F.A.Q.

Here are some common questions about solar and SolarU.

General

Are solar panels right for my home?
Studies show that, based on many factors, only 20% of the population live in a home suitable for solar.  Are you one of the lucky few?  Owning a home is a prerequisite.  From there, any home can be appropriate for solar.  However, the most affordable system is one that would be placed on a large, new, unshaded, south facing roof with no protuberances and an electrical panel with a 200 amp rating.  
What is net metering?
Net metering Is the term used to describe how solar arrays tied to the grid send power back and forth from the home to the utility.  Basically, it is a power “bank” where excess power is deposited during the day and then withdrawn when needed at night.   

 

How does solar power work?
Solar arrays consist of solar panels suspended in racking systems with wiring connected to inverters which connect to either the grid or a battery storage system.  Simply, solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. Inverters convert the DC energy into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is much safer and transportable energy.  In a grid tied system, the home uses electricity and excess power is sent to the utility (at night, grid-tied systems take power back from the utility). In a battery system, excess power is stored by the battery, which then provides power at night.
How can I figure out my power consumption?
SolarU strives to create a system that will generate the power you’ve used in the past (we also take into consideration any improvements you’re considering, like new electric heating).  To determine this we review your power bill, which lists your usage on the right side of the document.  The usage is shown bi-monthly, so to get a year’s power consumption add up the last six billing periods.  
How many solar panels do I need?
A SolarU system is ideally a net-zero design.  We design systems to replace the power you’ve historically consumed from your utility.  So the number of panels you need depends upon your usage.  Other factors come into play, like the amount of room on your roof for a roof array or on your property for a ground-mounted system.  If those factors dictate a system that produces less electricity than you consume, your savings will still be significant.
Is Solar really green?
Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Solar certainly reduces fossil fuel consumption; indeed, the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection concluded that the energy payback period of arrays circa 2013 was between .55 and 1.3 years.  For solar panels, reuse is a viable option.  Although not at peak efficiency, older solar panels still generate electricity and can be of use elsewhere in the under-developed world.  If recycling is necessary, that can be easily achieved with panels; recycling them is safe.

Installation

What components make up a solar system?
Solar arrays consist of several components.  The power components are solar panels, wiring, and inverters.  Hardware is used to hold those materials in place.  Solar panels convert sunlight into power, wiring conveys the power to the inverter, and the inverter makes the power safe to use by converting the power to alternating current electricity.
Do I have to rewire my whole house to get solar panels?
No, but you generally need a panel that has a 200 amp capacity.  SolarU can arrange to upgrade your system if necessary.
How many steps are there to getting a solar system?

The main steps to installation are inspection, planning, installation, review, and rebates.  For more information refer to our SolarUniversity article on the topic.

How long do solar panels take to install?

While “back-office” work – permitting, applications, utility inspections – take four to six weeks to complete, a typical on-site presence to install the system only takes a few days. For other solar providers, material delivery takes a lot of time because they don’t keep components in stock. So months can pass before panels arrive on site. That is not the case at SolarU, where we have materials in stock in our Halifax warehouse.

How long will a residential solar system last?

Most solar photovoltaic modules currently available are warranted to last at least 25 years. Although the modules themselves will degrade over time, they will likely still be producing power even after 35 years or more.

Other components of a system may need to be replaced sooner–for example, inverters are usually warranted around 10 years. In an off-grid system, well-maintained, good- quality battery banks can last a decade or more before needing replacement.

How many solar panels do I need?

The size of your solar system depends on a number of factors:

  • How much electricity your home uses
  • Angle pitch and direction of your roof
  • Unobstructed roof space that is available

A typical system size can range anywhere between 10 to 20 panels, though many systems are smaller or larger. The most accurate way to figure out how many panels your home will need is to get a site assessment. First, though, feel free to check out our How It Works page for some more information.

Will my roof support the weight of solar panels?
Solar panels are relatively light; panels only take up 17% of a typical roof’s load bearing capacity.  A roof would need to handle 3 to 4 pounds/1.4 to 1.8 kg per square foot for a panel.  The National Research Council of Canada shows most roofs can handle 21 pounds/9.3 kg per square foot.

 

Do I need to replace my roof before installing solar?
Solar arrays can last up to 35 years.  If a roof needs to be replaced during that span, it is cost prohibitive to uninstall and then reinstall panels, racking, and wiring.  So generally if a roof is 15 years old or older we’d include a roof replacement in your proposal.  
What kind of equipment do you offer?

SolarU constantly assesses the equipment that will deliver the most cost effective solution for our customers.  Currently, we offer Hanwha panels and inverters from SolarEdge, SMA, and Fronius.

Will solar panels make my shingles last longer?
Shingles covered by your panel are obviously protected by the damage caused by sun, snow and wind.  However, there is no data to suggest that a solar array lengthens the life of your shingles.

Financial, Rebate, Warranty, and Insurance

Are solar panels expensive?
SolarU would never attempt to dictate to others what expensive means.  Instead, we try to make solar no more costly than your current spend for electricity.  And eventually, the expense of generating power is eliminated.  
Do I require special insurance to cover my solar power system?
No, generally.  Nationwide Insurance states that most solar systems are considered part of the home and covered as part of normal homeowner’s insurance. Better yet, there are generally no maximum limits dictating pay outs, like their might be for something like a gazebo or a storage shed.
Will solar panels affect my home insurance?
Every company is different, based on our finding We reccomend to call your insurance company and inquire! Most insurance companies do not charge any extra costs or fees for this, some companies could increase your premium by $5 – $10 a month.
Do solar panels really save you money?
Yes.  SolarU strives to design systems to generate power for the same price you’re currently paying a utility for electricity.  You will  immediately save because you’ll no longer be subjected to utility price increases.  Eventually, your solar array will be paid off, and you’ll no longer be paying for power generation.  
Is solar a good investment?
Solar isn’t the stock market, and SolarU isn’t a financial institution. However, we can cite studies that show solar increases the value of a home and helps a home sell faster. 
What kind of financing options do I have?
Canada Greener Homes offers 0% financing for loans up to $40,000!  Fourteen towns in Nova Scotia and several towns on Prince Edward Island have PACE programs with low rates.  See our Atlantic Canada Guide to Affordable Solar Installation for more details.
Do you offer financing?
Yes, financing is available from CUA, RBC, Canada Greener Homes and many others to make every customer’s situation work.
Does the government offer a rebate on solar?
Canada Greener Homes has a $5,000 grant that can be used for solar.  Nova Scotia also offers up to $3,000 for solar, but that cannot be combined with the Greener Homes grant.
I'm selling my house. Are there any costs or penalties related to transferring ownership?
Because SolarU only offers purchase of solar arrays, the hassles associated with transferring leased solar systems don’t apply.  So a SolarU system is no different than any other home improvement – it is sold with the home just like the kitchen, master bedroom, and pool.
My wife is retiring soon, and I'm retired. Is solar appropriate for us?
Solar is excellent for people who want to ensure their fixed income is paying for predictable costs.  Electricity prices have increased by 30% over the past ten years.  Investing in solar eliminates utility increases immediately.  Eventually, the price paid for power generation will be $0.  This cost certainty is very attractive for retirees.  Plus, if you decide to downsize, solar increases the value of your home and helps the home sell faster.

Weather & Maintenance

Will solar panels work in overcast climates or when it's raining?

 

Yes. According to Energy Sage, solar panels generate about 10 to 25% of their normal power output on a cloudy day.  Sometimes, because clouds reflect and magnify sunlight, panels are just as efficient on cloudy days. 
Will a grid-intertied solar system power my house during a power outage?
Systems tied to the grid will not operate during a power outage.  Even though they’re capable of producing power, since they’re tied to the grid they’d be potentially sending electricity through power lines when repairs are being made elsewhere.  This would put workers at risk, so systems have a fail-safe cutoff when the grid shuts down.  When the grid is down, a generator would power your home.  If the system is not tied to the grid and has a battery storage system, it would not be shut down when the grid goes down.
Do I need to clean snow off my panels?
No.  A Northern Alberta Institute of Technology study found that solar panels only lost 3% of their energy production due to snow cover.  Solar works better in cold climates because sunlight is less degraded in cold weather.  Panels are installed at an angle, so snow slides off glass.  Also, glass heats faster and is smoother than typical roofing, so snow sheds faster off of panels. 
Will solar panels damage my roof or cause leaks?
Proper installation would ensure that no damage occurs.  When SolarU uses either a ballasted racking system or a roof clamp system, a roof isn’t penetrated.  If we do penetrate the roof with screws, sealant is incorporated to stop moisture.
How long will my system last?
Although most solar panels are warrantied to last at least 25 years, the predominance of current systems will last over 35 years (with normal degradation of power).  Less costly and easier to install components of the system, like inverters or batteries, have 10 year lifetimes.  
How do I clean my solar modules?
GreenerChoices.org says that solar panels only lose about 5% of their effiency if they’re dirty.  In most cases, snow or rain will be enough to keep panels clean.  If rain is an infrequent visitor, a hose sprayed onto the panels will suffice. 
Can my system and roof be protected from animal damage?

Pest protection is generally required by code in Atlantic Canada.  SolarU installs materials that protect the system and the roof from nesting and gnawing.

The sun doesn't shine at night. What happens then?
Solar panels do not generate power at night.  Your electric needs at night are covered either by your power utility for a grid-tied system or a battery for an off-grid system.
Do solar panels make my house hotter?
Actually, the opposite is true.  Because panels absorb sunlight that would otherwise hit your roof, systems actually reduce the temperature inside the home by up to 35% according to a study conducted by UC San Diego.

Still need help? Send us a note!

For any other questions, please write us at info@solaru.ca or call us on +1 (902) 608-5115

022032051 041