Do You Need A Generator With Solar Panels?

Home solar panel installation has surged due to their reduced costs over time in addition to solar tax credits. However, the majority of home solar installations in the U.S. are grid-tied. This setup alone will not allow you to have backup power during a power outage.

A generator is needed with solar panels because they are connected to a community grid that shuts down during any electrical outages. The panels cannot draw any power from the grid during that time. Using a generator will keep power running to essential appliances for the duration of the outage.

There is much more you need to learn about why you need a generator with solar panels.

From the reasons why your panels are not enough on their own, to the types of generators that are best for your home, read on to find out more.

Will solar panels power my house during a power outage?

solar panels on home

Solar panels will not power your house during a power outage because they are most likely grid-tied. The only way solar panels can power your house during a blackout is if you keep their energy stored in batteries.

You have invested your money into a solar-powered system for your home to generate your own electricity and save on a monthly power bill. So, since you have solar panels, you should have electricity all the time, no matter what, right? The answer is no because your home is likely connected to the same power grid that you share with your neighbors.

Any electricity that is generated by your and your neighbors’ solar panels, is all stored on a local grid that is designed to manage the power as needed. When a severe storm hits and the power goes out, you will be left in the dark as well. This is the major reason why you need a backup generator to be able to power your necessary appliances until the power is restored.

There are some exceptions to this fact, however, depending on what other steps you have already taken to ensure your home remains powered during a storm. In addition to having a backup gas generator, there are two other ways to keep the lights on during a blackout in a home with solar panels.

  • You may be able to add backup solar batteries to your home’s system, if it is capable.  
  • Purchase and use a generator that is solar powered, rather than a traditional gas generator.

The options listed above are great alternatives to using a traditional gas generator. However, the purchase of a backup solar battery or solar generator is quite expensive compared to the price of a gas-powered generator.

Similar: Solar Generator vs Solar Panels (With Battery)

What Type Of Generator Do You Need?

solar panel and generator animations
You may need a backup generator in addition to solar panels

Determining what type of generator that you need to power your solar-paneled home during a blackout is dependent upon a few things.

First, the size of your home is a major factor when choosing a backup generator. You need to make sure that the generator you purchase is capable of supplying sufficient power to your home during the duration of the blackout.

Below I’ve compiled four main types of backup generators to give you an idea of their benefits and drawbacks.

Generator TypeGenerator DescriptionProsCons
Solar GeneratorPre-made system with all components packaged together– Various sizes
– Minimal assembly required
– Cannot power an entire home
– Larger systems are expensive
Solar Power SystemCustom system tailored for home w/ individual components (DIY solar generator)– Can provide full home backup power
– Components can be easily replaced if needed
– Most-likely need an electrician to install it for you
– Larger systems are expensive
Portable Gas GeneratorGas generator on wheels– Sufficient power for home
– Inexpensive compared to solar options
– Fuel costs over time can be expensive
– Need to keep it outside when in use (fumes)
Standby Gas GeneratorGas generator installed on your property– Can be used as UPS
– Can provide full home power
– System is expensive
– Fuel costs over time can be expensive
Pros and cons of different types of home backup generators

Gas Generators

portable gas generator
Portable gas generator

For most homes, a gas generator with 7,500 watts or above will be big enough to keep power running to your fridge, lights, etc. This will help ensure that your food does not spoil in your refrigerator and freezers.

This size generator should also give you enough juice to power the lights in your home, charge your phones and other needed small appliances.

Below you’ll find different models of both portable and standby gas generators along with their basic specifications.

Portable Gas Generator Models & Specs

ModelCostPower OutputDuration of Power
DUROMAX Dual Fuel Gasoline/Propane Portable Home Power Back Up Generator
$14009,500W continuous;
12,000W peak
7.2 hrs (half load w/ 40 lb propane tank);
8.8 hrs (half load w/ gasoline)
Westinghouse WGen7500 Gas Powered Portable Generator with Transfer Switch Outlet for Home Backup
$6807,500W continuous;
9,500W peak
11 hrs (half load w/ gasoline)
DeWALT Gas-Powered Portable Generator with Premium Engine
$6504,000W continuous;
4,500W peak
10.5 hrs (half load w/ gasoline)
Portable gas generator models

Standby Gas Generator Models & Specs

ModelCostPower OutputDuration of Power
Generac 22000-Watt (LP) / 19500-Watt (NG) Standby Generator with Automatic Transfer Switch
$5,700+20,100-30,000W (liquid propane);
15,100-20,000W (natural gas)
Indefinite w/ gas lines
Briggs & Stratton 12000-Watt (LP)/10800-Watt (NG) Standby Generator with Automatic Transfer Switch
$3,850+8,100-15,000W (liquid propane & natural gas)Indefinite w/ gas lines
Standby gas generator models

You can find the right size gas-generator for your home with this calculator from Generac.

There are a few downsides to purchasing a gas-powered backup generator. Here are some other drawbacks of purchasing a gas generator:

  • Fuel powered backup generators put off a very strong and unpleasant odor due to the fact that they run off of gasoline.
  • Gas powered generators are also very loud while running. This means that for however long your power outage lasts, you will have to endure the sound of your generator working. 
  • Using a gas powered generator adds to the amount of pollution that is already in the air. This may be a huge drawback for those who chose solar to lessen their carbon footprint on our world. 

Also, keep in mind that the major drawback of choosing this option is that you will need enough fuel on-hand to keep this generator working.

Solar Generators, Batteries, and More

6,000W complete off grid solar kit
6,000W complete off-grid solar kit

Now that we have discussed the use of a gas generator as a backup for loss of power, even with solar panels, it is time to explore some other options.

If you are currently a homeowner with solar panels, you can protect yourself from potential power outages with the use of an installed solar battery. The type of battery you purchase depends upon the specifications of your panels and how much you are willing to pay. 

Ultimately, you can purchase any brand of battery, so long as it is compatible with your current solar panel operating system.

Similar: What Kind of Solar Panel Do You Need to Charge a 12v Battery?

You can even install a UPS, which detects power outages when they occur and switches your solar panel system from operating on the community grid to operating solely only to power your home. This ensures that you can maintain power, even through lengthy storm systems, at home.

The following are examples of complete solar power systems. These kits include solar panels and all other necessary components for off-grid power.

Solar Power System Kits & Specs

ModelCostPower OutputDuration of Power
Complete Off-Grid Solar Kit – 12,000W 120/240 Output 48VDC / [14Kwh Battery Bank] + 4,230 Watts Solar | [OGK-1]
$15,00012,000W continuous;
36,000W peak
2.33 hrs (half load w/ full battery w/o solar recharging)
Complete Off-Grid Solar Kit – 6,000W / 120/240V Output / 48VDC [10.6Kwh Lithium Powerwall] + 2,160 Watts Solar | [HBK-6.3]
$9,0006,000W continuous;
18,000W peak
3.53 hrs (half load w/ full battery w/o solar recharging)
Complete Off-Grid Solar System 400 Watts Solar / 4,000W 120/240V Output / 12VDC | [OGK-8]$3,2004,000W continuous;
12,000W peak
2.4 hrs (half load w/ full battery w/o solar recharging)
Various solar power system kits

Moving on, you also have the option of purchasing many varieties of solar generators that are currently on the market.

The majority of solar generators available at this time are aimed more towards partial home backup, rather than powering your entire house.

That being said, these are still viable options to consider while shopping around for your generator.

Solar Generator Kits & Specs

ModelCostPower OutputDuration of Power
EcoFlow DELTA [PRO] 10,800wH [Hex Kit] Portable Solar Generator + 6 x 200W 12V Mono Solar Panels | Complete Solar Kit
$10,3003,600W continuous;
7,200W peak
6 hrs (half load w/ full battery w/o solar recharging)
Bluetti AC200 [MAX] 6,000 [Quad Kit] Portable Solar Generator + 4 x 200W 12V Mono Solar Panels | Complete Solar Kit
$6,5002,200W continuous;
4,800W peak
5.59 hrs (half load w/ full battery w/o solar recharging)
Titan Solar Generator + 5 x 100 Watt Solar Panels | Complete Solar Generator Kit$4,2002,000W continuous;
6,200W peak
2 hrs (half load w/ full battery w/o solar recharging)
Solar generator kit examples

The size of your home is a large factor when deciding whether to purchase a gas or solar generator.

The amount of money you are willing or able to spend is just as important, especially when considering a solar generator system. This is because they come in several different sizes. Weather is another important factor if you live somewhere more prone to storms and blackouts.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the last thing you want is to be left without power during a severe storm. You may decide to purchase a solar generator or go with a traditional gas generator. Consider all the options listed above, and your own personal factors, before making that choice. 

Whatever your final decision may be, remember that solar panels alone will not keep your home lit and running after a severe storm hits. Do your research and find the best option for your family, so that when the next storm or emergency comes your way, you are prepared!

For solar generator options for your house, I recommend reading my article on this topic. In the article, I show a variety of options available on the market and select the best ones from small to large. Check it out here: 9 Best Solar Generators for Home Use (Small to Large).

Max Peters

Hi! I'm Max and I am passionate about off-grid solar technology and adventure! I'm using my knowledge of solar generators, solar panels, and everything in between to provide you with the best tools to keep you powered while off the grid. Read more about me here: About Max Peters."

Recent Posts