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The Beginner’s Guide to Solar Energy in Alberta: What You Need to Know

Whether you’ve glimpsed solar panels dotting rooftops in your neighborhood or heard about its potential to reduce power bills, there’s no denying that solar energy is gaining momentum. 

But what exactly is solar energy? And more importantly, is it a viable option for you? This guide aims to shed light on these questions and more. 

Designed for beginners, we delve deep into the world of solar energy, offering insights, clarifications, and a comprehensive understanding of this revolutionary energy source. 

From understanding the basic technologies to the intricacies of installation, this guide will equip you with everything you need to know about solar energy. 

So, whether you’re considering a switch to solar or simply curious about its potential, read on to discover what all the hype is about.

Panel Upgrade Experts are a local installation company of solar panels in Calgary. Since 2013, we have been helping our great city with its electrical needs.

Durability and Maintenance of Solar Modules

Solar energy, while sustainable and efficient, also raises questions about the durability and maintenance of its primary component: the solar modules. Let’s talk about some common concerns:

How durable are solar modules?

Lifespan

Modern solar panels are built to last. On average, solar modules have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years. This doesn’t mean they stop producing electricity after this period; their efficiency might reduce slightly, typically to around 80% of their original capacity.

Materials

The durability of solar modules can be attributed to the high-quality materials used in their construction. Most panels consist of tempered glass, aluminum frames, and silicon solar cells, all designed to withstand Alberta’s wide range of weather.

Warranties

To back their durability claims, many manufacturers offer performance warranties that guarantee a certain efficiency level even after 20 or 25 years.

Does hail damage solar modules?

Resilience

Solar panels are tested rigorously for resilience against hail. The tempered glass surface can withstand hailstones up to 1 inch in diameter, hurtling at speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.

Real-world Scenarios

While lab tests provide assurance, real-world scenarios have also shown that solar panels often survive hail storms, especially when the hailstones are smaller than the threshold size mentioned above.

Insurance

For added peace of mind, homeowners can include solar installations in their property insurance, ensuring coverage in the rare event of damage.

Snow clearing and solar panels

Natural Melting

Solar panels are dark in color, so they absorb sunlight and naturally heat up. This causes small amounts of accumulated snow to melt and slide off more quickly than on other surfaces.

Tilted Installation

Panels are often installed at an angle, further facilitating snow shedding.

Manual Clearing

While it might be tempting to manually clear snow from panels, it’s generally not recommended. There’s a risk of damaging the panels or even voiding warranties. Plus, climbing onto a roof in snowy and slippery conditions can be dangerous.

Winter Production

It’s worth noting that while snow can temporarily reduce solar energy production, the overall impact on annual energy output is minimal. Clear winter days can be very sunny, allowing for efficient energy generation.

What are the components of a solar PV system?

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is designed to convert sunlight into electricity. It comprises several essential components, each playing a specific role in the energy conversion process.

Here are the primary components of a solar PV system:

Solar Panels (PV Array)

These are the most visible components of a solar PV system. Solar panels consist of multiple solar cells that capture sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. They are typically made of silicon-based solar cells, protected by glass, a polymer backing, and framed in aluminum.

Solar Inverter

The DC electricity produced by solar panels is not directly usable by most home appliances or the grid. The inverter’s job is to convert this DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which all homes in Alberta run on.

Mounting Structure

This supports the solar panels, ensuring they are securely attached to rooftops, ground mounts, or other structures. The mounting structure also allows panels to be angled optimally towards the sun.

Battery Bank

In off-grid systems or systems with backup storage, batteries store the excess electricity produced by the solar panels. This stored energy can be used during periods when the sun isn’t shining, like nighttime or cloudy days.

Cabling and Electrical Accessories

These components connect all parts of the solar PV system, ensuring the smooth flow of electricity. This includes connectors, junction boxes, grounding equipment, and safety fuses.

Monitoring and Control Systems

Modern solar PV systems often come with monitoring solutions that allow homeowners to track their system’s performance, energy production, and consumption in real-time using an app.

Protection Devices

Solar protection devices include safety equipment like circuit breakers, fuses, and surge protectors that safeguard the system from electrical malfunctions or surges.

Professional Design and Installation

Harnessing the sun’s power through residential solar panels is a huge step towards sustainable living. However, the efficiency and longevity of your solar system largely depend on its design and installation. Here’s what you need to know:

Research

Start by researching local solar installation companies. Look for a company with a solid track record, positive customer reviews, and a portfolio of completed projects.

Consultations

Many reputable solar companies offer free consultations. This is an opportunity to discuss your energy needs, get a site assessment, and receive a tailored solar solution.

Recommendations

Word of mouth is powerful. Ask friends, family, or neighbors who have installed solar systems for their recommendations. Their firsthand experience can provide invaluable insights.

Importance of certified professionals

Why should you get solar panels in Alberta installed by a qualified professional?

Here are the top 5 reasons to avoid DIY solar panel installations.

1. Quality Assurance

Certified professionals have undergone rigorous training and understand all electrical codes of Alberta and local regulations, ensuring quality of work.

2. Safety

Solar installation involves electrical work, which can be hazardous if not done correctly. Certified professionals are trained to handle and mitigate these risks.

3. Optimal Performance

A well-designed and installed solar system maximizes energy production, ensuring you get the most out of your investment.

4. Warranties and Guarantees

Many solar product warranties stipulate that installation must be done by certified professionals. This ensures that any future issues related to the product can be addressed without disputes.

5. Regulatory Compliance

Certified installers are updated on local regulations, permits, and incentives, ensuring your system complies with all local and national standards.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy Basics

How does adopting solar energy benefit the environment?

Utilizing solar energy is a green solution that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases once the panels are operational. By decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, solar installations contribute to reducing carbon emissions, aiding in the fight against global warming.

Can solar panels work during cloudy days or heavy rain?

Yes, solar panels can still generate electricity during cloudy days at reduced efficiency. Rain can help clean the panels and improve their performance. However, the output is maximized on clear, sunny days.

What happens to excess electricity generated by solar panels?

Excess electricity can be stored in batteries for later use or fed back into the grid. Many regions offer net metering, allowing homeowners to earn credits or money for the power they contribute back to the grid. You should talk to your local solar company to get reliable information.

Would you like to know how solar can help you save money on rising energy costs?

We understand solar energy in Alberta can be confusing. That’s why we’re ready to help you start saving money on rising and unpredictable energy prices today.

Contact us today for a detailed solar estimate and to begin the process of becoming energy-independent.

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