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The Great Debate: Solar Panels vs Generators, Which is Best for Your Home?

Solar panels can not only power much of your household electricity needs but can also significantly increase your property’s value if you’re planning on selling in the future. Is it worth the expensive investment though?

Why Should You Choose One Over the Other?


Depending on how a solar system is set up the reliability of it can vary quite a bit, especially if you try to install everything by yourself to keep costs low.

Solar panels typically need to be facing south for the best exposure to the sun throughout the day. The angle solar panels are tilted on the roof can also impact their efficiency. Of course, when there is no sunlight like during storms or at night, you won’t be getting any power.

Historic house with modern solar panels on roof

Generators, on the other hand, can be started up whenever you need off-grid power or a source of backup power.


Although prices are coming down for solar panels and the rest of the equipment needed to make a complete solar system, the whole package is often still much more expensive than a single generator.

While you will need to buy fuel for a generator from time to time, this may be a better solution than investing even more money into battery storage for a solar system.


At the domestic level, a solar system is far better for the environment than a generator. Solar panels don’t release any kind of toxic fumes or obnoxious levels of noise that can disturb you, your neighbors, or any wildlife in the area. At most, the inverter will run a fan to keep itself cool which usually isn’t louder than having a normal conversation.


If you’re getting a solar system installed for you by a company of professionals, the need for maintenance and standard checks is pretty low. They will likely suggest an annual checkup just to be on the safe side which isn’t too much of an inconvenience. Usually, once everything is installed, you just need to give individual parts the occasional dusting.

EcoFlow generator

In contrast, generators can be much more of a hassle. While you need to keep tabs on the amount of fuel it has and whether or not that fuel has expired, you also need to be cleaning it. Because generators typically have more moving parts, they are more likely to run into issues that prevent them from working properly and require difficult and regular maintenance.

Emergency Power

You might think that owning and using a solar system means you won’t ever experience power outages. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. All grid-tied solar systems have safety regulations in place to prevent them from working when a local grid goes down. This protects electricians and workers trying to get power back for everyone.

So, generators must be the better alternative then, right? That isn’t necessarily true either. While you can power your house with a generator during a blackout, the process of hooking up a generator to your house is not as easy as many people think. You usually need to purchase a transfer switch beforehand so power can be transferred safely.

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What About Off-Grid Systems?

Most of the differences discussed here apply to suburban-type living situations. If you aren’t connected to a local power grid, the benefits of a solar system increase as long as you can swallow the large costs.