Backup Power Solutions: How to Choose Between Home Batteries and Generators

Feb. 24, 2024

Battery backups and generators serve as crucial tools to maintain essential functions during a power outage. Here's a guide to help you choose the right option for your home.


Facing the prospect of severe weather and potential power outages brings both challenges and solutions.


Fortunately, you now have multiple choices to ensure you can keep essential systems running smoothly.


In the past, the primary option was fuel-powered standby generators. However, quieter and fume-free home battery backups have emerged as a viable and lasting alternative. While generators rely on fuel availability (usually propane, diesel, or natural gas) and come with associated risks such as carbon monoxide, noise, and fuel costs, batteries offer a cleaner and quieter solution. Solar panels can contribute to keeping your battery charged, although they come with their own associated costs.


Though batteries and generators fulfill the same fundamental purpose, they are distinct devices with unique features. In the following sections, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of each option, providing you with the necessary information to make an informed decision for your specific needs.


Home Battery Backup System


A home battery backup system stores energy, allowing you to power your house during an outage. These batteries obtain electricity from your home solar system or the electrical grid, making them more environmentally friendly than fuel-powered generators. Additionally, they can be more cost-effective.


Furthermore, if you are on a time-of-use utility plan, a battery backup system can help you save on your electricity bill. Instead of paying high rates during peak hours, you can utilize energy from your battery backup to power your home. During off-peak hours, you can use electricity at a more affordable rate, recharging your battery when costs are lower.


For those with solar panels, excess electricity generated can be stored in the battery for use during nighttime or periods of panel inefficiency.


Virtual power plants, where you relinquish some control over your battery's charge to your utility or a third party, are becoming more prevalent. By sharing access to stored energy, you may even earn some money.


Home Battery Backup System



In contrast, standby generators connect to your home's electrical panel and activate automatically during a power outage. Running on fuels like natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel, these generators ensure a continuous power supply.


Certain natural gas and propane generators can connect to your home's gas line or propane tank, eliminating the need for manual refills. However, diesel generators require regular topping up to maintain their functionality.


Home Battery Backup vs. Generator: A Comparative Analysis


Both home battery backups and generators fulfill the same fundamental purpose, yet they differ in terms of costs, maintenance requirements, and performance.




In the realm of costs, home battery backups entail a higher upfront investment. However, generators incur ongoing expenses for fuel, making them costlier over time to maintain a consistent fuel supply.


For battery backups, the initial costs involve the purchase of the backup battery system and installation expenses, typically ranging in the thousands. The exact pricing varies based on the chosen battery model and the quantity required to power your home. On average, an average-size home battery backup system may cost between $10,000 and $20,000.


Generators, on the other hand, have slightly lower upfront costs. The average price for purchasing and installing a standby generator falls within the range of $7,000 to $15,000. It's important to note that generators necessitate fuel for operation, leading to additional operating expenses. The specific costs depend on factors such as the generator size, the type of fuel it utilizes, and the quantity of fuel consumed during operation.




When it comes to installation, battery backups hold a slight advantage as they can be conveniently mounted to the wall or floor. In contrast, generator installations typically involve additional work. Regardless of the choice, professional assistance is essential for both installations, each requiring a full day of work and potentially costing several thousand dollars.


Certain home batteries, functioning like oversized portable power stations, necessitate minimal installation efforts, often involving an electrician setting up a transfer switch or a smart electrical panel.


Apart from installing the device itself, generator installations also involve pouring a concrete slab, connecting the generator to a dedicated fuel source, and installing a transfer switch.




In the maintenance category, battery backups emerge as the clear winner. They operate quietly, independently, without emitting any emissions, and demand no ongoing maintenance.


On the contrary, generators can be noisy and disruptive during operation, emitting exhaust or fumes depending on the type of fuel used. This aspect may cause irritation to you or your neighbors.


Keeping Your Home Powered


In terms of sustaining your home's power, standby generators excel over battery backups. With a sufficient fuel supply, generators can run continuously for up to three weeks if necessary.


Which Battery Backup Is Right for You?


Across most categories, battery backup systems come out on top. In short, they're better for the environment, easier to install and cheaper to run long-term. Plus, they have longer warranties than standby generators.


That being said, traditional generators can be a viable option in certain scenarios. Unlike battery backups, a single generator is sufficient to restore power during an outage, reducing upfront costs. Moreover, standby generators often have a longer runtime in a single session, making them a more reliable choice for prolonged power outages that last for several days.


However, if your backup needs are less extensive, and you only intend to support a few essentials for shorter durations, you might not require such a substantial solution. In such cases, exploring less-permanent options like portable generators or portable power stations could be more suitable for your needs.

Home Battery Backup System