For more than a century, burning fossil fuels has generated most of the energy required to propel our cars, power our businesses, and keep the lights on in our homes. Most of us rely so much on technology these days that losing it, even for a day, would be extremely inconvenient. Unexpected power cuts and natural disasters can have a prolonged effect on our lives now more than ever. That means you could end up sitting in the dark, sweating without an air conditioner, and eating canned meals while $300 worth of food spoils in your freezer.
Power grid problems aside, we all lose electricity occasionally. But when outages become routine, leaving you without electricity every few hours, it’s time to put a stop to such distractions once and for all and get a power backup system. Fortunately, we have two readily available solutions that can keep you out of the dark at all times: An energy storage system (battery backups) and a home generator.
A generator is an appliance that provides electricity independently of the grid. It operates in a very similar fashion to that of an automobile. Like your everyday car, a generator uses a heavy-duty, recharging battery to initiate and maintain its basic level of energy and is equipped with a fuel tank that supplies its engine with the needed resources to produce mechanical power. There are different types of generators like coal-fired generators, diesel generators, natural gas & gasoline generators, and propane generators.
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails like a generator. This device when connected to the solar panels, reserves energy produced by the sun and stores it for later use. The stored electricity can be consumed after sundown, during energy demand peaks, or during a power outage. There are two types of batteries namely lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries.
Typically, when you install solar panels, you’ll install a ‘grid-tied’, net-metered solar panel system. This means that when your solar panels are producing more electricity than you need, you can export that excess electricity back to the grid and vice-versa. Plus, when you attach a battery to this, you’ll have the ability to pull from either the grid or your battery, when it’s charged.
Many have turned to fossil-fuel-powered generators because they are cheap and easily available. However, these aren’t the only factors that one should consider when determining backup power for their home. Unlike fossil fuels, the sun is easy to come by at no extra cost. Now let’s look at some of the factors that can help you decide what’s best for your home.
A generator consumes about 18,000 liters of fuel per year and emits CO2 throughout its service life. Generators run on fossil fuels such as natural gas and diesel, which produce pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury when burned. Depending on non-renewable energy sources can have adverse effects on climate, so generators are no longer ideal.
Battery technology has the potential to substantially reduce carbon emissions, as more people adopt electric vehicles and PV panels. It can also reduce our dependence on pollutive, inefficient coal plants by introducing a reliable way to use intermittent renewable energy sources. Lithium batteries currently offer the most practical solution to storing energy and are the cheapest of the lot. Batteries are often sent to special facilities that can process and dispose of them off properly.
If you choose a battery backup solution for your home, very little maintenance is required. Systems such as the Enphase Storage come with a 10-year warranty and operate comfortably in temperatures of -15º C to 55º C, so they are less likely to break down or malfunction. Generators require continuous refuelling and consume large quantities of non-renewable fuel. Households with generators also need to store conditioning additives, all of which can be dangerous and must be kept outdoors. Low on maintenance and driven by technological advances, storage systems can hold enough renewable energy to power hundreds and thousands of homes.
If you already have solar panels on your home or business, the upfront cost in a home battery unit and its installation can be significantly less.
Even if they seem cheaper in the short run, generators must be fuelled-up every 24-48 hours of use and come with high maintenance costs. Home batteries once connected to the grid or solar panels, can provide free, clean energy for years to come. The best combination is to pair solar panels with a home battery backup system, as there is no need to depend on the grid and if the panels produce extra energy, they can be sent back to the grid in exchange for some extra money.
The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning (from the toxic engine exhaust), electric shock, and fire. Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refuelling, as gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite. Also, Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can and install them outdoor. Home batteries have zero emissions. Problems can arise if they are installed incorrectly or the battery quality is low. This is because of the chemical makeup of a lithium-ion battery, which makes them more prone to overheating and combusting. But lithium-ion batteries from a reputable brand, with a proper installation by a certified installer rarely pose any health or safety risk to homeowners.
Depending on where you live, there is good reason to consider backup power. In the case of generators, if you can bear with the noise, low-quality current, and non-renewable fuel, then you can get them at a relatively low cost. However, an automated solution like solar arrays plus a battery can provide reliability during unforeseen events. If your goal is to take control of your energy needs or to have a long-term and fuel-free source of backup, then PV panels with storage are your best option. If you already installed solar panels, now is the best time to upgrade your system by adding batteries to them. Upfront costs of installing a solar PV system can also be avoided...
Don’t worry, as SolarQuote is here at your service to create the best consumer experience and help you make the right choice for your home.