Solar power systems have evolved into one of the most popular and beneficial means of power supply from being a viable alternative to generating electricity for residential and industrial needs. As a result, and by finding the right solar quotes in BC, it’s now commonplace to see solar panels installed on several homeowners’ properties in several countries worldwide.
However, the country that’s the focus of our interest is Canada, precisely one of its provinces, British Columbia. As a beginner in solar technology, you’ll have several questions in mind regarding the cost of solar panels in BC, how many solar panels you need for your home or office, the benefits of solar panel installation in your home, how to know if your location is suitable for a solar energy system, and so on.
As you read on, you’ll get all the information you need and can decide based on what’s best for you.
Are Solar Panels Worth Installing in BC?
The short answer is yes. To explain this answer in detail, we’ll explain why installing solar power is ideal.
When you opt for the solar panel system, you’ll save a lot of money over time because solar energy systems reduce or eliminate electricity costs. If you’re using a grid-tied or hybrid solar power system, your power bill will significantly reduce. On the other hand, if you opt for off-grid solar installation, you won’t be paying energy bills anymore because the battery will take over your electricity supply when the solar panels stop generating power. Also, look at the economics. You’ll spend more on utility power than on a solar PV system. Using the latter protects you from rising energy costs or electricity prices. Interestingly, as solar technology improves, the installation cost will reduce over time.
Zero Carbon Footprint
Solar installations are viable for environmental sustainability because they absorb energy from the sun, an unlimited power source. Also, these systems don’t emit greenhouse gas emissions. That is a significant reason why many countries are adopting energy production via solar power to sustain the environment.
On average, the lifespan of solar panel installations is 20-25 years which is impressive. Some solar panels can even serve you for 40 years, and you’ll carry out just minimal maintenance during this period. That makes solar power systems a desirable option.
Using residential solar panels frees a homeowner off the grid, mainly if it’s an off-grid solar system. In many cases, these home solar panels generate excess energy, which the homeowners can export to the grid via the net metering program to earn utility credits from BC Hydro.
Enhances Property Value
A home with a solar panel installed has a higher value and sells quicker than a home using grid power. That is because buying homes with solar systems means the new owners will either pay less or have no energy bills. Aside from the solar system paying for itself throughout the period it serves the home, it can also boost its property value on the market. That makes it a worthy investment even though the cost of solar panels is high.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels in BC?
The average home spends between $12k-$30k to install a solar panel system in British Columbia. However, the exact price depends on the system size and type. Let’s do a little calculation to show you how economical solar panels cost compared to conventional energy usage.
The average annual energy cost for a homeowner in BC is $9576. Using 25 years, that will be $239,400, assuming inflation doesn’t kick in, an unlikely scenario. With inflation costs, the amount can go up to $240k within that period. On the other hand, the maximum solar installation cost for a homeowner in BC is $30k, and there will be no extra expenses except a battery or inverter replacement within this period. Even at that, the homeowner will save much more money than they would’ve incurred if they relied on grid power.
Additionally, the type of solar panels you use can affect the installation cost. Cheaper panels, such as thin-film panels, will incur fewer expenses than monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, but they’re less efficient.
How Much to Install Solar Panels for Commercial Outfits?
Understandably, solar installation costs for commercial outfits will be much more expensive than residential solar panel installation. However, like residential panels, their price depends on the solar system size they need to install. Therefore, they calculate the cost of solar panels per installed watt. Commercial solar systems incur a total charge that ranges between $100k-$350k. It will cost far less than this for outfits like a farm.
The Different Types of Solar Systems in BC
There are three common types of solar power systems.
This is the most common type of installed solar system. Many homeowners go for this because it’s the most affordable option. This system doesn’t require batteries, and it’s directly connected to the grid. It generates power for the home during peak sunlight hours, exports excess energy to the grid for utility credits, and imports power from the house when the solar panels stop generating electricity.
This system mixes off-grid and grid-tied solar systems, making it more affordable and expensive than the former. The hybrid system is connected to the grid but has a battery bank. However, its battery capacity is smaller than what’s usually paired with off-grid solar systems.
This is the ideal system setup for remote areas because it doesn’t require any connection to the grid. The difference between this solar system and the others is its ability to power your home all day from solar energy generation. During the day, its solar panels generate power and supply it to your home via the inverter, and the remaining current goes to charging the solar battery. Then, when the sun sets, the battery takes over and keeps your home electrified till the sun comes out the following day.
Factors That Determine if Your Home Is Suitable for Installing Solar Panels
Before contacting an installation company in British Columbia to get an estimate of the costs to set up a solar PV system on your property, you need to know that several factors affect or determine if your home is ideal for solar installation. Although solar panel installers know what to look for, you must also know it. These factors include;
That is one of the most important factors to consider because your roof tilt or slope determines how energy-efficient your solar panels will be to a large extent. For example, the best orientation or direction for a rooftop in British Columbia is a south-facing roof because the tilt will enable the solar panels to generate more energy for the home. An alternative option is a west-facing roof. A sloped roof is more suitable for solar installations than a flat roof.
The larger the roof, the better. Since most solar installations get laid on the rooftop, the solar installer considers the roof size. The more square footage the top has, the more solar panels it can accommodate. In cases where the amount of solar panels required for the project exceeds the space available on the roof, the installer will opt for ground installations.
Presence Of Obstructions Of Shading
Solar panels thrive when they have direct exposure to sunlight, and this access can be tampered with when there are obstructions or shading where you install your panels. It could be the chimneys on your roof, tall buildings nearby, or trees. Ensure minimal or, if possible, no construction or shading to get the best out of your solar system.
A property on open, flat ground is ideal for installing solar. The land should also be devoid of swamps or marshes.
State Of The Roof
This is the most essential factor to consider. If this factor is in the way of the project, other factors don’t matter. That is because the age or condition of the roof matters. For example, solar panels add weight to the roof; if your roof is old, in need of repair, or due for replacement, it will be better to install solar panels. Check for roof leakages and depressed spots on the roof before giving the green light for a solar project.
Ignoring the state of your roof will be detrimental because when your roof’s condition worsens, you’ll spend more money dismantling the solar panels, repairing or replacing the rooftop, and re-installing the solar panels.
Where your house is located matters a lot. In this case, the location is British Columbia, the only province in the westernmost part of Canada. As you know, different places have varying sunshine hours. Sunny or tropical regions get more sunshine hours and, consequently, more solar potential than temperate or cold regions. In British Columbia, the average peak sunlight hours is 3.5 hours.
Factors That Determine the Size of the Solar System
To accurately determine the size of the solar system you want to install, you should know the factors influencing its sizing.
How Much Energy the Home Uses
This factor is tied to the size of the house. Larger homes typically consume more power than smaller homes because they have rooms and more appliances. The home’s hourly energy usage determines the system’s size because you’ll need to install a capacity that can meet the electricity demand of the house.
Panel Wattage and Efficiency
The higher the panel wattage, the fewer panels you’ll need to install to meet the energy demand. Efficiency matters too. The best solar panel in terms of efficiency is the monocrystalline panel which has an efficiency rating of 24%, compared to polycrystalline panels, which have a rating of 20%, and thin-film panels, which have a rating of 19%.
For rooftop solar installations, the roof’s size largely determines the system’s size. For example, if the top can only accommodate ten panels, you can only install a system requiring that much.
The upfront cost of a solar power system is high, so many homeowners go for capacities they can afford. However, in conjunction with the government, many solar companies offer these homeowners several solar incentives that offset part of the total cost of installing solar panels. The government also provides eligible homeowners loans and a convenient payback period which helps budget-conscious homeowners get solar panels installed on their properties.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need?
Knowing how much energy you need to power your home will help you calculate the many solar panels you need. While there’s no exact method to calculate it because several factors can influence it, there’s a formula you can use to arrive at a figure. Usually, when the peak sunlight hours are insufficient, the installer solves the issue of generating more electricity by adding solar panels. That applies to British Columbia judging from its average peak sunlight hours.
The formula for calculating the estimated number of solar panels you need is hourly energy use x peak sunlight hours ÷ panel wattage. First, let’s get our values for this calculation.
The average monthly energy consumed in BC is 728kWh. To break this down into hourly usage, let’s first break it down to daily use.
Daily energy consumption is 728kWh ÷ 24 = 30kWh.
The hourly energy consumption is 30kWh/24 = 1.25kWh (1250 watts)
Let’s assume our panel wattage is 350W.
We already have our peak sunlight hours in British Columbia at 3.5 hours.
The number of solar panels = 1250 x 3.5 ÷ 350W
That will give us 4375 ÷ 350 = 12.5 (approx. 13) solar panels. This will be more or less if we use a lower or higher panel wattage. For instance, if we opted for a panel wattage of 300W, we’ll need more solar panels; if we opted for a panel wattage of 400W, we’d need fewer panels.
Are There Solar Rebates or Incentives for Homeowners in BC?
Yes, there are. The most popular solar incentive in British Columbia is the net metering policy. As we’ve discussed earlier, this involves the sale of excess electricity generated by solar panels back to BC Hydro or the nearest utility outfit for energy credits. The kilowatt hours you export will be deducted from your energy bills.
There’s also the PST exemption which covers solar panels and other equipment. This dramatically offsets the solar installation cost and saves the homeowner significant money.
Then there’s the Canada Greener Homes Grant which is open to eligible homeowners in Canada and covers the installation of solar panels. In addition, the Greener Homes Initiative offers up to $5k in grants and up to $40k in interest-free loans with a payback period of 10 years. These programs have gone a long way in helping several homeowners to undertake solar installations and energy efficiency upgrades on their properties.
For commercial outfits in British Columbia, eligibility for the capital cost allowance goes a long way in helping these businesses to offset the cost of the solar energy system within the first year of purchase.
What to Look Out for in a Solar Power Installer in BC
If you’re looking for a top installer for your solar power system in British Columbia, there are certain things you should look out for.
A company’s track record is vital because it gives you a glimpse of its ability to handle the project. To get the best, we recommend going for companies with sterling track records and a solid reputation in the industry. You can look at the company’s portfolio to grasp this well.
The older the company is, the better. More experienced solar companies are less prone to mistakes, while the same applies to recently established solar firms. To be safe, go for companies with at least 5-7 years of experience in the solar industry.
Some solar companies inform their clients about solar rebates or incentives that can reduce the high upfront cost of the solar panel installation project, and these are the best companies for budget-conscious homeowners to work with. Working with these companies may even make you automatically eligible for these benefits.
This is very important. Some companies offer a standard performance warranty of 25 years, while others may offer 20 years. Both warranty periods are good, but the absolute icing on the cake are companies that also provide a workmanship warranty. These are the ones to go for.
Good Customer Service
Customer service can be why a company loses, gains, or retains customers. Therefore, we recommend going for solar companies with good customer support service because they will be more accessible if you need to make inquiries or file a complaint.
The biggest mistake a homeowner can make is hiring an uncertified installer to set up their solar system. Instead, go for certified and licensed companies to install solar panels to prevent avoidable issues soon. Do your research.
Some companies charge a higher fee for their services than others, which can be a problem for low-budget clients. To discover companies that charge affordable prices, get a quote from 3-5 solar companies and compare them to get the best deal.