Understanding your emergency power options

Sep 22, 2016

Understanding your emergency power options

Traditional rooftop solar systems are designed to supply energy when the electric grid is running and switch off when the grid goes down. Translation: they cannot provide backup power during an outage. For homeowners who are interested in backup power, it’s important to choose the right kind of system to get the best value and performance for your home.

Lithium-ion battery systems, like the Tesla Powerwall, are currently the most expensive options on the market, costing from $14,000 to back up essential loads (like fridges and sump pumps) and $30,000 to back up a whole home. Because these systems rely on solar energy to refill the battery, they could provide as little as one day of backup in poor weather.

Portable generators are the most cost-effective and reliable solution

For homeowners who want essential load backup at an affordable price, portable generators are the most cost-effective and reliable solution. For approximately $400, portable generators can back up larger appliances like fridges and sump pumps for about two days, and can last even longer if you keep a couple cans of fuel in the garage. Because they can operate regardless of weather conditions, portable generators give homeowners true peace of mind – they’ll be up and running when you need them. Enphase has partnered with Generac, the #1-selling brand of home backup generators, to bring our customers reliable energy that’s quiet easy to operate.

Does your home have the right backup power system?

If you want to keep your whole home running during a blackout, the most cost-effective and reliable solution is a standby generator. Installed permanently beside your home, standby generators have an all-in cost of around $10,000 and provide whole home backup power for weeks on end. For customers who want multiple weeks of power at a lower price tag, smaller standby generators that back up essential loads but not the whole home can be purchased for around $6,000 all-in. Standby generators operate regardless of weather conditions, providing homeowners with reliable backup power 24/7. Enphase also recommends Generac’s line of standby generators, which is chosen by 7 of 10 homeowners with standby generator. With a Generac home generator, you can have the peace of mind to know that in an emergency, you’ll always have energy at home.

For homeowners who only want to charge small electronics, like cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers, there are also a number of options. Certain solar technologies, like SMA’s Secure Power Supply, cost $300-600 and use solar energy to charge essential electronics. However, this backup supply is only available during daytime hours when the sun is shining. It turns off if solar power production is too low for the appliances you are charging, and it requires manual restarting to begin charging again. Solar homeowners have better options.

To charge small electronics, the best option is a portable battery, like the Goal Zero Yeti. The Yeti provides backup power 24/7, and costs $400 or less. It can draw power from an electrical outlet or a portable solar panel, so you can easily recharge it whether the grid is running or not. It stores enough power for a day or two, depending on usage, before it’s time to refuel.

Ask your Enphase installer for more information about the backup power solution that’s right for you.

Don't miss a thing.

The world of clean energy changes quickly. Sign up to receive the latest news about clean technology and the future of energy.