• Tristan Walker

Solar Basics for your home!

So now we've talked about off the grid solar, (if you haven't read it check it out) lets talk about what you can do to put solar on your house when you are connected to the grid. And by the way, thanks for all the wonderful support during breast cancer awareness month where we raised $750!

First of all, being connected to the grid just means that your house is connected to the powerlines from the city and that is how you get electricity.

Things to watch out for

Now, you want to put up some solar panels to decrease that energy bill! Before you start anything, make sure your house isn't totally shaded by trees or you at least have somewhere you can put the panels that will be south facing and unshaded. There are other things like shape of roof that need to be considered but ultimately these just limit the size of your solar system and not the feasibility.

You have to think about how the panels are going to fit on your roof, and how the wires are going to reach your connection to city power. Additionally, do you have space for an inverter in your house or garage, or should you use microinverters right on the panels to save room?

System Components

The two most important parts of your system are going to be the panels and the inverter. The inverter is what changes the electricity from direct current power from the solar panels to the alternating current that runs through the power lines.

For the inverter, you have two choices that make more or less sense depending on the scale of your system. The first would be one central inverter that all the panels feed. The second option which is good for smaller systems would be microinverters that connect directly to your panel.

The reason microinverters are better for smaller systems is that using a larger inverter you have to use enough panels to meet its total power capacity or else the cost doesn't scale. If you are planning on having a large system then the central inverter is great because it allows all your panels to feed into one place and can be cheaper per panel overall.

The last part of the system which is critical to meeting code would be a safety disconnect. This allows first responders to shut off any live lines on your roof if they have to get up there to do venting or any other activities in case of fire or emergency. If your panels are not on your house this is much less of an issue.

As mentioned in off-grid basics there is also going to be racking equipment needed to install your panels. Make sure to get the right kind for your roof type so you don't get leaks or damage in any other way!

Cost savings

So now we've talked about the major components, let's talk about the financial side of things. For every 300 watt panel you install in BC it will generate an average of 1500 watthours or 1.5 kWh per day (the power of the panel multiplied by how many hours of sun there are). This will change based on where you live but you can find average sunlight data through a simple google search.

Using that figure and the average electricity cost of $0.0935 per kWh you will make $51 per year. For every panel you add that savings goes up and you save more money on your electricity bill. The great thing too is that you can have power during an outage!

There is also the option to install solar water heaters which can have even greater savings by providing you with all your hot water. I will talk about these in another post!