Estimated Read Time: 10 minutes
As our lives become increasingly technocentric, unexpected power outages are more inconvenient than ever. Not only do we lose access to modern conveniences like TV and WiFi, outages of essential equipment such as security systems, lighting, internet connections, and even fridges, can lead to unsafe home environments, as well as cost small businesses thousands in damaged inventory. The havoc wreaked by a storm can impact home and business owners for days, with few options other than to wait for the power to turn back on.
Fortunately, when it comes to preparing your home for these unexpected outages, there are two readily available solutions to keep you out of the dark: a home battery backup power system or a home generator.
Here we’ll assess your options for home backup power supplies and the main differences between generators and battery backup systems, including overall cost, reliability, environmental impact, power outputs, installation expenses, and smart technology integration.
A backup home power system, also known as an energy storage system, is just that: a backup for emergencies that can power your home with sustainable energy while saving you money. If the power goes out, your home backup system will kick in, providing you with power until the main system is restored.
Newer systems like the PowerPod also come equipped with smart technology that helps homeowners maximize the efficiency of their systems in a multitude of ways. With smart technology, homeowners can actively track their energy usage and gain insight into their own energy consumption, allowing them to save money on their energy bill.
Home batteries, such as the PowerPod, can perform a variety of tasks. Some systems can connect to both a solar energy system, also known as a PV array, and the electrical grid. The energy that is harvested from your solar panels and/or pulled from the electrical grid can be stored within the home battery system for use at a later time. In the event of a power outage, the system will automatically switch off from the grid and begin pulling power from the backup home battery system.
The alternative to home battery systems, home generators, rely on fossil fuels, like diesel, gasoline or natural gas, to power your home in an emergency. Similar to a backup home battery, they can detect a power outage and switch to the generator supply until power has been restored. Depending on the age and type of system in place, this can be less seamless than smart technology backup home batteries.
Both home battery backup systems and home generators are reliable sources of power, but which one makes more sense depends on your individual needs. Home generators are often a better option for households that tend to use a lot of power or are prone to prolonged periods (perhaps several weeks) off-the-grid and without sunlight. The PowerPod is generator-ready, which allows certain types of generators to be wired in to the system if you prefer a redundant configuration.
Home battery systems hold less energy capacity than a home generator, however, home batteries are more reliable in providing completely uninterrupted power. Although newer generators have automatic transfer switches, they can take up to a minute to activate, requiring all appliances to turn off and back on again. Modern home battery systems activate backup power in fractions of a second. Many homeowners report they don’t immediately notice when an outage has occurred.
A home battery system will be able to draw from natural sources of power indefinitely with a continuous flow of energy until the main power is restored. Home and business owners should consider their energy consumption when choosing a home backup system, as a singular battery can only hold so much power. If you use a lot of energy, you might need to pair several backup home battery systems together. A home generator will need continuous refueling until power is restored, which may not be possible in an emergency.
A major advantage of home batteries is their minimal environmental impact compared to the carbon-based fuels required by generators. By utilizing the abundance of sustainable energy sources available, you can reliably power your home or small business without harming the planet.
One of the most innovative and distinguishing features of a home battery system is smart home integration. Systems like the PowerPod come with a smartphone app that allows you to monitor and manage your home’s energy usage and select different modes of operation depending on your energy goals.
As with any investment, the price tag can be a decisive factor. Before choosing a home battery or generator, it is important to understand how to properly size a system to fit your needs and your budget. Because power usage is relative to the individual, keep in mind that the below-listed options are approximations.
The costs of a home battery system can be small or significant. If you already have solar panels on your home or business, the upfront cost is a home battery unit and its installation. Costs begin at around $1000/kWh excluding installation, and the setup cost will increase if your power usage requires more than one battery.
New home generators can be purchased for less. Depending on the quality and size of the system, prices start from as little as $500 for a portable gasoline generator, up to $15,000 for diesel units. All variables considered, the average cost including installation is around $4,000, although it’s important to remember home generators incur more costs over time, such as regular fuel-ups for every 24-48 hours of use, plus maintenance expenses. If you need additional help in understanding these differences, our team can help.
Home battery systems that rely on renewable energy, such as solar power, can effectively run on free fuel. On the other hand, home generators require constant refueling from fossil fuel sources. So, if you choose to run a generator from a natural gas line, you can expect constant fuel expenses while also paying your standard gas rates. For other types of fuel, such as diesel or propane, prices will be dependent on the standard rate at that time, as well as delivery fees. In times of extended emergency and widespread need, these resources can be exorbitantly expensive, and, depending on demand, may not be readily available.
If you choose a battery backup solution for your home, very little maintenance is required. Systems such as the PowerPod come with a 10-year warranty and operate comfortably in temperatures of -10०C to 55०C, so they are less likely to break down and malfunction, especially during emergencies.
Home generators require more frequent testing to ensure the system is running safely while attached to your home or business. It is recommended that you run a generator once a week for around 30 minutes to maintain continuous use, much like a car battery. This expenditure should be calculated into your maintenance costs.
An annual inspection by a professional technician should suffice if it is not frequently used, and owners conduct their own monthly checks of a system’s oil, coolant, fuel and visual piping, and wiring (NOTE: unless you are a qualified electrician, do not disturb wiring — simply look to see if everything appears connected and nothing is rusting, melting, or exposed). However, if your generator is used more regularly, a professional generator test should be considered every six months.
The potential electricity savings when it comes to an off-grid home power solution can be a difficult number to estimate, as there are many different rates and tariffs around the world. Even broad generalizations can differ significantly from one location to the next. However, depending on where you live, there are several opportunities to save on your home battery backup system.
None of the above-mentioned savings are possible with a home generator.
As with all systems, outputs range and capacity. The output of a home battery backup system is generally around 4.5-5.5 kW, and the systems themselves have a capacity of around 10.1 kWh to 100 kWh. In an emergency situation, this could last you from a few hours to several days, depending on the energy consumption in your home. If your home battery is connected to a solar power system, it will continuously refill as long as the sun is out.
In longer periods of emergency, home generators can often withstand longer outages due to their 7kWh to 48kWh capacity. Connecting your home generator to a natural gas source can be very cost-effective for output, but in a crisis, the likelihood of a natural gas outage is almost as high as that of an electricity outage.
Which system is most suitable for you comes down to your individual wants, needs, and circumstances. Your first consideration should be overall power usage. If you are in a particularly disaster-prone area where lengthy power outages can occur, home generators can have the capacity to power your home for up to several weeks. They incur a lesser upfront cost, but require frequent maintenance and have a far shorter lifespan than a home battery backup system. If you need an additional layer of protection when it comes to backup power, certain generators can be wired into the PowerPod system.
However, if you are not frequently experiencing natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, a home battery backup system could be the better choice. These systems are quieter, much more energy-efficient for the environment, have double the lifespan of a generator, and can save money. They also have the added benefit of smart technology, which allows you to monitor performance and switch to a system that can save you money during peak energy usage times.
Overall, when it comes to home energy storage systems and generators, it’s best to consult with trusted professionals to assess what’s right for your home or business. Don’t wait until the next power outage – contact one of our team members to find the right fit today!