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What’s best in a power outage: gas generator or battery backup?

battery backup or generator in power outage

When the power goes out, without a backup power source, you and your home are in danger. Whether it is a storm outage or a grid failure as experienced recently in Texas, you’re on your own and it might not be for an hour or a day–it could be longer.

The need for a backup power source for your home is becoming more necessity than a luxury. If the grid goes down for days you not only lose everything in your refrigerator, you lose your lights, HVAC, your computers, your phone…everything. Traditionally, any backup power option meant a generator fueled by gasoline, diesel fuel, or natural gas. Today, a greener, more efficient option would be a whole-home battery backup attached to your home solar system.

Learn more about battery backup systems

Is battery backup too expensive? Not so fast

A battery backup system large enough to keep the lights on through an extended power outage would seem expensive, especially when compared to the cost of a natural gas-powered standby generator. But in comparing these two solutions, make sure you consider all the costs associated with these two technologies.

The average cost of a battery backup system attached to a solar array, with enough capacity to keep at least the critical systems in your home up and running starts at about $20,000. For a natural gas generator, the initial cost for an installation could be as little as half that. A lot of the actual costs will depend on the size of the home. Here’s where the differences in hidden costs come in, and the first one is ongoing operational costs.

Over the course of the life of a natural gas generator backup system, you have a variety of operational costs that need to be considered. Looking at what a statistically average use might be you have:

  • Fuel and oil costs
  • Yearly maintenance
  • Monthly operation testing
  • Periodic oil and battery changes.

All of these hidden costs add up for each use and add up to thousands of dollars over the life of the system.

With a battery backup attached to a solar array, the operational costs are ZERO.

Your initial outlay is the end of the normal operational costs of the system.

There are other things that can make a solar array battery backup even more appealing and cost-effective:

  • A solar array battery backup qualifies for an energy tax credit of $5,000 to $10,000
  • With a gas standby generator, if the fuel supply is interrupted, the generator will fail. A solar-powered backup battery doesn’t have that issue.
  • A natural gas generator is burning fossil fuels and is, therefore, not a green solution.
  • When the power goes out, standby generators take time to kick in. While that time may be short, it’s enough to knock out or even damage critical electronic systems in your home. A battery backup attached to your solar array will minimize any downtime and keep the flow of power to a home’s critical systems.
  • While it might not be something considered during an emergency, it is important to note the difference in noise during the operation of these two systems. A generator large enough to power your home is going to make noise. Maybe lots of it depending on the size, type, and where it is located.

Think about the noise of a large generator running outside your window 24 hours a day for days. A battery backup system attached to a solar array doesn’t make a sound. Your neighbors will appreciate this too!

Your next steps

The bottom line for your bottom line is to make sure all costs are considered in making a decision regarding standby or backup power for the home. The Experts at Michigan Solar Solutions can advise you on how to bring solar array backup power to your home. Michigan Solar Solutions is a commercial and residential solar installer and electricity contractor serving Michigan’s lower peninsula. We have been creating healthier, more energy-efficient, and earth-friendly living spaces for fifteen years. Contact us today for a free consultation on a solar array and home battery backup power

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