Generator VS Solar With Battery Backup
As I write this Hurricane Matthew is pummeling Florida and moving north toward Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Counties have been evacuated and a state of emergency has been declared. Massive damage to life and property is expected. Millions of people will be effected by this storm. Our prayers are with them all.
Hurricane Matthew won’t be the last of its kind. There will be more, but hurricanes are not the only disaster that can threaten our power grid. There are the more common, severe thunderstorms that can knock out power for days, and ice storms which we usually have at least once in the winter in the southeast United States. There are, of course, the more sinister threats like a cyber attack on the power grid, or god forbid, a terrorist attack or EMP pulse either from an attack or naturally from a solar flair. Yes, a solar flare could happen anytime, and it could take months or years to rebuild the grid. That’s Mother Nature for you. We have a choice. We can all do nothing about it and hope for the best, or we can prepare ourselves for an emergency by making sure we have shelter, water, food, and some form of security.
If you want power when the grid goes down you have the choice of getting a generator or a solar with battery backup system. (Also called an off grid solar system.) An off grid solar system will cost more than a generator but is far superior if correctly designed. Here is why:
No Fuel Needed! The sun and batteries are your power source now! And they will replenish as soon as the sun comes out. This is obviously the most important one. If you have a generator, when the grid goes out and the generator kicks on, you immediately start counting down the hours until your fuel runs out and you are left in the dark. No light, no water, and your food spoiling in the refrigerator.
No Storage Problems! A generator may get you through a few days or maybe a week, but you will need a huge amount of fuel on standby at all times. If you have a gasoline generator, it won’t be long before you have to go looking for gasoline and in a natural disaster the gas stations will run out with-in a day. We saw this with the gas crisis we had just a month ago. A gas pipe in Alabama broke and disrupted the gasoline supply for the whole southeast United States, showing just how quickly gas runs out in a crisis. Let’s say you have a propane tank or diesel storage tank to run your generator. You will need a really big tank stocked at all times. Say 500 gallons or larger! And it’s still only a matter of time before it runs out. Which brings me to my next point…
Much Longer Lasting! An off grid system, if properly designed, will run 7-15 years before the batteries need to be replaced. Some batteries can even be taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled to last another 15 years. That’s a tad better than a generator which will probably only get you a few days to a week off grid. If you are prepping for an extended power outage why would you even consider a generator? Seems like a waste of money. The solar panels themselves should last 25-30 years.
No Noise! When the grid goes down you can hear the generators cranking up from a block away. They are noisy! So it won’t be long before you can expect a few knocks on your door from neighbors hoping to charge their phones, looking for food, water, etc. Hopefully, they are friendly neighbors and you don’t mind helping them. But in a natural disaster, you may have unwelcome guests ready to take whatever you have. That’s an unpleasant thought but let’s just say if you don’t want to advertise you have power, food, and water, then your only choice is a solar with battery backup system.
Less Maintenance and More Reliable! A generator requires maintenance and they break easily. Unless you know how to fix them yourself you may be disappointed. I receive many calls from people who have generators, and when a storm struck and they needed it, it didn’t work! The larger whole house generators need to be serviced every 3 months. They need to be regularly turned on and tested. Basically, there is a lot that can and does go wrong with them. You can’t just buy one and a year later hope and pray it turns on when you need it. A properly designed battery system will always be ready because the inverter is constantly maintaining the batteries in a float charge and can also run equalizations charges on a regular basis if programmed to do so.
What we do. Sun Dollar Energy has several happy customers who have installed solar with battery back-up systems. We can custom design an off grid solar energy system to meet your specific needs. There are several factors we must consider when designing an off grid solar energy system. We will analyze your energy consumption, peak usage, and storage requirements. This analysis will determine what size solar array, size, and model of inverter, size and type of battery system will work best for you with in your budget.
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