Solar Power can be price competitive

Turnkey solar power systems are now available to Ontario homeowners at prices which, amortized over 25 or 30 years, can deliver electricity as cheaply as your local Hydro company!

There are of course provisos, principal of which is the efficiency of the site. When generous government incentives were available, solar was installed on many sub-optimal sites, facing east and west, even north.

To be as cheap as local distribution company, your solar roof needs to be south facing with a slope of 20-40 degrees so the annual production is the maximum (about 1200 kWh per kW per year).

To be cost effective, my preferred installer has focused on standardizing systems and reducing costs to the homeowner ever since the Ontario Government in 2018 removed all incentives for renewable technologies in the province.

Through me, you can sign an installation agreement directly with the installer who is an electrical contractor and will be responsible for the entire job.

A site assessment is mandatory: there first is a remote assessment, then after receiving a refundable deposit, the installer will visit the site in person to assess roof condition and electrical service panel in addition to the factors mentioned below.

The ideal roof for solar faces near south, has a slope of 20-40 degrees, and is unobstructed, not shaded, and large enough for at least 20 solar panels.

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing and should be almost new to avoid the later expense of removing the solar panels in order to re-shingle.

To be cost effective, need to allow my installer to choose the equipment. Much work has gone into selecting components that are available in Ontario at negotiated prices. Insisting on the latest and greatest product you saw on the internet will in most cases add to the cost of the system. If you have strong preferences I suggest first getting the standard quote then upgrades can be considered.

There are 3 principal components to a rooftop solar power system: the inverter, the solar panels (also called modules) and the racking (also called mounting system).

At the present time, my preferred installer is using SMA inverters. Canadian Solar panels and Kinetic Solar racking. All tier 1 equipment.

My next post will provide examples with actual costs and return on investment for 5, 7.5 and 10 kW systems.

Net Metered Solar Connection

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.