Is a Solar Installation a Worthwhile Investment for Your Home?

Is residential solar worth it? A look at requirements and projected profits.

Solar energy seems like a brilliant solution; eco-friendly energy is produced by homeowners which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the cost of hydro bills. Some homeowners are able to join feed-in programmes where energy generated by their solar array is channeled into the grid and they are reimbursed for their contributions. Other homeowners use a battery bank to store green energy for their own use. Net metering schemes calculate your contributions to the grid against the energy used and you pay the difference. Sounds great right? But the high initial cost of solar installations give most homeowners pause for thought; so are solar arrays as good an investment as proponents claim?

Will solar work for your home?

The efficacy of your solar system depends on many factors:

  • Does your roof have enough space for solar panels and is it strong enough?
  • Is your home properly oriented ?
  • Does your province receive enough sunshine to make your solar panel installation profitable?

Start with an assessment (which is generally offered for free) from a local solar company to see if your home is a viable candidate for a solar array. You will need a south-facing roof, although one with a slight east- or west-facing orientation could still be suitable. The angle of your roof also plays a role with 30° being the optimum slant to take advantage of both summer and winter sun. Mounting systems can compensate for roofs that have a different angle, but this may increase your installation costs.

The structural integrity and size of your roof must also be assessed for suitability. Solar panels are about 3 X 6 foot and the average home installation uses 20-50 panels. Panels add about 3 pounds per square foot of weight to your home. If your roof needs to be reshingled or is in need of repairs, its best to do this prior to installtion of a solar panel array. You will have to remove solar panels whenever your roof requires routine maintenance.

You should find a company that offers at least a three-year warranty on the installation and a 25-year guarantee on the solar panels themselves. Many provincial governments offer incentives for those who install eco-living energy solutions and you should contact your local office for incentives in your area. Your solar installer will help you discover incentives which can reduce your installation costs.

How much does solar power cost?

While each home is different, the average cost of solar installations in Canada runs between $30,000 and $40,000 for a 30-panel system which connects to the grid. You will have to monitor your energy consumption before and after installation to see how long your return on investment (ROI) will be. A good solar panel installer can calculate your ROI once they determine the size and suitability of the system your roof can support. Typical ROI will be around a 10% annual return, depending on the incentives and tarrifs in your region. That means an investment of $10,000 can expect a $1000 return annualy.

Looking for ways to reduce your hydro bills? Use the Eco-living Home Energy Savings Calculator for easy solutions to improving the energy efficiency of your home. 

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