Thursday, April 11, 2024

How To Start Using Solar Panels

Materials To Build A Simple Solar System For A Greenhouse

Getting started with Solar Power

Since solar renewable energy is readily available in the market, you now have two options in having one.

You can either buy a complete set or a solar kit which is a one-time investment or buy each component from different sources and assemble DIY-style.

To make it easier for you to find the resources, we listed the best resources for both options below:

Solar Power System Kits

Solar system kits are the most beginner-friendly options that can help you build your solar system at home. They are ideal for those gardeners who are not tech-savvy.

Solar kits usually come with instructions and are easy to assemble. The only catch is they usually cost more than doing DIY using different brands.

Here are some of the good options to try:

Note: The term Ah in batteries means Amperes per hour which pertains to the charge that the battery can release every hour. It will be the basis of the amount of energy output that you can expect from the battery.

Estimate How Long It Will Take To Pay Off Your Solar Panels

First, multiply your solar panel cost by 0.26, which is the tax credit you receive for installing your system. If you spend $20,000 on it initially, your tax credit is $5,200. That takes your initial investment down to $14,800.

Now, let’s factor in energy savings. Divide your initial investment by the $1,500 you typically pay the electric company per year that’s how long it’ll take for your savings to equal the amount you spend. Using the example above, you’d divide your initial investment of $14,800 by $1,500: The result is a payback period of just under 10 years.

That might seem like a long time on the surface, but solar panels can easily last 25 years.

You can further expedite your payback period by selling renewable energy certificates, or RECs. These are measured in megawatt hours of electricity that come from a renewable source. Electric companies must purchase some electricity from renewable sources, meaning you could save more by selling energy generated by your solar panels.

Bring your home up to speed with the latest on automation, security, utilities, networking and more.

Purchase And Installation Costs

If youre planning to install a solar array exclusively as an investment to mine Bitcoin, you should also consider purchase and installation costs.

These expenses also vary according to location. For example, in the United States, there is a tax credit for installing solar panels, which significantly reduces the final cost.

According to Forbes, solar panels go for between $1 and $1.50 per watt. Additionally, a 3.25 kWh solar array to fully power an S19 Pro would cost you between $3,250 and $4,875.

This is without including installation services, which can go between $15,000 and $25,000.

Now, at todays difficulty and price, an S19 Pro earns about $3,755 per year, meaning that it would take you 5 to 6 years* to break even on your solar power system.

*This numbers are very prone to change as theyre influenced by Bitcoins mining difficulty, hashrate, and price. However, theyre useful to put things into perspective.

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Connect The Solar Panels With Battery

You need to connect the solar panels with the battery. In certain PV systems, these come paired together, so you dont have to put in the additional effort. In cases that are not given as a single unit, you need to make series and parallel connections. You can make a series connection by connecting a devices positive terminal with another devices negative terminal. For a parallel connection, you need to connect one devices negative terminal with another devices negative terminal and so on.

Can I Install Solar Myself

Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity Using Light or Heat?  Kosmos ...

Yes! Installing your own solar panels is certainly possible, even if you dont have prior DIY experience. Most solar components are plug-and-play, meaning every cable snaps into a dedicated port. If you can perform basic tasks like lifting heavy objects and tightening screws, youve got what it takes to install your own system.

The most challenging bit is performing the final electrical hookup to the service panel. Some DIYers choose to hire a licensed electrician

And you still come out way ahead on costs compared to a professional installation.

Take a look at our DIY Solar hub for a step-by-step overview of how to install your own solar system.

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Production Of Solar Panels Has A Carbon Footprint

Although environmental concerns tied to the production of solar panels are currently being addressedwith signs of progress in the coming yearsthe amount of harmful greenhouse gases released while manufacturing solar panels is notable. Similarly, there are not widespread methods for recycling solar panels.

According to a report from the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the average energy payback time for solar panels is between one and four years, depending on the type of system. That means that the energy expended while making solar panels will be made up for within four years of use. Considering solar panels can last between 30 and 40 years, that still leaves a long lifespan that does much more good than harm.

What Is Net Metering

Grid-tie solar systems store the power they generate in the public utility grid. In return, the utility company credits your account for the power you generate. Those credits can be claimed to draw power from the grid when the sun isnt out .

Every utility company has their own policy which outlines the rates at which solar customers are credited and billed for power. This agreement is known as a net metering policy.

In many cases, the utility will buy and sell electricity at the same rate. But some utilities may buy power from solar customers at reduced rates, which has a real impact on the ROI of going solar. So its important to contact your utility and understand the terms of their net metering policy.

Read our net metering guide to learn more about how it works.

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You Need To Know How Much You Pay On Your Electric Bill

This estimate assumes you will get all of your power from solar. While some homes will be able to get 100% of their electricity from solar, or even sell some surplus energy back to the grid, others will still have an electric bill to supplement usage. This will vary widely from home to home, depending on how many solar panels are installed, normal energy consumption and more. Get more tools to calculate your home’s potential savings here.

Now you have a sense of how much energy you’ll save, login to your electric utility company account and calculate an average of your last several electricity bills. Go back at least six months, if possible, to account for seasonal temperature changes and other fluctuations in cost. Let’s assume you get 100% of your usage from the panels and currently pay an average of $125 per month in electricity bills, or $1,500 per year. Now you have the information you need to estimate the payback period for solar panels.

What Is String Sizing

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A panel string is a group of panels wired into a single input on your inverter. Because the inverter has a voltage input limit, part of the system design process is calculating the ideal string size to maximize production without overloading the inverter.

String sizing depends on factors like local temperature and the specs of the products you use. Check out our string sizing walkthrough to learn how to calculate the ideal string size for your system.

Not a big math fan? Dont worry, our system packages are designed with ideal string sizing in mind. If you need a custom system, you can always request a free consultation with our design team.

Recommended Reading: How To Size A Residential Solar System

Setting Up Compensation Structures

Solar salespeople are usually paid by commission. Commission payouts are usually paid as a percentage of the total contract price or as a cut of the base contract price.

Commissions have various pros and cons. On one hand, they can motivate your teams to work hard. On the other hand, commissions may encourage your salespeople to sell more than a customer needs, take on cost-prohibitive projects, and inflate project costs above market rates.

Read more on common commission structures in the solar sales industry today.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In Alberta

The cost of home solar panels will be largely proportionate to the installed capacity . Larger solar arrays can be installed a lower rate, in terms of $/W . An average solar power system will cost around $12,000 to $25,000 and be installed for approximately $2.00/W to $2.75/W.

The $/W is how much bang you are getting for your buck, like$/sq.ft. in the flooring or painting industry. The lower, the better.

The cost of solar panels in Edmonton is comparable to the cost of solar panels in Calgary, Red Deer or other major hubs in Alberta.

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How Is Solar Panel Efficiency Measured

The concept of solar panel efficiency is often misunderstood. Most panels have an efficiency rating in the range of 15-25%, which sounds really low without context.

Some people hear this and think, wow, I only get 20% of the production from my panel? That sounds like a waste. The assumption is a 100-watt panel would only produce 20 watts of power. But thats not what we mean when we talk about efficiency.

In reality, the efficiency rating measures how much of the suns potential energy is converted to solar power. Using the same example, a 100-watt panel with a 20% efficiency rating will absorb 20% of the potential 500 watts of continuous power coming from the sun.

Dont sweat too much about panel efficiency. The only real benefit to more efficient panels is that they fit more solar in less space.

High-efficiency panels matter if youre trying to build in a tight space, but theres nothing wrong with building a larger array with less efficient panels. The latter option typically reduces the overall cost of the system .

Learn more with our guide to solar panel efficiency.

What To Expect From Your Solar Power System

Why Solar Power Start


One common misconception is that the solar panels will pay for themselves in three to five years and will make you rich. Another equally unfortunate misconception is that solar panels will never pay for themselves and are a poor investment.

Both are incorrect. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Solar power systems will typically pay for themselves in 7 to 15 years depending on the size of your system and the grants that are available to you. In select cases, under favourable conditions, a solar power system may pay for itself in less than 10 years, but we like to err on the side of caution and not over promise on your investment.


Your solar panels are performance warrantied for 25 years and are expected to last for 30+ years. Solar panels also come with a 10-year material warranty as well.

Inverters generally come with a 10 or 12-year warranty which you can extend to 25 years as well.


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From Selecting A Company To Flipping The Switch And Everything In Between This Is All You Need To Know About Installing Solar Power On Your Home/business

Solar panels are quickly becoming mainstream, especially here in Alberta. As this new technology evolves, so does the industry and the number of people wanting to install solar panels on their home and the number of solar installers offering their services.

Investing in a new technology can be quite daunting, especially if you dont have previous experience in the industry or know the right questions to ask.

What Are Solar Panels Made Of And How Do They Work

Solar cells are made primarily from silicon, a chemical element with conductive properties. Exposure to light changes silicons electrical characteristics, which generates an electric current.

A cell is a small square of silicon with electrical contact plates on the face. Solar panels are made by laying out a grid of these cells on a protective backsheet and covering them with glass on the front.

It takes multiple panels to provide power to a typical home or office. A collection of panels in your system is called an array. Panels wired into the same inverter are known collectively as a string of panels.

For example, you may have a system with two inverters supporting two strings of 10 panels each, which comes together to make a 20-panel array.

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Calculating Your Daily Usage

Now, add up all of the energy measurements that you took all of the devices that you plan to use in a given day. This is your daily energy usage.

Its important to realize I your energy usage fluctuate throughout the year. You may use lights much longer in the winter when its darker, yet the refrigerators will run less. I recommend you take a power measurement both in the winter and the summer, or at least attempt to adjust number of hours used by each device to account for the differences.

Knowing how your power usage varies session ally is extremely important for off grid solar, because solar power production also changes throughout the year. So, it is easy to over or under size your system if you only use a yearly average to plan for your system.

Is My Home Good For Solar Power

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Most homes are suitable for a solar panel installation. Some homes are more capable of generating solar energy than others though, but overall, the solar energy potential in Alberta is fantastic.

If you are building new, consider designing your home for solar panels.

Ideal Home

The ideal tilt and orientation of solar panels is due South at a tilt close to the latitude. For Edmonton, the latitude = 53 degrees but a 45-degree tilt or a 12:12 pitch is nearly identical in energy production and is a much more common pitch/tilt.

If your home does not have a 12:12 pitch facing south, dont worry. There will be energy losses, but nothing detrimental.

The average Alberta home has a pitch of 4:12 or approximately 18 degrees. If this home is facing due south, it will experience approximately 9% energy losses relative to the ideal tilt/azimuth.

If you your home is facing East and West that is ok too. Some energy is lost, but the solar panels can still generate 100% of your annual demand.

East/West faces do provide advantages though. Homes with gables running North/South typically have a very large area to install solar. The additional area often makes up for the slight drop in energy output. Similarly, East and West faces will generate lots of energy in the morning and evenings, when people use electricity the most, helping the payback period of solar power.


Vents, chimneys, trees and other shading sources will negatively affect your solar power system.

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What Are The Available Solar Financing Options

There are three popular approaches to financing a solar panel project. These are personal loans, solar leases, and solar power purchasing agreements.

A personal loan would enable you to own the system, so you can claim the federal tax incentive. The incentive would then allow you to repay the loan before the due period elapses. On the other hand, a solar lease is owned by the installer to claim the Federal Tax credit, reducing your revenue on investment.

What Happens During A Typical Day At A Solar Panel Business

As owner, your dayâs activities will vary depending on what jobs you have lined up. Typical duties might include:

  • Installing solar panels, back-up battery systems, and connections to main power grid
  • Contacting potential customers for initial survey
  • Working with customers to find grants, rebates, and special financing available to those entering the solar program
  • Calculating the amount of potential solar energy a particular location could generate with a variety of products
  • Scheduling installation crews and delivery of panels to site
  • Conducting a final survey and checklist of a completed installation
  • Maintaining proper accounting and payroll procedures
  • Hiring staff for a multitude of responsibilities
  • Developing potential commercial and municipal customers for large installations and projects
  • Providing maintenance and repair for existing solar panels, possibly including previous customers

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How And When To Build A Team

As soon as your business loan is in place, you must start building your sales, survey, installation, and maintenance team. Unless you are an experienced installer, it is wise to include an industry expert as one of your first team members who can help guide you in building the best staff. You may require an executive assistant as your schedule gets crowded with meetings, marketing, and social events.

Read our solar panel business hiring guide to learn about the different roles a solar panel business typically fills, how much to budget for employee salaries, and how to build your team exactly how you want it.

Next Steps

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

Sign up at the Business Center to access useful tools for your business.

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