How to choose the right backup power solution

Nov 16, 2016

How to choose the right backup power solution

To help you pick the right backup system for your home, we’ve put together a set of 5 simple questions to guide you through the decision-making process.

  1. Do you want power at night, during cloudy days, or during snowstorms?

If you want power at night, or when Mother Nature isn’t at her best, move to Question 2.

If you don’t want power at night, don’t let the bed bugs bite. :)

Some solar energy systems can include a dedicated electrical outlet for an additional $300 - $600, enabling homeowners to use some of their power when the grid goes down. The problem is this outlet cannot provide power at night, on cloudy days when solar energy output is low, or during snowstorms when solar panels are fully shaded. 

  2. Do you want to power a fridge, a sump pump, or another sizable appliance?

If you want enough power for heavy loads like refrigerators, sump pumps, or other large appliances, move on to Question 3.

If you only want to power small electronics like cell phones and laptops, consider portable batteries. Smaller than a briefcase and providing 24/7 power, portable batteries can be recharged from a wall outlet when the power is on or hooked up to a small solar panel and charged in the sun. At a price tag of $400 or less, with some models costing under $200, portable batteries are also one of the most cost-effective backup options.

  3. Do you want to spend less than $10,000?

If you are willing to spend $10,000 or more, continue to Question 4.

If you want to spend less than $10,000, go straight to Question 5.

  4. Do you want guaranteed power for 4 days or more?

We know from consumer research that homeowners are concerned about going without power during a blackout, and they become more concerned as the time without power grows longer. Most people can get by for a few hours, inconvenient as it may be. But what happens if an outage stretches for 4 days or more?

This is an emotional decision for many people, and the answer will vary based on your location and who lives in your home. In cold weather climates, you might need electric pumps to keep water pipes from freezing. If you live with small children or seniors, energy for storing fresh food and medical supplies may be an absolute necessity.

If you want guaranteed power for 4 days or more, your best option is a standby generator. Standby generators provide at least 2 weeks of backup power in the event of an outage, and range from $6,000 to $10,000 in total installed cost.

If you are willing to live without guaranteed power for 4 days or more, a home battery backup system may be an option for you. After incentives, you can get a battery system to back up essential appliances, such as refrigerators and sump pumps, for around $14,000, or a whole home backup system for $30,000 or more. Given those prices and reliability, it’s not surprising that many consumers initially considering a backup battery end up buying a home generator instead.

  5. Do you want to spend less than $1,000?

Even if you have ruled out lithium ion batteries for home backup based on price or performance limitations, you still have the option of using backup to power more than 1 device at a time. Portable generators provide enough power to operate fridges, sump pumps, and home lighting for 2 to 4 days. With a supply of extra fuel, they can keep running longer. At less than $500, the price is right for just about any household budget.

If you want to spend less than $1,000, your best option is a portable generator. If you are comfortable spending more, go for a standby generator.

For more information about adding backup to your Enphase System, visit the backup power page at


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