Battery Backup vs Generator Backup
It makes economical and environmental sense to tie your solar power system to the electrical grid. But trying to figure out if battery or a generator based energy backup system will work best with your solar installation can be confusing. Fossil fuel generators and battery backup systems supply electricity when grid power is interrupted. However, there is a huge difference between the two.
Customers often plan to include battery backup capabilities when buying a grid-tied system. But many eventually decide the cost of batteries is too high. In this scenario, a battery bank is charged up and readily available during a power outage. It is designed to operate a certain number of critical loads in your home if the grid go down. This is not to be confused with an “off grid” solar home which has no connection to the electric utility.
Battery backup systems allow homeowners to use their solar panels to charge their batteries indefinitely. Although, they add significantly to the overall cost of the solar energy system. For example, to run large loads like air conditioning, a very large and expensive battery system would be required.
What about Generators?
Alternatively, propane or natural gas generators are powerful energy backup systems. Generators can supply enough electricity for your entire home assuming correct sizing and a constant supply of fuel. We tend to recommend generators for shorter power outages and large loads due to the dramatic cost savings over batteries. Combining a generator with your grid-tied solar energy system is a great way to maximize the return on your solar investment while providing you reliable, back-up electricity.
Deciding to back up with batteries or a generator depends on your requirements. If your goal is to get ‘off the grid’ for good or to have a long term and fuel free source of back up electricity, then a battery backup is for you. However, for occasionally backing up your whole house for a few hour or days, a generator will be a more cost-effective option.