Contrasting several types of battery backup: whole-home backup, solar generators, and UPSs

First, the bad news According to one study, large outages are now 10 times more frequently than they were in the middle of the 1980s, indicating that blackouts are getting more regular. The transmission systems’ deterioration and the rise in extreme weather events brought on by climate change are the causes of this deteriorating electricity scenario.

These power problems occur at a poor time since we require a steady and dependable source of electricity more than ever before because we have more devices and work from home more frequently than ever.

The good news is that battery backup solutions have seen significant technological breakthroughs recently; in fact, many experts are referring to this period as the “golden era of batteries.” Different market segments currently provide a wide variety of battery goods that are all more affordable and effective than their forerunners.

What battery backup options ought to you consider, then? Should you get a whole-home battery, a UPS, or a UPS with backup power? This blog will assist you in determining that. We’ll examine the benefits and drawbacks of each choice, as well as their prices, before suggesting the best ones for you to purchase.

Which type of battery backup is right for you?

Here are the most popular types of battery backup. Choose the right device based on your needs. 

1. UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) 

Used for: Short-term backup power 

Everyone has been in the situation where they are working on a critical assignment on one of their devices when the power goes out. The power outage caused the loss of any unsaved data, including all of your progress, momentum, and the time it will take you to get back to where you were, regardless of what it was—a work project, an online form submission, or perhaps even a video game. Or, even worse, your device’s power unit gets fried by a power surge, rendering it inoperable.

Here comes the UPS, sometimes known as an uninterruptible power supply. Multiple devices can receive surge protection from it, keeping them safe from storms and power outages. It will enable you to finish what you’re working on, save your work (or play), and safely shut down in the event of a power loss.

UPSs are particularly helpful in safeguarding servers, which are susceptible to data loss and hardware failure in the event of voltage fluctuations or blackouts. Since the 1990s, they have been a typical fixture in homes and workplaces and have been performing this function for many years.

UPSs have evolved over time to become more compact, potent, and, most importantly, affordable. Additionally, there are UPSs made for specific uses, such as a mini-UPS or router-UPS. These are more compact UPSs made exclusively for WiFi router backup. They typically offer a stand router up to four hours of backup power and have a tiny, discreet form factor. This is a simple technique to guarantee your laptops and mobile devices have continuous internet access throughout a lengthier blackout.

A UPS is best if you: 

  • Are on a budget
  • If you manage a server, you should take precautions against hardware failure and data loss brought on by brownouts or unexpected shutdowns.
  • You want to be able to save your work on a PC and safely shut it down when you need to.
  • Want to power a single small gadget, such a Wi-Fi router, for several hours?

2. Solar generators 

Used for: Powering multiple appliances for several hours 

Solar generators are actually portable battery storage systems rather than genuine generators. The term “solar generator” has persisted, nevertheless, since they serve the same functions as conventional generators, namely, provide a reliable source of backup power.

Solar power generators provide a lot of versatility. They are also transportable and have a variety of charging options:

  • With the provided solar panels (which are small and easy to set up)
  • Via a wall charger that that can be plugged into a regular wall socket
  • In some cases, via a charger that can be connected to a car’s 12V socket 

Occasionally, using a charger that may be plugged into a 12V socket on a car
Solar generators have additional benefits over conventional diesel-powered generators. They are entirely silent, for starters. Additionally, they frequently have a lot of USB connections, 12V DC sockets, and 120V AC power outlets, which makes them a more versatile choice.

Solar generators provide between 0.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) and 2 kWh once fully charged, depending on the size and model. If you have a battery backup of 0.5 kWh, you can use a modem, some lights, and a modest fan for several hours. With 2 kWh of battery backup, you can either choose to run the aforementioned tiny emergency goods for up to a day or choose to run them for a shorter period of time while also running appliances like a fridge and a TV.

Just keep in mind that you must connect your solar generator to your electrical panel via a generator transfer switch, just like you would with a conventional diesel-powered generator, if you want to use it for home backup power instead of its regular outdoor purposes.

The solar generator can also be carried directly to the location where it will be used.

A solar generator is best if you: 

  • During a blackout, you’d want to run and charge numerous appliances in addition to charging devices for a number of hours.
  • Need a portable solution that can be used for camping or other outside activities, as well as being transported around the house?

3. Whole-home batteries 

Used for: Powering your house for hours, or even days 

A battery system that can run a whole home is called a whole-home battery. They can run numerous large appliances concurrently since they are made to manage huge instantaneous power loads. Additionally, they have a lot of storage, which allows them to run continuously for a long time.

Since it is most typical to utilize whole-home batteries in conjunction with a solar panel array, they are frequently referred to as “solar batteries.” The explanation is straightforward: when solar batteries are purchased along with solar panels, they instantly qualify for a number of state and municipal incentives in addition to the 30% federal solar tax credit, most notably California’s SGIP rebate program.

Most consumers looking into whole-home batteries in 2022 will be exploring smart lithium battery options like a Tesla Powerwall or an LG Chem Resu. These batteries are compact, effective, and long-lasting. This is particularly true when you contrast them with more traditional battery types like lead-acid batteries. (There are still certain applications for lead-acid batteries; see our article comparing various battery types.)

I should mention that getting a solar battery is doable even if solar panels aren’t installed. For example, you could configure an LG Chem Resu to charge by grid power, giving you a fallback option in the event of a power outage. Even independent batteries will be eligible for the 30% tax credit beginning in 2023. However, if you don’t have solar panels, you’ll have to use pricey grid power to charge the battery (rather than free solar power), and you won’t be able to do so in case of a protracted power outage.

A whole-home battery is best if you: 

  • Want to use the battery in conjunction with an existing solar setup or are planning to purchase solar panels
  • If you live in a region where power outages are common, you should look into a clean backup solution that can power your entire house.
  • Utilizing the battery will help you avoid paying exorbitant peak electricity bills.
  • You want to swap out your noisy, unclean gas generator.

The best battery backup products to consider

Our top suggestions for each kind of battery backup are included in the table below. For a brief overview of each product, scroll below.

TypeProductStorage capacityCost*
UPSAPC Back-UPS BE600M1600 VA$89.99
UPSCyberPower CP1500PFCLCD1500 VA$238.00
Solar generatorJackery Explorer 500396 Wh$499.99
Solar generatorGoal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium with WiFi + Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Kit1,425 Wh (1.4 kWh)$2,199.95
Solar generatorPoint Zero Energy Titan 1000 solar briefcase generator2,000 Wh (2 kW)$5,645
Whole-homeLG Chem RESU Prime9,600 Wh (9.6 kWh)$8,000
Whole-homesonnenCore10,000 Wh (10 kWh)$9,500
Whole-homeTesla Powerwall13,500 Wh (13.5 kWh)$8,500

Best UPS’s

There’s not a whole lot to differentiate the different UPS’s on the market, but here are two products from two leading UPS brands that caught our attention.

1. APC Back-UPS BE600M1 

APC Back-UPS BE600M1

APC has a wide range of UPS products; the Back-UPS BE600M1 is their budget option.

Best: Budget

Price: $89.99 

Key features: Small form factor, seven 120V sockets, 1.5A USB port

Capacity: 330 watts / 600 VA

This device from APC, one of the top UPS manufacturers, is cost-effective. Customers like its affordable price, small size, light weight, and functional socket arrangement. Additionally, the battery is easily changeable.

Even while the 600 VA won’t provide you with much backup power, it will be plenty for you to safely finish your work and turn off your PC. Without the unpleasant sounds you occasionally hear from less expensive UPSs, it operates quietly.

This item provides an affordable option to secure your gadgets because five of the seven sockets are surge protected.

The LED power indication is extremely bright, some customers claim, making the device unsuitable for a bedroom, which is a small complaint to be aware of.

All things considered, if you want an inexpensive UPS for the house, this is a fantastic choice.

2. CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD 

CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD

The CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD offers plenty of juice for power-hungry appliances.

Best: Power use

Price: $238.00 

Key features: Sine waveform, 12 120V outlets, Type A & C USB ports (3.1A shared)

Capacity: 1500 VA / 1000W

Another well-known name in the UPS sector is CyberPower. Power users will be interested in the CP1500PFCLCD since it has a huge mini-tower form factor with a noticeable colored LCD panel on the front.

It has 12 plugs on the rear, half of which are connected to the battery while the other four are only surge-protected. A useful addition is the addition of Ethernet line protection.

It provides more than twice the backup power of our less expensive alternative, at 1500 VA. Even more impressive, the NYTimes Wirecutter team’s testing revealed that it produced 930 watts, which is sufficient to power even the largest home office or entertainment settings.

Best solar generators

Here are the solar generators we recommend to our readers. 

Jackery Explorer 500

1. Jackery Explorer 500 

Jackery’s Explorer 500 is a great mid-sized solar generator that won’t break the bank.

Best: Value

Price: $499.99 

Key features: Very powerful despite its small size, ideal for traveling, serves as a great emergency backup power supply

Capacity: 518 Wh

If you’re searching for a compact and portable solar generator, the Jackery Explorer 500 is a fantastic choice.

To ensure that your battery recharges securely, it comes with an MPPT charge controller and a high-quality, pure sine wave inverter. It is ideal for travel thanks to its small size. It’s perfect for boating and camping adventures in addition to serving as a reliable emergency backup power source.

The Explorer will charge in 9.5 hours when used in conjunction with a 100-watt solar panel. Three USB ports, an AC outlet, and a 12 volt auto charger are all included with the portable power station. Additionally, it contains an LCD screen so you can keep track of how your battery pack is being charged and discharged.

2. Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium with WiFi + Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Kit 

Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium with WiFi + Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Kit

The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 and Boulder 100 Briefcase Solar Generator Kit’s versatility makes it our pick for best overall solar generator.

Best: Overall

Price: $2,199.95 

Key features: Lightweight, can be charged by solar panels or wall outlet, includes an app that helps you monitor your energy use

Capacity: 1,425 Wh 

One of the most well-known solar generator producers is Goal Zero. If you’re searching for anything to backup your house in the event of a power outage, their Yeti 400 is a fantastic option. It contains 10 total ports, so you can be sure that all of your devices will be able to get power. Even a refrigerator can run on it for 32 hours!

Although the Yeti 1400 lithium ion battery has a storage capacity of 1,425 Wh, it only weighs 43.7 pounds. As a result, it’s not only a fantastic emergency power supply but also light enough to bring on extended camping vacations.

The Yeti 1400 may be charged through a wall outlet or solar panels. If you only intend to use 10–20% of the energy in the battery, a 100-watt solar panel is advised. If you expect your power consumption to be higher than 20%, think about purchasing more panels.

When you are linked to WiFi, you can use the Goal Zero app to precisely track how much energy you use from the battery.

3. Point Zero Energy Titan 1000 solar briefcase generator kit 

Point Zero Energy Titan 1000 solar briefcase generator kit

Point Zero Energy’s Titan 1000 briefcase solar generator kit is one of the most powerful solar generators on the market, making it great for home power backup.

Best: For home power backup

Price: $5,645 

Key features: Very powerful, includes built-in inverter and charge controller, foldable solar panels, high-powered AC output charger allows for quick charging

Capacity: 2,000 Wh 

Due to its portability, the Titan 1000 briefcase kit from Point Zero Energy is a popular option among households seeking emergency backup power.

One of the most potent portable solar generators on the market, it has 1,000 watts of solar panels and a 2,000 Wh battery. A charge controller and an inverter are also included into it. If more batteries are required, the Titan solar generating system can be connected to them.

Maximum continuous discharge for the Titan solar generator is 100A, or roughly 2500 watts. This implies that while a refrigerator or washing machine are major equipment that it can manage, an electric kettle or air conditioner cannot. This indicates that the Titan is ideal for supporting important loads in your home.

When the sun is out, the 1,000-watts of solar panels can run your electronic devices without exhausting the battery, and it’s able to charge in as little as 4 hours thanks to its high-powered AC output charger.

The Titan 1000 battery weighs 35 pounds and comes with five foldable monocrystalline solar panels, making it suitable for use both at home and when traveling.

Best whole-home batteries

1. LG Chem RESU Prime battery system 

LG Chem RESU Prime battery system

The LG Chem Resu Prime is a DC-coupled battery, offering backup power with minimal efficiency losses.

Best: DC-coupled battery

Price: $11,000 to $15,000 installed 

Capacity: 10 & 16 kWh

A lithium-ion battery called the LG Chem RESU battery collects solar energy and stores it for use in residential settings later on. In order to better compete with Tesla and meet the demands of the market afflicted by power disruptions, LG Chem unveiled new, higher-capacity RESU Prime batteries in 2021.

The LG Chem RESU Prime can be used as a daily battery pack that charges and discharges over a standard 24-hour period or as a whole-home backup during power outages.

The RESU Prime is available in 10 and 16 kWh capacity and can be put in pairs to provide whole-home backup for even bigger, more energy-intensive homes.

Similar to the warranties provided by Sonnen and Tesla, LG’s RESU Prime batteries are guaranteed to keep at least 70% of their capacity after a decade.

Depending on your location, the battery size, and installation fees, the average cost of the LG Chem system, including auxiliary equipment and installation, ranges from $11,000 to $15,000.

Due to its DC-coupled design, LG Chem batteries may only be used as backup with a central string inverter or by installing an additional battery inverter, which increases installation costs and complexity. However, compared to AC-coupled batteries like the Tesla Powerwall, DC-coupled batteries are more effective.

2. SonnenCore battery 

sonnencore battery

The sonnenCore looks great indoors.

Best: Tesla Powerwall alternative

Price: ~$11,500 installed 

Capacity: 10 kWh

Commercial batteries have been produced by the German energy business Sonnen for some time. They are aiming for the domestic storage market in the US with the debut of the SonnenCore.

The 10 kWh storage capacity of the sonnenCore all-in-one battery storage system. Due to the fact that it is an AC-coupled battery, it is in direct opposition to the Tesla Powerwall, which is now the market leader.

Its main selling point is that it makes use of environmentally friendly and safer lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery technology. Compared to the Powerwall, which employs the more typical lithium nickel manganese cobalt chemistry, this gives it an edge.

Currently, the sonnenCore is $9,500 before installation. This is much cheaper than their sonnenEco or EcoLinx variants. This places it behind the Powerwall, which has a lot more storage and is less expensive all around.

It is rather typical for solar batteries for Sonnen to provide a 10-year warranty that guarantees the battery will retain up to 70% of its storage capacity over that time.

3. Tesla Powerwall 

Tesla Powerwall 

Since its release, the Tesla Powerwall has been the market leader in the residential storage sector. It now faces stiff competition from LG Chem and sonnen.

Best: Value

Cost: $11,000 installed 

Capacity: 13.5 kWh

The Tesla Powerwall was a game-changing advancement when it was initially introduced in 2015 because it was the first lithium battery to be powerful and affordable enough for widespread household use.

Since then, several businesses have introduced rival goods that are roughly comparable in terms of both quality and cost, like the aforementioned LG Chem and sonnen. However, the Powerwall continues to be the battery backup system for homes that is installed the most.

Powerwall+’s current model has a 13.5 kWh useable capacity. Its lifespan is about average for lithium-ion batteries; after 10 years, it will function at 70% of its initial capacity.

The battery for the Tesla Powerwall costs $8,500; add additional $2,000–$3,000 for installation fees. Among the top battery companies, the Powerwall delivers exceptional value with the lowest cost per kWh of storage.

However, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of.

The fact that it is an AC-coupled battery is the first. While this offers certain benefits (a Powerwall can be retrofitted to an existing solar power system extremely easily), it also has some drawbacks, including poorer efficiency. This is due to the fact that the Powerwall converts AC power received as an input into DC power for storage before returning it to AC power as an output. There is a slight energy loss with every AC-DC or DC-AC power conversion (DC batteries, which receive and discharge DC power, avoid this problem).

What’s more, buying a single Tesla Powerwall is challenging. These days, the only way to get one is as part of a Tesla solar installation. It’s challenging to endorse Tesla for this use given their track record with previous solar installations and their low review ratings.