Solar panels have been around for quite a while now, but what is solar energy, and why is it so popular? Solar energy is recognized as a clean energy solution and many Canadian homeowners can take advantage of residential solar systems. Panels can be installed on a rooftop or on a property to provide an additional source of energy to a residence or replace more common and traditional energy sources. What should Canadian homeowners know about solar energy as it applies to residential use?
Solar panel systems are used in the United States, Germany and other countries to provide citizens with clean energy options. Learning about solar power and renewable energy for homes can help homeowners realize that solar is attainable for many people.
Overview of Solar Panels
Thin silicon panels are used to transform sunlight into a usable energy source. Sunlight interacts with the photovoltaic cells and creates a direct electrical current. This form of energy can be used right away, sent to a power grid or stored for later use in specialized batteries. The majority of homeowners choose to have panels mounted on their roofs. Not every home is a candidate for solar power. Canadian homeowners can take advantage of a free home assessment to determine whether or not a home and its roof receives a sufficient level of southern exposure. Enough space must be available as an average household would need from 20 to 50 panels as part of their system.
Many households prefer having their system hooked into a local power grid. Others use battery banks to store excess energy for later use. Homeowners in Germany, Japan and the United States are among those using solar energy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the creation of chemical by-products often associated with traditional sources of energy.
Solar Panels Are Long-Lasting
Solar panels require professional installation. Homeowners who maintain their panels will be surprised that their children could grow up and go off to college before panels need to be replaced. Depending on the type of panels and manufacturer, solar panel may last as long as 30 years. Many solar panels come with warranties to help homeowners if a panel has to be replaced earlier than expected.
It may seem attractive to DIY. However, solar panel system installation should be left to a licensed and trusted electrical contractor trained in various aspects of rooftop safety. Steps involved in installation include:
- Bury the conduit and build a platform to hold the solar panels.
- Mount the panels onto the platform.
- Wire the solar modules together at a junction connector or fuse combiner box.
- Connect the electrical cable from the solar array to the home through the conduit.
- Use a grounding rod to help protect the solar panels.
- Complete the electrical wiring in the inverter panel inside the home.
If a homeowner needs to replace a roof in the next year or two, it is best to complete that project before installing rooftop solar panels. Additional costs are accrued when homeowners have to hire professionals to remove and re-attach a solar panel system. Some professional installation companies, such as InPhase Power in Toronto, offer homeowners a 25 year warranty on panels and a multiple year warranty on any labour. Look for a company that offers a strong warranty and stands by their work. Be mindful that in many cases a waiting process is involved as an electrical inspection and building permits are some of the factors that need to be taken care of prior to professionally installing panels for residential use.
Return of Investment on Solar Panels
There are two major reasons why people choose to invest in solar panels: first, solar panels are great for helping the environment; and second, solar panels have an excellent ROI. While solar panels can require thousands of dollars to purchase, the panels themselves will last 25-30 years, giving them ample time to pay for themselves. Homeowners can expect to save on average around $1,400 per year on electric bills, and typically after ten years, the panels have saved enough money to cover their own costs. Not only that, but homeowners should know the answer to the often-asked question, “Do solar panels increase home value?” This answer is yes. If a homeowner decides to sell the home while the panels are still active and in a good condition, having those solar panels can increase a home’s value by up to $6,000 per kilowatt hour.
Solar in Canada
Solar energy can be a valuable energy solution for homes in colder regions. Those who connect off grid may need to pay more to professionally install a residential solar panel system. Ontario residents can take advantage of the Feed-In-Tariff program that pays homeowners back for solar energy produced and many Canadian provincial and municipal government programs to provide additional incentives and help offset initial installation costs.