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Generators vs. Solar Batteries

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Power outages are unpredictable. The reasons for outages can vary and can affect the length of time it takes to restore service back to your home. Whether it is severe storms, downed trees, or even a car accident.  No one likes to be unprepared.

 Want to keep your home or business running no matter what?

Let’s  take a look at the benefits and costs of both backup energy options.

Over the past few years, battery technology has emerged into the mainstream with dropping costs and increasing efficiencies, offering solar owners another way to protect themselves from the issues of losing power. Despite declining costs, a battery back-up system can still be very expensive, and a generator is dependent on outside fuel sources that can give off harmful fumes.

The pros and cons of a solar system with battery storage

The main benefit of using a solar with battery combination is the fuel source is free. There is continued access to that fuel during a natural disaster, as long as the sun is shining, and the system is not damaged.  A solar with storage solution is also quiet and environmentally friendly, both benefits that a typical gasoline generator cannot claim.

The downside to a solar with storage combination is the cost.  In most cases, a solar system can pay for itself in a relatively short period of time through the reduction of your electric bill and other financial incentives.  However, a battery storage system can be expensive, and the only payback is that it allows you to store energy for later use.

The batteries also require space. This will vary based on the battery you use and the amount of energy storage you require.  The good news is batteries continue to get smaller and more condensed as the technology advances.

Available Incentives for solar batteries

In most cases where the batteries will be charged from solar only, the 26% federal solar tax credit also applies to the battery system.  Accelerated depreciation may also be available for commercial systems. Please note, we encourage you to contact your tax advisor to review your particular situation before purchasing a system.

Some states are also providing incentives for battery systems.  Maryland currently has a state tax credit for 30% of the cost of a battery system, which goes up to $5,000 for homeowners and $75,000 for businesses.  Other states such as New York and New Jersey are considering incentives and could soon follow in Maryland’s footsteps.

What if the grid does go down for days, and you can’t or do not want to be without power for that long?

The pros and cons of using a generator as a backup energy source

The main benefit of using a generator over a solar battery is the cost. Generators have many different models and brands that you can choose from.

Portable generators can also be transported and used at your location of choice. Which makes it easy for supplying power wherever you need it. You are just limited to the amount of fuel you can store and transport.

Unfortunately, whether a smaller portable generator or a larger whole-house standby generator, they do not run on money-free and emission-free sunshine like your solar batteries. If running for days, your generator will require gallons of natural gas, propane or gasoline. Not only can that get expensive, but gas may be difficult to come by during a natural disaster. Generators also create fumes that are not good to breathe. This means they need to be placed outside in a well-ventilated area.

The cost difference between a generator and solar with battery storage combination

Gasoline generators range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on how much energy you need to produce – a few outlets vs. a full house backup. The cost for a battery system to be installed with a solar array can vary.  The smallest battery solution is a 9.3 kWh battery. It can store enough power to run a 1,500-watt heater for over 6 hours. That battery costs about $15,000 with the installation. A battery system to back up your whole house could run more than $100,000 after the installation costs.

Depending on your situation, one of these options may be perfect for you. If not, what about a combination of the two?

Having both batteries and a generator may offer a well-balanced solution for your next power outage. You will not be 100% dependent on outside fuel sources, but you also will not have to invest a big chunk of change into a massive battery bank that you may never end up needing.


Final thoughts

In most cases, the decision for one backup energy source versus the other will come down to cost. Using a generator is currently the most cost-effective backup solution, and most times the easiest to implement. However, as the costs of solar panels and batteries continue to decrease, a solar with storage combination will make sense for more people.





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