a solar home battery (tesla powerwall) on the right and a home gas generator sitting outside on the left with a vs. sign in the middle

If you’re considering investing in an electrical solution for your home, you may wonder whether to use a solar home battery or a generator. Both offer significant advantages and can be beneficial depending on your needs.

This article will compare solar home batteries and home generators. We’ll discuss their advantages and disadvantages and guide you in selecting the best option.

So, let’s dive in!

Is a Solar Home Battery or Home Generator Better For My Home?

Solar home batteries are environmentally friendly and require little maintenance, but home generators have been around for much longer and are more effective in the short term. Solar systems are more expansive but rarely need repairs and increase property value.

Now having read the bullet points, let’s look at the details of each of these technologies.

What Is a Solar Home Battery?

A solar home battery is a form of energy storage that uses solar power to store electricity at night or during a power outage. Homeowners can use this energy to power their homes in times of need, such as during a power outage.

Solar batteries are a great way to have backup power for your home, as they are rechargeable and can store a lot of energy.

Advantages of a Solar Home Battery

Solar home batteries are worth your consideration if you want an eco-friendly and efficient power solution. They’re not only renewable and clean but also easy to use. 

Here are some of their main benefits:

Environmental Friendliness

Solar panels have a much lower carbon footprint than gas-powered electricity sources. In its first few years of operation, a solar panel emits only around 50g of CO2 per kWh produced.

Most solar panels will become carbon neutral after they’ve operated for three years. In addition, solar panels require very little maintenance, meaning their environmental impact will continue to be low for the duration of their lifetime.

Fisheye lens of a solar panel array on a rufous clay tile roof

Low Maintenance

When it comes to home energy, you want a reliable system that requires little maintenance. Solar home batteries do great in this regard.

Unlike home generators, which require regular maintenance and refueling, solar home batteries require minimal effort. Besides regular cleaning, you only need to add water to them every 6-12 months.

Tax Credit Qualifications

From 2022 to 2034, those who install a solar home battery will receive a 30% tax credit. After that, this will decrease to 26% and, eventually, to 22%. So if you installed your system in 2022 but haven’t claimed your rebate, the government has increased it from 22 to 30%.

Increased Property Value

Research shows that solar power systems increase property value and make homes more sellable.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Library conducted a study revealing that, on average, solar-powered homes are sold at 3.74% higher than non-solar ones. This figure boils down to an extra $14,329 per home.

It’s plain as day that installing a solar system will pad your wallet when it is time to sell the house. Homebuyers see solar panels as a valuable addition and positive selling point and are willing to spend more money upfront for them.

a picture of a solar home with a wind turbine in the background, and an electric car plugged in sitting in the driveway.

Check out our article to learn more about how solar adds value to your home.

Lower Energy Costs During Peak Hours

Another way solar panels save you money is by reducing electricity usage during peak utility hours.

Electricity costs fluctuate throughout the day depending on how high the demand is. With a solar energy system, you can draw energy from it during the most expensive moments of the day and reduce your energy bills.

Disadvantages of a Solar Home Battery

Although solar home batteries have many advantages, there are also some drawbacks. Understanding the pros and cons allows you to decide which option is best for you. 

Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

High Upfront Cost

Solar batteries are an investment. Though installation might be costly, many federal tax credits and other available incentives help offset the initial expense.

The average American home uses 886 kWh of electricity per month. Depending on your chosen products, building a robust system for such a household could cost $8,000-$10,000.

Solar batteries have a payback period of 10 years. In other words, after ten years, you will have gained back the money you spent on installation and maintenance through lower energy bills.

Solar batteries also have a lifespan of 10-15 years, meaning you will continue to save money every year for over a decade.

Limited Capacity

If you live in an area with frequent power outages or need to power a large area of your home for extended periods, you may need more than solar home batteries to meet your needs.

However, there are a few ways to overcome this limitation:

  • You can purchase multiple solar batteries and connect them to increase the total capacity.
A homemade solar power battery bank
  • You can use your solar battery to power only essential appliances during an outage, such as a fridge or a writing lamp.
  • You can supplement your solar battery with other forms of backup power, such as a generator or a backup gas supply.

Weather Dependence

When it comes to choosing an energy source for your home, there are a lot of factors to consider. One important consideration is the weather conditions in your area.

Solar batteries are most effective in sunny weather. Hence, there may be better choices than solar home batteries alone if you live in an area with frequent inclement weather. You might have to add a generator or wind turbine as a backup.

However, solar batteries can still charge in cloudy conditions, so they are still a good option if you live in an area with occasional lousy weather.

Long-Term Investment

Solar is an excellent investment with a 10 to 25-year warranty. However, the payback period assumes you’ll stay in your home for the entire duration. It could take several years to make up for the cost of the solar panel system before you start saving money from your energy bill.

Therefore, solar may not be your best option if you don’t own your home or plan on moving soon. The best news is that solar not only saves you money monthly on electricity, but it also adds value to your home.

What Is a Home Generator?

A home generator is an independent power source that can be used when your primary energy source fails. Home generators are an excellent short-term solution for those who want to avoid investing in a complete solar energy system.

Advantages of a Home Generator

Home generators can provide a lot of power. They can keep your appliances running during an extended power outage, allowing you to continue your daily activities.

A whole-home generator seen outside a home

Some of their key advantages include the following:

An Effective Short-Term Solution

When the power goes out, it can be a significant inconvenience. Food spoils, lights don’t work, and heat or air conditioning is unavailable.

This inaccessibility can be incredibly challenging for those who rely on medical equipment that requires electricity. A home generator can provide a much-needed sense of security in these situations. Generators can power essential appliances like refrigerators and freezers and keep food from spoiling.

They can also run lights and fans, providing some relief from the heat. In addition, generators can keep medical equipment functioning, giving peace of mind to those who need it.

Ease of Use

Home generators are relatively easy to use. Most modern models have an automatic start feature, allowing them to turn on and off as needed. Ideally, you won’t even notice the change. Refueling a home generator is also pretty straightforward.

Disadvantages of a Home Generator

While home generators offer many advantages, there are also some drawbacks. This is especially true when comparing them with a solar home battery. Before investing in a home generator, consider the following:

High Costs

Generators can be expensive, ranging from $2,000 to over $10,000. This is usually lower than installing solar panels, but you have to take into account the cost of constant refueling.

Fuel costs can quickly add up for those who plan to use the generator frequently. If your power outages are brief and uncommon, this won’t be much of a problem. But if you live in a zone with frequent blackouts or a high risk of hurricanes, fuel costs are something to consider.

While the price of a generator may be prohibitive for some people, it’s important to remember that the cost of being without power can be even higher. In addition to the inconvenience of being unable to use your appliances, a power outage can also lead to food spoilage and water contamination.

Noise Pollution

One of the most significant problems associated with home generators is noise pollution. These devices can emit noise levels over 85 decibels, disrupting you and your neighbors.

A generator with a green top on the floor of a workshop

In addition, exhaust fumes from home generators can be hazardous to your health, and some models require regular maintenance to keep them running correctly.

Regular Maintenance

Finally, home generators require regular maintenance. Manufacturers typically recommend an annual check-up to ensure the generator is running efficiently.

This inspection includes checking the oil, air filters, and spark plugs. In addition, fuel should be changed regularly to prevent the buildup of sludge and sediment.

These maintenance tasks can be time-consuming and expensive, making home generators a less attractive option for some homeowners.

The truth is that, unlike solar batteries, home generators have many moving parts. Unfortunately, this feature drastically increases the chances of something going wrong. So if you get a home generator, you should be ready for possible repair costs.

Which Is Better for You: A Solar Home Battery or a Home Generator?

Choosing between a home generator and a solar home battery depends on your specific needs.

A home generator can be a valuable asset if you live in an area prone to power outages and have the budget. Not only will it provide you with a reliable backup power source, but it can also help decrease your dependence on the grid.

On the other hand, a solar home battery is an excellent option for those seeking to be more sustainable. Solar batteries offer a clean source of energy and are also relatively low-maintenance. In addition, you can use them to store excess renewable energy during times of high production.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution regarding backup power sources. It’s essential to consider your unique needs and budget.

My Own Story With Solar Batteries, Generators and Hurricanes

I’ll preface this with the statement that everyone and every situation is different. We all have our own financial situation, different homes, circumstances, house location, and goals in life.

For me, when I installed solar on both of our first and second netzero home renovation homes, I opted out of solar batteries. I didn’t really even consider generators. It’s sort of a back-of-the-napkin calculation of cost vs. the chance that I’ll lose power for multiple days a year.

a blue tesla model 3 parked on the grey driveway with a white solar netzero home
This is our solar netzero home in St Petersburg, FL. I opted out of solar batteries or a generator, because storms rarely hit (knock on wood) the Tampa Bay Area.

The solar batteries were going to double the cost of the system, from about $16,500 on the netzero home in St. Pete, FL, and I just figured that I could handle a few days without power.

As it turned out though, the incredible hurricane Ian struck Fort Myers/Cape Coral, FL, where the first house was. Luckily it held up, but the home was without power for about two weeks.

The solar system itself held up without any damage at all, which is amazing. But in this case, you have to weight whether you want to either go without any power for weeks, or spend low five-figures to have a backup power generator of sorts.

Another thing to consider is that electric cars are already coming out with the feature to feed the home power (reversing the current). Given that these cars have batteries of anywhere from 50 to 100+ kilowatts, that is a massive battery system sitting in your garage already.

a white house with trees down and flooding in the driveway after hurricane ian
Our first netzero solar home after Hurricane Ian.

I figure most car companies will install this feature in the near future, so that also factored into the decision to save money on a home battery or generator.

In the end, my St. Pete home survived hurricane Ian (because it hit mainly south), but I did go a few days without power. It was actually a nice time to slow down, read a book, and simplify life a little bit while it was out.

What’s Best During Hurricane Season?

A home generator is likely the best choice for hurricane-prone areas as it provides an immediate power source.

Generators are great for short-term outages but can be costly to maintain and operate. A solar home battery is more affordable in the long run. They require minimal maintenance, making them ideal for those who want to gradually transition from relying on the grid.

A solar home battery may be better for investing in a long-term power source. For example, if a hurricane causes a long-term power outage, it may be difficult to get fuel for a generator, but solar panels will keep working as long as there’s some sunlight.

Solar panels line the roof of a home

Consider your particular needs when choosing between a solar home battery or generator for hurricane season preparations. Are you looking for a long-term or short-term solution? Do you have the budget for frequent maintenance checks?

Answering these questions can help you decide which option is best for your situation. Both a solar home battery and a home generator can provide a reliable energy source during hurricane season. However, the choice is ultimately yours.

Final Thoughts

So, what is the best option for you, a solar home battery or a generator? It depends on your needs and what type of homeowner you are.

A solar home is ideal if you want to be more self-sufficient and have backup power in an emergency. However, a home generator is the better option if you’re looking for something that will provide more power and run for longer during an outage.

No matter which route you choose, make sure to do your research to find the best product for your needs.

We have faith you’re now equipped to make the right decision. Best of luck!


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