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2023 Guide for Going Solar in Ontario

Solar energy is rapidly gaining popularity in Ontario, Canada, as people become more aware of the environmental and financial benefits of going solar. As this technology becomes more widespread, the price of installation falls, making solar panels in Canada that much more appealing. If you have been thinking about going solar in 2023 but are not sure how to make the swap, or if going solar was really worth it, we are here to break down the process, the solar rebates available in Ontario, the incentives, and the benefits. This way you can make a decision with all the information you need for a successful transition.

5 Benefits of Installing Solar Panels in Ontario

Reduced Electricity Bills

One of the most significant benefits of solar panels is their ability to decrease electricity bills. They generate electricity from the sun, which means homeowners can create their own electricity instead of relying on utility companies.

By installing solar panels, homeowners can potentially reduce their electricity bills by 43%, as they will be using less electricity from their utility company, which results in lower bills. Homeowners can even sell excess electricity back to the grid, earning credits on their energy bills through net metering.

Additionally, solar panels have no operating costs once they are installed, unlike traditional electricity sources, which require ongoing maintenance and fuel costs. This means that over time, the savings from solar panels can add up and provide significant financial benefits to homeowners.

Reduced Carbon Footprint

Solar energy is a clean, renewable source of energy that does not produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. When we generate electricity from coal or natural gas, we release carbon dioxide and other harmful gases into the atmosphere.

Generating electricity from solar panels uses the sun, which is a renewable resource that does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, by using solar energy, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

Increased Property Value

Solar panels can increase property value in several ways.

First, homes with solar panels typically have lower energy bills, which is a significant selling point for potential buyers. Not to mention, they are also more attractive to environmentally conscious buyers who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Second, solar panels increase the resale value of a home. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, homes with solar panels typically sell 20% faster and for 17% more than homes without solar panels. This means that homeowners can recoup a portion of their initial investment in solar panels when they sell their home.

Independence from the Grid

Solar panels can provide homeowners with independence from the grid by allowing them to generate their own electricity. This can be particularly beneficial during power outages or other emergencies. 

With solar panels, homeowners can continue to generate their own electricity even if the grid goes down. As such, they can power their essential appliances and maintain their comfort during an outage.

Furthermore, solar panels provide homeowners with energy security and stability since they do not have to worry about fluctuating energy prices or power shortages. They have a stable source of energy that is independent of the grid and provides financial stability.

Current Rebates and Tax Cuts

Net Metering

Net metering is a program that allows homeowners with solar panels to sell excess electricity back to the grid. Thus, they can offset the cost of their electricity bills. In Ontario, net metering is available to residential, commercial, and industrial customers who generate electricity using renewable energy sources.

Under the net metering program, excess electricity generated by the homeowner’s solar panels is automatically fed back into the grid. The homeowner is then credited for the excess electricity on their next bill. Moreover, if homeowners generate more electricity than they use in the month, they receive credit towards future electricity bills.

To participate in the net metering program in Ontario, homeowners must have an eligible renewable energy source, such as solar panels, installed on their property. They must also have a bi-directional meter installed by their local utility company to measure the amount of electricity being generated and fed back into the grid.

Solar Incentives

The Ontario government offers a range of incentives for homeowners who install solar panels. These incentives can help reduce the cost of installing solar panels and make them more affordable for homeowners.

  • Canada Greener Homes Grant: Grants from $125 – $5,000 that provide eligible homeowners with renewable energy systems, heat pumps, and insulation. While this will not cover an entire solar system installation, it is an excellent starting point.
  • Canada Greener Homes Interest-Free Loan: The Canadian government is offering loans of $40,000 for homeowners to upgrade to solar energy. This can be paid back in interest-free installments. Therefore, as you save money from your solar panels, this can help to pay it off.
  • The PACE Program (Ottawa and Guelph)
    • Ottawa is testing a program that provides loans for home energy efficiency upgrades. These include the installation of solar panels, for a period of up to three years. The program assists local residents in decreasing their energy usage and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Homeowners apply for zero-interest loans of up to $125,000, or 10% of the home’s current value assessment, whichever is less, to fund the cost of adopting solar energy. The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program, offers 20-year loans with no interest, making it more accessible to invest in solar. The smallest loan amount that may be granted to an applicant is $15,000.
    • In collaboration with the City of Guelph and Our Energy Guelph, Guelph PACE Atlantic launched a PACE initiative in Spring of 2022. The program offers interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to support the capital investment necessary to adopt solar energy. This offering makes Guelph one of the most cost-effective municipalities in Ontario for transitioning to solar power.

Federal Tax Cuts

The government of Canada also offers refundable tax credits for businesses who install solar panels. This tax credit has a value of 30% of the total cost of installing a solar power system up to 2032. After 2032 the credit will decrease, and finally, fade out in 2035. 

7 Steps to Going Solar in Ontario

1. Assess Your Energy Needs

Assessing your energy needs is an important step to take before going solar. By understanding how much energy you use, you can determine how many solar panels you will need for your home.

One way to do this is to review your past electricity bills. Look at how much you have used over the past year and consider any potential changes in your energy usage. For example, adding new appliances or changing your living situation.

You can also book a free online assessment to estimate how many solar panels you will need for your home and roughly how much it would cost. We consider factors such like size of your home, the direction it faces, and the sunlight in your area.

It is also important to consider your budget and the amount of space you have available for solar panels. Solar panels are not cheap to install. Therefore, you need to determine how much you want to spend and how much space you have on your property.

2. Choose Your Solar Panel System

Once you have found a qualified installer, you will need to choose your solar panel system. There are two main types of solar panel systems: grid-tied and off-grid. Grid-tied systems are connected to the grid and allow you to sell excess electricity back to the grid, while off-grid systems are not connected to the grid and require a battery storage system.

Your installer can help you choose the right system for your needs, taking into account factors such as your energy consumption, location, and budget.  

It is important to consider the efficiency of solar panels, which refers to the amount of energy they can generate from the sunlight that hits them. Higher-efficiency solar panels can generate more energy, but they are also more expensive.

The cost of solar panels can vary widely, so it’s important to consider your budget and find a system that fits within your price range.

There are a variety of solar products that range from solar trim, to solar shingles, solar awnings and more. Each product is suited for a particular need and is made to have a specific look and feel. Do some research to figure out which one would work best for you or book a consultation.

Remember, solar panel systems typically come with a warranty that covers the panels and related equipment. Review the warranty to ensure that it provides adequate coverage for your needs.

3. Obtain Permits and Approvals

Before installing solar panels in Ontario, you will need to obtain permits and approvals from the relevant authorities. Here are the steps needed to take to obtain the necessary permits and approvals:

  1. Check local bylaws: Start by checking your local municipal bylaws to determine what permits are required for solar panel installation. Each municipality may have different requirements, so it’s important to review the bylaws for your specific location.
  2. Submit a building permit application: You will need to submit a building permit application to your local municipality, along with the necessary documentation, such as site plans and electrical plans.
  3. Obtain electrical permits: Electrical permits are required for all electrical work related to solar panel installation. You will need to obtain electrical permits from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).
  4. Submit connection application: Once your solar panel system is installed, you will need to submit a connection application to your local utility company to connect your system to the grid.
  5. Obtain inspections: Inspections may be required during the installation process and after completion to ensure that the solar panel system meets all safety and building code requirements.

By following these steps and obtaining the necessary permits and approvals, you can ensure that your solar panel system is installed safely and in compliance with all relevant regulations. It’s important to work with an experienced installer who can guide you through the process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken.

4. Install Your Solar Panel System

Solar power installation can be a complex process that requires expertise in electrical and construction work. Here are the general steps involved in installing solar panels:

  1. Determine the location and size of your solar panel system: Your solar panel installer will work with you to determine the best location and size of your solar panel system based on your energy needs, the amount of sunlight your property receives, and any local regulations.
  2. Install mounting brackets: The solar panels will need to be mounted on your roof or on a ground-mounted rack. Mounting brackets are installed to hold the panels securely in place.
  3. Install electrical wiring: Electrical wiring is run from the solar panels to the inverter and electrical panel, which converts the DC power from the panels into AC power that can be used in your home.
  4. Install the inverter: The inverter is a crucial component of your solar panel system, as it converts the DC power from the panels into usable AC power.

Choose an experienced solar panel installer who can guide you through the installation process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to install your system safely and efficiently. If you are in the process of finding an installer, we invite you to book an appointment to see how we can help you.

5. Connect Your System to the Grid

Connecting your solar panels to the grid is an important step in the process of going solar. The steps involved in connecting your solar panels to the grid include:

  1. Obtain permission: You will need to obtain permission from your local utility company to connect your solar panel system to the grid. 
  2. Install a bi-directional meter: A bi-directional meter is installed to measure the amount of energy your solar panels are generating and the amount of energy you are using from the grid.
  3. Connect to the electrical panel: Your solar panel system will be connected to your electrical panel, which distributes the energy generated by your panels throughout your home.
  4. Final inspection: Once your solar panel system is connected to the grid, it will need to be inspected to ensure that it meets all safety and building code requirements.

6: Monitor and Maintain Your System

Monitoring and maintaining your solar panel system is essential to ensure it generates clean energy efficiently for many years. Here are some steps you can take to monitor and maintain your solar panel system:

  1. Regularly check for dirt or debris: Dirt or debris on the solar panels can reduce their efficiency. Clean them regularly using a soft-bristled brush or hire a professional cleaning service.
  2. Check for damage: Regularly inspect the solar panels for any damage, such as cracks or scratches, and replace any damaged panels.
  3. Monitor energy production: Check your solar panel system’s energy production regularly to ensure it’s generating the expected amount of electricity. Most systems come with monitoring software that allows you to track energy production and identify any issues.
  4. Check connections: Regularly check connections between the solar panels and the inverter to ensure they are secure and functioning properly.
  5. Schedule regular maintenance: Hire a professional to perform routine maintenance on your solar panel system, such as cleaning, inspecting connections, and testing the inverter.

By taking these steps to monitor and maintain your solar panel system, you can ensure that it continues to generate clean energy efficiently for many years, providing you with significant energy cost savings and environmental benefits.

Take Advantage Now!

Adding solar panels to your home is an asset to both the environment and your wallet. If you are ready to take the next step but would like to learn more about which option would work best for your individual needs, set up a free appointment with one of our Solar Advisors. Our team will look at your property, roof size, and electricity consumption. This ensures that you can make the best decision for your home.

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