We can now offer turnkey solar power systems to Ontario homeowners at prices which, amortized over 25 or 30 years, can deliver electricity as cheaply as your local Hydro company!
Terawatt Solar has focused on reducing costs to the homeowner ever since the Ontario Government removed all incentives for renewable technologies in the province.
There are of course provisos to this statement, principal of which is the efficiency of the site. While generous incentives were available, solar was installed on many sub-optimal sites, facing east and west, even north.
Roof slops matter, shading matters, size matters. That’s why a site assessment is mandatory.
If your roof faces near south, has a slope of 20-40 degrees, and is unobstructed, unshaded, and large enough for at least 20 solar panels, please call me.
The solar industry may be in its death throes in Ontario but we are hoping there is a niche market to be found among families who care about combating climate change and are lucky enough to have ideal roofs that can show an good return on an investment in solar.
It helps the economics if you use at least 25 kWh per day and if your roof is good enough to produce that much daily on average.
You should look at other options for back up power
In a previous post I promised to write about Battery Back Up. I will do so now. In future monthly postings, I will choose topics and do some research to bring in interesting ideas. In these initial posting I am using my mental database as my only resource as I am trying to “prime” the blog.
You should look at other ways to obtain emergency power. Many homeowners choose gas generators as the right size gas generator can run the entire house. Running your whole house as usual on batteries is an enormous task because batteries drain quickly when large loads are connected to them. When we design a system, we must ask numerous questions of the homeowner. We must find out what are the essential loads to be backed up. Our electrician must install a pony panel and to run the necessary wires so that when the grid goes down, power from the storage battery flows only to the selected loads.
Select Loads to be backed up
Typically, homeowners choose furnace motor, fridge, some lights, an outlet for plugging in a computer and any essential medical appliances.
How Many Hours must battery last?
Decide how many hours the selected loads must be powered. With that information and loads, we can estimate how many kWh of storage to provide.
Sun shining on the panels will add to autonomy once the batteries are charged but in our climate most outages occur during the winter when sun hours are few or panels covered with snow and ice.
None of this is cheap – adding a pony panel and batteries can double the cost of a net metered system.
The term “net metered” refers to the way your solar power system is connected to the electrical grid.
Cables from the solar array are connected to the electrical service panel in your home. That way, the solar electricity is first offered to the home and if the home doesn’t need the power it flows through the bi-directional meter to the electrical grid.
Bi-directional electrical meters measure flows of electricity to and from the grid and your Hydro company reconciles these flows monthly. Credits are carried forward for 12 months when they are reset to zero. You pay monthly bill based on your usage minus credits for electricity generated by your solar array. Obviously, it doesn’t pay to produce more than you use over a 12 month period as the excess is gifted to your utility.
Because the “smart” meter is replaced by a bi-directional meter in Ontario, your billing is based on tiered rates instead of time of use rates. One great advantage is that you no longer need to worry about “peak” rates-running a dishwasher or washing machine at noon on a workday costs no more that week-ends or nighttime. And because the electricity you generate will reduce your overall consumption, most of your billings will be at tier 1 rates which are lower than tier 2. Ideally, the only charges would be minimums to remain connected to the grid.
Energy Storage is a hot topic nowadays. In Europe and some USA States, where homeowners are charged time-of-use rates, it makes sense to invest in a battery to store solar electricity for use at times when the rate charged per kilowatt hour is highest.
In Ontario, once the grid connection is changed to net-metered, the smart meter is removed and the customer is charged a flat rate so the rate charged is no longer affected by time of use.
Ontario customers at this point in time do not need a battery for energy storage as a net-metered connection allows consumers to use the grid as their battery.
Back-Up power is an entirely different issue. I will discuss battery back-up in my next post.
I plan to provide useful information for those people who are considering installing rooftop solar panels on their homes, cottages, barns, sheds and the like. Of course there is more to a solar power system than just solar panels. A proper system balances the power coming from the panels with the capabilities of the power inverter which has to be appropriate for the job.
Other considerations are the appearance-many plans are aborted because one of the partners dislikes the look of solar panels.
Shading by trees and buildings reduce power production but correct choice of equipment can minimize losses.
Interest in power storage in batteries is growing due to press frenzy about the Tesla Powerwall. There are articles almost every day on advancements made or anticipated.
Same goes for solar panel technology where incremental improvements are being made to silicone based modules, while promising new technologies like perovskite are catching up rapidly.
Then we have new technologies which are interesting but often not yet commercially available. And prices keep falling.
So..there is no end to the list of possible topics.