The Process

So you have decided to look into solar. You hear it being talked about in the news, maybe your neighbour installed a system or you simply just keep seeing solar power systems everywhere you look.  Whatever the reason, you are here looking for answers. There are many different variations of solar systems and every system is unique to the site it is installed on. Whether you want to live off the grid or take a serious bite out of your monthly energy bill, this blog post will give you insight into what your next steps are.

The first thing you need to understand is most sites are unique; they have different energy consumption, the roof-lines are different and the surrounding buildings and trees can affect the amount of sunlight available to shine on your solar panels. There is no cookie cutter or off the shelf solar power solution.

The next important detail is energy consumption. How much power your home consumes is going to determine the amount of power a solar system will need to produce if it is going to run your home.

For an off-grid home we need to design a system around your energy consumption during the winter months, so you have all the energy you need, even on the shortest days of the year.  Making this happen is not the least expensive solar solution up front.  An off-grid system is about 300% more expensive than a grid tied system for the same energy consumption. This is a function of complex electronics, batteries, inverter and other materials needed.  The upside is you can choose to live further back from roads and neighbours as you no longer need to factor in the often staggering cost of bringing in power lines.  An off-grid PV system becomes truly worthwhile and even affordable when your home site is out of reach of the network of power lines already in place.

For a system tied to the conventional power grid, you are able to over produce in the summer and just use the utility in the winter. This allows you to use the power grid as a battery-like device that is able to store your energy for months. In the Spring, Summer and Fall, your solar produced energy is sold to the next person on the distribution line and you are given a credit that will carry over until you are under producing in the winter months.

Once you know what type of system you are interested in, we need a clear picture of the energy requirements that system needs to fulfill to maintain your lifestyle. With a grid connected Photo-voltaic system, a look at past power bills will likely be everything we need to assess your energy needs and provide you with a system design and pricing. On the other hand, If you are thinking off-grid is your path, we will work together to establish your energy needs by calculating the loads your electrical devices will demand from the PV system.

8 Simple Steps To Solar Greatness

Step 1:  collect your power bills for the last 12 months. With this data, we will get a preliminary idea of the system you will need and some pricing around that system.

Step 2:  If this projected price and payback looks right for your family we will book a time for a no obligation site assessment to look at your site and decide where equipment can be mounted.

Step 3:  At this point we will be able to issue you a full quote to install a solar system to meet your goals.

Step 4: When you are ready to move forward, we then schedule an install time

Step 5:  we apply for all permits and submit all applicable agreements.  Then order all materials.

Step 6:  We come and install your new solar system.

Step 7:  Once the system is completed we look after all paper work to get your provincial rebates and make sure the Micro-gen Agreement is executed by the utility.

Step 8:  Enjoy lower monthly bills.  

If you want to have a rough idea of cost before you even call a solar contractor, here is a simple and quick method for grid tie systems:

Take your yearly consumption (example: 7600kWh which is the average electrical consumption of a home in Alberta) multiply it by 2.56.   The formula is as follows:  7,600kWh / year x 2.56 (standard unit) = $19,456. It is important to note, as mentioned, each site is different, so to get an accurate cost for your project, contact Sunfind Solar.

An investment in solar is a way for you to stop sending money to the utility each month and instead, you are putting it into your pocket. If you have questions regarding return on investment, we are here to answer questions and provide a solarcation!

Author: Daniel Graham, PV Integration Specialist at Sunfind Solar.