system, you can enjoy more prolonged periods of energy because the battery will recharge itself when the sun comes out.

Generators are more powerful and can have a power capacity of between 7kWh and 48kWh. You can keep the unit running for as long as you have adequate fuel. You are probably thinking that it is as easy as connecting the generator to a natural gas source. Unfortunately, you are likely to suffer from both electricity outages and natural gas outages during a crisis. You, therefore, need to have backup gallons of fuel.

Fueling

Depending on the season, you don’t have to spend a dime fueling your backup battery system even if you need a continuous flow of energy. The system uses solar energy, which is in plenty during the hot summer months. You will have plenty of power to get by until your main power comes back.

If your home is in the high power usage bracket, your best bet is to choose a generator. In this case, a singular battery system may not suffice because it can quickly get drained before the main power is restored. While you have the option of investing in multiple battery power systems, it may be less hectic to purchase one generator and continuously add fuel to satisfy your energy needs.

Environmental Friendliness

If you want the most environmentally friendly option, you may want to stick to a battery power backup system. This option relies on solar energy and not carbon-based fuels. It offers a sustainable source of energy without harming the environment.

Technology Infusion

Again, we live in a tech-centric world. If you are interested in a power backup system that allows smooth, smart home integration, you may want to settle for a home battery system. Some machines come with a smartphone application, allowing you to manage your energy consumption and monitor your power usage. Models like the PowerPod even provide different modes of operation, making it swift to use the available power in rhythm with your energy goals.

Generators vs. Batteries for Home Power Backup — What Are the Costs?

One of the major deciding factors that most people consider is cost. Of course, the purchase cost may depend on your power needs and the size of the home battery system or generator you choose. As you create your budget, nothing is as essential as investing in a system that is a perfect match for your needs.

Here is a detailed generator vs. battery system cost comparison:

Upfront Costs

The upfront cost of installing a home battery system will highly depend on whether you already have a solar panel installed on your home. Assuming you have the panels in place, the backup power unit will cost you roughly $1000/kWh. You will also incur installation costs, where you must dig deeper into your wallet if you want to have more than one battery installed.

Home generators are cheaper. Depending on the brand and size of a system, it could have a price tag of as little as $500. Note that more powerful diesel units are expensive and could cost as much as $15,000. In this case, the installation cost is lower, and you should be good to go with an average budget of $4,000.

Fuel Costs

While the upfront cost of installing a home battery system may be higher, you may incur lesser recurring expenses in the long run. The batteries depend on renewable energy, aka free fuel. This calculates into significant savings, especially during the hot summer months.

On the other hand, home generators need regular fuel-ups. When consistently used, you have to refuel after every 24 to 48 hours of use. Refueling from a natural gas line is more cost-effective, although the supply may also be cut off during a crisis. As such, you may have no choice but to rely on other types of fuel such as diesel or propane. If the power outage goes for an extended period, using a generator can be tough on the wallet.

Maintenance Costs

Batteries for home power backup don’t require much maintenance. As long as you keep them within the recommended environment, they are less likely to malfunction or break down during emergencies. The best part is that they also come with prolonged warranties, assuring you of making a safe investment.

Home generators are more complex in their design and functions. They have a range of parts, including oil systems, a coolant, and even visible piping. This makes them more prone to concerns that may call for professional repairs.

 For your generator to work smoothly during times of emergency, it is imperative to schedule professional maintenance services 1 to 2 times a year, depending on how frequently the unit is in use. Most importantly, make sure you run the unit at least once each week for about 30 minutes to keep its parts in top shape.

Generators vs. Home Battery System — Possible Power Savings to Expect

It is easy to do a rough estimate of potential power savings when using a generator. You simply need to compare fuel costs with the drop in your regular power bills. However, making this estimate can be challenging when using a home battery backup system.

If you want a more accurate estimate, get in touch with us for a detailed savings assessment. This will help you decide whether it makes economic sense to switch to solar power.

Find a Full Service Electrical and Solar Installation

So, generators vs. batteries for home power backup, which one is right for you? Choosing the right system all comes down to your power needs and individual preferences. Both generators and home battery systems provide a reliable source of energy during emergencies. You simply need to consider how long your power outages last, how much energy your home needs and how much you are willing to spend in terms of upfront and maintenance costs. If you are still unsure about the ideal system for your home in Northern California, we invite you to reach out to Sun Solar Electric. We can help assess your power needs and provide insight from a professional perspective. Call us today at 707-658-2157 for a free, no-commitment consultation.

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