Diesel Generator vs. Solar Power

Solar panels have become a common sight in South Africa, propped up on the roofs of buildings from all sectors of society. Private homes, office blocks, commercial centres, and other properties are increasingly making use of solar backup power. While quite a large initial investment, solar power has proven to be an effective backup power provider – as long as you get enough sunlight. In this article we’re comparing the cost, performance, durability, and maintenance considerations of a diesel generator vs. solar power.

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Key differences: diesel generator vs. solar panels


There’s no denying the fact that diesel generators have become very affordable in recent years. Solar systems have also become cheaper than they were 10 years ago, thanks to increased demand and competition in this field of power generation. It’s dependant on size, but a diesel generator is most likely to cost you 10 to 20 times less than a full solar power setup. However, things like rising fuel costs and future maintenance requirements must also be taken into account when comparing costs.


How well do the two power generation options compare in the performance department? Solar is an excellent backup power solution in areas that get a lot of sunlight most of the year long. Sun exposure is vital to the optimal performance of solar systems. With diesel generators, they can operate 365 days of the year, regardless of the weather, as long as there’s fuel in the tank. For this reason, diesel generators outshine solar power systems in the performance department.


On the durability side of things, solar power wins without a doubt. Diesel generators are machines, with moving parts susceptible to wear and tear. Eventually, these moving parts and other components will break and require replacing. With planned generator maintenance, this can be managed to avoid catastrophic engine damage. Solar panels are stationary, and so are the inverters and batteries. Depending on quality and other factors, solar panel systems are likely to last longer than diesel generators.


Because diesel generators are lower in cost, their parts are cheaper than solar power systems too. So, when your backup power solution needs repairs or part replacements, diesel generators will come in more cost effective. But how often do solar power systems need maintenance? It doesn’t happen very often in most cases, so solar power will likely require less maintenance than a diesel generator. If you choose to go with a diesel generator setup, partner with generator maintenance specialists to keep your generator in tip-top shape.

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Get your backup power solution from S&A Generators

Are you overwhelmed trying to choose the best backup power solution for your building? We get it – we’ve been installing and maintaining generators for clients in Durban for decades. Speak to us about your building’s power requirements; we can assist with picking the right solution for you and getting it installed by the right contractor. Read more articles on our blog, or contact S&A Generators to start a conversation. We look forward to looking after your power generation needs!