10 Things Homeowners Need to Know Before Installing Solar Panels in Alberta

The popularity of solar panels has surged in recent years as homeowners seek sustainable energy solutions, self-sufficiency strategies, and long-term cost savings. While solar units have become increasingly affordable and available, installing them requires some preparation and the services of a professional. 

As we dive into the world of solar energy, it’s essential to be well-informed about the process and what it entails. From understanding your energy needs to choosing the right installer, here are ten crucial things every homeowner should know before installing solar panels.

1. Assess Your Energy Needs

When thinking about whether or not to install solar panels on your building, you’ll want to start with an energy assessment. It’s important to get a sense of your average monthly and yearly energy consumption, whether you’re considering solar panels for your home or commercial property. Important factors to include are:

  • Your average monthly electricity usage.
  • Your peak hours of energy consumption.
  • Any projected future changes in energy demand.

Only once you establish your energy needs can you determine whether your building can generate enough solar energy to match your needs. 

2. Evaluate Your Roof

The next step is to evaluate your roof. Solar panels require adequate exposure to sunlight to generate sufficient levels of electricity to be efficient. You’ll want to assess the slope and orientation of your roof and the amount of shade it receives in a day. These three elements will determine whether or not your roof is well-suited to solar panel installation. Due to Alberta’s Northern latitude, a south-facing roof with minimal shading is ideal for maximizing year-round solar energy production. 

Evaluating your roof is essential because your home may have special requirements or restrictions. Older homes may require roofing upgrades to support solar panels, and homes with historical designation may have specific restrictions regarding solar panel installations. It’s best to consult with a professional energy evaluator, home inspector, or contractor when determining whether or not to invest in solar panels. 

3. Understand Incentives and Rebates

Government support for sustainable initiatives is always changing, which is why it’s important to do your research on available incentives, tax credits, and rebates for installing solar panels in your area. Depending on how many you want to install, installing solar panels is a significant investment. When available, financial incentives, such as government grants or low-interest loans, can significantly reduce the upfront costs of solar installation and shorten the payback period of your investment. 

4. Choose the Right Solar Installer

When selecting a solar panel installer, you’ll want to find one that is reputable and experienced to ensure a successful solar panel installation. Start by researching potential installers, reading their customer reviews, and requesting multiple quotes to compare prices and services. You can also browse solar installations near you from the Solar Alberta website—your hub for all things solar in Alberta. 

5. Financial Considerations

Your total investment in solar panels will depend on the quantity, quality, and brand of panels you decide to install. Nevertheless, solar panel installation is a significant investment that takes several years before the energy generation pays off. That’s why exploring financing options, such as solar loans, leases, or power purchase agreements (PPAs), is useful. Each option has pros and cons, so choose the one that best fits your budget and financial goals.

6. Assess Solar Panel Quality

Not all solar panels are created equal. Take your time to research different solar panel brands, their efficiency ratings, warranties, and durability. When you invest in high-quality solar panels, you’ll find that the result is greater energy production and longevity.

7. Understand Net Metering

It’s essential to understand net metering to know what your energy generation is versus your energy consumption. Net metering makes it possible for homeowners with solar panels to get credit for the excess energy they produce. This extra energy generation gets fed back into the grid to support other buildings. You’ll have more confidence in your billing when you understand your utility’s net metering policies and how they impact your electricity bill.

8. Plan for Maintenance and Monitoring

Solar panels require minimal maintenance but may benefit from periodic cleaning and inspections to ensure optimal performance. Consider investing in a monitoring system to track your solar energy production and identify any issues promptly. It’s important to inspect your panels on a regular basis to ensure they’re in good condition, especially after the wild storms Alberta summers bring. 

9. Consider Battery Storage

If your energy audit confirms that you’ll likely generate more from solar than you typically consume, you might want to consider a battery storage system. Battery storage systems allow homeowners to store surplus solar energy for future use during periods of low sunlight or power outages. It’s important to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of adding battery storage to your solar panel installation based on your energy needs and local utility rates.

10. Understand the Environmental Benefits

You might be motivated by the cost savings of installing solar panels, but it’s also useful to know the environmental benefits. Installing solar panels helps the environment by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions. Consider the environmental impact of solar energy when making your decision to go solar.

Solar Panel Insurance in Alberta

If you’re considering adding solar panels to your home, you may have some coverage under your existing home insurance policy. However, extra coverage could be necessary to protect the panels themselves. It’s always best to talk to your insurance provider or the trusted brokers here at Cornerstone Insurance about your solar panel insurance options.  

Solar panel installation is a big investment that requires careful consideration and planning. By understanding your energy needs, evaluating your roof’s suitability, choosing the right installer, and exploring financing options, you can make an informed decision that benefits both your wallet and the environment. So, before embarking on your solar journey, arm yourself with knowledge and take the necessary steps to harness the power of the sun for your home.

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