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Home Energy Storage: Emergency Generators vs. Electric Batteries

generator Vs battery

Evaluating the Options for Your Home Energy Storage and Management Needs

If you live in an area with the power grid is susceptible to outages, it makes sense to explore home energy storage and generation options. Living through a blackout, brownout, or grid failure is not just inconvenient; it can be costly and dangerous. The loss and eventual regain of power can create nasty power surges that can damage your home, appliances, and electronics. The loss of power can also make it impossible to store food or run vital medical equipment.

For most homeowners, there are two standard options for home energy management: emergency generators and home energy storage batteries. Read on to learn more about how these two options compare and decide which is better for you.

Standby Generators

A backup generator is a backup electrical system that automatically kicks on after it senses a utility outage. These generators differ from those you can purchase at your local hardware store. Portable generators can be used to help keep the lights on during a power outage, but they are limited by their size and fuel tanks.

A permanently installed backup generator runs on natural gas or propane and sits outside of your house like your central air conditioning unit. It can be programmed to power your entire home or just the most essential lines in your house. Modern units have smart functions and tracking that you can access and control directly from your smartphone.

Whole House Battery Backup

A house battery backup system is another option to keep your house powered during power outages. Instead of producing power as a generator does, a house battery is an energy storage system that saves power from your power grid or solar panels and then strategically deploys it to your house.

Essentially, a house battery backup system saves power when available and then makes it accessible as needed. The power these energy storage systems provide can also be used to lower monthly utility bills. The battery can charge during non-peak and lower-cost hours and then release that power during higher-peak and more expensive times.

How Do These Energy Storage and Generation Options Compare?

Electric batteries and standby generators are both proven systems based on ever-evolving technology. There are, however, some significant elements to consider when comparing these two energy storage options.

Upfront and Ongoing Costs

Both battery backup and generators come with significant investments. An average standby generator can cost between $7,000 and $15,000, depending on your electrical needs. They also require the ongoing costs of natural gas, propane, diesel, or other fuel. Propane, for example, typically costs $3 to $5 per gallon, and you will go through two-three gallons an hour. That could lead to more than a hundred dollars per day while the generator is in use.

A standard battery backup system can cost between $10,000 and $20,000, depending on your electrical needs. You will also have the ongoing costs to keep the battery fully charged, based on your electricity price. The average electricity rate in Gilroy, CA, is currently around $0.25 per kWh, which is about $175 per month. Depending on how your backup energy system is configured, you may not experience any additional costs on your monthly utility bill.

Homeowners who use solar power can install a solar energy storage system. Instead of drawing power from your utility company, the sun produces the backup battery storage energy. The solar house battery releases energy when solar panels are not making power and can keep a house running for days.

Maintenance and Risks

Standby generators require regular maintenance to continue working correctly. For example, these energy systems require regular crankcase and oil filter changes. They can also be noisy, which could cause problems if your neighbor's house is close by or the HOA has rules about sound. Luckily, there are some deadening enclosures to help with this issue. The other risk associated with a generator is its fuel source. Carbon fuels like natural gas and propane have the potential for flammability and carbon monoxide. On the plus side, a generator should easily last around 20 years, outlasting most backup battery energy storage systems.

House battery storage systems require almost no maintenance. The system's longevity is rated by what percentage of energy it will retain over a certain number of years. For example, a company's warranty suggests its system will retain 60% of its initial capacity for ten years. The batteries themselves are typically only good for 10 to 15 years.

Which Energy Storage Option Works Best for You?

Both backup batteries and standby generators are effective methods to protect your home from power outages, and they both have different upfront costs, maintenance requirements, and ongoing costs.

While generators often cost less upfront, their risks and ongoing costs can make them a less desirable option, especially for homeowners looking to join the electrification movement and move away from fossil fuels. Generators tend to work longer than a standard backup battery, which works wonderfully for those who experience a high-frequency of power outages or extended periods of time without power.

Electrical backup batteries may cost a little more upfront, but they are quieter, cleaner, and require almost no maintenance. They can also help lower your overall utility costs when properly configured.

Let Watson's Charging Stations & Electric Be Your Guide

Regardless of your choice, backup batteries and standby generators require professional electricians to help with installation. We specialize in helping homeowners and businesses join the electrification movement. We can handle all of your energy storage needs.

If you are interested in exploring energy storage and generation, make sure to call Watson's Charging Stations & Electric. We are the leading team of electrical contractors in the Santa Clara Valley, from handing your electrical upgrades to ensuring your electrical systems are running their best. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and dive into how your house could benefit from home energy storage and generation.