Generac adds ability sell power back to grid to its home battery storage systems
US backup power solutions specialist Generac has embedded ‘Smart Grid Ready’ functionality into some of its products, leveraging its acquisition of distributed energy platform tech company Enbala.
Generac, best known for its home and light commercial gensets, added battery energy storage systems to its suite of products, launching the first iteration of its PWRcell home battery system at the beginning of 2020. The modular battery system is scalable from 8.6kWh energy capacity up to 34.2kWh with the addition of more units and the company claims that it is capable of backing whole home loads, unlike some competitor products.
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With customers in many areas of the US worried about power outages and keen to maximise their use of renewable energy, Generac CFO York Ragen said there had been surging demand for the product range in the past few months when reporting the company’s Q2 2021 financial results in late July.
The company said earlier this week that it has now added the capabilities for PWRcell owners to be able to sell their energy back to the grid, offsetting their energy costs and enabling the batteries to be used in aggregated virtual power plants (VPPs) with other distributed energy resources like solar and electric vehicles (EVs). In doing so it has joined the ranks of other home battery providers like Tesla, sonnen, Enphase, Q Cells and several others that already offer such capabilities.
Generac signed an agreement to acquire Enbala in October 2020 and its Enbala Concerto distributed energy resource (DER) integration and real-time energy balancing platform. This has now been added to new Generac systems and the company said existing PWRcell and generator units can also be onboarded via firmware updates. Generac said that its battery systems will be able to function as backup as intended, but can now also be used to provide grid services or sell energy back to the grid, which could help offset the system owner’s energy costs.
Changing customer backup into transactive energy systems
Home batteries and other DERs have been used in various VPP programmes around the world already. However while there have been some significant contracts signed by the likes of residential solar-plus-storage provider Sunrun and specialist VPP companies like Swell Energy and Sunverge in the US, their uptake has been relatively limited.
This is partly due to the need to integrate a large volume of units in order to contribute meaningful capacity to a utility’s grid-balancing and peak management needs and also due to other factors like the difficulty of acquiring customers to participate and regulations which prevent their full multi-use capabilities from being unlocked.
This could be about to go much more mainstream with the introduction of FERC Order 841 and FERC Order 2222 through which federal regulator FERC commanded regional transmission organisations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) to remove barriers to entry into their wholesale electricity markets for distributed energy storage systems and for distributed energy resources more generally.
Meanwhile, Generac and other providers are increasingly finding that customers are first and foremost driven towards buying home energy storage for backup purposes, which means a device the home or business owner was going to buy anyway for one application becomes an asset for a whole range of others.
Generac Pwrcell Review: An Incredibly Modular Solar Battery
The Generac Pwrcell allows you to customize just how much battery capacity you need.
Sarah Drolet is an associate writer at CNET covering home energy, residential solar power and emerging energy technology. She previously wrote about home and moving-related topics for MYMOVE. Sarah graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
- Extremely flexible capacity sizing
- Easy capacity upgrades
- Good performance and efficiency
Solar panels are gaining popularity for many reasons, but they won’t help you in a blackout. You’ll need a home battery system for that. Just like solar panels, that battery will need to meet the particular needs of your home.- they aren’t one size fits all.
The Generac Pwrcell was released in 2019 and has since become one of the most recognizable batteries in the solar industry. This solar battery was designed to make it easy for homeowners to get the exact battery capacity that they need for their home’s energy needs.
The thinking behind the battery and surrounding energy storage was that not all homes are created equal, Rex Liu, Generac’s vice president of product management, told CNET. The needs of every homeowner could be very different, so having a modular battery was something that could bring a lot of value to the market overall. An installer can optimize the solution for their particular homeowner customer.
Solar batteries are big, bulky, expensive and part of a holistic home energy system. That makes them difficult to put through hands-on testing. This review is based on specs and information provided by Generac online and an interview with Liu to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Here’s what you should know about the Generac Pwrcell.
What do I get with the Generac Pwrcell?
The Generac Pwrcell is one of the most modular batteries we’ve seen. In our review of the best solar batteries, the Pwrcell stood out in its modularity, capacity sizes, efficiency and performance. Here’s a quick look at the Generac Pwrcell’s specs.
Generac Pwrcell specs
The Generac Pwrcell is more than just a battery box that sits in your garage or hangs on the wall. It’s an intricate, DC-coupled system with quite a few components. Here’s a quick breakdown of the Pwrcell system:
Battery cabinet: The Pwrcell stores energy a bit differently compared with other solar batteries. Instead of a battery box, the Pwrcell system has a battery cabinet, which houses several lithium-ion battery modules. The battery cabinet houses three to six battery modules. The number of battery modules in the cabinet reflects the storage capacity available. A second battery cabinet can be installed for additional capacity.
Inverter: The main function of the inverter is to convert DC energy from the solar panels and battery into AC energy to power your home. Since the Pwrcell is a DC-coupled system, you’ll have to use the Generac inverter that is provided with the Pwrcell.
Automatic transfer switch: The ATS provides an automatic transition to back up battery power in a power outage.
PV link: This helps optimize how power is generated by your solar panels and stored in the battery. It also works with a Rapid shutdown device connected to the solar panels.
Capacity and modularity
The capacity and modularity categories are where the Pwrcell shines the brightest, scoring as the most modular battery on our rankings of the best solar batteries. The Pwrcell stores energy in individual battery modules contained within a battery cabinet. One battery cabinet holds between 9 kWh and 18 kWh of energy, with capacity expandable in increments of 3 kWh. This design allows homeowners easier access to the capacity size that is just right for their home’s energy needs.
Upgrading the Pwrcell’s capacity is easy. Instead of buying a whole new battery, you’ll just purchase a new battery module. You’ll have to hire an installer to insert the new battery module. Once you hit the maximum capacity (18 kWh), you’ll need to install an additional battery cabinet. You can have up to two battery cabinets, for a maximum capacity of 36 kWh.
Performance and efficiency
The Pwrcell has a higher-than-average round-trip efficiency of 96.5%. This means only 3.5% of your electricity gets lost on its way to battery storage. Of the lithium-ion batteries we looked at, the average efficiency was about 90%. However, the Generac Pwrcell’s depth of discharge is one of the lowest we’ve seen for lithium-ion solar batteries, at 84%. A battery’s depth of discharge is a limitation set by the manufacturer on the percentage amount of energy that can be drained all at once without damaging the battery. The average depth of discharge for a lithium-ion solar battery is about 95%.
The Pwrcell also performs well in the power output category, with an on-grid peak power output range of 4.5 kW. 9 kW and an on-grid continuous power output range of 3.4 kW. 7.6 kW. A battery’s peak power output rating is the maximum amount of power it can output all at once, and is normally used when large appliances or power loads kick on. A battery’s continuous power output is the amount of power the battery can output all the time.
The exact amount of power output from the Pwrcell depends on the installed capacity. In other words, the higher the battery capacity, the higher the power output.
How’s the Pwrcell’s warranty? It’s pretty much the industry average, which isn’t a bad thing. Here’s what it includes:
- 10 years (includes battery cabinet, inverter and each individual battery module)
- 7.56 MWh throughput per battery module
- 70% end-of-warranty capacity guarantee
Ten-year warranties are pretty standard with solar batteries, but it’s nice to know the entire Pwrcell system is covered. However, each Pwrcell battery module does come with a throughput clause. This is essentially the manufacturer’s estimate on the total amount of energy it expects the battery to deliver during its lifetime. In this case, Generac expects each battery module to deliver 7.56 MWh of energy during its lifespan. Be aware that once a battery module hits its throughput (7.56 MWh), it is no longer covered under warranty.
The Pwrcell also comes with an end-of-warranty capacity guarantee of 70%. This is Generac’s guarantee that each battery module will be able to hold at least 70% of its maximum energy capacity by the time your warranty expires. It’s also worth noting that the PV links are warranted for 25 years, and the automatic transfer switch for five years.
As a company, Generac doesn’t have the best product or customer service reviews. Many customers have left complaints on Generac’s Better Business Bureau page about products breaking after a couple years of use, with some customers even referring to Generac as Junkerac. These complaints are mainly focused on their Pwrcell systems and generators. Many customers have also had bad experiences with Generac’s customer support surrounding warranties, with Trust Pilot reviewers saying Generac was not honoring the warranty.
Generac PWRview app
The Generac Pwrcell is compatible with Generac’s well-rated energy management app – PWRview. The PWRview app monitors your solar production, shows your battery’s state of charge and tells you when you’re drawing power from the grid and when you’re feeding power to the grid. The app also keeps track of your historical energy data to help calculate estimated savings.
How much does the Generac Pwrcell cost?
The Generac Pwrcell is estimated to cost between 10,000 and 20,000 before installation. Cost is reflective of how many battery modules you have installed: The higher your battery capacity, the higher the price tag. Other factors affecting price are location, the installer and the amount of solar on your roof. As a rule of thumb regarding battery pricing, you can usually expect to pay between 1,000 and 2,000 per kWh of energy storage.
For the most accurate pricing, you’ll need to speak with a Generac Pwrcell-certified installer in your area. We recommend gathering a few quotes from national and local installers to see who will give you the best price possible.
Is the Generac Pwrcell my best choice?
It depends on what you’re looking for in a battery and what your energy storage goals are. In terms of its technical specs, the Pwrcell is a decent battery, excelling in modularity, capacity and efficiency. But don’t limit your options to just the Pwrcell. Explore multiple battery storage options on your own or with an installer. Most installers are certified to install multiple brands of batteries, so don’t feel like you only have one option.
How we evaluated the best solar batteries
Not every battery is the right fit for every home. Without an on-site inspection, it’s difficult to determine which solar battery is the best battery for home and energy needs. Due to the complexity of solar panel systems, we’re unable to do any hands-on testing of these solar batteries. However, there are ways to objectively evaluate and compare these batteries. Here’s how we evaluate solar batteries.
First, we created categories to evaluate the battery’s efficiency, performance, capacity and value. We also gave each category its own weight. A category’s weight reflects the importance we felt was relevant to the average consumer. Here are the categories we considered and their weights:
- Battery modularity (stackability). 20%
- Warranty. 20%
- Round-trip efficiency. 15%
- Depth of discharge. 10%
- Power output. 10%
- Price. 10%
- Customer reviews. 10%
- Battery capacity. 5%
We looked at over 15 of the most common batteries on the market and collected the data for each category to compare the numbers. Each category (for every battery) was given a tier-style rating (from 1 to 5) to see which metrics of each battery were above average (among those on our list), average or below average.
Frequently asked questions
Can I go off-grid with the Generac Pwrcell?
You could, but it’s not what the Pwrcell was designed for. The Pwrcell’s intended use is for grid-tied solar power systems. If you decided to live off-grid with the Pwrcell, you’d likely need multiple battery cabinets.
Generac Solar Batteries
Generac has been in the business of home generators for more than six decades. The company was the first to develop low-cost standby solutions and continues to be the first in residential backup equipment. Generac manufactures batteries, inverters, power switches and other devices. They are engineered to work together as part of an integrated system that saves you money, reduces emissions and makes your home safer.
The integrated energy storage system is called PWRcell. Innovative design allows it to tap into and store both solar energy and the electricity from the grid. This way you will always have enough energy during peak demand hours, which means you have to pay less for your bills.
Generac fully integrated solar battery storage system
Generac solar battery is one of the main components of the PWRcell system, along with PV optimizers and inverters that together make a fully integrated solar and battery storage system. In its standard configuration consisting of 1 inverter and 3 lithium batteries in a battery cabinet, it provides 9 kWh of storage capacity. With unrivaled scalability and flexibility, Generac PWRcell won’t make you pay for more than you need: available options range from 9 to 36 kWh of storage capacity and from 4.5 to 11 kW continuous backup power. To handle it, you need a single Generac inverter. Thanks to an Outdoor Rated battery cabinet, the system can be installed outside under almost any conditions.
Compared to prominent competitors like Tesla and LG, PWRcell system has more to offer in terms of storage capacity, maximum continuous power and motor starting current.
In this age of connectivity we are used to receiving important information through our phones. With a PWRview home app the important data is always accessible. The monitoring platform offers detailed reports on consumption, solar generation and Generac battery performance. All data is safely stored to be available when you need it. To further enhance your experience, the app has bill forecasting functionality and other insights.
Generac solar battery has a ten year warranty or 7.56MWh throughput. The battery cabinet’s warranty is also 10 years.
What is the average price of Generac products?
A fully integrated system can put thousands of dollars back into your. making the initial investment pay off fairly quickly. The price of the system will vary depending on its characteristics. Generac estimates the total cost (including installation) of a 9 kWh PWRcell system to be around 20,000. Generac solar battery’s cost is around 2,000 for a 3 kWh module, which makes it affordable to expand your storage capacity in the future.
Why buy from us
Our store sells Generac batteries. That’s how we approach our business:
- Our warehouses are located on East and West coast of United States
- All orders are processed in 24 hours and shipped in 48 hours
- Orders are delivered by freight transport in 4-7 business days
- We sell A-grade equipment only from verified manufactures
- Affordable pricing on all solar energy equipment
- No counterfeit products
Our managers are always happy to answer any questions concerning Generac battery prices, warranties, and shipping options.
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How Much Is A Generac Power Cell? Is It Worth The Price?
Due to growing electricity bills and the prevalence of power grid breakdowns, more people are considering solar power generating and battery storage devices like the Generac PWRcell.
It is a leader, alongside its closest competitor, Tesla Powerwall, regarding home solar energy collection, storage, and distribution.
Knowing the Generac power cell costs will help you better decide what to buy, Generac power cell vs its competitor – Tesla Powerwall.
What Is The Generac PWRcell?
The Generac PWRcell is a residential battery storage and management system. It can catch, store, and transport clean energy across households and charge electric vehicles (EVs) when paired with solar panels.
But you can also use it as a power backup system without solar panels during an electricity outage.
A Generac PWRcell system contains:
- A load management unit (PWRmanager).
- One whole home electrical distribution controller (PWRcell ATS).
- A power cell inverter.
- Battery cabinets.
Install the solar panels individually. PV Link/Optimizers are a must to connect Generac PWRcell to solar panels.
On top of that, PWRgenerator is a propane- or gas-fueled backup generator that could top off energy stored when other supplies are insufficient.
Generac Power Cell Cost
The price of a 9 kilowatt-hour (kWh) system is around 18,000.
The Generac PWRcell’s pricing is also affected by how many panels are available and whether you have solar panels. For instance, installing 22 solar panels will cost around 29,000. The total price of installing solar panels and a Generac PWRcell system is roughly 47,000.
Adding more batteries raises the price by about 2,000 per one. Also, you’ll need to buy another cabinet for every six batteries you add. Each cabinet now costs between 3,300 and 3,500.
The minimum number of batteries fitting in a cabinet is three. Thus, the lowest cost for batteries in a cabinet would be around 6,000, with a maximum cost of 12,000 for a bank of six battery modules.
The price will vary depending on the dealer you buy from. Whether you buy from a Generac dealer or a solar installer, who may tack on a markup to the price, affects how much you’ll pay.
How Does The PWRcell Solar Home Battery Work?
Once the utility reduces net metering, institutes mandatory charges, or implements time-of-use rates, the PWRcell works wonders with the solar panel section.
This lets you maintain a steady power supply day and night as long as you store enough power from your solar panels on sunny days.
The PWRcell, like other home battery solutions, is sized for daily home usage and connects directly to a solar panel system. Instead of transmitting excess energy to the grid, you can store it in the PWRcell battery system. As such, you can conveniently use your battery’s stored energy on rainy days.
Key Things To Know About The Generac PWRcell
The PWRcell is a lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) battery, making it a lithium-ion battery module. NMC batteries are noted for their average power rating and relatively high energy density.
Their management technology is entirely built-in into the PWRcell single inverter, but Generac also provides PWRview for high-end monitoring abilities.
Thanks to them, Generac’s PWRcell batteries and components can smartly regulate electrical loads in the living space and extract electricity from this battery if required.
You can assess the solar battery performance via its roundtrip efficiency and discharge depth.
Depth of discharge (DoD) is a battery’s energy discharged as a proportion of its capacity compared to its overall energy.
Multiple manufacturers recommend a maximum DoD level for optimal battery performance, as each charge, discharge, and recharge cycle mitigates the battery’s lifespan. As such, high-discharge batteries are often more qualified. Generac PWRcell’s DoD is about 84%.
Roundtrip efficiency calculates battery charging and discharging electrical losses. The higher efficiency proportion makes it more efficient for the battery to convert incoming electricity into stored and usable energy.
For every 10 kWh of electricity you put into Generac PWRcell DC-coupled batteries, you’ll get 9.65 kWh of output.
The Generac PWRcell M3, M4, M5, and M6 have varying numbers of backup battery modules.
Usable storage capacity and power are vital when comparing the PWRcell to other home storage options.
Power is the greatest amount that can be output at once, and usable capacity is the maximum amount stored in a full-charge battery. The PWRcell M6 is the largest product in the range, with 18 kWh of usable capacity and 9 kW off-grid power.
Meanwhile, the off-grid power is 4.5, 6, and 7.5 kW for the M3, M4, and M5 versions, respectively.
What Are the PWRcell’s Main Components?
PWRcell Battery Cabinet
PWRcell’s primary lithium-ion battery modules are in the battery cabinet. Based on backup power needs, its enclosure fits any size configuration.
Also, the PWRcell system lets you add battery modules to an existing battery cabinet with a backup from 9 kWh to 18 kWh. This is one of the most awesome capacities among commercial and residential batteries.
Generac PWRcell Inverter
Your solar array and PWRcell inverter work together. Inverters connect the battery storage with the solar system, transforming solar energy into electricity and diverting it from there.
User-selectable modes allow the inverter to manage power. Your home’s energy needs will determine the modes: self-supply, backup power, time-of-use, export-limiting, and zero-import.
PWRcell inverters’ capability lets you monitor, forecast, and adjust your home’s power requirements using the PWRview web portal and smartphone app.
Smart Management Modules
Generac’s Smart Management Modules (SMM) halt PWRcell from overload. The power system can safely control up to eight residential circuits when combined with the PWRcell’s ATS. This also makes the PWRcell so good at wisely regulating energy during outages.
Convenient Generac’s PWRview App
The PWRview app lets you manage household energy to a tee. It helps assess your energy consumption, estimate expenditures, and offer tips on managing stored energy and lowering your bills.
Automatic Transfer Switches (ATS)
Manually switching your home’s energy supply to a backup source, whether from a generator or battery, can be tricky and risky. Thus, generators must be set up to deliver energy to individual circuits, such as ventilation, heating, and air conditioners.
The PWRcell relies heavily on ATS to facilitate a seamless transition from the electric grid to the whole-house backup system. Afterward, it can regulate the solar system’s energy usage, dispatching the power to household devices and systems.
Generac PWRcell Pros and Cons
This Generac PWRcell is an excellent option for a garage, mechanical area, or outside installation, thanks to its particular functions and design.
Generac PWRcell directs solar energy into batteries without converting it (which Tesla Powerwall does), making it 7% to 10% more efficient than Tesla Powerwall.
The Generac PWRcell is sold only as an integrated system, with no option to purchase individual parts from other brands.
A Tesla Powerwall is the optimal charging solution for Tesla cars, not Generac Powercell.
During a power outage, the Powerwall and Tesla are built to coordinate with one another and control the electricity’s flow. Still, Generac PWRcell fits other EV brands but for Tesla.
Is A Generac PWRcell Or Generac Generator Worth It?
It’s up to your home’s demand and the electrical system’s structure.
The Generac PWRcell is long-lasting. A typical solar panel-equipped Generac PWRcell system saves a 3,000-square-foot building in a sunny region approximately 66,000 in electric bills of homeowners money across 25 years.
This power control system becomes effective using solar panels. If you’re only seeking power backup for the infrequent power outage, a Generac PWRcell may not be worth the money. Instead, a whole-house generator powered by propane or natural gas is more appropriate.
A (gas/propane) Generac 22/19.5 kWh full-house generator, whose average cost is only 6,200, produces more powerful energy than the Generac PWRcell. Also, a mobile gasoline-powered generator is around half the price of a full-house one.
Still, noise levels in the 67 to 74 dB range, equivalent to traffic noise, make whole-house and mobile generators unsuitable for usage in populated regions. Meanwhile, the Generac PWRcell is entirely silent and has no emissions.
Can The Generac PWRcell Help You Go Off-Grid?
Yes. The PWRcell’s battery cabinet is also weatherproof and suitable for off-grid projects.
During outages, you can recharge the PWRcell for off-grid backup power. At that time, its automatic load management lets you choose which parts at home get backup power.
However, before going off-grid, verify with your local government. Some regions and states forbid disconnecting from public power.
Where To Buy The Generac PWRcell
You can get a Generac PWRcell battery pack from the firm’s website and purchase one from any solar or energy storage installation company registered Generac/Pika.
Generac home battery systems and authorized EnergySage providers are the most reliable and go-to sites for such details. Join the EnergySage Marketplace online and specify your product choices that meet your demand.
Improper installation of a solar-plus-storage system can lead to costly repairs and power failure. Thus, it’s better to call a skilled electrician with experience installing such vital systems.
Generac Pwrcell Warranty Periods
There’s a 10-year guarantee on the PWRcell’s components.
Generac also includes a “throughput warranty” for the various PWRcell variants. This warranty is an alternative method of determining when a battery’s guarantee period has ended based on the stored energy amount.
Generac’s battery technology is similar to that of other large and small rechargeable batteries: the battery loses some of its ability to store a charge over time after multiple charging and discharge times.
For example, it’s normal to see a phone’s battery that will gradually drain its capacity to store energy when it is repeatedly charged and discharged.
How Long Will A Generac PWRcell Last?
The PWRcell battery life is around 10 years.
Can A Generac PWRcell Be source Of Home Backup Energy?
Yes. The PWRcell can be a backup power supply for your home in case of a blackout. Generac power systems have spent decades providing backup power, and the PWRcell continues the excellence regarding the areas using solar energy.
Where Can A PWRcell Be Installed?
Generac PWRcell, like the Tesla Powerwall, is ready to go wherever it is placed, whether indoors or outdoors.
Can You Power An Electric Vehicle With A PWRcell?
The most significant PWRcell type has a battery capacity of only 18 kWh, far less than the batteries found in most extended-range electric vehicles. That means a Generac PWRcell is unlikely to be able to recharge your automobile fully.
Generac has led the backup power generation industry for homes, businesses, and factories. It’s an industry leader in generators powered by gasoline, diesel, or other natural fuel and has had a product line built primarily for home backup power.
Now, you have grasped the Generac power cell price before considering installing a system. Overall, it’s not a significant figure! It’s worth investing in for your convenience, way more valuable than its competitors.
Also, share this good read with any homemakers using (or about to use) a Generac Power cell system.