You’ve heard about the recent updates to Edmonton’s Residential Solar Rebate Program (if not, click here) and your interest has peaked as you consider harnessing solar energy for your home. However, you remain on the fence about installing panels on your roof. Yes, it’s a significant investment, but one you don’t mind making if they deliver the electricity your home needs at a fraction of what you’re paying to squeeze juice from the local power plant. Are solar panels really efficient when it comes to our region of Alberta? Will some panels perform better than others and offer a better cost savings in the long run? Yes to both. Let’s review.
Why Solar Panels Are Highly Efficient in Edmonton AB and How to Choose the Best Installations for Your Home
Efficiency Ratings as High as 20% (and even higher, for some)
When attempting to gauge efficiency, you will first need to consider a given solar panel’s wattage, capacity and power output. You’ll see this represented in wattage (i.e. 300W). Solar panel output is calculated by multiplying the number of hours of direct sunlight by the solar panel’s wattage. Let’s say you’ve installed a premium panel which offers 300W and is getting 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, on average. The individual solar panel’s output is therefore 1,800 watts-hours, or 1.8 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, or more notably over 650 kWh of energy per year. Multiply that by the number of panels installed and you can see the potential.
Of course, you’re interested in solar panel efficiency which denotes a solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Logic dictates that a more efficient panel will produce more electricity and result in a greater cost savings than a less efficient one. The efficiency range for most solar photovoltaic (PV) systems runs between 15 and 20% with outliers going even higher (more on this below).
It takes anywhere from seven to 15 years to recoup the entire cost of your initial solar panel investment. A more efficient (~20%) module will therefore put you much closer to seeing a 100% ROI. EnergyHub reports that the average installation cost of solar power in Canada is $3.07/watt which is about $23,000 CAD. In Alberta, the average cost runs between $2.77-3.02/watt, but when you factor in the fact that The City of Edmonton will pay $0.40/watt towards the cost you’ll find the average total cost of installation fall below $20K CAD. If you leverage the power of a premium module with a near 20% efficiency rating you may get that near $20K back in electricity bill savings in under ten years. Do the math on that, and you can see how it makes sense … and dollars.
Edmonton Gets More Sun Than Nearly ALL of Canada
The above notes on efficiency sunshine start making sense when looking at the amount of sunshine that Edmonton gets annually! Our city receives the second highest amount of sunshine of all cities in Canada, second only to Calgary. Edmonton receives an estimated 2345 hours of pure sunshine per year, which translates into about 325 days which can claim a significant (enough to power your panels) number of sunny hours. Simply put, solar panels are more efficient here than nearly everywhere else in Canada. All that’s left, is to choose the right installation.
How to Choose an Installation for Your Unique Property
LG left, Hanwha Q Cell right.
Without a doubt, all solar panels are not created equally. There are two primary modules that we use for Edmonton homes. LG modules and the Hanwha Q Cell. The LG modules are the best on the market, delivering an average efficiency rating of over 21% on premium LG solar PV products. Of course, as the best modules on the market, they are also the most expensive. But keep in mind that quality delivers a greater ROI, as you will see a very noticeable and positive impact on your monthly/yearly electricity bill. From the moment the LG modules are installed the money begins to come right back to you at a faster rate. That’s the kind of investment everyone appreciates. Notably, all the modules will degrade over time, but LG being premium solar panel, degrades the least and will still output 85% of the rating after 25 years.
Not everyone can afford a significant investment from the get-go. A good alternative are Hanwha Q Cell modules. They are more economical on a watts/$ ratio. Hanwha Q Cell modules may absolutely work for your property, especially if you have a lot of roof space. However, it must be noted that for some, available roof area can be a problem because with lower wattage comes the requirement for more panels.
Keep in mind that you will need expert guidance when deciding upon a solar panel installation for your Edmonton home, even if you’ve done a lot of homework on your own. Take the city’s solar map for example. You may plug your address in and find the results more underwhelming that you had hoped for. But don’t take those likely under-projected savings to the bank yet because the right installer can come up with solutions to increase exposure. BLDG Electric’s expert team performs an intensive analysis of your entire property, and will consider everything from the sun’s changing position through all four seasons in addition to temperature fluctuations and the amount of wind (which impacts passing cloud cover) that your area typically receives, along with landscaping recommendations that may help increase the amount of sun your roof gets.
When you have BLDG Electric at your side, you gain a partner that will move mountains to ensure you get the most out of your solar panel installation. Contact us today to discuss your options.