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Knowing the Differences Between Solar Batteries and Generators

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When it comes to adding a backup power system to a household with solar energy, the two most common options are solar batteries and generators. While both devices provide seamless backup power in case of outages, they have different features and purposes. If you’re interested in adding backup power to your solar system, it is essential to understand the differences between these two options to make an informed decision. In this blog post, we will discuss the distinctions between solar batteries and generators, their advantages, and their drawbacks.

How Batteries Work

When your solar panels produce more electricity than you need, some of it can be stored in your solar batteries for later use. The stored energy can be used during power outages or any time your panels aren’t producing enough electricity. The Tesla Powerwalls we install connect to a mobile app which allows you to easily monitor how much energy is in your battery at any given time.

The size and type of battery determines how much energy it can hold. For example, one Tesla Powerwall provides 13.5 kWh of energy storage and 5 kWh of continuous power, which would be sufficient to cover you for light electric loads such as turning on your lights, fans, modem, and fridge in an outage. However, to get whole home coverage, you’d likely need two plus batteries.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the size of your batteries determines where they can be stored. Regardless of their size, any batteries installed indoors must be in a room with fire resistant walls. In areas with extreme weather conditions, like New Hampshire, it is recommended that batteries are kept indoors.

Pros of Batteries

The primary advantage of solar batteries is that they reduce your dependence on the grid, which can help you save money and reduce your environmental footprint. When your solar panels aren't producing enough energy to power your home, you can rely on the stored power in your batteries to keep your home powered up. Not only is this energy clean and free, but it also helps you avoid expensive and dirty energy from the grid.

Another advantage of solar batteries is that they are low-maintenance and have a long lifespan. In fact, they can last up to two decades, making them a fantastic investment for households with high energy demand.

There are also some community-based benefits to batteries that should be considered. With the use of ‘peak shaving', utilities can tap into distributed battery systems during high demand or ‘peak’ periods of energy usage, and offset the grid reliance on dirtier, more expensive energy sources. The use of solar batteries can also help reduce the state’s overall reliance on imported energy and increase the use of renewable energy sources in New Hampshire.  

Cons of Batteries

One drawback to consider with batteries is their finite storage capacity. When using batteries in conjunction with solar, you can recharge when the sun is shining, but low sunlight conditions can mean your battery may not fully refill. In this case, you must be prepared to to rely on the energy already stored in your battery. 

How Generators Work

Generators can produce electricity using any fuel source, including natural gas, propane, gasoline, or diesel. They are stored outside of a home just like an air conditioning unit or heat pump. Generators from Generac come in various system sizes ranging from 10 - 48 kWh, which you can select depending on your energy needs.

When your power goes out, your generator will automatically turn on and deliver power to your home’s electrical system. Generac generators allow you to track the status of your device from a mobile app.

Pros of Generators

The main advantage of generators over solar batteries is their versatility. You can use a generator to power appliances in the house or even run HVAC units.

They are also highly reliable, making them an excellent choice for emergencies such as storms or power outages. Generators automatically turn on and off when the grid is down and can provide power to entire households or just essential appliances, depending on the size of the generator.

Cons of Generators

Generators need frequent maintenance, and unlike solar batteries, they rely on fossil fuels and therefore produce harmful emissions which can negatively impact the environment. They can be expensive to purchase and operate, particularly if you require a large generator to power energy-intensive appliances or an entire house. Like a car that requires frequent oil changes, generators must be checked and maintained diligently to ensure their longevity, which also adds to their cost to operate.

Making your Decision

Ultimately, choosing between solar batteries and generators depends on your individual energy needs and priorities. Solar batteries are an environmentally friendly source of electricity and help homeowners save money by reducing their reliance on the grid. On the other hand, generators offer backup electricity that can be relied upon during power outages, but they can be expensive to operate and use fossil fuels which are harmful to the environment.

Whichever back-up power system you choose, you can be assured your home will be prepared for any weather conditions! Get in touch with our team to learn more.

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