At some point, the power will go out in your home. Extreme weather events, natural disasters, and aging electricity grid failures could leave your family in the dark at any time.
A home backup power solution can be a lifesaver in any of these situations.
A home battery backup system or a backup generator can both help meet your household’s essential electricity needs in the event of a power outage.
So what’s the better option?
There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Finding the right home backup solution can give you peace of mind and prepare you for the unexpected at any time of the year.
Here’s what you need to consider to determine which home backup power solution is right for you.
What Is a Home Battery Backup System and How Does It Work?
For many Americans, power outages are a fact of life. On Christmas Eve of 2022, more than 500,000 homes and businesses lost power due to a series of winter storms across the country. With extreme weather events increasing, preparing for potential outages is more crucial than ever. You need to prepare your home to go without power for extended periods — or you need to set up a backup power system.
One attractive option for power backup is a battery storage system. A home backup battery system stores energy for use when you need it. Home backup batteries like the DELTA Portable Power Stations consist of a battery — or series of batteries—that you can connect to either essential appliances or the electrical panel of your entire house.
The number of batteries you’ll need depends on your household’s energy consumption. Identify the critical appliances you need to keep running, add up their wattage requirements, and purchase a battery backup system that will meet your needs. You can build a system like the EcoFlow Whole Home Backup Power Solution to meet your expected usage for an evening — or for days.
Battery backup systems don’t generate power for your home. Instead, they store electricity for later use. You need to recharge the system after each use to prepare for the next time you need it. Most home backup batteries recharge using a standard wall outlet. More modern and versatile options are available that recharge via car adaptors, EV adaptors, or solar panels.
Installation is typically less complex for battery backup systems than for home generators. Just be sure to check the charge levels between uses to avoid running out of power when an outage strikes.
Backup batteries don’t entail any health risks or emit pollution — issues that a traditional fossil fuel-powered standby generator creates for your home. Lithium-ion or LiFePO4 (LFP) batteries run clean and store easily, saving you the headaches of a fossil fuel generator.
As with any home power solution, a backup battery system has pros and cons.
- Battery backup systems require little to no maintenance.
- Batteries can last for up to ten years of regular use.
- You can add storage capacity to fit your energy needs.
- You save money on fuel costs vs. a traditional gas-powered generator.
- Using a transfer switch, you can restore power immediately if you integrate your backup system with your home wiring system.
- Battery backup systems create little to no noise and no fumes while you use them.
- You’ll need to hire an electrician to connect your battery backup system and transfer switch to your home’s electrical panel.
- You must recharge the battery to top off the power after each use. If AC charging is your only option, you’ll only have electricity for as long as your battery lasts during a blackout.
What Is a Home Generator and How Does It Work?
A traditional home generator produces electricity by burning fuel rather than storing it for later use. Typically, you connect a generator to your existing wiring and turn it on manually when the power goes out. More sophisticated models may automatically kick in when an outage is detected.
Depending on the type you buy, traditional generators use gasoline, propane, natural gas, or diesel fuel. Bi-fuel and dual fuel generators use a combination of two fuel sources, such as gasoline and propane (LPG). The fuel powers a combustion engine that generates electricity to supply your home or to select appliances. Unlike batteries that only power your home until the charge runs out, a generator keeps going as long as you have fuel to run it.
Traditional generators tend to run through fuel quickly, and operating costs can add up fast.
Home generator sizes range from small portable generators designed to power a few appliances to units designed to power the entire house. Fossil fuel generators must be installed outdoors to limit the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide and other toxic emissions.
(Source: Hearing Health Foundation)
Gas and diesel generators, in particular, are also very noisy. Portable gas generators typically produce between 80-100 decibels (dB) of noise when operating — at least 10 dB above the recommended safety threshold, as shown in the chart above.
By contrast, the EcoFlow DELTA Pro produces less than 50 dB of noise when charging or operating — more than 20 dB below the safety threshold and comparable to average room noise.
Gas generators also emit dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide. Using one indoors can kill you in minutes. Solar generators do not create deadly fumes, making them significantly better for the environment and usable indoors and out.
Unfortunately, traditional generators create significant environmental pollution and can contribute to many health problems over time for your community and your household.
This equation changes with a solar generator, which consists of a solar charging-enabled home backup battery system — commonly known as a portable power station — with solar panels connected to it.
For example, EcoFlow DELTA Solar Generators can use multiple charging methods to recharge, including AC electricity and solar panels. They don’t require fossil fuels to generate electricity.
Solar-powered home generators give you the best of both worlds: a virtually noiseless power supply that generates electricity without burning fossil fuels.
Solar power is an inexhaustible, clean, and renewable energy source.
- Generators produce electricity rather than just storing it
- Some generators kick on automatically during an outage, providing fast or immediate backup power
- Generators add value to your home when installed
- Traditional gas-powered generators are much louder than home backup battery systems
- Fossil fuel-burning generators produce dangerous toxins and greenhouse gases
- Installation may require more effort and expense
- Traditional generators require to consume and store fuel
- Fossil fuel generators can take up significant space outside your home and require regular maintenance.
- Traditional gas generators require more maintenance than battery storage solutions
Battery Backup vs. Generator: How Do They Compare?
The right choice for home backup power solutions isn’t necessarily the same for everyone. Your individual requirements and budget help determine which option makes more sense for you. With that in mind, a head-to-head comparison can help you find the right product.
A backup battery system is typically more expensive than a fossil fuel generator in up-front costs. A battery system with enough capacity to power your home might run between $10,000 and $20,000, while a generator typically costs between $7,000 and $15,000. In both cases, that cost varies depending on the size of the system or generator; a higher capacity will cost more.
Most of the time, you will want to hire professionals to install your backup power supply. Installing a fossil fuel generator is more involved; you need to find space for it outside, make sure it’s protected from the elements, pour concrete, and connect a transfer switch. You may also need to connect it to a fuel line (for natural gas).
A home backup battery system can be integrated into your home’s existing wiring or used to plug your appliances into directly. You can keep it inside because it’s quiet and doesn’t produce toxic emissions. Installation typically requires minimal effort and expense compared to a fossil fuel generator installation.
With some battery systems, like the EcoFlow Whole Home Backup Power Solution, the installation is as simple as connecting the battery to a transfer switch or power inlet box — a job that will take a professional just minutes.
Backup battery systems come out way ahead on maintenance. A fossil fuel generator requires regular maintenance; you want to get your unit serviced annually, at minimum, to ensure everything is running correctly.
Backup batteries require almost no maintenance as they have few (if any) moving parts. As long as you keep them charged, you can use many battery-powered systems for years without maintenance.
A fossil fuel generator might last from 20 to 30 years with regular maintenance and intermittent use. More frequent operation will lower the lifespan.
Home battery backup systems typically last between 5 to 15 years before their efficiency starts to diminish.
Some generators kick in automatically during a power outage and last as long as you have fuel to keep them running. If you purchase a backup battery system that supports solar charging — like EcoFlow’s portable power stations — you can pair your battery storage with solar panels to create a solar generator. Going solar means you don’t have to store or pay for fossil fuels to keep your home powered.
Unless you hook up a traditional generator or battery backup system directly into your home electrical circuit, you’ll need to manually switch the device on and potentially plug your essential appliances into the unit. Manual operations such as this mean at least a few minutes of interruption in the electricity supply.
Some options, like EcoFlow Power Kits, can integrate directly into a home or RV’s main circuit for uninterrupted power and increased reliability.
Frequently Asked Questions
A backup battery requires less maintenance and eliminates fuel costs compared to traditional backup generators. Set-up is easier, and you’ll have a clean, environmentally friendly backup power option. However, a generator can provide power longer, as long as you have enough fool or solar power to keep it running.
Backup batteries are a smart investment. You can customize your backup battery system to meet your individual home’s electricity demands. Over time, the difference in fuel costs will usually more than make up the difference between the up-front cost of a traditional generator vs. your battery system (especially if you can add solar panels for solar charging).
Which Home Backup Power Solution Is Right for You?
The right solution depends on your individual requirements and budget.
Backup battery systems don’t necessarily require fuel and or regular maintenance. They’re much better for the environment and don’t require you to purchase fossil fuels.
On the other hand, if you live in an area where frequent, extended power outages occur, a generator can provide enough electricity to keep your home running longer — as long as you have enough fuel or solar power.
If you are looking for a convenient, environmentally-friendly solution for your home backup power needs, a battery-powered system is a better choice in the long run. A battery system paired with solar panels delivers the benefits of a traditional generator without the noise, toxic emissions, or fossil fuel consumption.
With extreme weather events only getting worse and more frequent, backup power for your home is essential. The EcoFlow Whole Home Backup Power Solution provides a robust, environmentally friendly option for power outages.
Determine the size and capacity you need to power your home or essential appliances, and be ready to face most blackout scenarios without fear.