Nature’s Generator versus Generac PWR Cell.
May the best solar powered generator win...
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Okay, right up front I want to say I work with Nature’s Generator, so I am biased. One of the reasons I work with Nature’s Generator is the two company founders are constantly trying to do the right thing. They wrote the goal of making electricity affordable and available to everyone in their company’s mission statement. That’s right, not make the most profit possible, -- but make electricity affordable and accessible to everyone – you got to love these guys.
They absolutely get the nexus between having a clean, renewable-energy, solar-powered generator that can help offer a solution to our climate change crisis and making sure everyone can afford it. If people can afford a clean renewable energy solution, then it will become universally used – whereas if it’s unaffordable, then only the wealthy will use it and that just won’t be enough to help alleviate the climate crisis we are currently facing.
So, I wanted to research and make some comparisons to see how Nature’s Generator’s solar powered generator systems stacked up against some of our competitor’s systems. It was a random decision to start these comparative blogs with Generac’s PWRcell -- but here we are.
So given the information I have just shared, it is for you to decide whether to read on to see how these two products measure up against one another -- or you can move on to another solar powered generator blog. Either way Godspeed! And I mean it -- if you are reading blogs comparing solar powered generators, then you are unquestionably on the right track.
Since this is still technically the introduction and using the first things first rule, “PWRcell” should be pronounced “power-cell” -- but I must say, I keep wanting to buy a couple of vowels. Pat? Vanna? Anyone?
Best solar powered generator: Nature’s Generator vs. Generac PWRcell
Our two contenders start out evenly matched in our opening play.
Both Nature’s Generators and Generac PWRcell were designed to provide backup power when the grid goes down and to allow homeowners to avoid costly peak-use charges under Time of Use energy rate plans set by utility companies to manage peak-use demand.
Both Nature’s Generator and Generac PWRcell store energy generated by solar panels and provide stored power to your home when the grid fails, or the sun doesn’t shine.
Both Nature’s Generator and Generac PWRcell will work with existing (already installed) roof solar panels. If the situation is one where a home has grid-tied solar panels but no power storage, then adding a solar generator battery storage system will allow homeowners to enjoy not only solar power, but also the added benefit of having backup power stored and ready for use when the sun and/or the grid goes down.
Both Nature’s Generator and Generac PWRcell are designed as integrated systems with their components working together for effective and efficient energy storage. However, while Nature’s Generator designs and builds every component for their home solar generator systems, Generac PWRcell does not. Generac does not make either their own solar panels or the roof racks to secure the solar panels.
Because Generac is not directly involved in the solar panel manufacturing field, we will start with solar panel issues to get that section finished so we can continue to a more even playfield.
Solar panels – here Nature’s Generator has the advantage because Generac has not even entered the arena!
Generac does not manufacture its own solar panels – but because Nature’s Generator does, we should look at some specifics.
Nature’s Generator designs their own solar panels and roof racks as well as the smaller portable solar panels that can easily be used in your yard. These smaller portable solar panels fold seamlessly into the company’s desire to make electricity accessible to everyone.
The Nature’s Generator’s founders felt portable yard solar panels that could be easily oriented in a southernly direction for best sunlight collection could be just the thing. They felt that not everyone might have the wherewithal to have a more expensive rooftop solar system installed and Nature’s Generator wanted to ensure they provided some smaller highly affordable options in addition to their larger (but still affordable!) solar powered systems.
Whether you decide to go with Nature’s Generator’s larger solar panels or their smaller portable ones, the technology used in both is a state-of-the-art photovoltaic system.
Nature’s Generator has had customers describe different creative ways they have installed the solar panels. Some have used the larger roof top panels in the yard, angled against a south facing building, some have mounted them on a shed or carport... Whether you place your solar panels on your house, garage, carport, shed or in your yard -- the important thing is, when you generate your home’s electricity from the free power of the sun, you’re using clean renewable energy.
If you want to learn more about the differences between nonrenewable and renewable energy and why it is so important to choose renewable energy at this juncture in our fight against climate change, we recommend reading the following blog.
Nature’s Generator Solar Panel Information:
Portable Solar Panel Size: 33 in x 26 in x 1.5 in
Cost each solar panel: $249.97
Solar Panel Technology: State-of-the-art photovoltaic-cell solar collection using Monocrystalline
Larger Roof Solar Panel Size: 69 in x 41 in x 1.5 in
Cost each solar panel: $499.99
Solar Panel Technology: State-of-the-art photovoltaic-cell solar collection using Monocrystalline
Nature’s Generator has designed their solar panel systems to be scalable meaning you can add the number of solar panels you need to power your home and recharge your solar generator. Each portable panel can add 100-watts of power to your solar generator system. Each larger (rooftop) solar can add of adding 410W to your solar generator system.
Can PWRcell & Nature’s Generator work with already installed solar panels?
Can both these solar generator battery storage systems work in conjunction with already installed rooftop solar panel arrays? With Nature’s Generator the answer across all their generator lines is an absolute “Yes!” With the Generac PWRcell the answer is a bit more complicated.
The Generac PWRcell system can be installed alongside a new or existing solar system depending on the system’s size. The PWRcell battery and inverter can take up to 7.6 kW of solar power using an Automatic Transfer Switch connected between the main electrical panel and the PWRcell inverter (AC coupling) to accept power from an existing solar inverter to use it to power a home or charge the PWRcell battery system.
If the existing solar panel system has a greater than 7.6 kW output, then it can be coupled with PWRcell but by splitting the power so that a maximum 7.6 kW is available to charge the PWRcell battery and the rest goes to power the home.
Battery storage power capacity comparison.
Each Generac PWRcell battery cabinet can hold 9-18kWh of energy using three to six 3kWh battery modules.
Two battery cabinets can be combined for up to 36kWh of power storage.
All of Nature’s generator systems are modular and infinitely expandable by adding parallel similar model generators in a daisy chain. These units are stackable so they will not take too much room. So, depending on your home’s power needs you can customize your Nature’s Generator system to meet these needs and give you the most power for your dollar without spending too many of them!
Here is the selection of different solar powered generator offered by Nature’s Generator. The smaller units of course are more affordable and can be customized to allow homeowners to select the system that they need without having to pay for something that they don’t.
Nature’s Generator Standard 1800-watt --1.8 kW ($749.99)
Nature’s Generator Powerhouse 7200-watt --7.2 kW. ($2999.99)
As these systems are scalable, modular, and expandable so you can customize the system to meet your household power demands and expand them in the future if the need arises. Visit the Nature’s Generator website to see the different “packages” that have been put together for customer convenience to answer specific power storage needs.
Cost or power for your dollar comparison for the generators.
First let me say this about these products’ costs.
Because Nature’s Generator wants to supply affordable, reliable, accessible electric power to everyone, they tend to wear their prices on the sleeves. What I mean by that is, if you go to the Nature’s Generator website their prices are as accessible as they want solar powered electricity to be.
With the Generac PWRcell it takes a bit more effort to get the answer to the simple “How much will it cost?” question. Many of the dealer’s websites handling the Generac PWRcell product want you to contact them for a quote. This makes it difficult to compare these two contenders on price, so I looked around for the lowest price to be fair and then double checked these found prices against reviews on other reputable blogs. Here’s what I’ve found.
Electric Generators Direct website which advertises factory direct prices offer this information:
“PWRcell's revolutionary technology captures and stores electricity - either from solar panels, or the electrical grid. It allows you to use stored energy during peak demand times when electricity costs are high, which ultimately helps reduce your electric bill and save some money. In the case of a power outage, PWRcell is ready to supply backup power to your home.”
Generac PWRcell™ 9kWh Essentials Plus Package 7.6kW (120/240V Single-Phase) Inverter, Outdoor Cabinet w/ (3) 3.0 kWh Batteries & Solar Accessories
*** Please Note - Requires Solar Panels (Not Included). $12,435.35
Generac PWRcell™ 18kWh Managed Whole Home Package - 7.6kW (120/240V Single-Phase) Inverter, Outdoor Cab. w/ (6) 3.0 kWh Batteries + 200A SE ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) & 2 – SMM. Model: PWRCELL-MWH-KIT
*** Please Note - Requires Solar Panels (Not Included). $19,230.98
Generac PWRcell™ 36kWh Deluxe Managed Whole Home Package - 7.6kW (120/240V Single-Phase) Inverter, (2) Outdoor Cab. w/ (12) 3.0 kWh Batteries + 200A SE. Model: PWRCELL-DLX-MWH-KIT
*** Please Note - Requires Solar Panels (Not Included). $34,213.96
Since PWRcell does not offer solar panels for price comparison I will look only at Nature’s Generator Powerhouse generator alone without any whole home packages that may include solar panels. However, I do want to encourage readers to go to the Nature’s Generator website which offers a many, many different generator sizes and packages to help people get just what they need for their individual situation to find the correct combination of products that work best for your needs and your wallet.
In trying to compare apples to apples (and to keep things simple) I will give the Nature’s Generator Powerhouse price for similar kWh. As it turns out, to match the 9 kWh of Generac PWRcells starting unit you would need 1.87 Powerhouse generators. Of course, in real life we would just round up to two Powerhouse units, but for direct comparison I will do the math and get exactly 9 kWh to 9 kWh comparison.
Nature’s Generator Powerhouse 7200-watt – $2999.00 base unit.
To create 9 kWh 1.87 units would cost $4,304.98
To create 18 kWh 3.74 units would cost $7,109.96
To create 36 kWh 7.48 units would cost $12,719.92
So, for direct power-for-price comparison:
PWRcell 9 kWh costs around $12,435.35
PWRcell 18 kWh costs around $19,230.98
PWRcell 36 kWh costs around $34,2913.96
(Disclaimer: With Generac PWRcell product, professional installation is required. Other dealers and blogs had the 18-kWh system ranging up to $22,000 and the 36-kWh system ranging up to $44,000 and this might include the a few of the smart monitors, but it does not include any solar panels.)
To show I am trying to be fair in this blog comparison I will note that while the above Generac PWRcell price points for 9, 18, and 36 kWh seem like they include things that I have not included with the Nature’s Generator Powerhouse. Here I want to assure you the ref hasn’t been bribed -- this is because these items are already included with the Powerhouse. Each Powerhouse comes with its own inverter, its own battery, its own connecting cables, and its own attractive case -- it does not need a cabinet. The Powerhouse was designed with a clean look to be used inside your home, laundry room, or garage.
Any way you look at this head-to-head power for price contest, Nature’s generator takes the lead.
Also consider that because each of Nature’s Generator systems are infinitely expandable (modular and stackable to conserve space) you could add units until you reach the power capacity your household requires. Nature’s Generators system capacity is not limited (as it is the competitor’s) to how many battery modules you can fit into two PWRcell battery cabinets. (BTW, the answer here is twelve, you can fit six battery modules in each of the two PWRcell cabinets.)
With Nature’s Generator’s products you can continue to daisy-chain more similar model generators and more solar panels and/or wind turbines until you reach the power capacity you want. Have I mentioned that Nature’s Generators can also be recharged with wind turbines? In fact, Nature’s Generator is the only solar generator manufacturer to offer a wind solution to their customers.
You can even use both wind and solar power at the same time If your needs increase later, you can always increase your power capacity by expanding your system.
Generac PWRcell must be professionally installed.
The Nature’s Generators are much simpler to prepare for use than the Generac PWRcell. Ordinary people can follow their user’s manual and set up the Nature’s Generators without professional help.
That said, the installation by an electrician is still recommended for the Power Transfer Kit. This kit is an optional addition to using Nature’s Generator Powerhouse systems. You can use Nature’s Generators without using a transfer kit to tie them directly to your home’s main electrical panel. However, the company does like to point out that a Power Transfer Switch makes the manual power transfer from the grid to the solar generators as “easy as flipping a switch.”
It should be noted here that the 120V/240V Power Transfer Kit for the Powerhouse solar powered generator is only $400. (The 120V Power Transfer Kits for the standard Nature’s Generator is $240, and for the Elite system it's $340.)
If you’re interested, the tutorial videos on help center was created with a professional electrician to walk electricians and other people through the Power Transfer Kit hook up process.
Additionally, it should be mentioned, when talking about installation, that even with the Nature’s Generator Power Transfer Kit this isn’t a permanent installation. If you must relocate from your home after installing a Nature’s Generator system, they can be “uninstalled” and moved to your next home.
Surge power – certain appliance motors surge for 2-3 seconds before returning to their running power.
Generac PWRcell can deliver up to 12,000-watts of surge power to start heavy duty appliances like well pumps and air conditioners.
The big question is: Can the PWRcell system do this without the backup crutch of a Generac fossil fuel burning generator?
On August 9th, 2022, Generac launched its Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS), allowing the PWRcell to be installed as an AC-coupled battery. In this setup, the PWRcell can easily accept AC power from an existing solar inverter. It can also be attached to one of Generac’s fossil fuel generators for additional backup flexibility. The AC coupled setup requires a full M6 battery cabinet, with 18 kWh of storage”.
It perhaps should be noted that Generac has been in the business of creating fossil-fuel powered generators for 60 years -- so they are probably pretty good at it. And they do deserve recognition for introducing the PWRcell solar powered generator into their long-term business plan. I want to call this growing toward the sunlight.
I would also want to give them more credit for being willing to change their old business game plans. However, when I read that their Automatic Transfer Switch automatically turns on a Generac fossil-fuel generator to recharge the solar powered PWRcell when it is depleted to 30% capacity, I cringed. Then when I saw that the fossil fuel powered generator does not shut off until the solar PWRcell has been fully recharged by this fossil fuel generator, I was disappointed.
I can’t help but think here that the entire reason to go to a solar powered generator is to move away from fossil fuel consumption (and its toxic emissions) and to get away from having to refuel generators. The PWRcell has preprogrammed directions to use a fossil-fuel powered backup generator for “backup flexibility” and this kind of defeats these clean energy goals. I guess some clean renewable energy use is better than nothing, but, come on, we can do better than this.
To me, this preprogrammed automated function in the PWRcell system is selecting a predetermined course that the human homeowner might not choose to take.
For instance, say, when the PWRcell system is depleted to 30% when the sun is also rising, meaning that solar power is now available for a battery recharge.
In this situation, the use of fossil fuels for solar battery recharge is not necessary. However, because the “smart” system is preprogrammed to do this -- it will occur anyway.
This is perhaps why many PWRcell customer reviews wanted real time remote decisions to be able to be made by the homeowners.
Why is it so important that the PWRcell system uses a fossil-fuel backup generator for their solar generator?
I think I will let these excerpts from an LA Times article to tell you why it’s so important. (I sometimes get tired of hearing myself write!)
In Dec 2021 LA Times Staff Writer Phil Wilson submitted California regulators sign off on phaseout of new gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers detailing CA regulators 12/21 vote to ban gas powered landscaping equipment by 2024 and fossil-fuel-powered generators by 2028. The ban applies to homeowners and businesses to reduce “harmful pollutants and transition toward a carbon-free economy.”
In the article these facts came to light:
“The new regulations by the California Air Resources Board require all newly sold small-motor equipment primarily used for landscaping to be zero-emission by the target dates...”
“Combined, these small gas-powered engines create as much smog-causing pollution in California as light-duty passenger cars. There are approximately 15.4 million small off-road engines in California, and they produce about 141 tons of smog-forming emissions per day...”
“According to the board, operating a typical professional gas-powered lawn mower for an hour emits as much pollution as driving a car from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Operating a backpack leaf blower for an hour emits pollution comparable to driving that same car from Los Angeles to Denver.”
“Environmental and public health advocates praised the new regulations, saying transitioning to zero-emission landscaping equipment and generators — either battery-powered or plug-in — will not only reduce pollution but protect the health of landscaping workers, homeowners and tenants who are exposed to gas and oil fumes.”
The reason for the Air Board’s decision is technology has and will improve -- with zero-emission gear becoming widely available before the 2028 ban for gas-powered generators kicks in. And if you read the below linked blog you will understand that we can do this with clean renewable energy without reverting to fossil-fuel powered generators. Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
Back to our current comparison question. How does a Nature’s Generator deliver the surge power to start heavy duty appliances like air conditioners?
First let me say it does so without use of a backup fossil fuel burning generator.
The customer would have to design a Nature’s Generator system with enough power to cover these start up surges. Remember that you will not be using all your appliances at once and additionally the start up surge lasts only a few seconds. A start up surge occurs when certain appliance motors draw more electrical power to start up than they use for their running power. With Nature’s Generators affordable pricing, it is not difficult to make sure that your solar powered generator system has the extra power needed to cover any appliance startup power surges.
So, which company wins in the clean renewable energy comparison?
Nature’s Generator’s clean solar-powered generators win in this category. Here’s why.
The Generac website explains that the PWRcell can be paired with Generac’s backup generators to provide additional flexibility in power outages by charging the PWRcell battery if it gets low when the sun isn’t shining. What consumers must remember is that what they are recommending here is a fossil fuel generator to recharge their solar battery systems. The way their system is set up is when the PWRcell reaches 30% capacity it’s automatically recharged to full by a fossil-fuel generator.
Nature’s Generator does not recommend fossil fuel backup generators. It recommends a clean renewable alternative --wind power -- as a backup for their solar powered systems, because although the sun sets each night, the motion of the wind continues through the night allowing recharging of your Nature’s Generator system.
Nature’s Generators are designed to simultaneously be able to collect both free sun and free wind power to recharge the generators. Yes, you can harness both sources simultaneously. Our clean wind turbines are the perfect renewable energy backup solution to those times the sun isn’t shining.
These Nature’s Generator’s wind turbines and Nature's Generator Powerhouse wind turbines are also affordable. They are made with quality, durable, cast aluminum alloy to withstand the natural conditions and importantly they don’t pollute!
Alternatively, a homeowner can simply oversize their solar generator system to ensure they have the stored power to weather a winter storm without back up power. At the affordable prices offered by Nature’s Generator, oversizing your electrical power storage won’t make your wallet scream.
Prioritizing your important household appliances.
Both the Nature’s Generator systems and the Generac PWRcell systems were created to store electricity generated by solar panels and to store that energy for later use. This allows homeowners to have access to electricity during power outages. It also allows use of the energy stored in the generator’s battery system (rather than returned to the grid) to be used during expensive peak-hour rate times which can save homeowners money.
There are, however, differences in how Nature’s Generators systems and Generac PWRcell systems prioritize important household appliances.
Nature’s Generator has a simple straightforward manual Power Transfer Kit that allows the homeowner to switch from grid power to backup solar generator battery power as simply a flipping a switch. This is a manual system – this means you do have to flip the switch by hand.
The Nature’s Generator’s Power Transfer Kit controls 6 of your home’s main circuits. When installing the Nature’s Generator Power Transfer Kit, the homeowner can select which of their home’s electrical circuits to prioritize during a blackout to keep their essential appliances running. This also allows the homeowner to take these certain circuits off grid to avoid higher Time of Use rates by, again, only flipping a switch.
Nature’s Generator does recommend that a licensed electrician installs their Power Transfer Kit since it links directly to your home’s power panel.
At first glance the PWRcell has some advanced monitoring systems (that are extra options that can be purchased) to track daily power consumption and large appliance startups etc. However, many consumer comments have shown that these optional apps may not perform as they were marketed. (More on this a paragraph or so down.)
The Generac PWRcell has these optional devices that can be added to your system:
- An Automatic Transfer Switch which is preprogrammed automatically switch to backup power during a blackout.
- The Smart Management Modules manage PWRcells power levels to prevent overload when used with the Automatic Transfer Switch the system manages up to eight home circuits. With Generac’s Smart Management Modules, the PWRcell system can prioritize the startup of large appliances.
- A PWRmanager that via the PWRview app helps you understand your home energy use. It can analyze your electricity consumption and forecast your bills and give you insights on how to manage your stored energy to lower electric bills.
However, according to one consumer quoted below, the products do not perform as marketed and he thinks that this is the problem:
“IF THE SYSTEM REQUIRES A RESTART DURING GRID DOWN, and THE INTERNET IS OFF - the system needs a back feed signal in order to initialize, and since the grid and internet are down - the Inverter kicks out an Error 7000 message and refuses to start.... leaving you with a $40,000 dollar Boat Anchor when you really need the power. I have replicated this situation 4 times now.”
“Generac Tech Support has ...finally flat out admitted they do not support off grid, and that the Internet MUST be connected in the event of a fault error if you want to restart (Only Generac Technicians have the ability to enter into your system remotely and clear error faults), and they have admitted that if the inverter/battery requires restarting during an outage - then they cannot guarantee it will.”
PWRcell can also track power sold back to the grid, which is probably a great, feature, however, Nature’s Generator allows you to store the extra power your solar panels generate to be used later (when either the sun or the grid goes down) rather than send it back to the grid. (Maybe we can address the pros and cons of these two options in another blog, however, that may be difficult because electricity costs vary from region to region.)
Which contender is best for off the grid use?
On the topic of which company’s products perform better for off the grid use, EcoWatch (which puts out trustworthy review) said:
“If you’re looking for home battery backup for emergencies that can also help you avoid high peak energy costs under a Time of Use billing plan, the PWRcell is an excellent choice.
If you’re looking for a solution that can take you off the grid, the PWRcell may be just right for that too, but don’t expect Generac to support that method of installation.
Again, despite designing for integration with its generators to extend the backup capabilities of the PWRcell, Generac does not officially endorse the use of PWRcell in off-grid solar setups." according to one review on ecowatch
So, Generac is on the record that it does not officially endorse the use of their PWRcell systems in off-grid solar setups.
So then, to answer this question for the Nature’s Generator solar powered generators, know that you basically must oversize your solar powered generator system’s capacity to ensure that you have enough stored electricity to run your home for 2 or 3 days if you live in an area where the sun might not shine during a winter storm for several days.
Alternatively, however, you could add a Nature’s Generators wind turbine as a backup power source to generate free electrical power from the wind in anticipation of some such non-sunny winter’s days (although you will be surprised that even during overcast condition Nature’s Generator solar panels will produce electricity).
Conclusion in the contest of Generac’s PWRcell vs. Nature’s Generator.
In my opinion Nature’s Generator wins this power round. While I didn’t compare every single stat between these two competitors. I think that for affordability, that is power for your dollar, and for outright commitment to clean renewable energy-- Nature’s Generator wins hands down. However, again, as I stated at the beginning of this blog—I am admittedly biased.
Because Generac has been in the fossil fuel backup generator business for 60 years, I would be remiss in not giving credit to this company for branching out into the solar powered generator industry. They do deserve kudos for acquiring a solar powered generator business. With that decision, and the PWRcell solar powered generator, Generac is showing that their company also sees the greenhouse gas problem facing the world. It is good that our world’s big companies are acknowledging that the way we have been generating power needs to change to clean renewable energy. Generac is moving in the right direction, toward environmental sustainability, with their PWRcell product and for this the company should be commended.
That said, Nature’s Generator company which is less than a decade old has been focused (since their 2015 founding) on being part of the solution to the climate change crisis that we all are facing. Scientists have put us on notice that we have only a decade to change our bad habits before we reach a potentially irrevocable tipping point -- where instigating positive changes to correct the problems we have created will be much more difficult.
So, it was a close game, but I call this blog battle for best solar powered generator between the Generac PWRcell and Nature’s Generator for Nature’s Generator. They win because their products are:
- more affordable
- so, easy for everyone to buy,
- and, importantly, to use!
- they are more straightforward,
- with less installation complications,
- meaning they’re also more affordable to install,
- they have more products available for any size household,
- they have special product packages to offer consumers solution for their own individual power needs,
- they recommend renewable wind turbine energy (or oversizing your solar generator energy storage) as backup rather than using a fossil fuel generator as backup,
- meaning they are more fully committed to environmental sustainability and renewable energy solutions.
Thanks for your time and attention and good luck finding the solar powered generator that is right for you!