Solar Energy FAQ
How can I get my monthly electricity usage from BC Hydro?
To get your electricity consumption from BC Hydro, you will want to have an online account with them. Details on how to set one up are on their website here.
Once you have an account or logged in, the easiest way to get the data is to use BC Hydro’s data download centre by following the steps in the image below.
What is a “Grid Tie” solar system?
A Grid Tie (or Grid Connected) system is what we recommend for our customers who are already receiving electricity supply from their local utility like BC Hydro or Fortis BC. For times when your solar system is not producing enough to meet your needs, you use electricity from the grid. When you are producing too much, it also allows you to export excess electricity to the grid and get paid for it.
We’ve simplified the way these systems operate below:
1 – The solar panels capture the sun’s energy. We only use panels that can a real beating in gale force winds and heavy snow loads.
2 – The inverter takes direct current (DC) produced by the panel and converts it to an alternating current (AC). Many of the inverters we offer additionally provide sophisticated monitoring of your power on your computer and smartphone. AC/DC fans rejoice!
3 – Your home is now powered by the most liberating and abundant energy source of all – the sun!
4 – In most jurisdictions, any excess energy produced can be sent through your electricity meter back to the Utility’s grid and be paid back to you*.
* Both BC Hydro and Fortis BC offer a net metering program. Click for more details.
What is Roost Solar’s coverage area?
For the moment, we are focusing on the North Okanagan, however are open to hear about your solar plans outside of this area. If you live in Vernon, Coldstream, Armstrong, Lavington, Lake Country, Lumby, Cherryville, Falkland, Enderby, Salmon Arm, Kelowna, Kamloops and around, give us a shout for your next solar project!
Should I install solar on my roof or on the ground?
The method of mounting – whether to install solar panels on your roof or through a ground mount solution is both personal preference and characteristics of your land and building.
If your property isn’t ideal for rooftop solar, but you have a large enough property, a ground mount system is a great choice. Ground mounted solar panels can be located wherever the conditions are best and thereby can be more productive per module than a rooftop solar array, saving you more money in the long term. On the flip-side, ground mount systems require a foundation to be built and trenching to occur and thereby typically are 15-25% more expensive than a comparably sized roof mount.
Where the roof is naturally orientated to maximize sun exposure with minimal shading throughout the day, roof mounting is normally a better, more economical option.
Roost Solar will help you determine the best method and location of mounting upfront in the design phase.
What is needed to connect to BC Hydro’s grid?
Roost Energy will perform this process for you, so no need to worry there! These are the steps we follow to connect your PV system with the grid under BC Hydro’s net metering program.
Step 1: We apply as a simple net metering application to BC Hydro through their online PDF here (Adobe required). Details like your account number, and smart meter number, as well as your signature are needed from you.
Step 2: BC Hydro will assess the application and approve it.
Step 3: We proceed with the installation of the PV system.
Step 4: Roost Energy will submit a finalized electrical inspection.
Step 5: BC Hydro will authorize you to connect.
Will solar panels damage my roof?
The roof is key to the health of your building and how that roof is treated during a solar installation is vital to a successful project.
Most flat roof installations will use ballasted racking which does not penetrate your roof surface, thereby leaving the integrity of the roof intact. In unusual cases where a different installation approach is required, Roost Energy works closely with you and your roofing contractor to ensure the continued integrity of your roof and warranty.
For pitched roofs, we use only high quality mounting brackets that can attach to the roof with minimal amounts of roof penetration with appropriate flashing and waterproof sealants to maintain the roofing warranty and integrity.
How long do solar systems last?
The great news is that these things are built to last…and they do! The panels themselves often last 30 years or more, with typical performance guarantees for tier A modules for 25 years after installation.
Inverters average lifespan vary, but top manufacturers are now offering reasonably priced warranty extensions to 25 years as well.
For off-grid or hybrid systems where batteries are being used for energy storage, the good news there is that they have no moving parts and so not too much can go wrong there. Battery lifespans vary widely and are primarily based on how many cycles of charge/discharge they will have. Their lifespans can be as high as 15 years.
What kind of maintenance should I expect?
Solar panels, once properly installed, require very little maintenance. They don’t involve any moving parts that will wear out or need replacing. Even the more basic solar panels can be relied upon to produce thousands of hours of energy with very little maintenance.
How much do solar panels cost in BC?
The cost of a fully installed solar photovoltaic system varies based on a number of site conditions, including:
- The ease of running the electrical wiring from the solar array to your electrical panel
- The type of roofing material used (asphalt shingles and metal roofs are easier than clay tiles for example)
- The pitch of your roof (flat roofs and low sloped roofs are easier to work with)
- Any special permitting that your local jurisdiction might require for solar PV installations
- The size of the system being installed (as some of the costs such as the permitting and running of electrical wire to your electrical panel are virtually the same for 1 solar module or 30 solar modules, the cost per installed solar module decreases as the number of modules increases)
As such, the best way to understand the cost and benefits for you is to request a free estimate! We have provided some reference price points however on our products page to provide some ballpark figures for solar PV installations within the Okanagan.