There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re looking to set yourself up with backup power, one of the most important being cost. You need a system that will give you the most power possible without breaking the bank.
It can be hard to look past the initial cost when considering the cost of a backup power system but doing so doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the true cost.
In addition to the price on the tag, it’s important to also consider fuel costs, maintenance, and the overall lifespan of the system.
This is probably the first thing you thought of when I mentioned other cost considerations. While it may be a bit overplayed, it is one of the biggest factors to consider when weighing the options between solar and gas generators.
If you think about it, gas generators are an incomplete product. They require additional fuel to produce electricity. It’s a persistent cost that you’ll continue to pay as long as you own the generator.
On the other hand, a solar power station comes with everything you need to gather sunlight and produce electricity. After the initial cost, there are no other components needed to make the system work.
Gas is a tricky factor to account for because prices change over time and there are multiple grades to choose from. While most gas generators can take octane concentrations of 87 and higher, it’s often recommended to use higher octane fuel to extend the generator’s life. If you plan to store your system for more than 30 days, it’s recommended that you use fuel stabilizer, a costly additive that will preserve your generators performance after long periods of disuse.
Solar power stations are low maintenance systems, generally only requiring preventative practices like correct battery storage, moderate charging speeds when possible, and "exercising” the system every 90 days to keep the battery healthy. There are no components in a solar system that need to be changed out or maintained regularly.
Gas generators require much more regular, involved, and costly maintenance to keep running. It's generally recommended that you change the oil in a new generator following the first few uses and change both the oil and oil filter every 100 hours or once a year (whichever comes first).
In addition to regular oil changes, it’s recommended that you have your generator inspected by a professional every one to two years and run the generator every thirty days. Some generators (especially larger ones) may also need new spark plugs, coolant, or additional battery maintenance.
These maintenance costs add up — both in terms of time and money — while the cost of not maintaining a generator correctly is exponentially higher.
Finally, it’s important to consider the lifespan of the system or generator, which correlates directly to the cost benefit of the system. The longer a system’s overall life, the more it’s worth the investment.
Most gas generators have a projected lifespan of 20 years with the understanding that it greatly depends on proper system maintenance. This is significantly longer than most solar systems, whose lifespan ranges from two to ten years depending on what kind of battery they have and how often the system is used.
Solar systems do have one key advantage over gas generators, however. As discussed in the last section, you’re done paying for a solar system the moment you buy it. With a gas generator, you are continually paying maintenance costs which means that the longer your system lasts, the more it costs you.
The only solar system on the market that can truly compete with the lifespan of a typical gas generator is the Kodiak X2. Its lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery has a 6,000 charge-cycle lifespan which amounts to a 16-year life if you were to fully drain and recharge the battery every day. If you don't use the system as often (and most people don’t), you can expect it to last 30+ years before you start to experience reduced battery performance.
With the X2 you can enjoy all the benefits of a battery powered system with an equal or greater life expectancy of a gas generator.
We tend to ignore cost over time when considering buying options. It’s easy to make instinctive choices based on the sticker price of an item, but for high-cost and long-lived backup power it’s vital to account for fuel and maintenance costs and system life to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Gas generators require additional fuel and constant, expensive maintenance for the duration of their life. While they’re likely to outlive a typical solar system, they will continue to be a financial drain over the course of their life.
The inconvenience and time used to maintain a gas generator come at a unique cost to each person. For some, it’s a small price to pay for a backup power system. For others, the effort and cost are more trouble than a reserve system is worth.
Solar systems may have a higher initial cost than gas generators, but minimal maintenance and free fuel mean that you’re done paying for the system immediately. If you use the system to supplement your regular power usage the system will even begin to pay for itself.
The Kodiak X2 takes these benefits a step further with the longest-lived battery in the industry, stretching your investment and giving you power independence for years to come.
To learn more about the Kodiak X2 and how we're changing the future of portable power, clickhere.