Solar battery storage vs. energy turbines for backup energy – Vitality Issues
In the past few weeks, many states across Australia have been hit by severe thunderstorms, leading to widespread power outages.
Severe weather events (bush fires, storms, heat waves, etc.) combined with an aging and outdated infrastructure are a sure recipe for power outages. Fortunately, home and business owners have the option of a backup power solution that ensures lights, appliances, communications, and other systems continue to operate when the power goes out.
In this article we take a look at solar battery storage and power generators as two options for backup power. We compare their up-front costs, operating costs and environmental impact, as well as their reliability when it comes to keeping your home or business running during an outage.
What is solar battery storage?
When a lot of people think of backup power, they think of a portable or fixed standby generator. However, solar battery storage systems are an emerging alternative for many households and businesses, especially if they already have solar modules.
Solar batteries store excess energy from solar panels for use when the sun is not shining or during a power outage. Not all solar batteries have backup functionality, so ask your supplier or the specification sheet.
What is a power generator?
If you've ever heard a low hum from a neighbor's house when the power goes out, you've probably heard the hum of a power generator. These are combustion-based generators that deliver electricity by burning a fossil fuel such as gas, diesel or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).
Options range from small portable generators that you can pick up at your local hardware store, to stationary standby devices that turn on automatically when a power failure is detected.
Which option is better for emergency power supply?
When comparing solar battery storage systems and generators, let's break down the factors that might be important to you.
Costs in advance
Solar batteries typically have a higher initial cost than power generators, although it depends on the size and type of generator.
As a rule of thumb, solar batteries with backup functionality cost around $ 1,000 per kWh including installation and GST. Depending on whether the battery is AC or DC coupled, your solar system may also need a battery inverter to use the battery. Some DC batteries such as the SENEC Home V3 are hybrid batteries that have a combined PV and battery inverter. AC batteries like the Tesla Powerwall 2 only need a solar PV inverter, which solar owners already have as part of their PV system. There may be government discounts and incentives on solar batteries that can offset some of these costs.
The cost of power generators varies much more simply because there are so many types, brands, and models to choose from. A generator can range from a few thousand for a portable diesel or gasoline device to over $ 15,000 for a permanently attached standby generator with a toggle switch for automatic operation.
Because generators run on consumables, they have ongoing operating costs. The cost of running a generator varies by size and fuel type, but it can cost anywhere from $ 30 to $ 200 to run for 24 hours.
Solar batteries are operated with the free energy of the sun and have no operating costs.
When it comes to their environmental impact, solar batteries and generators are on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Generators run on dirty, carbon-intensive fossil fuels that produce harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and soot particles.
In comparison, solar battery storage systems are operated with green electricity. They don't produce any harmful emissions or waste by-products, which makes them a great choice for environmentally conscious homeowners.
Generators are notoriously noisy when in operation. Solar batteries, on the other hand, are practically noiseless and do not interfere with your day or night activities.
Solar batteries do not require regular maintenance, unlike standby generators, which require regular maintenance and often need to be replaced annually.
Solar batteries typically come with a 10 year warranty, although some models have an extended warranty of up to 25 years.
Although this varies by make, type, and model, most standby generators offer a 5-year or (x number) operating hours warranty, whichever comes first. Portable generators usually have a shorter warranty than standby generators, which are designed to power an entire home.
If you live in an area subject to prolonged power outages or need a consistent, reliable power source that will provide continuous power for days on end, you can rule out small portable gasoline generators. These units require refueling every few hours and cannot be refueled while they are in use or while they are still hot. A larger diesel or gas standby generator should be able to run continuously for days, if not weeks. These larger systems can also power your entire home or business, so you don't have to be too frugal with electricity.
One disadvantage is that extreme weather events sometimes lead to fuel supply bottlenecks and price peaks in the affected regions. This means you may not be able to find fuel for your generator when you need it most.
In the case of solar batteries, the running time depends on the charge of the battery before the failure and the available storage capacity of the battery. It also depends on what you're doing on it. If you've got a few lights on and you're watching TV or cooking, a fully charged battery will last around 12-13 hours. However, once you add a large power consumer such as an air conditioner or dishwasher, you will drain the battery in just a few hours.
To ensure the safety of the line rectifiers, solar inverters are switched off in the event of a power failure. This means that during an outage, solar panels will not be able to generate electricity or charge your battery. However, there is the option of a hybrid solar system that allows you to switch to an “off-grid” mode so that you can continue to use your solar modules during the day and discharge your batteries at night.
Nonetheless, standby generators have the upper hand when it comes to reliability in the event of a longer failure.
While this is not related to their performance during an outage, it is worth looking into what both options offer outside of backup functionality so you can compare the overall value of each option.
While stationary generators may be limited to providing emergency power, portable generators are versatile machines that can be used on construction sites, for tailgates and camping, at events, or anywhere where an extension cord is inaccessible.
While its backup functionality is handy, the main function of a solar battery is to store excess energy generated during the day so you can use it at night. This helps homeowners reduce the amount of electricity they buy from utility companies during peak hours (when all of their appliances are running and watching TV). Batteries can also charge electric vehicles (EV) during the night.
As you can see, there is no clear answer to the question of whether solar batteries or generators are better suited for emergency power supply – it all depends on your specific preferences and needs!
Solar battery storage systems are our personal choice because they offer a cleaner, greener alternative to power generators, but come with a higher initial cost that may make them out of reach for some. Generators, on the other hand, are usually cheaper to buy, but have high operating costs and cause harmful emissions during operation.
Outside the budget, perhaps the most important consideration when choosing between a battery or standby generator is determining how much power your home or business will need during a power outage.
Qualified professionals can assist you in correctly dimensioning your generator or solar battery to meet your requirements.
Energy Matters has helped over 30,000 Australians transition to clean energy. We can guide you to a solar and / or battery storage solution that suits your lifestyle and budget. Receive up to 3 non-binding offers from our trusted network of accredited solar installers. It's fast, it's free, and it's easy to shop.