Solar Panels Vs. Generator For Home (Which One is Better?)

Whether you are looking to install an alternative energy source to save money, remove yourself from the electricity grid, promote green living, or in case of emergencies. Both solar panels and generators provide viable options for your home.  

Solar panels are initially more expensive than generators. They also rely on a renewable source of energy, while generators may use a variety of fuels, both renewable and non-renewable. Also, solar panels do not cause disturbances like generators. 

Before deciding to install either solar panels or generators to power your home, various factors are to consider. Let’s look at a few of them below!   

Solar Panels Vs. Generator For Home

What Is The Cost Of Solar Panels Vs. Generators? 

Generally speaking, the initial cost of installing solar panels exceeds the cost of installing a generator to power your home. However, solar panels result in a long-term return on investment while generators retain expenditure.

1. The Cost Of Solar Panels

Solar Panels

The costs of solar panels vary according to how much of your home you want to be powered, the size of your home, the level of electricity consumption in the home, individual State tariffs, and the labor costs of respective solar companies. 

At the time of writing, the average cost of solar panels to power a home is $16 000. However, this amount is dependent on numerous factors, meaning that lower-end costs can amount to $3 500 and higher-end costs over $35 000. 

Some of these factors are the type of solar panels being installed and the area in which the solar panels are installed.

Type of solar panels being installed :

  • Monocrystalline Solar Panels are considered the most energy-efficient option (A 6kW solar panel system costs on average between $6 000 and $9 000.) 
  • Polycrystalline Solar Panels are a more affordable option with reduced energy efficiency (A 6kW solar panel system costs on average between $5 400 and $6 000.)
  • Thin-Film Solar Panels are an inexpensive option that requires large amounts of space; thus they are primarily used in industrial and not residential settings (A 6kW solar panel system costs on average between $6 000 and $9 000.) 
Solar Panels on House

Generally speaking, jurisdictions further from the equator cost more due to the decreased exposure to sunshine. 

Fortunately, despite these initial installation costs, solar panels use renewable energy for electricity production. Meaning an average saving of 75% on a household’s electricity bill and savings on the costs of utility bills. 

At the time of writing, the average American family spends $1 450 a year on electricity. Meaning at a saving of 75% a year and assuming an average cost of $16 000 for installation, the return of investment takes approximately 15 years. 

Just bear in mind that these savings are relative to the area where the panels are installed and the type of panels installed. Meaning while savings are inevitable, full-free power generation is seldom achieved. 

2. The Cost of Generators 

Power Generator

The costs of generators vary according to how much of your home you want to be powered, the size of your home, the level of electricity consumption in the home, individual State tariffs, and the labor costs of respective generator companies. 

Generators cost on average between $3 000 to $6 000 to purchase, between $3 000 to $5 000 to install, and approximately between $50 to $150 per day to run. 

The first consideration is the size of the generator being installed: 

  • A 2kW to 5kW generator (between $275 – $1 400.)
  • A 7kW to 10kW generator (between $2 200 – $3 000.)
  • A 13kW to 16kW generator (between $3 500 – $4 500.)
  • A 17kW to 20kW generator (between $4 000 – $6 000.)
  • A 22kW to 25kW generator (between $4 500 – $12 000.)
  • A 30kW to 48kW generator (between $10 000 – $16 000.)

The second consideration is the type of generator being installed: 

Gas Powered Generator
  • Gas-Powered Generators are typically mobile generators that produce a small amount of electricity for a short period of time. They typically range from 3kW to 10kW and cost between $500 and $2 500. 
  • Liquid Propane Generators burn longer and cleaner expensive fuel and usually come in smaller mobile options between $250 and $4 000, or they can be permanent installations between $2 000 and $ 6 000. 
  • Natural Gas Generators are a good option as natural gas is typically cleaner and cheaper than liquid propane or fossil fuels. These generators can tap into your home’s natural gas line and cost between $2 000 and $6 000. 
  • Diesel Generators are high-end generators that cost between $3 300 and $6 700 for mobile options and upwards of $18 000 for permanent installations. As such, they are often very reliable and efficient at powering one’s home. 

A final consideration is the costs of additional requirements for generator installation: 

  • Depending on your State and housing situation, it may be necessary to acquire a permit for a generator; the average cost of a permit is between $50 and $250. 
  • A large generator that requires permanent installation typically requires a concrete pad; the average cost of a concrete foundation is about $1 000. 
  • The price of fuel changes according to the fuel used by the generator and the efficiency of the generator. Typically speaking, the cost of fuel is about $33 for a 12-hour day. 

Do Solar Panels Cause Disturbances Like Generators? 

No Power

Unlike generators, solar panels cause little to no disturbance in the generation of power. However, installing solar panels may be a lengthy process that could be an inconvenience for yourself and any neighbors. 

On the other hand, depending on their size, efficiency, and type of fuel used, generators typically make a large amount of noise and produce toxic fumes. 

Therefore, it is important to consider the placement of the generator in relation to your home and other buildings (such as neighbors’ homes, residential spaces, communal spaces, etc.) For this reason, you must have a permit as outlined above.  


Solar panels should be considered for those homes with the necessary funds to sacrifice high initial costs for greener energy and subsequent return on investments. At the same time, generators are better suited for homes that need emergency electricity in the event of power outages.  

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