Tesla Powerwall VS Natural Gas Generator


Tesla Powerwall VS Natural Gas Generator

Wherever you live, you have likely experienced at least one power outage in your life. They are annoying at best and downright freaky at worst. That is why most homeowners and businesses have back-up power generators to kick in if the power goes out. With the invention of renewable energy storage units like the Tesla Powerwall, it can be hard to know what to choose.

This article compares the Tesla Powerwall and natural gas generators. The comparison shows that each option has different benefits, including:

Tesla PowerwallNatural Gas Generators
The tax credit system in placeCost-effective compared to fuel generators.
Measures energy levelsOperates efficiently
No energy goes to wasteNatural gas pipes are reliable.
Allows your home to be electrically independentFuel does not expire.
Clean energyFuel does not need to be stored in tanks.
Kicks in automaticallyProvides all of your energy (prime only)
Is quietDurable, with a long lifespan (prime only)

You never have to ask who turned out the lights if you have a back-up battery or generator on your side. Now that game-changers like the Tesla Powerwall are on the market, you will need to decide if they would work for you. Below, we delve into the specific advantages and disadvantages of each option and how to tell which one is right for your house.

Tesla Powerwall Advantages And Disadvantages

Tesla’s Powerwall works by absorbing free or low-cost energy in multiple ways. It is a battery pack for the house and significantly lessens your energy expenditures. By monitoring your energy levels and saving energy, the Powerwall can give you back the stored energy when it would be most expensive to buy, thereby saving you the cost.

Owners of a Powerwall do not need to worry about the unruly noises that you might get from a fuel-powered generator or needing to activate the Powerwall manually. The Powerwall automatically senses the lack of grid power and immediately kicks into action, keeping a steady stream of energy coming into your house.

Advantages

During daylight hours, the Powerwall absorbs excess solar energy produced by solar panels and keeps it ready for the homeowners whenever they need to use it. If they do not, the Powerwall simply stores the power for a rainy day or a long day’s night. It relies on your solar panels to generate renewable energy.

Also, the Powerwall comes with the Gateway. The Gateway measures your energy levels throughout the day to give you an idea of when you use the most energy and how the Powerwall saves you money by kicking in exactly when needed. It learns your habits and adjusts to compensate for them as time goes on to optimize your energy efficiency continually.

Tesla’s Powerwall has been designed to qualify for the Federal Tax Credit under certain circumstances. If it is installed on a new or existing solar panel system and only uses solar energy, it can qualify. However, if it is installed with a solar system, or if the solar system is installed after the Powerwall, it does not qualify.

However, to secure those credits, the Powerwall must meet specific regulations and expectations throughout the year. As long as the Powerwall is set to either Time-Based Control or Self-Powered, you can qualify for the tax credit program. Those modes allow the Powerwall to charge and discharge depending on the time of day and the solar power produced.

Disadvantages

As the Powerwall implies, you are relying on solar energy. That means you need to be able to connect your Powerwall to pre-existing solar panels. They can be expensive to install and, on top of that, you need to consider the cost of the Powerwall, installation, and getting the permits required by your local area. If you are part of an HOA, you will also need permission.

Speaking of permits, depending on which installation company you go through and where your house is located, this might be much more time-intensive than you would expect. Waiting for numerous permits to come through can be extremely tedious, and paying for those permits can also quickly add up. If you are planning on installing a Powerwall, you need to be able to lay out a lot for initial costs.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
The tax credit system in placeRequires solar panels can be expensive to install
Measures energy levels so you can be conscious of your usage.It costs quite a bit for initial installation.
No energy goes to waste, so your bills are lower.You will need city and county permits, which can be tedious to acquire
Allows your home to be electrically independent 
Clean energy is better for the environment. 
It kicks in automatically when the power goes out. 
Is quiet 

Natural Gas Generator Advantages And Disadvantages

A natural gas generator is a type of generator that does not run on diesel or gasoline, like most generators. Instead, it runs on natural gas. While the name is relatively self-explanatory, there are two main types of natural gas generators to choose from. Those are standby and prime, which each have their own benefits and drawbacks.

Advantages

Both types of natural gas generators have their own advantages, depending on your house’s location and your energy needs. It is always a good idea to take all of the advantages and disadvantages into account when deciding on your home’s back-up power source. After all, no one wants to be trapped in the dark.

Standby

The natural gas generator is installed on your premises and filled with fuel from your local utility company. When the power goes out, your generator will activate to keep your lights on and everything going. Plus, natural gas pipes run pretty deep underground, so even if your regular power source fails, you can rely on those pipes to keep your house lit.

Prime

This is the type of natural gas generator that people use when they want to go entirely off the grid or when there is no utility company located close to them. These are not just back-up generators; they produce all of your energy. They have a long lifespan and can handle more natural gas than standby generators.

Within prime natural gas generators, there is a subset called continuous generators, which are designed to run continuously with the same energy load. That would be best for your home. A standard prime generator is made to handle varying energy loads, but your energy habits should not fluctuate that much during the year.

Disadvantages

Although these two types of generators can be real life-savers for some people, they also come with their fair share of disadvantages. You need to take everything into account when deciding whether or not a natural gas generator is right for your home and which one would be best suited for your needs.

Standby

The standby version of a natural gas generator is only intended to run for a short time. It is designed to be an emergency back-up in situations that will be remedied in a matter of hours. It is not meant to run for days on end. If you run a standby natural gas generator for too long, the generator may malfunction and cause damage to itself.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Cost-effective compared to fuel generators.It is only meant to run for short periods.
Operates efficientlyNot suitable for people who live in areas prone to earthquakes
Natural gas pipes are reliable.Not portable
Fuel does not expire. 
Fuel does not need to be stored in tanks. 

Prime

Your house will need its natural gas line for this generator, which is rare. If you do not, you will need to have your natural gas delivered, which can be a real pain. If your home does not have a natural line already installed, you can look into putting it in, but that can be quite costly, especially if you live somewhere very remote.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Cost-effective compared to fuel generators.Not suitable for people who live in areas prone to earthquakes
Operates efficientlyNeed your own gas line
Natural gas pipes are reliable.Putting in a natural gas line is expensive.
Fuel does not expire.Not portable
Fuel does not need to be stored in tanks. 
Provides all of your energy 
Durable, with a long lifespan 

Dual-Fuel Generators

If you are worried about possibly encountering a problem with your natural gas pipelines and want a generator that mostly relies on natural gas, but can also handle something else in a pinch, then dual-fuel generators are for you. Many natural gas generators can also use propane, diesel, or even gasoline as well.

If there is an earthquake in your area, that may knock out your local utility company in addition to your natural gas pipelines. In a situation like that, it may be beneficial to have a back-up for your back-up. After all, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Another benefit is that duel-fuel or tri-fuel generators are usually portable.

If you are the type of person who wants to hit the road or live in a mobile home, portability is crucial in a generator. Natural gas hookups are hard to find if you are frequently on the go, so having another way to power up your generator is essential for that kind of lifestyle.

Can A Tesla Powerwall Be Charged By A Generator?

Some of you may be thinking: why should I choose? Both the Powerwall and a natural gas generator have advantages that I could use, so why not have both? Unfortunately, it is not so simple. Tesla’s Powerwall was designed to hold excess solar energy generated by your solar panels or solar roof. However, it does not expressly need solar power.

The Powerwall can store energy that it siphons from your local energy grid. If you install the Powerwall without any capacity to generate solar power, your Powerwall will buy energy from your local utility company. There are specific modes that you can set, which will only allow the Powerwall to purchase fuel at certain times of day to save you money.

However, if you install a Powerwall in addition to a generator, the two devices are not integrated or connected in any way. For those of you who were hoping that a generator could charge up your Powerwall, you are unfortunately out of luck. Currently, no model of Powerwall is capable of charging from a generator, regardless of the type.

That is not to say that there is no reason ever to have a generator and a Powerwall. The main benefit of this kind of combination is if the Powerwall is low on charge during an exceptionally prolonged power outage or if your energy needs exceed the Powerwall’s capabilities. If you want to be completely prepared for every eventuality, a Powerwall and generator combination might work.

In a similar vein, it should be noted that the Powerwall also does not have the capability to work in tandem with other types of energy generating systems like wind or hydro. In the future, Tesla may design something to accommodate all forms of renewable energy, but for the moment, the Powerwall is only focused on solar power.

How Much Power Do You Need?

When you decide to add a back-up power source for your house, it is essential that you know about how much power you need to function in your daily life. If your family has tons of appliances that need to be continually running for you to live normally, you will need a lot more power from your generator than if you use only a few at a time.

For people who work from home, their computers and equipment need to be protected against power outages and surges. You will have to take these things into account when choosing your generator. If you go with the Powerwall, you may need multiple Powerwalls to power your entire house and keep your computer running in addition to keeping the lights on.

Checking a generator’s power capabilities might seem like a hassle, but you do not want to be stuck in the middle of a power outage and have an essential item in your house unable to turn on when you need it the most.

Where Do You Live?

As we touched on above, your house’s location may be a deciding factor when choosing between a natural gas generator and a Powerwall. The advantage of a Powerwall when it comes to location is that, theoretically, you could use it anywhere. Most of the earth has ample solar exposure, and since the Powerwall stores solar energy, you should not ever run out.

At the moment, Tesla does not supply the Powerwall to every country. When it was first released, the Powerwall was only available within the United States, like many other products they produce. Since then, Powerwall has now become available in 35 different countries around the world.

The Powerwall is currently available in these countries, so if you do not see your location listed, then you will have to choose a different type of back-up power source until Tesla decides to expand.

  • America
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • China
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • The United Kingdom

As you likely noticed, many of those countries are affluent or located near a wealthy country. One of the reasons Europe is a popular destination for renewable energy companies is not the amount of sunlight they get; it is the convenience of location. Most European countries are all right next to each other and easy to ship products to.

The same could be said for Eastern Asia, which is why you also see so many Asian countries on that list. It is true, there are some outliers like South Africa and a few countries in the Middle East, but unfortunately, it looks like there are not any current plans to bring the Powerwall to either central or South America any time soon.

Why Is The Powerwall Region Locked?

One reason is that, generally, Tesla’s products have been roaring successes. That is great for the company and helps inspire potential innovators everywhere, but it does have a downside. Namely, the demand is high. People in America, the country of origin, all want the Powerwall for their house.

Tesla has been seeing that their products and sell out quickly and do not have the ability to start exploring other markets until they comfortably satisfy their current customers. The Powerwall is more than just a piece of equipment, too. You need to integrate it into the electrical grid system in the installation neighborhood and connect it to existing solar panels.

Tesla and Tesla-approved affiliate companies perform the installation, which means that you also need the workforce in the country where the Powerwall is offered, which is not always easy to acquire. Another reason is prohibitively high shipping costs. As many companies have found out the hard way, for countries that are not easily accessible via land routes, shipping costs can be outrageous.

Natural Gas Limitations

For a natural gas generator, most residential types rely on a natural gas pipeline that runs out by your house. If you have one, or if you can be resupplied by a local utility company, that makes it a much more viable option than if your property does not have access to a natural gas line. It is costly to bring one out to where you live, especially if you are in a remote location.

Despite this need, if you live in a country that Tesla does not currently offer the Powerwall in, you might have no choice if you want to choose an energy source for your house that is better for the environment than diesel or propane-fueled generators. It might be worth it in the long term to lay a natural gas line to your property.

Installation

There are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to installing your home’s back-up power source. Whether you choose a natural gas generator or a Powerwall, you need to take the initial costs, requirements, and warranties into consideration while you make your decision. We have laid this information out for you so that you can choose wisely!

Costs

As we discuss more in the following section, a few types of costs are involved with choosing either a natural gas generator or Powerwall. The main one is the initial installation. Assuming that you already have the requirements for your selected power source, you will need to consider the difference in the power source costs and its installation.

A Powerwall costs about $6,500 for one battery before installation: for an entire house, you likely need at least two, which would be $20,000 for the initial purchase and installation. It is important to remember that a Powerwall does not have any sales tax, and around 26% of your purchase expenditure can be claimed in federal tax credits.

Assuming you pay $20,000, that means that you would be able to claim $5,200 in federal taxes. Also, depending on your state, there may be additional state tax credits available, so you should always do your research.

For a natural gas generator, you can find generators priced between $3,000 and $18,000, although installation will likely add a few thousand more to the total price. Altogether, depending on the model you choose, it will probably be a less expensive price tag, but when you also consider the tax credit, they end up costing about the same price.

Requirements

As with everything else, you need to assess what you have available at your house and what you can afford to get. The Powerwall requires solar panels or a solar roof on your property in order to generate the power that the Powerwall stores. It is important to remember that the Powerwall is just a battery; it does not generate its own power.

A natural gas generator, however, does generate power. It is right there in the name. By ensuring that it has a steady supply of natural gas, it will not matter if you have not had much sunlight recently. However, you will likely want to have a natural gas pipeline that comes out to your property so that you can hook your generator up or a local utility company.

For people who live out in the middle of nowhere and have neither a local utility company nor a natural gas pipeline on their property, you can still use a natural gas generator, but things become significantly more complicated. You will need a company to deliver a supply of natural gas so that your generator is always ready to kick on.

That is assuming you have a standby generator. If you have a generator that is your sole source of power out in the boondocks, then it can be a real hassle to have to schedule fill-ups from a not-so-local utility company continually.

Warranty

When it comes to a warranty, the longer you can find, the better for you. Things can and do go wrong, and being able to rely on the manufacturer to repair or replace the product is a real weight off your shoulders. Most generator manufacturers offer something between three to five years of warranty on average. The Powerwall, on the other hand, offers a whopping ten years!

When you can rely on a manufacturer for up to ten years of assistance, Tesla must be confident that they have made a fantastic product. That can lend a lot of confidence to the buyer. That being said, it is still annoying to have to wait for the manufacturer to get around to sending you a replacement if something does end up going wrong.

Maintenance

As you might imagine, due to how recently the Powerwall was released, you have a lot more options when it comes to maintenance if you have a natural gas generator. There are plenty of companies who can adequately service your natural gas generator without needing to search high and low for a specialist.

For Tesla’s Powerwall, the case is very different. In fact, if you hire someone who is not licensed as a Tesla affiliate or a direct Tesla employee, you can void the manufacturer’s warranty. If anything happens to go wrong, you will need to contact Tesla or one of their affiliated companies, which can be difficult depending on where you live.

In Conclusion

There are many essential differences between the Tesla Powerwall and a natural gas generator. Depending on your house’s energy needs, how much money you have to spend, and what requirements your property meets, you might decide that one is more beneficial than the other. This article gives you all the information you need to make a smart choice.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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