Power outages can range from inconvenient to downright catastrophic, depending on the circumstances. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation estimating that a a significant portion of the United States is at high risk of power outages this summerWith above-average temperatures and worsening drought conditions, you may be weighing your backup power options, just in case this happens to you.
What is the difference between a generator and a battery backup?
The main options for backup power sources you install either a generator, which runs on fuel, or a battery backup, which stores electricity when you need it – and these two options vary in initial costs versus long-term costs.
The the average cost to install a generator that will power the whole house is around $15,000. Depending on the type you have installed, this generator will run on natural gas, diesel, liquid propane, or gasoline.
The price of backup batteries can vary from $10,000 to $20,000, plus installation costs. (If you want to calculate how much standby power you might need, Lowe’s has a worksheet which helps you consider the total power required for your various devices.)
The long-term costs of backup power sources
Long-term costs are where these two options differ the most. Although the initial cost of buying and installing a generator is less than the cost of a battery, it does require fuel to operate, which will need to be factored into the overall price. On the other hand, a battery will store energy which is comes from the grid or was generated by solar panels.
The cost of running a generator varies depending on its size and the type of fuel required. For example, a 5kW generator, which can power small appliances or one big appliancesuch as the refrigerator or a washing machine, consumes approximately 0.75 gallons of fuel per hour. With gas currently averaging around $4 a gallon, that would cost around $72 a day. Depending on how often you need to use the generator, this cost can add up.