With soaring energy prices and a cost of living crisis, finding ways to save money is a priority for many. Going solar is an excellent way to gain energy independence both with bills and during power cuts and in an area as pricey as Toronto, that’s a huge draw. But exactly what is the process of going solar? How long does it take, and how do you know if it’s right for you? Amongst so much information on the internet it can be hard to work out the right fit for you. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to going solar in the Greater Toronto Area, to give you the most relevant information all together in one place. So let’s see how to go from a fully grid-dependant, full cost home, to an energy-saving, solar power house.
Step 1: Determine Your Solar Potential
Your property’s solar potential depends on a range of factors such as location, shading from trees or buildings, roof orientation, and available space. It’s important to investigate to be sure that solar panel installation is the best option for your home or business. Tools like Google’s Project Sunroof or Energy Hub Org. (aimed specifically at the GTA) can help estimate your solar potential.
Step 2: Understand Your Energy Needs
Get out your electricity bills and figure out how much energy you use on both a monthly and yearly basis. This information helps you figure out how large your solar system needs to be as well as your potential savings. In fact, if you have a copy of one of your recent energy bills you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be more than happy to help you with this process.
Step 3: Set Up a Free Consultation with One of Our Solar Advisors
Our experts are here to help you figure out what the best fit for your house and lifestyle is. With over 10 years of experience in the field of solar energy and installations they can provide you with a complimentary, custom designed solar proposal, tailored to your family’s or business’ energy needs.
Step 4: Check Your Financing Options
Decide whether you want to purchase your system outright, apply for a grant or rebate, or take out a loan. You can check our 2023 list of Canada-wide government loans and rebates here. If you are living in the GTA you might be interested in applying for the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP). These are low interest loans to help support homeowners in the energy transition. We also offer commercial financing, and leasing options for businesses across the GTA.
The Installation Process
Step 5: Site Assessment and Design
Once our solar proposal has been adjusted to your liking, we will conduct a site assessment to determine how best to fit your new solar panel system. Factors such as location, energy needs, and design must be taken into account to ensure a successful and productive installation.
Step 6: Permits and Approvals
Solar panel installation comes with a fair amount of approvals needed from local authorities and utility companies. The good news is, we deal with this all for you as we know bureaucracy can be a real headache. Unfortunately, this process can take some time, but since we have already done it 1,000 times, we make sure to get the job done as quickly as possible. As soon as it is completed, we will let you know.
Step 7: Installation
Once all permits are approved, installation can begin! Our team shows up with solar panels, inverters, and all the necessary equipment to get your system up and running. This typically takes a couple of days (depending on the size and type of the system), the weather, and the design of your house.
Step 8: Inspection and Interconnection
When the installation process is complete, your local building department will need to inspect the system. They perform a quick check to make sure it meets all safety and code requirements. Usually one week after the system has been assessed and approved, the utility company will swap the power meter on the side of the home with a bi-directional meter. This will allow you to start gaining credits for any excess energy you make when the system sends power back to the grid. It also allows you to purchase when your energy needs are greater than what your system is producing.
Step 9: System Activation
This is the most exciting step as you are finally ready to activate your solar system. You will be able to generate your very own clean energy to be stored or used. You will also be able to give any excess energy back to the grid which allows you to earn credits through net metering.
Step 10: Monitoring
It is important to ensure you have a strong wifi connection that can reach the inverter. This is typically installed outside the home near the power meter. If your wifi connection is weak, you can consider purchasing a wifi booster to extend the wifi range to reach the inverter. Through this connection you can monitor your system performance on an app anywhere in the world on any Apple or Android device. If wifi is unavailable, you do also have the option to plug an ethernet cable directly into the inverter. You can then connect it to the modem for uninterrupted connection.
Step 11: Enjoy All the Benefits
There are many reasons that homeowners make the decision to go solar. Whether you are looking to reduce your environmental impact, raise the value of your property, save on your energy bills, or become grid independent. You are now ready to sit back and reap the benefits of your new solar system.
In total, the installation and process shouldn’t take more than a week though it may vary from property to property. Remember that each situation, property and homeowner is unique and so consulting with a solar professional can help guide you through this process and ensure that it is tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
If you’re ready to make the switch and would like to take the first steps to going solar, book a meeting with one of our solar experts.