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Solar Batteries vs. Generators

Before Diving In: Kasselman Solar was originally founded as a subdivision of Kasselman Electric, an Albany based commercial electrical contractor that has been serving New York state for over 70 years. Throughout Kasselman Electric’s extensive history and experience it has installed countless commercial grade generators for buildings that cannot afford to lose power (I.E. Police Stations, Airports, Schools) and thusly has an in-depth understanding of the use of generators and the direction that back-up technology is going. 

Kasselman Solar was developed from the need to service the energy revolution currently occurring in the residential sector (you can read more on our company here). It is important to note that Kasselman Solar even has a history of installing residential generators in combination with our solar systems in the past in support of home energy independence. However, the technology now widely available in residential solar batteries gives homeowners the opportunity to have unprecedented energy security while making an investment into their home. 

The energy independence a solar battery provides while still fulfilling the need of backup power when the grid goes down far surpasses it’s predecessor the generator and the value it provides. We recognize that a solar company promoting a battery charged by solar panels comes with a face-value bias, however this article was written by a company with a long history installing generators, and now see’s the future in back-up batteries. 

Quick Read​

  • Solar batteries are a warrantied one time lump investment vs. generators that require constant maintenance.
  • Batteries can be fully charged by its solar system vs. generators constant need for fuel which must be purchased every season.  
  • Solar batteries power levels can be monitored and only uses energy thats needed vs. a generator that consistently burns fuel no matter how much energy is being used.
  • Solar batteries are ethically sourced and will be recycled by the end of their use cycle vs. generators burning harmful fossil fuels. 
Solar Batteries vs. Generators

One Time Investment vs. Maintenance Costs

The evolution of battery technology has created a new narrative in residential home backup. Powering your home when the grid goes down no longer means expensive generators that require constant upkeep costs in both maintenance and fuel (which we will diving further into in the next section). A solar battery is a one time lump sum investment that is fully integrated with the solar on your home, creating a holistic energy solution for your home.

All reputable solar batteries come with warranties guaranteeing both repair and replacement clauses as well as degradation values. If your battery for any reason fails to seamlessly perform, it will be repaired or replaced with no cost to the customer so long as it is under said warranty. 

Where generators need years of upkeep and maintenance, solar batteries do have one shortcoming in terms of lifespan. Solar batteries like all batteries do degrade, for example an LG ESS RESU Prime 16H is guaranteed to store at least 70% after 10 years; and the technology is only getting better. 

Charging For "Free" vs. Access to Fuel & Fuel Costs

Any event expected to take the grid down typically has some form of warning by news or weather outlets. These events are also foreshadowed by generator owners rushing to make sure they have enough propane to last the expected outage. 

With power outages in the US expected to be both more frequent and last longer in the near future, having a reliable source of backup power has never been more important. 

Let’s calculate how much a standard full home backup generator owner is spending each winter to keep their home powered through outages (as seen on the math).

To do this, we will be using NYSERDAs Average Propane Prices Dashboard for costs of propane, a typical burn rate of a full home backup generator running off propane, and since calculating power usage is typically done by hours, 144 hours of backup power needed (roughly 6 days’ worth of power) to simulate a full year’s worth of power outages. 

In contrast a battery providing home backup is ready round-the-clock to cover your homes need while simultaneously being able to be charged by your solar once the sun reemerges.

Once your access to the grid is restored, the excess energy your solar generates will fully charge your battery to be used for the next outage. 

The fully integrated system a battery offers is always ready, it’s good to remember that if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it, that tree could still fall on a power line and kill your access to the grid.

Calculating A Generators Cost Over 10 Years

Monitoring Your Energy Vs. Consistent Fuel Usage

As energy technology develops it is important to make the distinction between how your energy is created and stored. The consistency a generator provides is no secret, with the right home-backup generator so long as you have the fuel you have the means to power your home. 

A generator is an assured input to output ratio, while your generator is actively running it is fully powering your home whether you are using all the power being created or not. Any excess energy not used is simply wasted, with no way to store it once its processed. A battery attached to a solar system is the polar opposite of this scenario, having your home draw power from the battery AS NEEDED instead of consistently providing power whether or not there is need. 

The technology available today allows homeowners with these systems to monitor their energy usage from their battery in real time. This can be both monitored on the actual battery as well as often apps on phones (which can be fully powered and connected to the internet thanks to the battery).

Battery owners can monitor their system being charged by their solar system even while the grid is down as well as keep track of their energy usage throughout the day and night to balance the charging cycle. 

For all intents and purposes, the sun is an unlimited energy source that is discharging 73,000 terawatts of solar energy to the Earth continuously. When the sun reaches the end of its life in an estimated 10 billion years it will explode, and at that point powering our planet will be the least of our worries. With that in mind, let’s treat Earth right for the 10 billion years we have it for. 

The Environmental Question

Another well known fact of fossil fuel burning generators are bad for the environment, only bold statements here we know, but many point to the potentially harmful substances used in the actual chemical composition of backup batteries being even worse if disposed of irresponsibly. But it’s time for us to tackle the real elephant in the room, what are batteries made of and how do we safely recycle them?
 
To combat their environmental impact, credible battery manufactures are actively seeking ethical supplies of raw resources while using the most sustainable methods of mining. As battery technology continues to advance so shall the methods of recycling these batteries. The industry has already began taking steps to develop recycling processes for Lithium-Ion batteries, the main chemistry formula for solar batteries.
 
The older lead-acid batteries have recycling rates of up to 95% depending on battery type, an inspirational statistic for the solar battery industry to aspire to. And with recycling plants for smaller Lithium-Ion batteries being planned for 2022, the future is looking bright! 

Final Thoughts

As the world evolves around the electrical revolution thats currently occurring, the negative components hamstringing full home-backup generators will give way to a future powered by renewable energy and advanced batteries for storage. Batteries are not subject to the price fluctuations of fossil fuels, having access to said fossil fuels during times of need, or the noise made by generators when they are running. 

Batteries are the future, they will be the preferred storage system of energy. The modern world has grown complacent in the convenience of fossil fuels and their ability to store large amounts of inactive energy until burned, and we are now dealing with the consequences of climate change as a result. It’s time we questioned how we are powering our lives, and the answer is solar batteries. 

Interested in solar batteries? Read more on our Solar Battery Page!