Solar technology is more reliable, more efficient and more affordable than ever. As some Canadians opt to harness the power of the sun, let's look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of going solar in 2019.
Things to consider
Unlike sunny California, Canada has long winters and fewer hours of sun during the colder months, making nuclear and hydroelectric power dominant in the Canadian power market. Although large-scale solar panels aren't always viable, there's ample opportunity to harness the power of solar at home all year, especially if you have a large roof with great sun exposure.
According to installer Adam Coughlin from Bison Solar, the broader and flatter your roof, the better. Steep or complete roofscapes aren't as conducive to solar panels.
If you have land to spare, you can install numerous or larger solar cells mounted on poles, for larger Kilowatt (kW) returns. The output power cable will have to be trenched back to the property to hook up with the main power feed.
Costs and savings
The upfront cost of installing solar panels is its biggest deterrent. While there's is no federal government rebate or tax incentive for installing solar panels, there are a handful of provincial and regional incentives to help with installation costs and offering rebates by selling your power back to the grid. Even with incentives and rebates, the initial costs can range from $15,000 – $25,000 depending on the size of the system. However, these costs have greatly improved over the years and are only poised to get better thanks to innovative technology.
“The price of solar has come way down from the olden days,” Paige Campbell, a Canadian who works for a company offering solar services around the world said. “There are amazing quality panels coming from Asia, which are in the $100s now and not $1,000s.”
The national average cost, including all components, installation and fees, adds up to approximately $3.07 per watt. For an average 7.5 kW system, you're looking at around $21,000 up front.
Solar offers savings because many provinces are beyond grid parity. You'll save on your monthly electric bill and in some cases, for systems under 500 kW, the extra power can go back into the power grid and be sold back to your power company for credit.
However, depending on solar power as your only energy source can have its drawbacks. When there's a power loss, due to a storm, for example, you'll lose power as well. Homeowners may want to consider investing in a backup generator.Power coming from roof-mounted panels, directed into switching and the transformer then feeding into the existing home power supply feed on left.
In Ontario, the Net-Metering program allows for any electricity generated to pump back into the grid and result in a credit on your power bill. Ontario is the largest producer of solar power in systems below 500 kW due to various now-defunct programs like GreenOn and Feed-In-Tariff.
How does it affect my resale value?
With the proliferation of EV cars and the reduction in panel costs, solar energy is becoming a more desirable selling feature for a home. Solar panels can last up to 25 years and one American study found home buyers see them as an attractive upgrade, much like a renovated kitchen.