According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2013 the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,908 kilowatt hours (kWh). This translates to about 30 kilowatt hours per day.
The most reliable source of power for extended or unpredictable power outages is a home backup generator. The generator, which in most cases is connected directly to a home’s natural gas line, has a constant supply of fuel and can operate through extended outages, keeping homes safe, lit and powered.
For people concerned with a loss of natural gas supply during a storm, generators can be fueled by a dedicated LP tank as well.
With this continuous fuel source, generators are much better able to face the unpredictability of dangerous, storm-prompted or lengthy outages rather than a home battery, which relies on an external power source to recharge it after only a few hours of use.
The simple answer is no. Both products do help supply electricity that homeowners can use for any electrical device in their home—from air conditioning to microwaves.
Home backup generators, when properly installed and wired to the home’s circuitry, can provide adequate wattage to the home to run all selected circuits simultaneously, with the output they require. Home appliances draw different amounts of power when they operate—a microwave may require 1000 watts of power, and a refrigerator may require 500 to 750 watts to operate. Generators steadily produce their power, fully supporting all circuits they are wired to.
Home batteries cannot supply the full wattage of the power they may hold all at once. For example, a battery that may be charged with up to 10 kWh of energy, in order to protect the longevity of the battery, cannot dispense its power at more than a 2 kilowatts-per-hour rate. This means that only certain appliances would be able to draw power at any given time from the battery. In a power outage, the battery could support only limited items in a home at one time (e.g., just the refrigerator, but not the furnace).
Visit the home backup generator sizing calculator to learn what it takes to power your home
Heating and air conditioning are top concerns, along with running water and hot water. All of these items are high-load appliances and require a high capacity to start. These actions consume significant power and could quickly drain a battery.
There a number of ways homeowners can prepare for a power outage.
Homeowners who wish to operate the appliances and features of their home without being connected to their community’s standard power grid explore a number of options to provide constant energy to their home.
Often these options still require a fuel source. In the case of certain battery backup options, the fuel source is stored solar energy. By going “off grid” a home only powered by a battery power source using solar fuel must rely on the unpredictable coverage and collection of sunlight to recharge it—impractical in most parts of the country.
Home backup generators’ fuel is often available in the home’s area in the form of natural gas or propane. A more reliable resource—natural gas—is abundant, relatively inexpensive and cleaner burning than many other fuel types. Propane fuel can be delivered and refilled as the owner desires, unlike sunlight.
For those homeowners who wish to disconnect from the power grid in their area, the power that supplies their home must be sourced to a power-supplying unit and safely designed to transfer to their electrical system, a process that requires a professional electrician or generator/battery installer.
For anyone who is interested in grid independence, a generator is a valuable component of their off-grid process.
Generac has engineered the EcoGen home backup generator as the first automatic unit warranted for off-grid use when used in an alternative energy system.
Learn more about the EcoGen home backup generator
Home backup generators are designed for backup power in the event of a power outage. Using a generator to power a home full-time is likely impractical from a fuel-consumption perspective, maintenance requirements, etc. However, some backup generators, like the Generac EcoGen, are designed to work in conjunction with alternative-energy-powered homes (solar, wind, etc.) that may be disconnected from the grid.
No. A generator is equally effective in all regions and climates. Some generators are even made with protective shells and anchoring systems for homes in high-wind or hurricane-prone areas.
Like a generator, a home battery powered by solar panels can be installed in any region; however, it is less effective in areas with inconsistent sunlight or on homes with sunlight filtered by shade.
While batteries will have a place in home energy systems, storage battery technology is not advanced enough to be a cost-effective addition to a generator used as a backup power source.
Both products require installation and proper consultation with electricians in order to ensure your home’s electrical circuitry is properly handled. Generators, beginning at smaller wattages like 7kw, could be installed for as little as $1,000 to $2,500. Prices start at $1,899 for the Generac PowerPact 7kw generator.
The new home battery is priced at approximately $3,000 for the battery. Installation prices are undetermined, but may reflect standard hourly pay for electricians, as the generator does. And the battery will require installation of an AC/DC power inverter, typically costing $2,000 or more, to convert its power output for use in the home. Batteries may also need to be replaced after a few years, more frequently if they go through frequent charging/discharging cycles.
The return on investment, however, makes power supplied by a generator less expensive over the life of the product based on how much output it provides.
For example, to provide the same 16 kilowatts of continuous power as a Generac 16,000-Watt Air Cooled Automatic Backup Generator with 200-Amp SE Rated Transfer Switch retailing for around $3,700, a homeowner would need eight stacked Tesla batteries at a cost of $45,000 for a nine-year lease.
No, the generator produces AC power, which can connect directly to a home’s electrical distribution panel.
The most popular Generac generator model produces 22kW, which is commonly installed to power the entire home, including all the most common appliances in a home, such as high-load central air conditioners, electric heaters, kitchen appliances, etc.
Certain battery systems can produce about 2kW on average and 3.3 kW peak.
Currently, the whole-house battery is a fledgling product with no full-scale distribution network or availability. Home backup generators by Generac, however, are supported by more than 5,200 certified dealers and an expansive network of trained installers, as well as our 1-800-GENERAC support network or by finding your local dealer.
All back-up systems are different and their effectiveness depends on how much power your home requires. According to a recent article in Wired, a 7kWh battery system would power an average home for 5.6 hours, assuming it is fully charged when the power outage occurs. The practical runtime of the battery system was estimated at 3 hours.
Bloomberg News, explores the output of a home battery system. The 10kWh system puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power, which could be maxed out by a single vacuum, cleaner, hair dryer, microwave or clothes iron. The battery isn’t powerful enough to operate a pair of space heaters; an entire home facing a winter power outage would need much more.
The prime difference is that a battery is meant to store power and a generator creates power. In a power outage, a generator can continuously produce power; a battery can only distribute what has been stored.
Learn more about how a home backup generator works
Generac offers the largest variety of automatic home backup generators, starting at just $1,899. Let us help you find a backup power solution that fits within your budget and supports your needs. Get started today using our Generator Sizing Calculator.
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