Electricity is an important factor in modern homes. It plays many roles––from entertainment to basic tasks like cooking and preserving food. Having a constant power supply in your home every day throughout the year is something that everyone would love to enjoy. Unfortunately, blackouts can happen any time, even if you’re connected to the most reliable power grid. For instance, severe weather conditions can lead to the failure of a part or the whole grid.
Given the number of essential appliances and domestic operations that rely on electricity, you can barely go a few hours without feeling the impact of a blackout. As such, it’s recommended that you invest in a backup power supply. This way, you can be sure that your home will be powered 24/7.
With the ever-advancing technology, the market is filled with a lot of backup power supply options. You can either go for portable home generators or other alternative generators, depending on your needs and budget. If you’re not sure which one to choose, this article is for you. Read on to learn more!
How to choose the right power backup solution
Inasmuch as everyone is affected during a power interruption, not all homes share the same impact. For instance, your main concern could be the perishable food you have in your fridge. Another person could be having a project running that requires a continuous supply of power.
So, before investing in the same equipment bought by your neighbor, it’d be wise to first assess your needs. Here are some of the main factors to consider when choosing the ideal backup solution for your home’s power supply system:
1. Your electricity needs
As mentioned, every home has its basic and unique needs. However, not all appliances require a constant power supply, especially during a blackout. For instance, your air conditioner might not be necessary if you have alternative options or when the weather is favorable.
With that said, you must list all machines and devices that need to be powered throughout the day for your domestic operations to run. You’ll need power in your kitchen and maybe the living room sockets to power your TV and computer. Remember, having a reliable supply of power will increase your computer usage efficiency because of fewer distractions. It’s a huge advantage, especially if you’re working from home. The lights circuit will also need to be powered on in case the blackouts last deep into the night.
Once you’ve determined your needs, you can estimate the amount of power required to run all the listed appliances. If you’re unsure about the right values to use, you might want to consult an electrician or the attendant at your preferred generator dealer shop.
2. The price of the backup power supply
How much are you ready to invest in a new backup power supply system? This is an important question that you should ask yourself before going on your shopping adventure. Backup generators and batteries come in different sizes, and the cost of each size varies with the brand. There’s a belief that those machines with high price tags are the most reliable, but that’s not always true. In fact, you can get an affordable brand that doesn’t only meet your needs but also has a high level of reliability and durability.
So, once you have your budget in mind and the average amount of power you require, you must search for a generator or backup battery that meets the criterion. Of course, if you have enough money, it’d be wise to buy a power option that offers more power than you need. Doing so will give you enough room to make adjustments to your energy consumption without having to invest in another supply system. (1)
3. The runtime of your backup solution
Depending on your location, blackouts can last for hours, even days. If your area experiences long blackout periods, you’ll need a backup supply that can reliably power your home for several hours. Remember, every generator or battery is designed to offer a certain amount of power for a given period.
For instance, some can comfortably power your light system and a few appliances, like TV and sound system, for the whole day. Others, however, can only do so if the only load is the lights circuit. Therefore, it’s important to check the power range of your preferred inverter and then match it with your needs for you to enjoy the runtime mentioned by the manufacturer.
Batter backup vs generators
Until this point, the guide has focused on emergency power systems in general. However, there are two main options to choose from: batteries and generators. Inasmuch as they solve pretty much the same problem, their form of operation, runtime, and price may vary. So, which of the two options is ideal for you?
Here are the most significant differences to consider:
Battery installation is a little easier than generators, which makes the upfront costs higher depending on the size of the battery. A typical system requires a battery, an inverter, and a current protection unit.
Connecting this set-up isn’t difficult if you know the basics, but it’s still recommended that you hire a professional. Generators can be a little complicated since you’ll need to install a fuel source and additional constructions, such as a concrete slab. (4)
Another factor worth mentioning is the difference in the price tags of batteries and generators within the same size range. The expenses here come in different forms, one of which is the upfront cost mentioned earlier. Generally, you’ll realize that batteries are pricier upfront. For example, the price of a battery at the store is almost double that of a generator offering the same power output.
The good thing, however, is that batteries are only expensive upfront but can be more affordable long-term. Generators, on the other hand, run on fuel. This means you’ll need to purchase fuel and do regular maintenance for your machine to operate at its optimum level. So, in your decision-making, be sure to consider the purchasing price and operating expenses.
Maintenance cost falls in the operating expenses category. Since generators use fuel, you’ll expect their cost of maintenance to be higher than that of the batteries. Apart from purchasing fuel, you’ll also need to check the condition of the generator and clean it regularly because of the emissions. Therefore, if you’re basing your decision mainly on this factor, then the batteries are the clear winners. (3)
Types of generators
All the considerations discussed in this section can greatly vary with the type of generator you decide to buy. As such, it’d be prudent to understand the various options currently available in the market. Here is a detailed list:
1. Portable Generator
This is one of the most popular choices for any home looking for a backup power generator. As the name suggests, it can be easily transported from one place to another, and it’s also easier to store. Therefore, apart from using it at home, you can carry it along with you on camping trips.
It’s worth noting, though, that this portability makes the system vulnerable to theft. Another disadvantage is that it might not provide enough power for huge loads. If you’re looking for a system that can power a huge house(s), then it’d make much sense to invest in a permanent generator. (2)
2. Fixed Generator
Also known as a permanent generator, this power supply system operates in a similar fashion as portable generators. The main differences, however, include their mobility and the amount of power they generate. A fixed generator has a permanent set-up and can only be moved if you’re looking to replace it or move to a new home. This is a huge advantage if you live in an area that’s prone to theft.
Also, if your home consumes a lot of power and can’t be supported by portable generators, then this is your best option. As you’d expect, though, you’ll need to pay a huge price for you to enjoy the services of this machine. The initial costs are quite high and also consume a lot of fuel.
Backup power solutions are a great investment for people living in regions that experience regular blackouts. If you’re one of the victims, then buying a generator or battery power system can go a long way in ensuring that your family doesn’t spend the night in darkness in case of such an occurrence.
Fortunately, there are many options in the market, and inasmuch as this is an advantage, it can also work against you if you don’t know what to choose.
Generators and batteries have upfront expenses, but setting up the latter will require more money. Therefore, the budget is the first thing you should consider in your decision-making process. Although they’re cheap at the store, generators will demand a lot of money to cover maintenance costs and a regular supply of fuel. Another thing to keep in mind is the runtime of your backup power supply system.
There’s no wrong or right answer to your questions in this area, it all depends on your needs and budget. Again, the most expensive option isn’t always the best option; the ideal system is one that meets your needs at an affordable price.
- “Battery backup vs. generator: Which backup power source is the best for you?”, Source: https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/battery-backup-vs-generator-which-backup-power-source-is-the-best-for-you/
- “Which Is Better Between Standby Generator and Portable Generator”, Source: https://medium.com/@dieselgenerator/which-is-better-between-standby-generator-and-portable-generator-bde628ff1139
- “How to Maintain a Generator”, Source: https://www.wikihow.com/Maintain-a-Generator
- “How Much Do Home Generators Cost To Install?”, Source: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/electrical/install-a-generator/