Q&A with Generac

Q&A with Generac

Founded in 1959, Generac has long been a leader in backup power solutions. They were the first company to create standby generators in 1977 and continue to lead in the generator space while now also offering clean energy products. In Fall 2021, Generac launched some new products, including microinverters (PWRmicros), a new backup generator (PWRgenerator), and an energy management system (PWRmanager). We sat down with Generac to learn more about their suite of products and their advice for homeowners interested in clean energy. 

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PWRcell

What makes the PWRcell stand out as a storage product?

The Generac PWRcell is a fully integrated solar-plus-storage system consisting of a battery storage cabinet, inverter, and lithium-ion battery modules. These features can provide whole home backup and move you closer to true energy independence. Recent launches, such as the PWRmanager advanced load management device, 9 kilowatt (kW) PWRgenerator and alternating current (AC)-coupling firmware update, can help you create an ecosystem that’s one of the most powerful, flexible, efficient, and easy-to-install residential energy storage systems available today.

The latest AC-coupling update brings powerful new features to the platform. You can now connect your PWRcell system to any compatible existing solar array, unlocking some features of your solar system that had never been possible. A 2021 EnergySage survey found that nearly 70 percent of residential installs are solar-only, which can supplement grid electricity during optimal conditions; however, it isn’t possible to store energy for later use. A solar-only system’s connection to the grid also prevents it from powering the home when the grid is down. By storing and managing solar energy, the PWRcell system helps maintain uptime during outages, overnight, or in cloudy conditions.

Can the PWRcell offer full home backup? How should homeowners think about their PWRcell sizing options?

A PWRcell Solar + Battery Storage System is not just a powerful battery – it’s a flexible and scalable home energy system. It can be configured to meet any budget or lifestyle, so you don’t pay for more than you need. It can include as few as three battery modules for up to 9 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of capacity and 4.5 kW output, all the way up to a six-module configuration providing up to 18 kWh of capacity and 9 kW output. If more power is needed, multiple PWRcell battery cabinets can be connected to a single PWRcell inverter for up to 36 kWh of storage capacity and 11 kW continuous backup power.

Whether you’re a new or existing PWRcell customer or have already invested in a Generac Guardian home standby generator, you can take your whole-home protection even further. The Guardian series can now be integrated into a PWRcell system via AC coupling, providing a turnkey whole-home backup system that can operate independently of the grid and pick up when battery power is depleted. Guardian generators are available with capacities up to 26 kW and can jumpstart loads high enough to turn on large appliances during complete outages.

PWRmicro

How do PWRmicros compare to other microinverters on the market today?

Generac PWRmicros are our solar microinverter solution, which allow you to take advantage of the full potential output of your solar array. PWRmicros are designed to provide solar installers with a fast and simplified installation process relative to the installation of other solar systems on the market. The PWRmicro 2:1 has greater power ratings than many competing products and enables the installation of newer and significantly higher-powered solar panels. 

The Generac PWRmicro 2:1 is a dual-module, 720 Watt (W) microinverter and the Generac PWRmicro 1:1 is a single-module microinverter. Because the PWRmicro 2:1 controls two solar panels at once, installers can install half the number of devices to control the same size array, providing significant time savings. Additionally, these two microinverter models are compatible, so installers can mix and match PWRmicro 1:1 and PWRmicro 2:1 devices for enhanced design flexibility to cover virtually any roof.

PWRgenerator

What’s the benefit of installing a PWRgenerator?

The 9 kW PWRgenerator is a revolution in home energy security. When sunlight is unavailable or insufficient, this DC-coupled generator rapidly recharges the PWRcell battery to keep homes powered long-term when the grid is down. Because PWRgenerator is designed to be run more frequently and for longer periods, it’s quieter, more fuel efficient, and has extraordinarily long service cycles. With seamless integration to PWRcell systems and the PWRview monitoring app, the PWRgenerator unlocks significant backup power and energy independence at a great value.

A first-of-its-kind, new addition to the PWRcell Solar + Battery Storage family, PWRgenerator connects directly to the PWRcell inverter, essentially creating a residential nano-grid that allows a home to be fully energy independent. PWRgenerator, when combined with an appropriately sized solar-plus-storage system, delivers a complete level of energy independence, allowing you to control and own your power. During the day, your solar panels provide power to your home, while excess power can charge the battery. During the night, your battery discharges and if it reaches a 30 percent state of charge, PWRgenerator will turn on and fully charge your battery in about one hour. In addition, PWRgenerator is designed to be extremely quiet and fuel-efficient, running on either natural gas or liquid propane (LP). This system also offers the ultimate in clean power outage protection.  

Who should be considering installing a PWRgenerator?

The PWRgenerator helps provide value to any PWRcell system owner who truly wants to reduce their dependence on the grid while maintaining peace of mind during utility outages. If you’re looking for a complete home backup system, the PWRgenerator could be a welcome addition to your PWRcell system, as it can help ensure that your home stays powered in the event of an outage.

How does the PWRgenerator integrate with other components of the Generac system?

PWRgenerator integrates seamlessly with the PWRcell Solar + Battery Storage System and PWRview monitoring app. The PWRgenerator connects directly to and communicates with the PWRcell inverter, which recognizes your battery’s current state of charge and turns on when battery capacity reaches as low as 30 percent. A full charge can then be achieved in about an hour, depending on your system’s total capacity.

PWRmanager

What do homeowners need to know about the PWRmanager? What are the benefits of installing this component?

Generac’s PWRmanager, the newest load management system for Generac’s PWRcell Solar + Battery Storage System, unlocks whole home power by automatically controlling and sequencing which circuits and appliances receive power when the home disconnects from the grid in a power outage event. The device can control up to twelve 120V circuits, six 240V circuits, and two thermostats. 

PWRmanager allows you to use your phone or tablet to “swipe” off/on any circuit in your home, which can extend battery runtime during prolonged power outages by de-energizing less essential circuits. And, if you want to run your home on stored sunshine on a daily basis, PWRmanager is designed to provide an uncompromised experience that other solar and battery systems simply cannot. 

How do PWRmanagers extend the life of your backup system?

PWRmanager enables batteries to work smarter by automatically managing loads and giving you flexible access so fewer batteries can power your home for longer. With PWRmanager, a smaller capacity system can still provide reliable backup power due to both PWRmanager’s smart load management capabilities, as well as your ability to manually turn off unnecessary circuits. This also helps ensure that batteries aren’t being needlessly overworked, which in turn lengthens the life of your battery.

Advice for homeowners

What are the key things for homeowners to consider when selecting equipment? 

As with any major home improvement or energy upgrade project, it’s important to consider the company behind the equipment. Since 1959, Generac has been the leading manufacturer of residential, commercial, industrial, and mobile power products, helping millions of customers save money, gain greater independence, and prepare for the unexpected.

With a national network of dealers and seasoned installers, Generac works with experienced installation professionals who can help you determine everything from capacity needs to which solar panels to pair with the PWRcell system for optimal performance and efficiency. Working with a licensed local professional with experience installing the Generac PWRcell Solar + Battery Storage System helps ensure you’re getting a partner knowledgeable about potential local and federal rebates and financial incentives, municipal permitting, and electrical code requirements.

Why do you think homeowners should choose Generac’s products? 

Generac Power Systems has a strong national reputation as a trusted energy technology company. Founded in 1959, we’ve established ourselves as an industry leader in residential power generation equipment and an innovator in clean energy, industrial and mobile products, grid services, and connected devices. Our focus on comprehensive smart home energy systems drives us to create solutions that can be tailored to fit your unique needs, manufacturing vertically integrated systems to make your clean energy journey as seamless as possible.

What’s your warranty and warranty claim process like?

The PWRcell battery cabinet and inverter feature a 10-year limited warranty. System owners are encouraged to maintain contact with the service dealer or contact Generac customer support for any warranty questions.

Find an experienced solar-plus-storage installer through EnergySage

If you’re looking to install a solar-plus-storage system, the best way to shop is through EnergySage. When you create a free account for our Marketplace, you’ll receive custom quotes from our network of pre-vetted installers. Interested in specific equipment – Generac or otherwise? Simply make a note in your profile so installers know what equipment to include in your quotes.

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About Emily Walker

Emily is a Senior Writer at EnergySage, where she's an expert in making energy fun and easy to learn about! She has a background in environmental consulting and has degrees in Environmental Science and Biology from Colby College. Outside of work, Emily is pursuing a Master of Science from Johns Hopkins University in Environmental Science and Policy. She also loves hiking, tending to her collection of houseplants, and trying out new restaurants and breweries whenever possible.

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