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Traditional fossil fuel burning home backup generators have been on the market for over 70 years.
For decades, they were the only viable option to keep electrical appliances running during a blackout.
As a home backup option, fossil fuel generators made sense. The price per kWh of consumption compared to on-grid power costs was prohibitive. But who wouldn’t pay a premium to keep the lights on during an extended blackout?
Until recently, generating electricity off-grid has been a losing proposition financially.
Recent innovations in solar technology — coupled with generous government incentives for homeowners switching to solar — have changed all that.
Now, it’s possible to reduce (or eliminate) your dependence on aging infrastructure AND save money on utility bills by producing green, sustainable electricity by harnessing the power of the sun.
Not only are EcoFlow’s solar-powered whole house generators a more reliable choice for home backup than a traditional manufacturer like Generac’s Guardian series, but they’re also a wiser long-term investment.
Ready to find out more?
Understanding the Core Technology Behind Each Generator
It likely goes without saying that the core technology behind solar and traditional fossil fuel generators is fundamentally different.
Both types of generators produce electricity, but that’s where the similarity ends.
The details of how solar and fossil fuel generators vary based on manufacture and fuel type, but the basic principles remain the same.
Let’s take a look at solar vs. fossil fuel using Generac’s Guardian and EcoFlow’s Whole Home Generators as examples.
Ecoflow’s Solar Generators
EcoFlow has quickly established itself as an innovator and industry leader in off-grid solar and battery backup technology. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has won numerous design awards and launched the most well-funded Kickstarter tech product of all time.
Unlike Generac’s Guardian series — which, like all fossil fuel generators, rely on internal combustion engines — EcoFlow’s solar generators have no ongoing fuel costs and few moving parts. Over time, solar generators can save you significant money on maintenance and electricity bills — and help you achieve energy independence.
There are two primary types of residential solar power systems — on-grid and off-grid. EcoFlow’s portable, flexible, and rigid solar panels are compatible with either, but solar generators don’t work using photovoltaic modules alone.
A portable power station or other balance of system is a prerequisite for storing, managing, and converting the direct current (DC) that solar panels collect into alternating current (AC) electricity that you use to power your home.
EcoFlow’s Whole Home Generators are built for fully off-grid use but can be recharged by multiple methods, including plugging them into a wall socket.
How do solar generators produce household electricity?
Find out below.
The sun produces two kinds of energy — heat and light. Solar generators capture photons from sunlight using the photovoltaic effect. PV modules like solar panels are typically monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon solar cells. PV panels contain hundreds of cells shielded by a transparent protective surface like tempered glass. The cells are sandwiched between protective layers, and rigid solar panels are typically framed in stainless steel. Flexible and portable solar panels differ in construction but use the same principles. Solar panels must be installed where they’ll receive optimal peak sunlight. For many homeowners, rooftop solar installations make the most sense.
Electricity Storage, Conversion, and Management
The DC electricity solar panels produce using the photovoltaic effect is sent through a solar connector cable to a portable power station or other balance of system.
Because solar power is intermittent by nature, off-grid systems require a solar battery or batteries to store energy for nighttime use or when electricity generation is insufficient to meet your family’s needs.
With on-grid systems, solar batteries are optional. A grid-tied system automatically toggles between solar and utility electricity as needed. If your location is eligible for net metering, any electricity you generate in excess of your consumption can be sent back to the grid for credit against your utility bill. However, many users of on-grid systems still opt for a solar battery to provide home backup during a blackout.
No matter what manufacturer you choose, residential solar power systems all contain variations of the following components.
- Photovoltaic modules (solar panels)
- Solar charge controller
- Solar battery (optional for grid-tied systems)
- Battery management system
The DELTA Pro portable power station at the heart of EcoFlow’s whole home generator solutions offers all of the above components (minus solar panels) in a compact all-in-one unit. EcoFlow’s solar panels and most other manufacturers’ PV modules are plug-and-play with DELTA Pro, eliminating any potential compatibility issues between separate components.
DELTA Pro — and all other portable power stations in EcoFlow’s current range — contain the following components:
AC output can be increased from 3.6kW (7.2kW surge) to 7.2kW (14.4kW) with the addition of a second DELTA Pro and Double Voltage Hub. Storage capacity is expandable to 25kWh using Smart Extra Batteries.
Home Wiring Integration
EcoFlow portable power stations come with multiple AC, USB, and other output ports built-in. If you wish, you can plug the appliances you want to run directly into the unit.
However, if you’re looking for a whole-house solar generator, you’ll probably want to integrate it with your home’s existing wiring. You can set up an automatic switchover for uninterrupted power during a blackout or whenever you wish to use solar.
EcoFlow’s Smart Home Panel gives you unprecedented control over your home generator and provides an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in an outage. Instantaneous automatic switchover from on to off-grid power ensures that a blackout won’t damage sensitive electronics like computers and hard drives.
If your home is already wired and you’re making the switch to off-grid solar, there’s no need for extensive electrical refitting. A licensed electrician can quickly install the Smart Home Panel or other compatible transfer switch and integrate it seamlessly with your existing circuitry.
Generac’s Gas Generators
Generac has been synonymous with fossil fuel powered home and commercial backup generators for decades.
Established in 1959, Generac has recently begun offering a handful of solar power options but remains best known for its traditional portable and fixed installation backup generators.
Generac’s Guardian series offers whole-house backup generators that operate by burning natural gas from a utility pipeline by default. Guardian generators can also be factory-configured to run on liquid propane (LPG) at the time of purchase.
Generating electricity by burning fossil fuels is significantly more expensive than purchasing on-grid power from a utility. For this reason, Guardian generators are ill-suited for regular use and are marketed as backup power solutions rather than as off-grid alternatives. If you choose the LPG configuration, it can be used for off-grid applications, although ongoing fuel costs make it a more expensive choice than solar.
Let’s peek under the hood to see how fossil fuel generators operate.
The specifics of how fossil fuel generators work vary by fuel type, but the basic principle remains:
Traditional generators burn fossil fuels to power an internal combustion engine and use mechanical force to produce an electric current.
Commonly used fuels for generators include:
- Natural gas
- Propane (LPG)
Typically, portable generators burn gas or diesel. Large, permanently installed whole house backup generators often use natural gas delivered by utility pipeline or a sizeable liquid propane gas (LPG) tank that requires professional refilling.
Generac’s Guardian 10kW Home Backup Generator runs on natural gas by default but can be factory-configured to use propane instead.
A six-step breakdown of how burning fossil fuel to power an internal combustion engine and produce electricity looks like this:
- Fuel: A large tank or utility pipeline supplies natural gas or propane to the generator.
- Combustion: An air intake mechanism draws the required oxygen into a combustion chamber where a spark or glow plug ignites the mixture.
- Mechanical Power: The mix of high-temperature/high-pressure gas expands, causing a turbine to spin quickly. The mechanical turbine, in turn, spins a generator rotor.
- Electricity Generation: The spinning of the rotor produces a magnetic field. Electricity is generated through electromagnetic induction (EMI), also known as the generator effect.
- Step-Up Voltage: The low voltage AC current produced by the generator effect is stepped up using a transformer.
- Electricity Distribution: The 120V AC output of the natural gas or LPG generator is fed into your home’s existing wiring through a transfer switch. Most modern home backup generators feature an automatic transfer switch, which will switch on immediately during a blackout.
Electricity generation from internal combustion requires multiple moving parts. Operating traditional whole house backup generators like Generac’s Guardian series requires frequent maintenance and ongoing fuel costs.
Key Features To Consider When Choosing a Generator for Home
There are numerous factors to consider when choosing the right generator for your home.
The most essential are:
- What appliances and home systems (such as HVAC) do you want to power off-grid or in a blackout?
- For how long?
Let’s examine both points — and other crucial considerations — below.
AC output is one of the most crucial attributes to consider when purchasing a generator for your home. With very few exceptions, the appliances you’ll want to run off-grid or in a blackout operate using alternating current (AC), also known as household electricity.
If the generator you buy doesn’t produce enough AC output to start and run your desired appliances, it’s not the right choice. Note the crucial distinction between starting and running watts.
Many high-wattage appliances — especially those with motors like refrigerators and washing machines — require double (or even triple) the power to turn on as they do to operate. Starting watts can be delivered in a short burst — known as surge power — but gas generators typically can’t offer more than 10% above their running wattage in starting watts.
By contrast, DELTA Pro offers double its running AC output as surge power.
- 1 x DELTA Pro produces 3.6kW of operating power and 7.2kW of surge power
- 2 x DELTA Pro produces 7.2kW running watts and 14.4kW starting watts.
Generac’s Guardian 10kW offers no additional starting wattage with a total AC output of:
- 9kW (Natural Gas)
- 10kW (Propane)
Starting wattage is an afterthought when using on-grid power — your utility can provide more than enough electricity to start almost any appliance. Generators cannot.
The first step to take in determining what whole house generator is right for you is to add up the total wattage (running and starting) of all the appliances you wish to run simultaneously. Aim to exceed the total wattage by at least 10% to give yourself some breathing room.
Here’s a table of common household appliances with average starting and running wattages to give you an idea.
Starting and Running Watts of Typical Household Appliances
|Appliance||Rated (Running) Wattage||Starting Watts|
|20” Box Fan||200W||350W|
If you’re going off-grid with solar energy, battery storage capacity is an essential consideration. Solar power is intermittent. You can’t generate more electricity at night. In adverse conditions, such as heavy cloud cover or rainstorms, your solar panels will produce significantly less than their rated power output.
If you’re using Generac’s Guardian for home backup, storage for natural gas isn’t a concern. Unless a pipeline is damaged or otherwise interrupted, you can run the Guardian indefinitely — or at least until it requires maintenance.
If you want to go off-grid with LPG, Guardian will run until your propane tank is empty. If a power interruption is caused by a natural disaster or extreme weather event, getting an LPG delivery may prove impossible.
Ultimately, solar offers more energy security than propane or natural gas. Even during an emergency, the sun won’t stop shining. As long as it does, you can replenish your electricity storage.
Sustainability: Solar vs. Gas
Here, there’s no contest.
Aside from the environmental impact of extracting materials for manufacturing and recycling or disposal, solar generators have no adverse effects on our planet and significantly reduce your household’s carbon footprint.
Consumption of Primary Fossil Fuel Energy in the United States From 1990 to 2022 by Sector
(in trillion British Thermal Units)
Next to transportation, electricity production consumes more fossil fuels — and creates more greenhouse gas emissions — than any other industry. In 2022, electricity production in the US required 21,577 trillion BTUs, and transportation required 25,910 trillion BTUs.
Any step you can take to reduce your reliance on the grid is a step towards a more sustainable future.
If a greener, more sustainable future is important to you, solar wins hands down — no contest.
Ease of Installation and Maintenance
Fossil fuel generators can be dangerous.
The fact that natural gas and propane are combustible is what makes them valuable in the first place. It also means both are combustible and explosive. Generac Guardian must be installed at least 20 feet away from your house to operate safely.
With the exception of the Smart Generator Dual Fuel, none of the components in EcoFlow’s Whole Home Generators produces toxic emissions — like carbon monoxide — or greenhouse gases. Everything except the solar panels (which require sunlight) can be safely operated indoors.
Additionally, fossil fuel generators are comprised of many moving parts and require regular testing and maintenance. On the other hand, EcoFlow’s solar panels and portable power stations can go decades without routine maintenance. And they’re whisper quiet.
Finally, Generac Guardian requires professional installation. Even the 10kW model weighs 338 lbs and needs a licensed installer to connect it to the natural gas mains or propane tank. It also requires a professional to integrate it with your existing home wiring and circuit panel.
EcoFlow’s whole house generators are plug-and-play, even with multiple solar panels, additional batteries, and an extra DELTA Pro. Only the Smart Home Panel or transfer switch requires a licensed electrician to install.
Reliability in Emergency Situations
Generac Guardian runs on natural gas by default. Natural gas pipelines are typically less exposed to extreme weather events than power lines but can still fail for multiple reasons — especially in a natural disaster. If your gas supply is interrupted, Guardian is useless.
If you elect to purchase an LPG-ready Guardian, you won’t be reliant on your local utility. However, you will be reliant on receiving deliveries of large quantities of propane — which can be challenging in times of high demand or crisis.
In many ways, off-grid solar is the most reliable electricity source. As long as there’s daylight, you can produce more electricity. It’s the greener, more dependable choice.
Home Solar Generator vs. Home Standby Generator: Pros and Cons
|Home Solar Generator||Standby Generator|
|Flexibility||Portable, plug-and-play; use indoors and outdoors||Permanent installation at home for backup power|
|AC Output||3.6-7.2kW running wattage (7.2kW-14.4kW surge). Power 99% of home essentials||7.5-26kW output for whole-house power|
|Connection||Can be used as a standalone battery or connected to the home via a Smart Home Panel, transfer switch, or extension cord||Permanent connection to a natural gas line or high-capacity propane tank via transfer switch to a home electrical system|
|Cost||Lower product entry cost, no ongoing fuel costs, expandable storage capacity with add-on batteries||Higher product entry costs, ongoing fuel costs, utility fees, installation fees|
|Sustainability||Greenhouse gas emission and toxic fume-free. Eco-friendly. Quiet operation.||Poisonous carbon monoxide emissions, burns fossil fuel, loud operational noise|
|Maintenance||Recharge using solar, grid power, car battery, EV charger, or Smart Generator. No regular maintenance||Must be operated outdoors at a safe distance from the home|
Generac Guardian 10kW Home Backup Generator vs. EcoFlow Whole Home Generator: The Specs
|Specifications||Generac Guardian 10kW||EcoFlow Whole Home Generator|
|AC Output (Minimum)||9kW (Natural Gas)|
|3.6kW Continuous output (7.2kW Surge)|
|AC Output (Maximum)||9kW (Natural Gas)|
|7.2kW Continuous output (14.4 Surge)|
|Storage Capacity (Minimum)||N/A||3.6kWh|
|Storage Capacity (Maximum)||N/A||25kWh|
|Solar Charge Capacity (Maximum)||N/A||3.2kW with 2 x DELTA Pro (16 x 400W PV Panels)|
|Weight||338 lbs||99 lbs|
|Dimensions||48” x 25” x 29” inches||25” x 11.2” x 16.4” inches|
|Operating Noise||61 decibels||~50 decibels|
|Charging Options||N/A||5 (Solar/AC/Car Charger/Smart Home Panel/EV Charge Station)|
|Fuel Consumption @ Full Load (Natural Gas)||127 cubic feet per hour||N/A|
|Fuel Consumption @ Full Load (LPG)||1.48 gallons per hour||N/A|
|Battery Chemistry||N/A||Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP/LiFePO4)|
|Depth of Discharge||N/A||100%|
|Fossil Fuel Generator Cross-Compatibility||N/A||Yes (Smart Generator Dual Fuel)|
|Grid Tied/Off-Grid?||Connects to natural gas utility lines (grid-tied) or runs on LPG (off-grid)||Off-grid only|
|Renewable Energy Source?||No||Yes|
|Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)||Yes||Yes|
|Plug and Play Installation?||No||Yes|
|Proprietary Solar Panels?||N/A||Yes – Rigid, portable, and flexible monocrystalline PV panels (60W – 400W rated power)|
|Warranty (Per Generator or Portable Power Station)||5-year limited warranty||Five years (no cycle life restrictions)|
|App Monitoring and Control?||Monitoring only||Yes|
|Federal Solar Tax Credit Eligibility?||No||Yes|
Frequently Asked Questions
EcoFlow’s whole home generators use cutting-edge LiFePO4 (LFP) battery technology that does not degrade with age. DELTA Pro has a cycle life (full discharge/recharge) of 3,000 cycles before diminishing to 80% storage capacity — up to 10 years of daily use. Unlike fossil fuel generators, there are no ongoing fuel or routine maintenance costs. Rigid solar panels can last decades with only occasional cleaning for maintenance.
Your home’s square footage has little impact on how much electricity output and storage you require. Instead, generator size should be determined by calculating the total starting and running wattage of all the appliances you wish to operate simultaneously. For reference, the average US household consumes 10,632 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, 886 kWh per month, or 29.5kWh per day.
A generator’s average noise level depends on numerous factors, but the most crucial is fuel type. Natural gas and propane (LPG) generators run quieter than gas or diesel generators, which have operating volumes of 80-100 decibels (dB). Solar generators are by far the quietest of all, with charging volume as low as 30 decibels and operating volume under 50dB.
In a world where extreme weather events and electricity demand exceeding supply are commonplace, energy security has never been more front of mind.
At the same time, fossil fuel supplies are dwindling, and transitioning to renewable energy like solar power is growing ever more essential to ensure the future of our children — and our planet.
Generac’s Guardian home backup generators are a viable choice if you’re looking for an old-school solution to blackouts.
But if you want to generate your own clean, renewable electricity and minimize reliance on the grid, EcoFlow’s Whole Home Generators are clearly the better choice.
Explore your renewable future with EcoFlow today.