Solar Batteries VS. Generators For Backup

solar batteries vs generators

Nigerian homeowners are no strangers to power outages that can cause blackouts for a few hours or up to a few days. Traditionally, homeowners looked to portable or whole-home standby generators to keep their essential appliances running whenever a power outage hits. However, there has been an increase in interest in using a solar PV system with battery storage in recent years.

Nigeria is said to be one of the fastest-growing markets for solar. According to the Global off Grid Market Report, Nigeria is the 5th largest market regarding the volume of solar products sold. Sales of off-grid solar systems (50 – 100W output) increased by more than double in value from $23 million in 2018 to $63 million in 2019.

Solar is used in Nigeria for various needs, from lighting and powering (small) appliances to water pumping, irrigation, refrigeration, telecommunications, and general electrification.

But with a solar panel system typically comes battery or generator needs. And they’re experiencing a recent surge in popularity, too. The ageing grid infrastructure of the country has urged homeowners to explore backup systems to keep their power on during power outages. 

So what should you look for in a backup storage system? Your primary choice is between a battery or a generator.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLAR BATTERIES AND GENERATORS?

Batteries and generators are two main types of power backup systems that can power your home if an outage occurs.

BATTERIES

Batteries run on electricity and can be charged either from the excess energy your solar panels produce or energy from the grid.  

A power outage will shut off a grid-tied solar PV system and will leave you without power, just like your neighbours who are hooked up directly to the grid as well. When combining solar panels with a solar battery, your system will disconnect from the grid, but your battery will start powering your home without any interruption. You can also size your battery backup system to power your essential energy loads or your whole house. 

THE PROS OF USING BATTERIES:

  • No added noise/quiet operation
  • Operates on renewable energy when combined with solar
  • Increases your daily solar consumption 24/7
  • Extremely low maintenance
  • Seamless operation during a power outage

THE CONS OF USING BATTERIES:

  • Higher price tag
  • Limited power capacity (if grid-connected)

GENERATORS

Portable or standby generators are the backup power technology most homeowners are already familiar with. Backup generators create their electricity by burning fossil fuels like propane, natural gas, or even diesel. They are installed outside the home and can include sensors to detect an outage for automatic operation. Backup generators are more affordable to purchase, but they do come with some small monthly costs since they often require weekly self-tests, on top of any fuel you use while they’re running during an outage.

THE PROS OF USING BACKUP GENERATORS:

  • One-off cost is less expensive than solar batteries
  • Can provide power 24/7, given a steady fuel supply
  • Flexible options from a small portable to whole-home standby 

Backup Generator Cons:

  • Noisy operation
  • Higher carbon footprint
  • Requires maintenance 
  • Monthly fuel costs

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOUR HOME

While batteries and generators have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, it’s best to choose what’s most fitting for you, your home, and your loved ones. 

Let’s take a look at how a residential solar power system combined with a generator or battery will keep you self-sufficient in the wake of an emergency.

HOW CAN SOLAR POWER HELP PREPARE AGAINST DISASTERS OR OUTAGES?

It’s easy to dismiss disaster planning as preparing for a worst-case scenario that likely won’t occur. If we learned anything from the global pandemic, it’s that we never know when or how quickly our lives can change.

Backup power options are advantageous since grids face numerous vulnerabilities. Keeping surplus electricity generated by your home’s solar energy system on hand will help you prepare for total power outages. You’ll have the ability to keep the lights on, maintain food storage to prevent spoilage, keep necessary medical equipment running, and even use your laptop for work obligations.

For many, the allure of solar power is sustainability in that it significantly reduces your carbon footprint and provides you with a new sense of energy independence. But solar backup power will also ensure your safety and empower you to manage unforeseen circumstances.

WHY CHOOSE SOLAR BATTERIES?

Batteries are great for providing instantaneous power for a few hours to keep features that require smaller loads of energy up and running.

While batteries have an initial higher purchase cost than generators, they can help you save money long-term because they run entirely on renewable energy and rarely need maintenance or repair work. 

TYPES OF SOLAR BATTERIES

LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES

Lithium-ion batteries have a long lifespan and are the most environmentally friendly option for backup power. They maximize power usage and minimize costs. Their link to smart home software systems also provides homeowners additional control.

LEAD-ACID BATTERIES 

In photovoltaic systems, lead-acid batteries are the most often utilized form of battery. Although lead-acid batteries have a low energy density, moderate efficiency, and high maintenance requirements, they also have a long lifetime and low costs compared to other battery types.

NICKEL-CADMIUM BATTERIES

Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries are not as widely used as lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. Ni-Cd batteries first sprung on the scene in the late 1800s. They, however, got a makeover in the 1980s that significantly increased how much energy they could store. They are a favourite amongst the aircraft industry.

For more information, visit www.arnergy.com or call us on 07002288888 for an energy audit.

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