Solar Battery vs. Generator: Which One Is Right for You?

Jul. 17, 2023

Power outages are becoming increasingly common in New England as intense summer heat waves and harsh winter storms threaten the electric grid. 

Fortunately, there are backup power sources available that can keep your lights on when the grid goes down. When you find the right emergency power source for your home, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your family will be able to get through the next outage safely. 

There are two main options for emergency backup power: solar batteries and backup generators. In this guide, we compare generators vs solar batteries to help you determine which is best for your home. 

Solar Battery Backup: How It Works 

Solar panels generate a lot of electricity—often more than you can use at once. Solar batteries store the excess power your solar panels generate. You can use the stored energy at any time, including during a power outage. 

Without battery storage, your solar panels will not work during a power outage. Residential solar panels are connected to the electric grid and when the grid goes down, they go down with it. But solar panels plus battery storage systems can temporarily disconnect from the grid during a power outage and continue to power your home. 

Related: What Appliances Can a Solar Battery Run During a Power Outage? 

Solar Battery Pros 

Solar batteries have many advantages over gas generators. 

  • Reliable - Your battery will kick in automatically during an outage and power your home without interruption. 
  • Renewable - Solar batteries run on clean solar energy instead of burning fossil fuel. 
  • Cost Effective - Solar batteries have lower operating costs than generators as sunlight is free, unlike gas which must be continuously purchased.
  • Controllable - You can easily control how energy from your solar battery is distributed to maximize your backup power. 
  • Quiet - Unlike gas generators, which can be quite loud and disruptive, solar batteries operate silently. 
  • Low maintenance - Solar batteries require minimal maintenance compared to gas generators, which require regular servicing. 
  • Tax credits and incentives - Solar batteries are eligible for incentives, including the federal solar tax credit and the ConnectedSolutions battery incentive program. 

Solar Battery Cons 

Solar batteries also have their drawbacks. 

  • Installation costs - Solar batteries are typically more expensive to install than gas generators. 
  • Limited power capacity - Most solar backup batteries only provide partial home backup power. It’s possible to back up your whole home with battery storage but, depending on the electrical usage of the home,  it typically requires multiple batteries. 

Backup Generators: How They Work 

Backup generators create their own electricity by burning fossil fuels like propane, natural gas, or even diesel. They are installed outside the home and can include sensors to detect an outage when it occurs for automatic operation.

Backup Generator Pros 

  • Reliable - Home generators provide reliable and automatic backup power as long as fuel is available. 
  • Lower installation costs - Installing a standby generator is more affordable than installing solar panels and battery storage. 
  • Whole or partial home backup - Generators can power all or some of your home depending on their size. 

Backup Generator Cons 

  • Environmental impact - Backup generators burn fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change. 
  • Dependent on fuel availability - Generators need fuel to run. During widespread power outages or natural disasters, fuel may be in high demand and difficult to procure.
  • Expensive to operate - The ongoing cost of fuel for a gas generator can add up over time, especially when gas prices are high. 
  • High maintenance - Generators have moving parts and engines that require regular maintenance to keep them running effectively. 
  • Noisy - Generators are loud and can create a noise disturbance for you and your neighbors. 
  • No incentives - Backup generators do not qualify for incentives or tax credits. 

Choosing the Right Backup Power for Your Home 

There is a lot to consider when comparing solar battery backup vs a generator. But which is better for you?  

If You Are:

  • Only looking for emergency power
  • Not planning to install solar panels in the future
  • In a home with an existing natural gas line

...Then a standby backup generator may be the best option for your home.
If You Are:

  • Planning to install solar panels 
  • Hoping to keep your lights and essentials on during a power outage 
  • Interested in powering your home with renewable energy 24/7 
  • Interested in saving money with tax credits and incentives 

...Then a solar backup battery may be the best option for your home.
New England Solar Panel & Battery Installation 
Boston Solar has been empowering New England homeowners for over 11 years with professional solar panel and battery installation. We can help you compare your options for solar vs a generator and recommend the best fit for your needs. Our team is passionate about power and will make sure you get the reliable backup power you need to keep your essentials running at all times. 

Get reliable backup power for your home. Call 617-858-1645 or contact us to get a free solar plus battery quote. 

Solar Battery vs. Generator: Which One Is Right for You?

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