We’ve created a detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) for those who want to dig deep into the benefits of solar power. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, reach out to us and we’ll do our best to get you a timely answer!
How do I get started?
Complete the free estimate form at the bottom of the page or reach out to us to get started: [email protected]. We’ll complete a free estimate using satellite and low-flight plane imagery to give you a rough idea of system size and cost. Next, we’ll provide a detailed quote and design for your property. This will include several options, so you can choose the best fit (i.e. looks sleek, highest power, most economical). Lastly, once we’ve all agreed on the products, we’ll take a small deposit, complete all required permitting processes, order the products and schedule an install date!
What are the financial benefits of installing solar on my building?
Installing a solar PV system on your building instantly saves you money on electricity bills. You also lock in energy rates at today’s prices, protecting you from ever-increasing electricity rates. The amount of time it takes to pay back your system depends on many things, including electricity prices, energy consumption patterns, shading, rebates, and the contractor you choose for installation. As electricity rates go up each year, your payback period reduces proportionally. Over the 25+ year lifespan of your solar panels, your system will pay for itself in energy savings several times over. For example, a typical solar PV system will cost between $10,000 – $30,000.
Here’s what you’ll pay to your utility company for electricity company over 25 years (warranty of most solar panels and inverters):
- $100 per month = $50,000 over 25 years
- $200 per month = $100,000 over 25 years
- $500 per month = $250,000 over 25 years
Why not pay yourself instead?
These calculations assume an annual average 4% utility rate increase based on historical rates
Some studies show that installing a solar system increases the property value up to 4% and when put up for sale, these properties sell faster too! All in all, installing solar is a safe, tangible and wise investment.
What are the environmental benefits of solar?
Energy produced on-site by solar PV panels reduces greenhouse gas emissions by lessening the need for expensive new hydro projects, and fossil fuel energy production, trading and distribution. For example, switching from propane to electric appliances powered by solar can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 90 per cent! If you have been watching any news outlets in the past decade, climate change is the biggest issue of our time. And we all need to reduce our carbon footprint for the safety of our planet and future generations. Solar is a great way to show your solidarity for a more self-reliant and sustainable lifestyle.
Why choose Kootenay Solar?
Kootenay Solar is a locally owned and operated business with a Red Seal Journeyman Electrician who has trained with the Canadian Solar Institute. We complete the estimates, on-site measurements and assessments, system design, education and sales, product procurement, applications and installation – all under one roof. Many solar companies will subcontract pieces of this work out, increasing communication complexity and costing you more money. We’re also locally owned and operated right here in the Kootenays – with deep roots in these communities. The Kootenays is our home and we believe strongly in the long term benefits of local procurement for both our company and our clients. We’ll be there to help you design and install your system and be there when you need operations and maintenance support.
How much do I pay for electricity? And how much do I use?
The quickest and easiest way is to look at your electricity bills. We can help you understand what it all means. If you’re building a new place, we can connect you with a professional to assist with energy forecasting.
What is net metering?
Net metering is a program between you and your utility provider. When your solar panels are generating clean, renewable energy, your building uses this electricity first. If you generate more than you need, it flows into the grid for others to use and you’re credited on your next billing cycle. If you have credits remaining at the end of your annual anniversary date, you get paid a small amount for those credits. Click here for a nice visual of the net metering process.
Do I need to have 100% exposure to the sun facing south?
No. Solar technologies have become very advanced. Even if your roof slopes East or West and has several trees, there may still be good solar potential. When we design your system, we’ll run a shading performance analysis to show you just how much energy you can expect to produce. Then, we can walk you through the most optimal solar products for your site.
How much does a typical solar PV system cost?
Average systems range between $10,000 to $30,000 – and can be lower or higher. It depends on many factors: commercial or residential; pitch, contours, and direction of roof; size of roof space or ground mount space to be utilized; type of panels you choose. We like to provide several options for your specific site and tell you the pros and cons of each. Then let you decide.
Can I finance a solar PV system? Should I buy or lease?
Yes. There are many ways you can finance your solar PV system. We can recommend several options. We like to say, “You can either finance an asset or pay the utility company, it’s your choice.” If your goal is financial return and you have the cash, buying is your best option. If you’re looking for an effective way to offset your energy bills and pay the system over time, financing is a good option. If you can afford your electrical bills, you can more than likely afford to go solar.
What happens to my solar panels when it snows?
Your solar panels will continue to produce energy, but their efficiency drops. However, winter months are the least productive time for solar as the sunlight is so low and short. Overall, losses in the snowy months are insignificant to the total annual energy production. If you’d like to increase efficiency in the winter or require winter power production (i.e. off-grid systems), the tilt of your panels and a cleaning system may be an option.
Should I do a grid-tie or off-grid solar PV system?
If you’re already tied to the electricity grid, or are in close proximity to power lines, we highly recommend a grid-tie system. The cost of battery storage today does not make financial sense for those that can connect to the grid, but we’re getting close! If you have requirements to have stable electricity, such as medical equipment, you may want to do a grid-tie system with a small battery bank back-up. If you have a home that is not already tied to the grid, such as a recreation cabin or RV, an off-grid system with a battery bank is your best bet.
How much will a solar PV system offset my electricity bills?
This can range between 20 to 100 per cent. It depends on your roof or ground mount availability, which must be free of obstructions such as vent stacks, chimney, and roof contours. It also depends on how energy efficient your building is. The more efficient you make your building, the less energy you need to consume. We recommend having a certified Energy Advisor assess your house and provide tips to increase efficiency. We like Energy Advise in the East Kootenays and 3West in the West Kootenays.
Do I need to replace my roof before adding solar panels?
Solar panels can last between 25 to 35+ years, outlasting most roofs. However, adding solar panels protects your roof from UV rays, extending its lifespan. Although we are available to remove and re-install the solar PV system when you need to replace your roof, it’s an added expense. Therefore, if your roof needs replacement in the next five to 10 years, we’ll recommend doing this prior to installing the system.