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Backup Battery vs. Generator for Your Home — Which is Better?

Telsa battery

If you’re looking into a whole-home generator to safeguard against power outages, you may be surprised to hear that a home battery can be equally effective as a backup power source. In fact, certain batteries like the Tesla Powerwall don’t even require solar panels.

Home batteries are still a relatively new technology, which means there’s a lot to be learned about the benefits. So, to better understand how a home battery compares to a generator, we’ll look into some key factors that might affect your purchase decision, including:

Want a free, no-obligation estimate on the cost to install a backup battery in your home?

Contact Photon Brothers (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) today! We’ll schedule a free in-home visit, where our solar experts will perform an honest assessment of your home’s energy usage, and then determine the right backup battery for your needs and budget.

Infrastructure requirements

Wall-mounted Tesla Powerwall in a Photon Brothers' customer's garage
Wall-mounted Tesla Powerwall in a Photon Brothers’ customer’s garage

Generators typically require substantial infrastructure in order to operate. For this reason, a home battery could be the better choice due to the convenience of installation.

For example, Tesla Powerwalls have a sleek design that’s so lightweight, you can simply mount it on a wall in your garage. No hefty setup required.

Even better? Tesla Powerwalls can be tied directly to your local electricity grid. Harnessing smart technology, your Powerwall will store energy while rates are low. If the power goes out, your home will automatically draw power straight from your Powerwall— keeping you safe and protected, at a price that saves you money! 

On the other hand, a home generator often requires a considerable (and expensive) infrastructure investment, even before it’s installed.

For example, to prepare for a home generator you’ll probably need:

  • A concrete slab or gravel pad. Because whole-home generators are quite heavy, they usually require a dedicated concrete slab or gravel pad to sit on. If you don’t have one installed, you may need a professional contractor to build one for you.
  • A dedicated gas line. Home generators require fuel to operate. Depending on the location of your home’s electricity meter, you may need to have dedicated gas lines installed, in order to reach the location of your generator. 
  • A protective cover or shed. For safety reasons, the law requires home generators to sit at least 5 feet away from your home or garage. If you live in a climate with heavy rainfall or snow, you also may need to install a dedicated cover, or even a shed, to avoid exposing your generator to the elements.

Compared to a home generator, a backup battery is far easier to install— no concrete slab, dedicated gas line, or protective cover required. 

And while it’s true that the majority of home batteries do require a solar panel installation (Tesla Powerwall being the exception), the cost of your solar system could be less than your generator. But, we’ll go into more detail on cost factors below.

Energy needs and priorities

Generators can supply anywhere from 16 to 50 kilowatts of power. While home batteries produce about half that range (4.5 to 29 kilowatts of power), the average American home only needs about 20 kilowatts of power to comfortably operate during a power outage, which is well within a home battery’s range.

Moreover, when combined with solar panels, backup batteries are a 100% renewable source of energy that can power your home for decades to come. Generators, on the other hand, require an ongoing supply of gasoline, propane, and other environmentally costly fossil fuels. If clean energy is important to you, a home battery is hands down the better choice.

That being said, it’s important to acknowledge some instances in which a generator may be necessary to supply your backup energy needs:

  • You don’t have solar panels, and you aren’t planning to install them. If you’re considering a Tesla Powerwall because it can be grid-tied, it’s important to know that your energy storage will be limited. During a power outage, once you’ve drained your battery’s power, you won’t be able to recharge until municipal power is restored. A generator, however, can be refueled with gas. So if your power is out for days at a time, it would be possible to get more fuel and keep your home powered. 
  • You live in a very cold climate with limited sunshine. Extreme climates require special attention to energy consumption because when your power is out, freezing cold temperatures could be life-threatening. In this case, a gas-powered generator may be your most reliable choice. With limited sunshine, solar panels are probably not a viable option. And as mentioned above, grid-tied Tesla Powerwalls have a limited backup power supply.
  • You have a very large home and need extra backup. In some cases, you may want to have a backup battery and a whole-home generator installed. If you have a very large estate, for example, your power needs may be greater than most, and you could benefit from added peace of mind during emergency situations. 

Regardless of whether you choose a generator or home battery, it’s crucial that you understand the energy needs of your home. For a free in-home energy assessment, contact Photon Brothers. Our experts will conduct a thorough analysis of your home’s power consumption, and then help you determine the right options for your needs and budget.

Photon Brothers is a Tesla Certified Premier Installer, a prestigious status given only to those with longstanding relationships with Tesla, proving an exceptional track record of high-level installation quality.

Tax credits and long-term savings

When it comes to cost, a generator and home battery setup are actually somewhat comparable. You’re also likely to encounter the same 0% down, low monthly payment plan options for both, to help alleviate some impact on your upfront budget.

With this in mind, home batteries can actually be the more affordable option, for a few reasons:

  • Home batteries require less maintenance. Fuel-powered generators are more prone to breakdowns under extensive usage. Moreover, because they run on gas, they require continuous safety and performance checkups. If you’re looking to avoid long-term maintenance costs, a home battery won’t strain your wallet nearly as much as a generator. 
  • When paired with solar panels, home batteries deliver the highest amount of long-term savings. Unlike a home generator, when you purchase a home battery in tandem with a solar panel installation, you’ll actually gain that money back through renewable solar energy. As the sun charges your panels, your home battery will store its endless supply of FREE energy; Something a generator can’t do, because it runs on a finite and costly supply of gas fuel.
  • When paired with solar panels, you’ll receive substantial tax credits towards your home battery. Until the end of 2023, homeowners can claim a 22 – 26% federal tax credit towards their new solar system, including home batteries. This is on top of local rebates, state tax credits, and other incentives that may be available. 

With the tax incentives alone, a home battery is a cost-effective alternative to a home generator. To learn more about how to claim your 26% federal tax credit on a brand new solar installation — including a home battery— check out our solar incentives page.

Want a FREE quote on a home battery?

Contact Photon Brothers today! Our team of licensed electricians and NABCEP-certified installers have decades of combined experience and will provide you with honest and customized recommendations. We offer some of the most energy-efficient home batteries on the market, and will ensure that your home is safely protected from power outages!

Photon brothers Kat Arnoldi

Katlyyn Arnoldi

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