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Post Two: Solar Guide for My Parents

Post Two: Solar Guide for My Parents

Dear Parents,

I’m glad you’re interested in getting solar for our house. I put together a collection of things to help you with you out. First, an analysis of the cost, as well as information about the subsidies available. Next, an overview of some things you should expect with installing solar. Finally, some installers if you decide to get a quote.

I hope this is useful!





Calculating rough cost + pay off period :

“By producing their own electricity and selling excess to the grid, Albertans can reduce electricity expenses or even produce net positive cash flows or investment returns. Since the majority of costs related to solar PV are upfront, producers are able to hedge themselves against rising future costs of grid electricity.” The Alberta Community Solar Guide

Here is a calculator to see how long it will take for a solar project to become profitable:

Subsidies available:


-          Residential and Commercial Solar Program (available to homeowners, businesses, and non-profit organizations for micro-generation systems)  (provincial): “The program provides a 0.75$/watt incentive to residential systems.” Energy Efficiency Alberta

Municipal (new!)

-          City of Edmonton is adding a 0.15$/watt incentive to residential systems: Link


What to expect:

We will need a meter and inverter, here is why:

- Connected behind-the-meter: “The energy produced from the small-scale solar panels is directly used by the facility/building, so that less electricity needs to be purchased from the grid. If more electricity is generated than the building needs, the excess is exported to the grid. Behind-the-meter systems are typically in the range of a few kW for homes, going up to hundreds of kW or even a few MW for large buildings.” – Kabir Nadkarni Alberta Community Solar Guide

- Inverters: Solar Panels create a direct current (DC), homes are fed alternating current (AC) by the grid and the grid uses AC for transmission. The inverter converts the DC into AC, so we will need one if we get solar panels.


Solar doesn't require much maintenance. Panels should be cleaned from time to time using a standard garden hose in the morning or evening (avoid putting cold water on hot panels since they may crack). A few times a year or if performance seems abnormally low, the panels should be checked for dirt of debris (using a ladder, carefully and safely).



Solar Panels often last with minimal performance degradation. One example 2012 NREL study found that solar usually has a efficiency decrease of around 0.5% each year on average. The panels will last decades, many warranties guarantee 20-30 years. Inverters typically have warranties between 5-15 year, but often last longer although they may need to be replaced before the solar module itself. Source


Getting a contractor:

The Solar Society of Alberta has a checklist that can be used to walk you through the process of picking, hiring, and working with a solar contractor. Things you should expect and ask for, as well as a directory of solar companies in Alberta (link).


Post Three: About (some) of the sources I used (& how they may be useful for you)!

Post Three: About (some) of the sources I used (& how they may be useful for you)!

 Post One: Solar?

Post One: Solar?