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Solar 101

The cost of a solar energy system can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the system, the type of panels used, and the location of the installation. On average, a solar energy system for a residential home can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. The price of solar panel system has dropped significantly over the past decade and it’s also dependent on the location and the incentives/rebates that are available to homeowners.

A solar energy system, which typically includes solar panels, an inverter, and a mounting system, can last for 25-30 years or more. The individual components of the system may have different lifetimes, with the solar panels typically lasting the longest. However, regular maintenance and cleaning can help prolong the life of the entire system. It’s important to note that the inverter is a key component in the system that may need to be replaced after 10-15 years depending on the system usage and type of inverter.

Yes, a solar energy system requires maintenance. The maintenance requirements will depend on the type of system installed, but may include cleaning the solar panels, checking and tightening connections, and monitoring the performance of the system. Regular maintenance can help to ensure that the system is operating at peak efficiency and prolong its lifespan.

To determine if your roof is suitable for solar panels, consider the following factors:

  1. Orientation: The roof should face south to maximize the amount of sunlight it receives.
  2. Pitch: A pitch of 30-40 degrees is ideal for solar panel installation.
  3. Shading: The roof should not be shaded by trees or nearby buildings during the day.
  4. Size: The roof should be large enough to accommodate the number of solar panels you want to install.
  5. Age and condition: The roof should be in good condition and not near the end of its lifespan.

The time it takes to install a solar energy system can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project. On average, it can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks for a standard residential system to be installed, while larger commercial projects can take several months to complete. Factors that can affect the installation time include the location of the property, the type of solar panels being used, and any necessary building permits or approvals that need to be obtained.

During a power outage, a solar energy system will stop producing electricity. This is because the grid, which the system is connected to, is not providing the necessary power to keep the system running. Additionally, many solar systems include safety features that will automatically shut down the system during an outage to protect utility workers from electrical hazards. However, some solar systems are designed to provide backup power during an outage, these are called grid-tie with battery backup solar systems. These systems include a battery bank that stores energy produced by the solar panels, which can then be used to power essential loads during an outage.

Solar panels do work in the winter, but their efficiency may be lower due to the shorter daylight hours and the potential for snow or ice to cover the panels. However, even on a cloudy day, solar panels can still produce some electricity. Additionally, snow or ice can be removed from the panels to increase efficiency.


A grid-tie solar system is a type of solar energy system that is connected to the electric utility grid. It generates electricity from solar panels, and feeds any excess energy back into the grid. When the solar panels are not producing enough electricity to meet the needs of the home or building, power is pulled from the grid to supplement the solar generated power. This allows the system to provide power during times when the sun is not shining, such as at night or during cloudy weather.

Net metering is a billing arrangement that allows homeowners and business owners who generate some or all of their own electricity from solar panels or other renewable energy sources to send excess electricity back to the grid and receive credits on their utility bills. This allows them to offset the cost of the electricity they consume from the grid when their own generation is not sufficient to meet their needs. Net metering policies vary by province, city and utility company.

During a power outage or grid failure, your solar system will not be able to provide electricity to your home or building as it relies on the grid to function. If your solar system is not connected to a battery backup, the electricity generated by the system will not be usable during an outage. If your solar system is connected to a battery backup, then you may be able to use the stored electricity in the battery during an outage. It is important to note that the capacity of the battery is limited and will depend on the size of the battery and the amount of electricity being used. Additionally, during a power outage, a solar system’s inverter will automatically shut down for safety reasons.

Yes, there are battery backup options for grid-tie solar energy systems. These systems, also known as grid-tie inverters with battery backup or hybrid inverters, allow for the storage of excess solar energy in batteries for use during power outages or periods of low solar production. This allows the system to continue providing power to the home or business even when the grid is down. However, it is important to note that the cost of adding a battery backup system can be quite high and may not be cost-effective for some users.


An off-grid solar energy system uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, which is then stored in batteries. The stored electricity is used to power equipment and appliances when there is no access to the grid. The system includes a charge controller to regulate the charge going into the batteries and an inverter to convert the stored DC power into usable AC power for household appliances. The size of the system is typically determined by the amount of electricity that is required and the amount of sunlight that is available. Off-grid systems are typically used in remote locations where it is not practical or cost-effective to connect to the grid.

The best type of battery for an off-grid solar energy system is a deep cycle battery. Specifically, a lead-acid battery, such as a flooded, sealed, or gel battery, is typically used in off-grid solar systems because they are reliable, widely available, and relatively inexpensive. However, lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular for off-grid solar systems because they have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance than lead-acid batteries.

The lifespan of batteries used in an off-grid solar energy system can vary depending on factors such as the type of battery, the quality of the battery, and how well the system is maintained. On average, lead-acid batteries (the most common type used in off-grid solar systems) can last between 3-5 years. Lithium-ion batteries, which are becoming increasingly popular in off-grid solar systems due to their longer lifespan and higher efficiency, can last up to 10-15 years. However, the lifespan of a battery can be extended by proper maintenance, such as regularly checking and maintaining the battery’s charge level, keeping the battery in a cool, dry place, and protecting it from extreme temperatures.

Sizing an off-grid solar energy system involves determining the total power and energy needs of the devices and appliances that will be running on the system, and then selecting components, such as solar panels, batteries, and inverters, that can provide enough power to meet those needs. Here are the general steps to size an off-grid solar energy system:

  1. Determine your total power and energy needs. This includes calculating the power and energy requirements of all devices and appliances that will be running on the system, including lights, appliances, and tools.

  2. Select the right solar panels. The number and size of the solar panels needed will depend on your total power and energy needs, as well as the amount of sunlight that is available at your location.

  3. Choose the appropriate battery storage. The batteries will store the energy generated by the solar panels for use at night or on cloudy days. The number and type of batteries needed will depend on your total energy needs, as well as how long you need to be able to run your devices and appliances when the sun is not shining.

  4. Choose the correct inverter. An inverter is needed to convert the DC power from the solar panels and batteries into AC power for your devices and appliances. The size of the inverter needed will depend on the total power of your devices and appliances.

  5. Sizing the system with a safety factor. It is always recommended to size the system with a safety factor, considering possible future expansion or unexpected energy consumption.

Energy Storage

Adding energy storage to a solar installation allows for the excess energy generated during the day to be stored and used later, when the sun is not shining. This can improve the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the system, as well as provide a reliable source of power during power outages or other interruptions in the grid. Additionally, having energy storage allows the system to participate in demand response programs, where the stored energy can be sold back to the grid during times of peak demand, earning additional revenue for the system owner.

The lifespan of batteries in an energy storage system for solar energy can vary depending on factors such as the type of battery, the manufacturer, and the usage conditions. Lead-acid batteries, which are the most common type used in solar energy storage systems, typically last between 5 and 15 years. Lithium-ion batteries, which are becoming increasingly popular due to their higher energy density and longer lifespan, can last between 10 and 20 years. It’s important to note that the actual lifespan of a battery can also be affected by factors such as temperature, usage patterns, and maintenance.


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