Frequently Asked Solar Questions (+ Answers)

Get the FAQs on solar panels, renewable energy, and more.

  1. Why should I choose solar energy or install solar panels?
  2. How do solar power systems work?
  3. Grid-tied and off-grid solar energy systems.  Which one is right for me?
  4. How much do solar panels cost? What is the payback period? 
  5. How much money will my solar power system save me?  How will I know?
  6. How much carbon will my system offset?
  7. Solar panels use lots of metal and have other upstream effects, are they really that beneficial?
  8. How long will my system take to install?
  9. What happens if it snows or hails?  
  10. What are ideal conditions for solar panels?
  11. Is my house an ideal location? I have trees and shade, is that a problem?
  12. How long will a solar PV system last (what are solar warranties) ?
  13. Will I still have an electricity bill with solar panels?
  14. What happens when the power goes out?
  15. Do solar panels still work if it is cloudy?

Didn’t see your question on the list?  Contact us directly and we can help!

1. Why should I install solar panels on my home or business?

Installing solar panels is one of the most beneficial means of generating electricity, both financially and environmentally whether its for a home or business.

Solar panels provide a means of producing your own clean energy from a renewable source rather than relying on carbon intensive fuels.  Photovoltaic (PV) modules not only eliminate tons of carbon every year, they earn you money by reducing your monthly power bill. What you don’t use is sold back to the grid (for grid-tied applications) and credited to you accordingly.

Over a 25+ lifespan, the cost of generating electricity from home solar panels is significantly less than continually leasing your electricity from a retailer. The best part is, solar energy will never run out!

Learn more about why you should switch to solar...

2. How do solar power systems work?

Solar panel systems may seem complicated at first, but are quite simple when broken down into their fundamental components.  There are 4 basic steps involved in transforming solar energy into usable energy for your home – PV Input (i.e solar panels), Power Inversion (micro or string inverters), Electrical Distribution, and Grid Tie-in (off-grid options available) :

How Solar Energy Works

Solar energy shines on the solar panels which generates a direct current (DC).

DC current runs from the solar panels to the inverter(s) (either string inverter or micro-inverter) and is converted into consumer-friendly alternating current (AC).

Solar energy is then transferred throughout the building, ready to be used.

Energy consumption vs usage is monitored and any excess power is fed back to the grid.  Excess solar energy you feed back to the grid is credited to you by your electrical company.

Learn more on how solar panels work...

3. Grid-tied and off-grid solar energy systems.  Which one is right for me?

Grid-tied solar power systems are the most common way of distributing your solar energy.  When a system is “grid-tied” it simply means that we connect your solar power system to your local distribution system (in Alberta this is typically supplied by EPCOR, Fortis, or ATCO; in Saskatchewan, this is supplied by SaskPower; in BC this is BC Hydro) through your main electrical panel.  When a system is grid-tied, excess energy can be sold back to your retailer, providing clean solar energy for others consumers.  This option is more cost effective as you will directly earn money from your system and recoup the cost of solar panels.  

Off-grid solar power systems are becoming a more common lifestyle choice for those who are not easily accessible by the electrical grid and who don’t wish to have power supplied by carbon-intensive fuels or for those who are not easily accessible by the electrical grid.  The solar power installation/generation process is similar although the key difference is energy is stored in a battery bank rather than sold back to the grid.  Off-grid solar power systems are more applicable if you want to provide your own electricity or if you live in a remote area where electrical accessibility is an issue. Off-grid solar energy systems are more expensive because there are more components (off-grid inverter, charge controller, batteries, additional wiring etc.) and installation labour involved. Off grid solar power installations may be the best choice if installing a grid connection will be very costly ($20,000+).

Learn more about off-grid solar power systems or contact us for a free quote today.

4. How much do solar panels cost? What is the payback period?

The cost of a solar power system varies depending on the size of installation, your architecture, and your location.  A typical Edmonton, Saskatoon or urban net-zero home solar panel installation will range from $10,000-$20,000 depending on your energy needs. There are many factors to consider when assessing the cost of solar panels in Alberta such as the size of the array, the available roof space, your location within Canada, and the ease of installation. Read more detail on the cost of solar panels in Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC.

The best way to find out how much home solar panels cost is to contact us for a FREE appraisal!

The payback period of solar power systems will also vary depending on the size of installation, how ideal the location is, and your personal energy consumption.  Systems will generally pay themselves off in 10-15 years but that is a misleading number. What's important is the long-term economics of solar panels. The true payback of solar panels is best assessed by comparing the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of solar vs the levelized cost of standard energy (i.e. coal). The levelized cost simply means the total money spent on fuel over 30 years divided by the total amount of energy generated by the fuel. Solar energy has a lower LCOE than standard energy so you save money over a long period.

5. How much money will my solar power system save me?  How will I know?

Your solar power system will typically save you anywhere from 20% to 100% of your monthly electrical energy.   Everyone’s system and energy habits are unique and as such so are everyone’s savings.  Your electrical provider (i.e. EPCOR for Edmonton, AB), will monitor your solar energy generation vs usage and credit you accordingly on your bill.  

The average home in Alberta and Saskatchewan uses approximately 7,000kWh/yr which is roughly what 16 solar panels will produce. The average home will become electrically Net-Zero from just 16 solar panels!

You will be able to monitor your solar power statistics through an online monitoring service available on any internet-enabled device.  Through this online service, you can see how much solar energy you’re generating and how much carbon your solar panels are offsetting.  

Read enough? Contact us now for your free home or business appraisal!

6. How much carbon will my solar energy system offset?

Solar panels offset tons of carbon every year, even smaller residential systems.  A 5kW or 13 module system  can offset upwards of 4,000kg of carbon every year.

The U.S Department of Energy estimates that solar panels will offset ~0.63t of C02 for every MWh (1,000kWH) of solar energy. If you generate 6,900kWh/yr for 30 years, your solar panels will have offset over 130t of C02! This number may be even higher if you live in an area which burns coal for it's electricity, like Alberta. Carbon offsets are an ever growing concern given our current state of emissions.

Your free proposal will outline how many tons of carbon dioxide are offset from your exact solar power system.

7. Solar panels use lots of metal and have other upstream effects, are they really that beneficial?

It is a common misconception that the environmental cost of solar panels is negative.

Although solar panels use metals that are extracted from the earth (for the modules, inverters and associated wiring), they still provide a positive net impact on the earth relative to generating electricity from carbon intensive means such as coal or natural gas. The carbon payback period of a solar system is less than 3 years compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

The environmental and financial impacts of solar panels are undoubtedly positive!

8. How long does it take to install home solar panels?

Many solar energy installations can be completed in as little as one day!  

We will respond to you the same day you contact us, and you can be generating clean renewable energy in as little as 14 days! Home solar installations typically take 1 to 3 days depending on the size of the array, with the majority of projects being completed in just a day or two. The longest part of the solar contracting experience is the permitting stage which is variable depending on the jurisdiction and may take a few weeks.

Larger commercial solar panel installations may take weeks to complete since the arrays are significantly larger than a standard residential project.

We know life can be hectic sometimes so we will always work with you when it comes to scheduling a time for you solar power installation. In select events, a brief power outage may be required although not always. If this is the case we will always work with you to decide the most opportune time.

9. What happens if it snows or hails?

How do solar panels fare against snow or hail? Naturally, snow and hail are two of the main concerns for residents throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC and Northern Canada. Rest assured, snow does not have as great of an impact as you might think.  The slope of the panels, as well as the current running through the solar panels, will prevent much of the snow from settling.  Additionally, the energy generation and payback period are calculated based on annual production values, the majority of which comes during the spring/summer/fall months.  If some snow does settle, the added energy generation plays a minor role in the systems overall life since solar radiance is significantly diminished in the winter. It is not worth the risk/hassle of climbing onto your sloped roof to clear snow.  These results are documented in a study conducted by NAIT for Edmonton's conditions.

Read the study conducted by NAIT on the effects of snow coverage and tilt of solar panels.

Hail!  Don’t worry, your solar power system is built to withstand severe Canadian hailstorms! Solar arrays have been tested with golf ball sized hail at 100kph and the results show hail does little to impact PV modules.  Kuby Energy is yet to see a single case of hail damage against solar panels installed in Saskatchewan, Alberta or BC.

10. What are ideal conditions for solar panels?

An ideal roof for solar panels will be facing due south with a slope close to the latitude of the region. For Edmonton, Alberta, solar panels mounted at 45 degrees to 53 degrees are ideal, however slopes from 18-60 degrees still operate at a very high efficiency. If the slope of the roof is fairly shallow, it is not as inefficient as you might think. The study cited above by NAIT showed that a system’s efficiency will only drop by less than 10% annually.

East/West faces are effective for commercial or home solar panel installations but will experience a minor reduction in efficiency.  In select cases, facing east and west may actually be an advantage if the property requires the maximum amount of energy from a given building footprint such as with barns or mechanical shops.

Most homes are suitable for solar energy and we will always be sure to let you know if it is an investment worth making. We don't simply sell solar panels, we work with homeowners to assess viable investments in renewable energy.

11. Is my house an ideal location? I have trees and shade, is that a problem?

The best way for us to determine this, is to contact us!  But in general, if you have a south, east or west facing roof, we can make solar panels work for you!

If you have trees, chimneys or other shade sources covering part of your roof, we can work around it by using micro-inverters (what’s an inverter?) or DC power optimizers so each solar panel operates independently of the others (i.e. shade on one panel won’t hurt the system as a whole).  We will also position the array to optimize your system specifically to your needs.  

As a professional solar contractor, Kuby Energy analyzes all site conditions on every project to maximize your solar harvest.

12. How long will a solar PV system last (what are solar warranties) ?

Inverters have a 10 to 12 year warranty depending on what manufacturer is best for your property although you can often extend this to 20 or 25 years.

Solar power system components have different warranties. Solar panels themselves have a 25 year performance guarantee and typically have a 12+ year material warranty. This means that in 25 years, solar panel manufacturers guarantee their panel will be producing at approximately 85% of what they do today (they degrade slowly over time).

13. Will I still receive an electricity bill with solar panels?

Most likely, yes but it will be substantially less than it was. It is possible to eliminate your bill completely during some (spring/summer/fall) months but requires a fairly large solar power system.

You still need energy at night and when the sun isn't shining, during this time you will be importing from the grid. Ideally, your solar power system will be sized so you generate enough excess solar electricity to sell back to your provider to cover your imported electricity costs.

14. What happens when the power goes out?

When the power goes out, solar power systems (more specifically, the inverter(s)) shut off. This is a safety feature built into the system so your property does not backfeed the grid when workers are performing maintenance.

You can eliminate this by installing a battery energy storage system.

15. Do solar panels still work if it is cloudy?

If it is cloudy solar panels still operate although they typically won't produce as much as if it were a sunny day. The sun can penetrate moderate cloud coverage and can even go through small amounts of snow.