Confused about solar? You're not alone. Here are some of our most common questions. Please let us know if you have one, and we'd love to add it to the list.
Solar electric (PV)
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Solar hot water
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Yes. The panels and micro-inverters come with a 25-year warranty.
The solar array remains with the house, and the contract is transferrable to the new homeowner. You may apply for a new contract for your new home.
No. A solar PV array is classified as equipment, so it does not affect your assessment for property taxes.
You will not have to pay taxes on the revenue until after the system has paid for itself. This is due to a tax consideration called the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA), which allows you to write off a portion of the cost of an asset against the revenue it generates.
Yes. We can arrange financing through traditional lenders, as well as private lenders if required. However, we recommend you first attempt to arrange financing from your preferred financial institution - your mortgage provider, typically - as they will already have a credit profile for you, and you will likely get the best possible interest rate.
As an investment, a solar array and a MicroFIT contract offer the high returns normally associated with the stock market, with the low risk associated with government bonds. The return is guaranteed for 20 years. This combination of high return and low risk is virtually unheard-of in the investment world.
1. The sun hits the liquid glycol in your solar panels, and begins heating them up.
2. When the glycol in the panels becomes hotter than your hot water tank, a pump starts circulating heated glycol from the panels.
3. The heated glycol is pumped through a heat exchanger, which is either a coil inside your hot water tank or a plate-type heat exchanger which is external to your tank. Here the heat is transferred from the glycol to the water in your hot water tank.
4. From here the heated water goes to your taps. The glycol is pumped back to the panels to be reheated.
5. Your current water heater will only turn on if there isn't enough heat from the sun to reach the temperature set point.
The ideal roof is south-facing, with no shade, and a slope equal to the latitude. However, our systems will work with roofs facing from southeast to southwest and with some shade. Obviously, the closer the roof is to the ideal, the more output you can expect from your system.
Yes, you will. Our solar thermal system works in conjunction with your existing water heating system. So when the sun isn't shining, your current system takes over and heats your water.
Hard water is simply water that contains high concentrations of dissolved minerals (more information is available on Wikipedia). Hard water can wreak havoc on machinery that handles water, including water heaters, dishwashers, and industrial equipment, as minerals deposit on surfaces through a process called "scaling".
Our solar water heaters are designed so that your hard water never comes in contact with the solar panels on your roof. Instead, there is a completely separate, closed loop containing a special solar fluid - food-grade propylene glycol. This is the fluid that actually circulates through the panels, gaining heat as it does, and bringing that heat down to be delivered to your water tank. The heat is transferred either through coils inside the tank, or through an external plate heat exchanger.
Your domestic hot water supply remains inside the storage tank until it is used. It only comes in contact with the solar water heating system when it warms up as it moves past the heat exchange surfaces. Our experience has been that these parts of the system are not susceptible to scaling.
If you are concerned about hard water impacting your system, we recommend installing a water conditioner (also called a water softener) so that the hardness is reduced before the water enters the storage tank.
Canada is famous for its bitter winters, although they have been milder in recent years. Systems that contain circulating water are susceptible to freezing. Water expands significantly when it freezes, and this can damage or even destroy exposed piping and machinery. The most important - and most expensive - part of a solar water heater is the solar collector panel, so it is easy to see why someone might be concerned about freeze damage to the panels.
Our solar water heaters are protected from freezing in a number of ways. First, the panels are not filled with water. Instead, a special solar fluid called propylene glycol is circulated through the panels. This fluid resists freezing in the same way that antifreeze does.
Second, the electronic controller protects the system by detecting the temperature of the panels. It will only activate the pumps and start the glycol circulating if the temperature on the roof is higher than the temperature in the hot water tank. If it is cold on the roof - on a frigid January night, say - the system will not start up.
Third, in domestic systems where water usage can vary, the heater will be designed as a drain-back system rather than a glycol-fill system. This means that when the system shuts down, the glycol does not remain in the panels and pipes. Instead, it drains back down under the force of gravity to a glycol storage tank, located in a heated space. If the residents leave for an extended period in wintertime, the system will empty itself into the glycol storage tank automatically.
A puddle of water can be seen on pavement on a sunny day in mid-winter, even though the air is well below freezing. This happens for two reasons. First, the sun transmits a great deal of energy in every season, even wintertime. Second, although the air is cold, it is not able to carry away much heat unless it is windy. If the sun is shining and the air is not moving much, heat can still build up - enough to melt the ice on the puddle.
In the same way, our solar water heaters continue to collect heat from the sun even when the air is cold. The surfaces inside the panels have a special coating which captures the maximum possible amount of solar energy and converts it into heat. So, although summertime is when our systems capture the most heat for your water, they still perform surprisingly well even in the dead of winter.
A typical solar hot water system can be installed in about two days. The timing is very similar for a two-panel residential system serving a family of four, or an eight-panel system serving a large dairy barn. We plan our installation project so that your hot water is offline for the very minimum possible amount of time - usually only an hour or two.
The solar panels typically have a 10-year warranty, depending on the manufacturer. However, we have worked on systems that were installed in the mid-1980s and are still going strong - that's over 25 years of reliable operation. The only moving parts in the system are pumps and valves. These parts are very unlikely to break down, and easy to replace if they do.