Solar Battery vs. Generator: Which One is Best for My Home?
When the power goes out in your area, what are your options? Unless you have backup power at your home, it’s likely you’ll be sitting in the dark.
Fortunately, dozens of backup power options are available to choose from – including propane, diesel, natural gas-powered generators, and solar battery systems.
When you find the right solution for your home, you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your household will keep running, even if the grid goes down.
Here at Sandbar Solar Electric, we’ve helped thousands of homeowners turn to solar and battery backup on the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast in California, so we know a thing or two about the value of a good backup system.
In this post, we’ll discuss the differences between solar battery backup systems and generators and help you understand which is right for you.
What is a Generator?
Generators and solar battery systems both provide backup power in the event of an outage. The way they do it, though, is very different.
Generators are the type of backup power systems most people are familiar with. Today, most generators run on liquid propane, natural gas, or diesel.
Freestanding generators sit outside the home and either turn on manually or include sensors that detect outages and turn the generator on automatically
Compared to solar battery backup for power outages, generators are more affordable on the front end.
Despite the low upfront cost, though, generators require regular maintenance and typically come with small recurring costs. Generators typically require weekly self-tests and need continual refueling to run during outages.
They produce sound when they are running as well as exhaust that is harmful to the environment.
When a generator is maintained regularly, it can last for 10 years.
Here are a few of the pros and cons of backup generator systems:
- Generators are more affordable upfront than solar batteries. However, solar batteries save a household money over time and there are many rebates and incentives available that can lower the upfront cost.
- Generators are easy to connect to existing natural gas lines.
- Generators provide round-the-clock power, as long as they have an ample fuel supply.
- Generators are available in a variety of sizes, from small, portable units to whole-home systems.
- Most generators are noisy to operate.
- Even high-end generators require annual and monthly maintenance.
- Generators require fuel to operate, which means they are not eco-friendly.
- Fuel left too long in a generator can go stale, causing problems with the equipment and additional repair costs.
- Generators create emissions during operation, creating an unpleasant smell and a high carbon footprint.
What is a Solar Battery Backup?
Solar battery backup systems run on electricity and are charged by a connection to the home’s solar energy system.
The batteries store excess energy produced by solar panels and save it for later use.
Some of the most common types of battery backups available today include:
Solar battery storage systems are popular because they are reliable.
When the grid goes down, a solar-powered battery backup system will draw stored energy from the batteries to power your home with no interruptions or downtime.
In addition to providing unparalleled reliability, battery backup systems are cleaner and quieter than generators and are also a more environmentally-friendly option.
- Battery backup systems operate almost silently.
- When combined with solar, battery backup systems run entirely on renewable energy, which means you don’t have to spend money on dirty, expensive fuels.
- Battery backup systems increase your home’s daily solar consumption.
- Installing a battery backup system can increase the value of your home.
- Some systems qualify for state and federal tax credits in California.
- Battery backup systems offer low maintenance requirements and a long lifespan.
- These systems operate seamlessly during grid outages.
Which is Most Cost-Effective?
The exact amount you’ll pay for backup power depends on your home’s size and energy needs. According to HomeAdvisor, the typical price range for a generator system is 1,413-7,594, and installation costs vary and may add upwards of 10,000 or more to the total cost. Most of these generators are powerful enough to run a typical home during an outage.
By comparison, solar battery backup systems start at around 9,000, not including installation costs.
If you’re budgeting for a battery backup system, you can expect to spend between 25,000 and 30,000 including batteries, installation, and other equipment.
Fortunately, incentives and rebates can help you access a solar battery backup system.
Don’t let the upfront price deter you, though. Financing programs are available for qualifying applicants, and battery backup systems offer long-term savings that generators don’t.
When you purchase a generator, you need to buy fuel, perform monthly and annual maintenance, and replace the generator at the end of its lifespan.
On the other hand, battery backup systems pair with solar energy systems to create a renewable power source. Over time, this can save you thousands of dollars on your electric bill.
Installing a battery backup system may also allow you to access federal and state tax incentives or participate in the SGIP Equity Resiliency program – which we’ll discuss more below.
Solar Battery Backup vs. Gas Generator: Which Option is Best for Me?
Now that you have the background on each option, which is right for you? Here’s our recommendation:
Buy a Standby Backup Generator if…
A standby backup generator is an ideal solution if you don’t mind the noise and maintenance required, you only want a system that can provide emergency power, and you have no intention of installing solar panels in the future.
If your home has an existing natural gas line, installing a standby generator may be relatively straightforward.
Buy Solar Battery Backup if…
Solar battery backup is an excellent option for customers who want a backup system that can work with an existing or future solar energy system.
A battery system is right for those who prefer a quiet, low-maintenance, reliable, and environmentally-friendly solution.
Consider investing in a battery backup system if you want to keep the lights on and power essential home appliances during a grid outage and also reduce peak electricity charges.
Limited-Time Rebates for Battery Backup
Solar battery backup systems create energy resiliency, which is something the state of California is very invested in right now.
As a result, certain households who install a solar battery backup system may be eligible for a limited-time rebate under the existing equity resilience Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) allocation.
This program benefits those living in a fire zone who are also on a Medical Baseline Rate Program. Funds are going fast, but the program funds 80-100% of total project costs if you qualify.
There are also rebates available for those in a fire zone who are not on Medical Baseline. Additionally, officials expect one last rebate bucket for battery customers not in a fire zone or on Medical Baseline.
This rebate offer will cover about 10-15% of project costs.
Thinking of Getting a Solar Battery Backup? We Can Help!
Now is an excellent time to invest in a solar battery backup system for your home, and Sandbar Solar is here to help.
Our team has over 15 years of experience designing battery systems and can install new battery systems or retrofit existing solar panel systems for a battery backup.
We service homes and businesses across the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast.
About the Author
Jeremy has worked in the solar industry since 2006. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies. Jeremy has spent most of his solar career in residential sales and Sales Management in both California and Hawaii. He was raised in Santa Cruz County and is passionate about helping local residents make the switch to clean and reliable renewable energy. Jeremy lives on the Westside with his wife and two boys and enjoys music, photography and hiking in his personal time.
New England Clean Energy Is An Authorized Distributor for Generac, including the Powercell Whole Home Battery System in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island
Solar power, using the Generac PWRcell Battery System captures and stores electricity from solar panels and keeps your whole home powered by the sun, even when the grid goes down!
PWRcell (pronounced Powercell) gives you backup during power outages and allows you to control your energy usage anytime to reduce utility costs. Here in New England, the number one reason to add a battery to your solar system is for backup power when the grid goes down. And stored power can also get you through anytime sunshine is not available, including nighttime or poor weather.
Generac Whole House Solar Battery
Generac is the only battery that can provide backup power for your entire home with just one battery. As the largest whole-home backup generator manufacturer in the world, Generac is bigger than the competition, delivers more amps, and manages your power consumption better. You’ll be able to run larger loads including your water well, furnace, air conditioner, or sump pump. Other battery systems simply cannot provide the full features of the Generac Powercell.
Other battery systems generally require you to choose the circuits you want to power from the battery during a blackout by putting them on a “sub-panel”. Unfortunately, that means during a power outage anything not on your sub-panel goes out too! With Generac’s PWRcell that is not the case.
We have in-depth knowledge of the Generac Whole Home System and can help you decide if it is right for you! Please contact us at our Massachusetts headquarters or at our offices in New Hampshire or Rhode Island to learn more!
Smarter recharging and monitoring
Generac PWRcell is an intelligent energy storage system.
Their smarter control system manages whether your power comes from the array or from storage. Other batteries may force you to run on 100% battery even when there’s bright sunshine outside in the days after an outage or weather event. So you won’t use battery storage when your array could keep the lights on all by itself.
PWRcell comes with the PWRview (pronounced Powerview) software system that lets you see your actual power usage in real time and change how your battery is functioning. Keep tabs on your energy consumption, monitor your battery usage, and track your savings!
You can avoid peak rates, lower energy bills and gain more independence from the grid. Set it for zero export in anticipation of a possible power outage. Or change to self-supply mode so you send less of your solar’s power back to the grid.
Generac Solar Batteries
When you purchase a PWRcell Solar Storage System Sign up for Generac’s Guaranteed Incentive Program.
Looking for a Solar Battery? Check Out Our Generac® Options
Why do you need a solar battery for your solar power system? Because you can’t always use all of the energy you’ve safely and effectively harnessed from the sun, and you don’t want it to go to waste! The solar battery options available through Generac® are what we offer all of our customers. Why? Because through our time and experience in the industry, we’ve determined that these are the best!
United Better Homes, a general contractor company, has tried a plethora of solar battery installers and solar battery dealers. However, through our experimentation, we’ve found the best on the market. Unfortunately, while your rooftop solar is a fantastic feature of your updated, eco-friendly, energy-efficient home, as soon as the sun goes down, you’re either out of energy and left in the dark or switching back to traditional energy options.
With a quality solar battery storage system as part of your solar array, you will have solar energy available and pumping through your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Are you eager to learn more about this much-needed feature of your new solar energy system? Then, give us a call!
Does Your Solar Power System Need a Solar Battery?
How can you know for sure if investing in the cost of a solar battery is worth it? By understanding the benefits. We know because we’ve been highly trained and educated in all things solar. However, unless you’ve done some research, it’s likely to be confused and overwhelmed with all the accessories available for your solar array.
Before you eliminate the solar battery from the list of add-ons to your solar panel system, understand the advantages of including it:
- Backup in the event of a blackout
- reliability in the system
- Load shifting capabilities
- Save more on energy bills
- Potential for energy trading
- Add yourself to the list of people on the Smart Grid Revelation!
Before installing just any solar battery, understand that we offer state-of-the-art options from reputable Generac® manufacturers. Learn more about it by calling our professional solar battery installation company!
Check Out the Solar Incentive Program From Generac® Available in Your Area Now!
Click your state below to find out more of the specifics surrounding the Generac® Connected Solutions program, and see exactly how much you can save on solar!
Install a Solar Battery Never Deal With Power Outages Again!
You’re eager about the benefits of going solar at your residence or commercial location. However, you can’t shake the thought of what will happen if the grid goes down. No system is flawless, and of course, that potential is always there. With a durable, reliable, advanced solar power system, including a solar inverter, you can switch from live solar energy to backup stored in your battery. In fact, many of our customers report not even noticing that the grid is down. That’s how fast things happen.
The Generac® power cell system holds 18kW of energy, which is enough to power almost most homes during even long-lasting power outages. The PWRcell battery attracts the sun’s energy, stores it, and is there for when you need it the most. If you’re still worried about running out, consider installing multiple solar batteries for peace of mind.
We offer the option for a solar battery Rhode Island residents are actively seeking out. While we’re local to this region, we can also serve your needs in Connecticut and Massachusetts! So what are you waiting for? Get the personal attention, quality products, and continued support you need for your solar conversion. Call United Better Homes today!
The Generac® PWRCELL Incentive Program
You’ve likely heard about the numerous tax rebates, tax incentives, and solar tax programs out there. So, you want to dive in once you know you’re getting all the possible savings. Our knowledgeable customer service staff will willingly go through all the aspects of the Guaranteed Incentive Connected Solutions program. What does that include, you ask?
- Annual incentive. yearly payments for the next five years (between 1,100 and 2,000 depending on location and system)
- Up-front discount. don’t wait and get your up-from savings enrolling in the program (5,100. 9,300)
Before you know it, your new solar power system will be paying for itself and then pay you back. Don’t you want to jump on board before too many sunny days slip by? Give us a call. We will do what we can to get your services met fast!
Terms and conditions apply. To be eligible, you must apply, be accepted, and participate in the Program in accordance with the Program Requirements.
Power Your Home With a Generac Solar Energy System
Better Tomorrow Solar is the name you can trust for solar energy innovation. We offer a vast service area with our two locations in Charlotte, NC, and Atlanta, GA. We are an industry leader providing clean, sustainable solar power for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint. We are proud to be partnered with Generac, a leading manufacturer of affordable backup power generation products, including energy storage batteries designed for residential use. Among our selection of solar energy, products are Generac battery storage systems that will provide your home with cleaner, smarter energy. With environmental threats on the rise, the optimized energy consumption you’ll gain from a Generac solar energy storage system will help you reduce utility costs while doing your part to fight climate change all year round. Learn more today about Generac technology from Better Tomorrow Solar.
Complete Energy Independence
Step into the future with the ultimate clean energy system from Generac. At Better Tomorrow Solar, we offer PWRcell, Generac’s advanced solar energy system that features the robust energy capacity you need to power and protect your home while protecting the environment. Generac’s revolutionary PWRcell technology is expertly engineered to harness the natural power of sunlight that will keep your home safe and reduce your effect on the environment.
A PWRcell battery storage system from Generac captures clean, renewable energy either from solar panels or the electrical grid, enabling you to use the stored energy during peak demand times when energy costs are high. This Smart ability to generate power from stored energy will significantly lower the amount you spend on electricity and provide your home with continuous power in the event of an outage. Supply your home with solar power from Generac PWRcell technology today and gain complete energy independence.
Gain Real-Time Insight Into Your Energy Consumption
Generac’s advanced PWRcell technology offers a fully integrated solar power ecosystem that allows you to manage your home’s energy consumption with ease without relying on the grid. The PWRcell system is one of the most versatile and scalable home energy systems offered on the market today, featuring easy installation and versatile compatibility in nearly any climate. With the intuitive PWRview app, you’ll be able to manage the energy you use, monitor your battery usage, and keep tabs on your savings in real-time. The PWRview app allows you to view dashboards on solar generation and daily consumption, as well as bill estimates and savings. By integrating Generac solar energy technology into your home, you’ll power your home with Smart, sustainable energy while keeping monthly costs in check.
Cleaner Energy Made Affordable
Generac has gone above and beyond to make cleaner energy more affordable to everyone. With Generac technology, you won’t have to pay for more than you need – PWRcell’s flexibility allows you to create a customized system configuration for your home to meet your lifestyle and budget. Generate energy on your own terms with as few as three battery modules, all the way up to a six-module configuration. If you need more power, the PWRcell system can utilize multiple battery cabinets to reach the storage capacity you need.
Solar Backup Power: Generac PWRcell Review
As more business and homeowners turn to solar for their energy, many solar companies are investing in new ways to optimize system performance, further decrease consumer reliance on the grid, and provide reliable backup options during increasing instances of grid outages.
One of the most common and in-demand system upgrades is the installation of a solar battery. Due to the variety of backup power products, as we’ve covered in weeks past, figuring out the best battery for your home or business can present a challenge.
This week, we take a look at Generac’s PWRcell.
What is Generac?
An established leader in the backup power space, Generac recently unveiled its new line of backup batteries. Designed to accompany clean energy systems, these batteries store and distribute household energy generated by solar.
As is common with most home battery systems, the PWRcell pairs with a new or existing solar panel system. With a FOCUS on power, Generac describes the PWRcell as “the most powerful residential battery on the market.” Other key features include:
- One of the largest energy storage capacities of any similar product on the market
- Stores energy during peak hours for use while the sun is down, saving customers money on utility bills
- Sells excess energy back to the utility grid
- PWRview app easily allows monitoring of battery production, energy consumption, and energy savings
- Enables pairing with an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) which seamlessly transitions home to backup power during an outage
- Smart Management Modules (SMMs) automatically manage power distribution during an outage, ensuring critical loads maintain power
- A modular design that allows expansion of storage capacity as power needs shift
The biggest benefit of the Generac PWRcell is its size. Not only the raw power– but its scalable system which allows flexibility in its design. PWRcell’s system is modular, meaning that one can add or reduce multiple battery products to a storage setup as energy needs shift.
The PWRcell 17, the largest and most commonly installed battery of the Generac models, boasts the superior usable capacity to both its biggest competitors (the Tesla Powerwall and Enphase Encharge) at over 17 kWh. For scale, a typical A/C unit draws roughly 3 kW per hour of use.
So, if your decision comes down to which single battery will provide the greatest amount of backup power during an outage, look no further than the PWRcell.
Offered along with a PWRcell are the Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) and Smart Management Modules (SMMs). The ATS enables smooth and automatic transitions from grid power to the PWRcell’s backup reserve during an outage, preventing the need for manual transfers which can jeopardize the safety of a home. While Generac plans to soon allow for direct generator integration, it remains unavailable with current products.
Generac’s SMMs are uniquely advantageous because during an installation, customers don’t have to separate critical from non-critical loads. This means the PWRcell automatically knows when to stop sending power to certain appliances based on the level of power remaining in the battery and the energy level being drawn by specific appliances.
While the PWRcell’s intelligence automatically manages home energy to optimize efficiency and performance, you can monitor the performance of your battery on the PWRview app with real-time data. This allows you to:
- Easily keep tabs on energy consumption
- Track savings and energy expenses with history and forecasting tools
- Lower energy bills and avoid peak rates
- Gain greater independence from the grid
When considering the performance and reliability of a backup battery system, important metrics to note include the power, warranty, and capacity of a battery. The power and capacity of the PWRcell are well-touted, and as discussed, most sources confirm it as the most powerful battery of its kind on the market.
The warranty of a PWRcell 17 battery is valid for either 10 years or the amount of time it takes to cycle the specified amount of energy through the battery below. Most similar products have a 10-year warranty which guarantees a certain number of recharges, as opposed to Generac’s guaranteed energy yield.
How long will a full charge last?
- While having a backup battery system greatly lowers your reliance on the utility grid, no single battery will yield complete off-grid power for a home. Most single batteries will provide several hours’ worth of power. A PWRcell is large enough to serve as a temporary backup for a home during an outage. To be truly “off-grid,” though possible, would require the installation of multiple PWRcell batteries (typically 2 or 3, depending on the home).
The Bottom Line
If you prioritize power and capacity, then look no further than the PWRcell. Since power and capacity go hand in hand, the PWRcell yields the best of both. It’s ATS and SMMs provide effortless reliability to accompany this power, making the PWRcell an excellent backup option.