Backup Power During Hurricane Season

I’m located in Florida and have been reliant on a portable generator should power go out for an extended period. I’ve been lucky. Even though Hurricane Irma blew through here a few years ago, I never lost commercial power but I know people who were out for more than 24 hours and in some cases days.

I’ve researched a whole home generator as an option. Unfortunately i don’t have natural gas run to my home. The gas main is across the street from me and it would cost over $8,000 for installation to my home plus the cost of the generator and installation. I estimate initial total cost would be in the neighborhood of $22k. That would be for a Generac 22kw model. The pro is I could continue to run all electrical appliances (although not all at the same time). Cons are the cost and the 12-week lead time for the utility to install. The simplicity of it is a definite plus!

My must power devices include:
Refrigerator - 850w (7.1a)
Freezer - 220w (1.8a)
Portable AC unit - 1100w (9.2a)
TV - 75w
Lighting & Misc - 150w

I currently have a 5.5kw portable generator & 30gals of gas storage.

Given my situation would solar be a viable option?
I’m curious if anyone else has similar home requirements and what is working for you.

Thanks (in advance)

I definitely think solar would be viable in your case. One thing I would say is even before getting solar panels, you could just get a Bluetti AC300 or EP500 with batteries, and use them for short-term power. I have two B300s and the batteries can give me a good 36 hours of backup time for my fridge/lights/fans and such essentials. (No A/C though – that is a power-killer.) For an extended outage, you could top them off with your generator for a few hours, so you could run off batteries for an extended time while only running your generator periodically. Then you could add solar panels as desired.

To power an 1100W A/C unit would probably require solar panels right off the bat though. Or, you may want to check out Echoflow’s new portable A/C unit with a battery – it can run up to 12 hours on an internal battery by smartly alternating the A/C on off.

One other note I would add, is your fridge sounds like it draws way too much energy. I have a standard-size fridge that is about 5 years old, and it is pulling only around 150watts when the compressor is running (and much less when idle). Investing in a new fridge would probably be worth the $$ versus having to buy more battery or solar capacity to power it.

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I think you may struggle with the AC unit. They are very power heavy.

If your unit used 1100W then that is 1.1kWh. The AC200Max would only power that for about 2 hours. Even with 900W of solar input you would still be slowly depleting the battery.

Now you could add 2 B300 batteries. These are way 3kWh so you would be looking at 8kWh in total then. This may give you 8 hours of AC usage. Much more if you had 900W of solar in the daytime.

The downside is the B300 is quite expensive (at least in my opinion)

Thank you all for the replies.

It’s clear to me there are some appliances that I’ll be unable to provide power using solar with battery storage. A whole home backup generator should be able to run the central A/C, but there are things I’ll be unable to use multiples of simultaneously, namely the range, gas dryer and hot water heater.

For now, I’ve decided to hold off on the whole home generator. The cost is prohibitive. After all, the objective is to get through temporary outages.

I’ve picked up the AC200max and two 350 watt (pv350) solar panels. I also picked up an EB3A and a 200 watt (pv200) panel. I considered adding a single B300, but am going to hold off on that for now but will possibly include at later date.

If I can keep the fridge, freezer and two aquarium pumps operating. I can use the gas generator as needed to run the portable AC or other devices.

I’m rapidly arriving at the conclusion there’s not a good blanket solution for all requirements,
but in combination it could make the power loads more manageable.

Thanks again for the input!