Solar Ready?

BC Energy Solutions

Did you knowthe Okanagan Valley (Kelowna, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland) from Vernon to Osoyoos and everywhere in between — Lake Country, Kaledon, Twin Lakes (Apex Resort), Keremeos, Cawston, Oliver, Okanagan (OK Falls), BC averages 5 peak-solar hours for 300 days/year!


Residential solar panels are;
~ 72-cell dimensions 6½ x 3¼ feet in size (close to 21 sqft)
~ 60-cell dimensions 5½ x 3¼ feet in size (close to 18 sqft)
~ weigh 40-50 lbs, a bit less than a small bag of cement at 25 kg (or 55 lbs) but slightly more awkward to carry because of the large surface area of the solar panels
~ contain 60-72 solar PV (photovoltaic) cells at 6x6" squares in a 10x6 or 12x6 wafer pattern

It's not as easy as dividing the roof say 500 sqft by 18 and getting 27.7 solar panels, or 500 by 21 for 23.8 panels. You'll probably want an even number of panels. Realistically, you'll not be taking up the entire roofs square footage ("sqft") with solar racking, mounts, micro-inverters & solar panels, then optionally battery backups in a warm/dry place inside for energy storage. So when using this 500 sqft example you could have a gable roof detached garage/workshop with 250 sqft of 10-12 south-facing panels, which may deliver between 5,250 kW/h and 6,300 kW/h next year! In BC, that could cover half your consumption usage in a year with a small energy-efficient home solar installation.

Roofs are typically 2-sided roofs (gable roof), lean-to roofs (like a carport or entrance way), and most commonly 4-sided roofs (hip roofs) with equal sides in a pyramid design (hip roof square), or it could be a rectangle hip roof with uneven sides, or even a "mansard roof" (like a hip roof with a flat-top surface, French curb roof) with even more complex roofs having multiple faces & slopes to the roofing architectural design.

Ideally, you'll want south-facing solar panels, however, east/west works pretty well too! Solar engineers will carefully survey your property with drone/satellite footage for overhead GIS mapping integrated with our solar design & planning software.

Will i need a new roof?

The short answer is, yes (with the exception of metal roofs). Much like paving a driveway/laneway on a brand new property, you'll want to wait a full season until the gravel completely settles. For new homes (or newly renovated roofs), you'll want to wait at least a couple months (2-3 months) until the roofing shingles have settled.. before attempting solar installs! What a perfect way to spend the between time by requesting an energy audit on your place.. then filing/submitting applications for federal/provincial loans, grants, or solar building permits with your city/township?!

Roofing terms, a square is 100 sqft. Broader terms — multiply your house sqft x 1.25 for a brutal estimate.. so a 2,000 sqft home that would be roughly 2,500 sqft in roofing (or 25 square) and guessing at 3X square, for the roofing shingles (or 75 bundles). Obviously, this will vary wildly and is only good to guestimate your needs, you'll want to be more accurate when buying the actual building materials. Depending on the slope/pitch of the roof, where there is hardly any slope at all (nearly flat roof) the roof will be slightly more or 15% (1.15) bigger than the square footage of your house (2,300 sqft), or a medium pitch (the most common gable roof) is 1⅔ (1.67) the size of the square footage of your house, or 3,340 sqft. The amount of roofing shingles required for a 45° pointed square (pyramid/hip roof) that is very steep is around 2X your house square footage with overhangs, etc. for a rough total of 4,000 sqft. Normally a two-car garage (or big utility shed) will need about 5-6 square in roofing shingles, or about 500-600 sqft.

Reshingling your roofs will be the total roof square footage (2,500 sqft in our sample case study) / 33 sqft (per bundle of shingles) and total sqft / 3 as rolled roofing or felt paper for underlaying comes in 3' ft wide (36") sizes. Felt paper is usually 72' ft in length for #30 small rolls or doubled at 144' ft long for big rolls of #15 asphalt felt. Surface roll roofing often comes in 36' feet rolls or 36" x 36ft (108 sqft). Assuming your roof size is 2,500 sqft.. you'll need 76 bundles of shingles and roughly 833 feet of underlaying felt paper, or 11.5 (or a dozen) small rolls, or 6 larger rolls. Instead of shingles, roll roofing would require 24 (a couple dozen) rolls, dividing the total sqft / 108.

If your roof is more than 10 years old shingles (and not metal), we highly recommend re-doing your roof before considering a brand new solar installation on top of an old-roof, especially for homeowners insurance!

Grid-Tied Solar

What is "net metering" ..

and how does it work with BC Hydro, or FortisBC?

We're talking about on-grid / grid-tied solar energy. Due to the freezing cold Canadian winters 🥶 you'll most likely be tied to the grid with BC Hydro for winter electricty, or natural gas heating with FortisBC in the Okanagan and/or Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) for northern BC energy.

BC Hydro net metering pays you (the most during the summer) to offset your winter heating costs. You're only allowed residential solar panels rigged up to 100 kW in "nameplate" capacity (or more simply max capacity of your solar installation), and you'll receive a year-ending rebate against your winter months power usage.

FortisBC Net Metering Program limits you to a 50 kW residential setup (which is more than enough for almost any home), as a maximum to send back to the grid, commercial setups (like "merchant solar") will be under a separate agreement.

Commercial Solar Installations & MURBs

For commercial solar installs you can write-off up to 100% of the total costs in the first year using an enhanced asset depreciation scheme under the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) in section 43.2 of the Income Tax Regulation.

What's a MURB? This stands for multi-unit residential buildings. You can get 100% funded low-interest CMHC financed loans for green energy retrofits up to $170,000 under the Canada Greener Affordable Housing program for rent-geared-to-income and low-income housing, or established/moderate-income rental propertes!

But wait.. there's more?! You can apply for distribution back to the grid (for 100 kW+ up to 35 kV) which bodes well for "merchant solar" and other micro-grid solar energy providers or transmission back to the grid for 35 kV and higher, as an independent power producer (IPP).

Think about the possibilities for your affordable housing (with MURB incentives), hobby farms, storage units (while also collecting income from tenants) and other commercial properties.

Estimating Solar Costs & Savings

How much solar can I generate? What will it save me ..

British Columbia (BC) is the only Canadian province with a PST exemption for residential electricty, or energy purchased for use in farming production by BC farmers.

30 solar panels will give you a 10.5 kW setup (using a 350W) standard panel. The average energy efficient smaller home uses quite a bit less than this in BC, so depending on energy consumption/usage one can save remarkably, a huge chunk of their annual electricity costs!

How much can a panel generate? 525 kW/h each year, or 1.75 kW/day (5h x 350W) x 300 days

Your setup of 30 panels will generate roughly 15,750 kWh per year in British Columbia, after some energy advisors have audited BC homes for pre-retrofits and upcoming home improvements they may only require about 11,000 kW/h annually. This will depend on usage of natural gas heating, wood stoves, Energy Saver appliances that are EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) compliant and many other factors such as vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, computers, fans, style of lighting, etc.

You'll need Permission to Operate (PTO) from your local town/city council and solar energy advisors, unless you're off-grid entirely, so get that energy audit done and building permits filed! Winter time is where it gets tougher.. because of snow covered panels, cold temperatures that require more heat (if you're using baseboard heat or electric heaters.. oof!) thats surely going to add up during the winter months!! Degradation of solar panels at 0.5% per year is much less than inflation at 3.4% per year. You can see quickly how a long-term solar investment with a green attitude, will offset the rising costs of electricity over the next 10-25 years!!

Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada solar insolation levels *2020 image from Minster of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)* in the Okanagan valley are 1100-1200 kWp (kiloWatt peak) on average per year, which besides the Kootenays and far north its some of the best potential in BC!


Solar Sales Represenative

Territory Sales Manager ☀️ Northern Sun Power

Jim Semple has built solar software for Sciencetech in London, Ontario. He is a fan of Tesla automobiles (they're like mountain goats all over the hills of San Fran!) and is a friend of the Earth, having volunteered to plant trees for ReForest London.

He is currently living in the Kelowna area, and a territory sales manager with Northern Sun Power for this region. He also has an ActSafe rigger/boom/aerial lift operator certification and has been trained for the provincial safety standards on job sites.

Call/text Jim directly at 905-981-2582 (cell/mobile) and read more about the Canada Greener Homes Loan an interest free 10-year loan for Canadians up to $40,000 in green energy saving home retrofits.

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