Lone Star Ranch Management

Back-up Power on the Ranch: Solar Power Systems vs. Generators

Anyone who lives in Texas knows that power can be lost at any time without notice. Frigid temperatures, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, or an accidental cutting of power lines are just a few reasons why your ranch can lose power for hours, days, or weeks. When that happens, you will most likely need a back-up power source to keep appliances running, wells pumping, and ac/heat flowing. 

Solar Power Systems and generators are your two options. Both have pros and cons which you will need to consider before making your investment. 

Solar Power Systems

Solar panels used as back-up power can be added to the top of a house, barn, or in open space, if you have it.

Solar Power Systems have become trendy over the last several years because they are deemed to be better for the environment. However, too often, people jump on the bandwagon without looking at the full picture. Doing your research ahead of time can save you frustration, complications, and money. 


  • Solar Power Systems can save you money in the long run by reducing your monthly electric bills. 
  • You can earn money from your solar power if you participate in the Texas Net Metering which is a solar buyback electricity plan that will allow your local power company to utilize the solar power you do not use while paying you a set fee. Visit Solar Buyback Electricity Plans – Texas Net Metering – ElectricityPlans® to learn more about the rates in your area. 
  • Solar power has minimal impact on the environment. 
  • Battery storage is relatively small in size which means they can be easily moved around your property. 
  • These systems require very little maintenance and money to operate once the installation is complete. 


  • Solar Power Systems come with a high-ticket price to install. Costs can easily exceed $20K depending on the size of the system. To estimate the price in your area, you can visit Solar Calculator: Accurately Estimate Savings | Solar-Estimate.org. This can give you a general idea of your out-of-pocket expenses. 
  • Whereas the battery storage is easy to move, the solar panels are not. You either need to have them permanently installed on the roof of your home, or you need a large area of land to place them. 
  • Most people do not realize that when your power goes out, your solar system will automatically shut off so that it does not send electricity through the main grid which can be highly dangerous to repair workers. This means you will not have power during outages. If your goal is to use solar as your back-up power, then you will have to purchase a system that will automatically disconnect from the power grid and will continue to supply electricity to your ranch. This can increase your upfront costs significantly. 
  • Solar power requires the sun to generate power. Unless you have built-up reserves in your battery storage, you may not have a sustainable back-up source if you live in a climate with more cloudy days than sunny. 


The long standing alternative to Solar Power Systems is generators that run on natural gas, gasoline, or diesel. As with solar power, there are pros and cons to using generators for back-up power. 


  • Your upfront costs could be less than $10K depending on your location and the size of the generator. 
  • Generators tend to be durable and dependable. Severe weather conditions or lack of sun does not normally impact their performance. 
  • You have a reliable back-up power source that will instantly kick in if the main power grid goes down. 
  • Generators can provide power for weeks without interruption if properly maintained and fuelled. 


  • Generators have ongoing costs for regular maintenance and fuel. 
  • During major natural disasters, finding fuel for your generator can become a real concern. Without fuel, your generator will not run. 
  • If you enjoy a peaceful, quiet environment, then a generator might not be for you because they tend to be loud.  
  • Once you have installed your generator (and its tank for fuel), there is no moving it. Generators are heavy and bulky, so once they are installed, you will need to leave them in place. 
  • Generators operate using fossil fuels, which some consider to be harmful to the environment. 
  • If not properly installed, away from enclosed structures, generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. 

In Conclusion

Having a reliable back-up power source can have a significant impact on your ranch. Before selecting the system you will use, make sure to determine what your priorities and expectations are. Both Solar Power Systems and generators can be a positive solution. 

Contact Ryan at ryan@texasranchmanagers.com for your questions and guidance. He is ready to help you become power independent the next time there is a power outage in your area. Visit the following page to access additional LSRM blogs: Blog – Lone Star Ranch Management (texasranchmanagers.com).


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