Americans experience an average of eight hours of power interruptions each year. If the lights go off in your home, are you prepared?
Unless you have a reliable source of backup power, you could be sitting in the dark for longer than you want. Thankfully, you have a few different options. Two of the most common are a whole house generator and solar panels.
Both can help you stay up and running in the event of an outage, but which one is right for your home? Today, we’re sharing the differences between a whole house generator and solar to help you make an informed decision. Visit Here
How Does a Whole House Generator Work?
A whole house generator works as its name implies. It kicks in when your electrical power goes out, allowing you to access hot water, lights, and more.
Most are designed as fixed, standby generators that connect seamlessly to your home’s electrical wiring, as well as the associated fuel source. The most common types of fuel are natural gas, propane, and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG.
You can find whole house generators that turn on automatically when a power outage is detected. Or, you can buy one that requires a manual start to operate.
These can range in size, scale, and cost depending on your property. Naturally, a whole house generator designed to power a sprawling estate will cost more and take up more room than one that powers a smaller, ranch-style house.
Pros and Cons to Consider
The benefits of installing a whole house generator include:
- On-demand access to the power you need
- Connect easily to an existing gas line
- Relatively inexpensive up-front installation costs
- Can operate without another type of power (e.g. solar)
- Provides constant power (with adequate fuel supply)
However, these systems aren’t for everyone. The cons to keep in mind include:
- Operating noise can be loud
- Require gas (even when not in use)
- Require regular maintenance and upkeep
- Fuel left in the unit can damage components
- Create carbon emissions when in use
How Does Solar Power Work?
When you install solar panels on the exterior of your home, they capture and record the sun’s energy. Then, they convert that energy into power that your home can use. If you’re thinking about going solar, you should know that you have the option to buy or lease solar power.
How does it work? The process starts with photovoltaic cells, which are integrated into each solar panel. Sunlight first hits these cells, and then it travels into an inverter. There, it converts from direct current (DC) power into usable alternating current (AC) power.
Pros and Cons to Consider
The benefits of installing solar panels on your home as a source of backup power include:
- The ability to save money on your electricity bills
- Lowering your carbon footprint
- The opportunity to sell back excess solar energy to the grid
- Lower long-term operating costs
- Federal assistance is available to support installation and maintenance
On the fence about going solar? There are a few drawbacks to consider, such as:
- Difficult to move or reposition once installed
- Cannot generate power at night
- Up-front installations can be costly
While you might spend a little more to install solar panels, most homeowners can save a significant amount of money by using them. Take the time to see what you save before making a final decision based on cost alone.
Whole House Generator vs Solar: Breaking It Down
When deciding between solar panels or generator power, there are a few major factors that will influence your decision. Let’s take a look at some of the most important questions to ask.
What Are Your Long-Term Plans?
Do you plan to install solar panels to power your home continuously in the future? If so, then it’s smart to add them as a backup power resource now. This can help you get a feel for how the setup works before you invest in a full system down the road.
If you’re only looking for enough alternative power to keep your lights and fridge working during an outage, then a generator might be all that you need right now. This is especially the case if you already have an existing natural gas line on your property.
What Is Your Budget?
Next, let’s talk money. As mentioned, you’ll pay more in the beginning to install solar panels. If your decision between a generator or solar panels is strictly based on immediate costs, then go with the generator.
However, it’s wise to take a long-term perspective when weighing your options. Solar panels might cost more now, but you’ll save money after using them for a while. You can even qualify for a federal tax credit when you make the switch to solar!
Conversely, you’ll spend more money maintaining your generator for the life of your home. You also need to factor in the cost of fuel, which your unit will require even if it’s not in use.
What About the Environment?
Studies show that nearly 85% of homeowners want to live in a green, environmentally-friendly home. If sustainability is important to you, then it’s important to understand the level of emissions generated by solar vs generator power.
Solar power produces very few emissions, while generators are combustible engines. They have a much higher carbon footprint and are harsher on the environment. Generators are also louder and more complicated to operate than solar panels, which produce quiet, reliable power when you need it the most.
How Will You Power Your Home?
In the debate between whole house generator vs solar, there isn’t one clear winner. However, there are distinct benefits and drawbacks to each solution.
Before you make a decision and sign on the bottom line, take the considerations above into account. The best system for you is one that meets your budget, needs, and plans for the future. Both solutions can keep your family comfortable if the power goes out, though solar is often deemed less expensive and more sustainable.
Looking for advice on which technologies and gadgets to try? We have lots of other guides on our blog, so keep reading!