Ten Reasons that Battery Backup is Better than a Generator

More now than ever before, homeowners are looking for backup battery storage solutions to protect themselves against blackouts. This is particularly true in California, where planned shutoffs by utilities to prevent forest fires have affected tens of thousands of people.

In the past, homeowners have looked to backup generators to protect themselves against grid outages. These days, however, modern technology has fundamentally transformed this market, and solar-paired batteries offer a far better alternative to home backup than generators do. 

1. Battery Backup is Quiet

If you’ve heard a generator before, you know that they are horrifically noisy. The sound is constant through the full duration that the generator is running – meaning however long your power outage lasts. 

By contrast, batteries are completely silent. You wouldn’t be able to tell that your battery storage system was powering your home if you were standing right next to it. Your family – and your neighbors – will thank you for keeping the peace. 

2. Battery Backup uses Clean Energy

Diesel generators emit nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and other hydrocarbons. Propane and natural gas generators emit dangerous emissions as well. We all know how dangerous it would be to lock yourself or your family in your garage with your car engine running, so the thought of generator emissions right next to your home should be similarly unappealing.

In fact, generator emissions can be so dangerous that carbon monoxide poisoning from using generators can kill more people than the natural disasters they’re designed to protect us from!

[Source: https://www.npr.org/2019/12/04/784279242/carbon-monoxide-poisoning-from-portable-generators-proves-predictable-and-deadly]

Batteries emit no emissions of any kind. They’re completely sealed and will have no negative impacts on your family’s health.

3. Batteries are Smaller than Generators

While some portable generators can be quite small, built-in generators – which more closely match the capabilities of home batteries – occupy a large footprint and can take up valuable space in your yard. If you install one of these generators, you’ll likely also need to pour a substantial concrete pad to house it.

Backup battery storage, meanwhile, is wall-mounted and does not require any construction work. Batteries only stand a few inches away from the wall and can sit comfortably alongside your solar equipment, garage shelving, etc.

4. Battery Backup is Instant-On

Even the best backup generators on the market take a few seconds to cycle up in the event of an outage. This delay can leave young children scared, make clocks and devices reset, and cause unnecessary stress. If you have a portable generator that needs to be hooked up manually, the outage can last minutes.

By contrast, circuits backup up by a battery are instantly transferred to battery power in an outage. The batteries react to outages in a fraction of a second – so quickly that clocks often won’t even blink! In fact, Tesla ran into a problem with its Powerwall wherein the batteries kicked in so fast that homeowners didn’t even know that they had lost power. As a result, Tesla updated its mobile app to send a notification alerting homeowners to detected outages.

5. Battery Backup is Reliable 

One of the biggest draws of electric vehicles is that they don’t require the expensive regular maintenance that internal combustion engines do. With EVs, oil changes are a thing of the past.

Similarly, backup batteries require far less maintenance than generators do. Typically, generators need to cycle at least once per month to make sure all the internal components are lubricated and operating properly. Most homeowners will also hire a technician to inspect the generator every year to make sure it’s in good working order. After all, the only thing worse than paying for a generator is having it fail to turn on when you need it the most!

Battery storage, on the other hand, requires no maintenance of any kind. Other than an occasional surface cleaning to keep the battery shining, it will not require any regular maintenance throughout its entire service life. You can rest assured that your battery will always be ready to protect you and your family at a moment’s notice.

6. A Battery Is Natural Disaster-Proof

After an earthquake, one of the first things the local utility company will do is shut off natural gas service to prevent potential fires from ruptured gas lines. If you’re in an earthquake-prone area like California, this can completely negate the benefit of having a built-in gas generator, as its fuel supply will be shut off immediately. Battery backup, of course, does not have this issue.

7. A Battery Can Run Indefinitely

Most generators are limited in backup duration by the amount of fuel you have on hand. Once your supply of diesel or propane runs out, the generator will stop and leave you without power. The exception here is natural gas generators fed by an underground line. The limited supply pertains to diesel and propane generators.

By contrast, when battery storage is paired with solar panels, the battery has the ability to run indefinitely. By setting your household consumption equal to your solar system’s daily output, your solar battery will continue to recharge itself. With this, you could theoretically run without grid power indefinitely, depending on the battery capacity and your usage. 

8. A Battery Can Save You Money

A backup generator is only useful to you when you have a power outage. Even if we assume that you have three full days without power every year – a full 72 hours – that’s still less than 1% of the time. That means you’re spending thousands of dollars for a solution that provides extremely limited benefit from a long-term perspective.

Solar panels and battery systems, however, operate every single day of the year and will save you money through load shifting and time of use savings, further reducing your electricity bill. Oh, and when you do lose power, they still have you covered.

9. Battery Backup Enables Energy Independence

Most homeowners are attracted to the idea of being energy independent. Producing your own power while reducing dependence on the electric grid appeals to the American ideal of self-reliance. While generators leave you completely reliant on the electric grid for your power, the combination of solar and battery backup allows you to produce, store, and use your own electricity, dramatically reducing your dependence on the local utility.

10. Incentives are Offered for Battery Backup

Generators are “dumb” devices that have no interoperability with the electric grid. As far as the electric utility is concerned, it makes no difference whether you have a generator or not.

Battery storage, however, are smart devices capable of dispensing power instantaneously as needed. While that is helpful for homeowners today, tomorrow’s utility companies find that capability very intriguing as well. Vermont’s Green Mountain Power already pays homeowners to install backup batteries, and other utilities will surely follow suit. Combined with current incentives like tax credits and SGIP, batteries will become increasingly affordable for everyday homeowners.

The advantages that battery backup offers over generators are numerous. Homeowners will increasingly look to batteries rather than generators to meet their backup needs. And for the sake of public health and fighting climate change, that’s something we can all celebrate.

The most common batteries on the market today are the Tesla Powerwall, Generac, LG Chem, and Sonnen

If you’re interested in getting more information on a solar battery backup system for your home, head over to the solar.com main page and schedule a complimentary call with one of our Energy Advisors. Our experts can answer all of your questions about solar batteries and help find the right solution for you!

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