Understanding solar panels can be complex, let Solar X help in this guide on electric panel installation and upgrades.
Choosing solar to satisfy your energy demands is a prudent option to save significant money on energy bills and also gain exciting rebates from the government! In addition to resulting in long-term financial benefits to the homeowner, solar installations can also protect the planet from harmful emissions. This is our guide on electric panel installation and upgrades.
Understanding solar panel installations can be complex and confusing as it involves a lot of technical aspects like an electrical upgrade. We believe in educating homeowners and people looking at going solar to make the process more exciting and seamless. We have extensive experience with electric panel installations and upgrades for both residential and commercial projects. In this article, we are going to walk you through the simple steps to decide whether or not an electrical panel upgrade would be necessary for your system.
What’s a breaker panel and why should you upgrade it?
Your breaker panel is an important component of your solar system. Essentially, all electricity that your solar panel is producing will go to your appliances through this breaker panel. A typical panel box is somewhere between 100 and 225 amps (the majority of them being either 100 or 200 amps). Most electrical codes mandate at least 100 amp services.
To put it simply, it is a protection box that automatically shuts off the power when the electrical circuit overloads.
Breaker panels usually come with several circuit breakers, each responsible for a particular circuit or zone in the building. Upgrading the electrical panel will ensure you have an adequate supply of clean electricity whenever you need it. It will also help protect your electronics from damage and even eliminate one of the most common electrical fire hazards. Electricians say an inadequate or poor breaker poses the risk of overheating, potentially increasing the risk of an electrical fire.
How do I know I need an electrical panel upgrade?
The amperage of your main breaker switch inside this panel box is critical. A typical panel box is somewhere between 100 and 225 amps; most being either 100 or 200. The amperage will dictate how large of a solar system your jurisdiction will allow. Typically, we use the 120% rule to decide whether or not an upgrade would be required. The 120% rule says, (Busbar Rating (A) x 1.2) – Main Breaker Rating (A) = Max PV (A)
Let’s start with an example. Say, you have a 100 amp main breaker panel with a 125 amp bus bar. Using the 120% rule (125*1.2 – 100), the maximum current from the inverter is 50 amps. Since it outputs 240 V, the greater inverter size could be 12 kW. Considering optimal clipping losses and a typical DC/AC ratio is 1.3, we finally end up with 15.6 kW as the maximum DC system size.
Breaker sizing rules
Consider a 7.68 kW inverter that outputs 240V, it would in turn output 32 amps (7680W ÷ 240V = 32A). That requires a 40-amp breaker (32A x 125% = 40A). Similarly, a 10kW inverter would need a 60 amp breaker (10,000W ÷ 240V = 41.6A x 125% = 52.08A, round up to next available size of 60A).
How much will an electric panel upgrade cost?
In addition to using the 120% rule, it would always be a good idea to consult a qualified electrician to check whether or not an upgrade would be necessary. Breaker panels enable the entire system to function properly and offers additional benefits as well. A good cost for an upgrade ranges from $2,500 to $3,500 depending on the panel capacity and the requirements set by the province you reside at.
Why Solar X?
We are a 100% Canadian-owned and operated company and rated as one of the best solar panel contractors across Canada. All of our systems are installed by licensed and trained professionals with decades of experience. Our team of experts will take care of all aspects of your solar project and be with you every step of the way. This includes everything necessary for your project such as rebates, net-metering, site assessments, electrical upgrades, building permits, etc. Should you have any problems or questions about your system, our Canada-wide team will always be available to assist, no matter which part of the country you reside in.
How to get started?
Our team of experts will help you obtain all of the incentives you may be eligible for including (but not limited to) federal rebates, provincial rebates, and the Greener Homes incentive.
Speak with one of our advisors today to explore your investment solutions with solar and receive a free, no-obligation quote for your system. We make it easier than ever to invest in clean, renewable energy.
Book your appointment today and discover the opportunities solar provides.