It’s in the news all the time – climate change is upon us and is a daunting reality. Whether we accept or deny reports that carbon emissions are causing changes in the weather, increasing the occurrence of hurricanes and their severity, the evidence of increased adverse weather activity is all around us.
When natural disasters strike, the effects can be devastating. Heavy snow, floods and gale force winds cause the destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Because power outages are unavoidable in times of extreme weather conditions, many people rely on backup generators to keep essential household items functioning. This creates a catch 22 situation. On the one hand, we need to supply electricity to our homes, businesses and emergency facilities when the grid fails. On the other hand, the gas-powered generators that we use, contribute to the problem of carbon emissions. So, in our efforts to deal with the effects of climate change, we are actually contributing to the problem.
We don’t only use generators in times of natural disaster, they are also used to supply electricity when there is no access to grid power. Many of us enjoy taking advantage of the scenic beauty of wilderness areas. At the same time, we want to have the benefit of some degree of comfort. For this, most campers make use of generators to supply, at least, enough electricity to keep essential electrical items functioning. Yachts, that spend prolonged periods at sea, where there is no other power source, need to generate their own power. Some people rely on generator power to earn a living. Contractors who work on a site where there is no grid connection need generators to power their tools and equipment, as do emergency workers in remote areas.
Two Eco Friendly Power Options
Because so many of us make use of generators and we are becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the environment, there’s a growing demand for a portable power source that does not harm the environment. This call has been answered, and there are eco-friendly options available for electricity generation. So what are your options when looking for an environmentally friendly generator?
A regular generator that is designed to run on gas is easily capable of running on natural (LP) gasses like propane. There are many generator manufacturers that offer hybrid options. A hybrid generator is designed to use normal gas like we use in our cars and they are also able to function using natural gas.
From an environmental aspect, natural gas is much better than diesel or regular gas. Natural gas burns cleaner with much lower CO2 emissions. This is a big reason why they are growing in popularity. They also have a number of practical benefits. If you’re using a natural gas generator for your home, there’s a good chance that you may have a piped gas supply to your home. Gas pipelines are seldom affected by storms as they run underground. For this reason, a generator that uses piped gas will have an uninterrupted supply of fuel when overhead power cables are damaged.
Natural gas is safer and easier to transport when using it as fuel for a portable generator. When transporting or storing gas that is kept in a can, there’s a risk of spillage and the fumes are not only unpleasant but can also pose a fire risk. There’s also the risk of spillage when transferring the gas from a can to the generator’s fuel tank. Propane and other LP gas is kept in a sealed cylinder and is connected directly to the generator by means of a pipe. There is no risk of spillage when transporting natural gas, there is also no need to transfer the gas to a fuel tank and there are no fumes emitted from the gas cylinder.
Because natural gas generators are basically the same as conventional gas generators in every way, except for the fact that they use a cleaner fuel source, they are the most common of all the eco-friendly generators. They are practical and easy to use with a very convenient and easy to transport fuel source.
Using solar (photovoltaic) panels, an inverter and batteries can be a solution for some. Many believe that solar power has no impact on the environment. Though, this is not entirely true. Solar uses photon energy from the sun as its fuel source which means a solar panel has no effect on the environment when generating electricity. However, the environmental footprint of manufacturing the panels and more importantly, the batteries used to store the power, is more than that of most other electricity generation methods. So, while solar is a very clean power source, it’s not entirely impact-free, as many claim it to be.
With all the arguments that can be made against solar electricity, it is still an environmentally friendly option. Where solar generators fall short, is in their practicality. They need sunlight to generate electricity. Let’s face it, when there’s a storm, there’s very little sunlight available for electricity generation. For this reason, solar generators require a battery bank to store the electricity generated while the sun is shining. If you’re using a solar generator for several days with little to no sunlight, you’ll need a lot of battery storage to keep you supplied with enough electric power. To backup your home, this can be a viable solution, albeit expensive. However, if you’re using a solar generator in remote areas, it can become problematic transporting enough batteries to keep up with your demand. Transporting and setting up the panels can also be difficult.
The real benefit of using solar generators is that of free electricity all the time, not only when the grid power fails. For this purpose, solar is a very good option and will pay for itself over a period of time. In addition to this, many states offer financial incentives for private individuals who choose to use renewable energy.
Solar generators have their merits, but when it comes to replacing conventional gas generators, they are not the most practical option. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly portable generator, a hybrid generator will be your best solution.