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Home Solar Battery vs Generators for Power Outages

As a California-based company, Solar.com is painfully aware of the devastating effect that grid blackouts and power outages can have on homeowners. Just in late 2020, more than half million California residents were left without power. These outages left many homeowners wondering what they can do to secure their homes against future blackouts and outages.

Whole house batteries are a new solution to this problem, and when paired with solar energy, become a very attractive way to protect your home against power outages with solar batteries as compared to generators.

Pricing

For many homeowners, especially those living in states where electricity is most expensive, (NY, MA, CA, NJ, to name a few) going solar with a battery backup will save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the system. Whole-house backup generators range in pricing from similar to house batteries (~$5,000), all the way up to $10,000 and more. With today’s financing options for solar, you can get a full solar system installed on your roof with a battery backup for no upfront cost. Not only that, but you’ll most likely pay less than your current monthly electricity bill. What’s more, there aren’t nearly as many of the same incentives and financing options for home generators as there are for solar backup batteries. If you go solar and get a battery at the same time, you can likely roll the cost of your battery into your total system cost, and save 26% on your battery when you claim the federal ITC (tax credit). There are no such incentives for buying a home generator.

Maintenance

The typical home generator needs to be serviced every 200 hours of runtime, or approximately every two years. This includes regular replacing of generator components such as oil, spark plugs, and air filters. Source The need to manually keep up-to-date on your generator’s maintenance means that if you slip up, you could be left without power during the time when you need it the most, such as in a power outage. Compare this to a solar home battery, which has many fewer moving parts than a generator, and thus needs far less regular maintenance. Not only that, but most solar batteries come with monitoring software to alert you any time there is a problem with your battery so that you can act preemptively. Most generators do not come with such software and are, by extension, less reliable than a home solar battery solution. Solar batteries also do not have to be refueled every so often, unlike generators. A solar battery will provide consistent electricity until it is out of electricity, while a generator will require constant refueling.

Safety & Environmental

A solar + battery backup solution is, naturally, powered by renewable energy and doesn’t require the burning of fossil fuels in order to operate. Generators, by comparison, burn gas or diesel and generate an alarming amount of carbon monoxide. To illustrate just how much harmful CO is produced by these machines and how deadly it can be, the CPSC estimates that 943 people died between 2005-2017 due to non-fire carbon monoxide poisoning associated with the use of generators.Source A solar + battery solution involves no combustion at all, and doesn’t produce any of the harmful CO that home generators do, vastly reducing not only your personal risk, but the amount of harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere as well. In addition, your solar battery will be powered by the sun through the panels on your roof, and requires no trips to the gas station or refilling, like a generator does.

Conclusion: Solar + Batteries – Winner

Not even mentioning the other benefits of a solar battery that can’t be compared directly with a generator (such as the way a solar battery helps with TOU electricity rates), it’s clear from a pricing, maintenance, and environmental point of view that solar + batteries is a much better solution for power outages and blackouts than a home generator is. Solar.com provides an agnostic, unbiased marketplace where homeowners can compare bids from the most qualified local installers in their area. To learn more about solar + batteries as a solution to blackouts and power outages, visit your dashboard and speak with one of our Energy Advisors.

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