Solar panels are becoming an ever more common sight throughout Alberta, as Albertans look to save on their utility bills and reduce their environmental footprint. At A. Clark Roofing & Siding LP, our roofing contractors set up solar panel installations throughout the province of Alberta with our solar partners, helping to guide our clients to receive maximum rebates. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide for home and business owners in Alberta who may be interested in having solar energy systems installed on their property.
What is Solar Roofing and how does it work?
Solar energy works by using the sun’s rays to generate heat or electricity. The goal of a solar system in your home or commercial building is to supply clean electricity and to provide a great return on investment on the initial purchase and set up. A solar thermal system will produce heat, whereas a solar photovoltaic -PV- system is used to generate electricity. Many systems are tied to the local utility grid where it will send excess electricity back to the grid.
Why Choose Solar Energy?
There are many good reasons why solar roofing systems are growing in popularity. Just some of the many benefits you’ll get to enjoy thanks to a new solar roofing array include:
- Instant energy savings
- Numerous incentives from local and provincial government to reduce up-front costs
- Increased property value
- Minimal maintenance
- Reduction in your environmental footprint
Are there downsides to solar roofs in Alberta?
Despite our long, bitter winters on the prairies, Alberta actually has better than average statistics for sun exposure, especially during our long summer daylight hours. While this efficiency goes down as seasons change, ensuring your solar power generators are clean and clear of snow and debris is important for getting continuous value from your investment. Many assume that snow will be a large hindrance to solar panels but studies, even locally from NAIT, have shown that the effect of deep snow on solar panels is actually less of a factor than previously thought as most of the light still penetrates through generating energy.
Many homeowners consider green energy solutions as a means of saving money on their energy bills. In western Canada energy costs are typically lower than in most of Canada, which means moving to green energy will pay itself off over a longer period of time.
Solar panels vs. solar roofing
Solar roofing combines typical roofing materials with integrated photovoltaics to convert sunlight into solar energy. Using this type of energy conductor yields a few distinct benefits, including:
- Practically invisible solar power – no more large panels protruding from your roof.
- Tesla Canada’s prototypes are already passing tests for Class 4 impact rating, which means the solar roof application will be able to withstand hail with the same durability as high end impact resistant shingles.
- Solar shingles lie flat on the roof surface, eliminating the possibility of being lifted by windstorms.
Alternatively, solar panels are installed directly on top of the roof’s existing shingles. The installation process for solar panels may be more difficult, but they offer the following benefits compared to solar shingles:
- Solar panels can be removed and transferred to your new home should you move.
- Greater efficiency than solar shingles.
- A lower price point, making the initial investment easier on your wallet.
When deciding on what solar energy system is right for your roof, reach out to a roofing professional like A. Clark Roofing & Siding for a free no-contact quote to determine what might work best for your roof style and budget.
Other solar accessories are also available – Canada Go Green is a leader in offering solar-powered turbine vents that are weather resistant and provide your attic space with year-round cooling completely maintenance-free. If you are considering adding ventilation or solar tunnels for additional light in your home, you can come into our office to view a sample.
Determining if solar roofing is right for your property
The amount of energy that your system can generate will depend largely on the location of your home. Thankfully, Edmonton is one of the best places in Canada for solar power generation, with an annual daily average of 4.55 full sun hours. Alberta also tops the nation in the number of clear, sunny days. The typical solar panel system in Edmonton should be capable of generating over 1200kWh per kW.
Orientation of Proposed Array Surface
Even in an ideal location, a solar panel array must be oriented in the proper direction in order to capture enough solar energy. For homes in the northern hemisphere, a south-facing roof is ideal. Though east- and west- facing roofs do not have the potential to capture as much solar radiation, they are often still capable of harnessing enough energy to make the investment worthwhile. Your Edmonton and Sherwood Park roofing contractors will let you know if the orientation of your roof is well-suited for a solar panel array.
Roof Inclination and Pitch of Proposed Array Surface
The optimal inclination for a solar panel array in Edmonton is 53 degrees. Most roofs, however, do not have such a steep pitch. Thankfully, this is not too much of a problem. A 45- to 30-degree tilt will produce nearly identical results, while an 18-degree tilt on a south-facing roof will only see a 9% reduction in efficiency. An elevated roof rack can also be used to increase the tilt of the array. Make sure you get professional roof repair in Edmonton before opting to build any extra structures on your roof.
Percent Shading at Proposed Array Location
A solar panel array will not operate at peak efficiency if parts of it are shaded. Make sure you trim back or cut down any tall trees that are shading your roof. Other possible sources of shading include chimneys, vents, skylights, and other roof obstructions. Experienced roofing contractors in Edmonton will position the solar panels around such obstructions. If you are developing a new-build, then you have the advantage of designing an unobstructed area for the solar panels right from the get-go.
Electrical and structural components
Keep in mind that the choice to move to solar roofing will require rewiring your electrics from an electrician and this is not a service offered by A. Clark. Buildings also require the structural fitness to hold the weight of a solar system in addition to a roof system. Addressing the structural components on an existing building can sometimes negate the overall cost savings but will still address all of the environmental benefits. You will need to consult with a professional to discuss the viability of converting your home for green power.
Paying for Solar Roofing: Alberta’s Solar Rebate Program
To help homeowners and business owners make the switch to solar energy, federal and provincial governments have rebates in place, both to assist with up-front costs and incentives per watt generated.These programs sometimes change or new ones are brought forth so speak with a professional to get the most up to date advice.
Not sure how much power your system may produce? Alberta has abundant solar resources, making it a fantastic location for solar power generation. In fact, National Resources Canada estimates that numerous municipalities in the province have the potential to produce over 6,000 kWh of electricity a year with a typical 5 kW residential solar array, meaning your cost savings will be significant. Some locations, such as Chestermere and Medicine Hat have solar potentials of over 6,500 kWh annually.
- If you live in Edmonton, you can save even more money through the City of Edmonton’s incentive of $0.40/watt, depending on grid availability.
How to take care of your solar panels
Home and business owners who are considering having solar panels installed often wonder what sort of care and maintenance their solar array will need. The fear of difficult maintenance might even keep some home and business owners from contacting Edmonton roofing companies for solar panel installation. Well, there’s no need to worry, because solar panel care could not be any more simple and straightforward. Here are some tips from the Edmonton and Sherwood Park roofing contractors at A. Clark Roofing & Siding LP. about solar panel maintenance and care.
Cleaning: The Most Important Part of Solar Panel Maintenance
Solar panels don’t have any moving parts, which means that care and maintenance is all about making sure that your panels are clean and functioning optimally. Rain is usually highly effective at removing any dirt, dust, bird droppings, or pollen that has settled on a solar panel array. If, however, it doesn’t rain for a while, then the layer of debris can actually cause a significant decline in your system’s output. In this case, you’ll have to clean the panels yourself.
All you need to clean a solar panel array is a garden hose and a squeegee attached to an extension pole. It’s best to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, if possible. A well-directed spray from the hose might be all that’s needed to get your panels sparkling clean again. For more caked-on debris, you can use some soapy water and your squeegee.
The best time to clean a solar panel array is in the morning or in the evening. When solar panels are heated up by the sun, water can evaporate too quickly and may leave behind unsightly smudges.
What to Look Out for When Cleaning Your Solar Panels
Cleaning your solar panels from time to time will provide you with the opportunity to inspect your array for any signs of damage. Though solar panels are built to be durable, extreme weather may sometimes cause cracks to develop. Extreme weather can contribute to loose and damaged wiring as well, as can animal activity. Regular cleaning will likewise allow you to spot a panel that may be wearing down faster than your other panels due to faulty manufacturing, in which case you’ll be able to make a warranty claim.
While cleaning your panels you’ll also want to note whether any of your landscaping has grown to cast shadows over them. Shade will decrease your panels’ output, so any overgrown trees will need to be trimmed back.
A. Clark Roofing & Siding: Roofers Provides Solar Panel Installation in Edmonton
A. Clark Roofing & Siding LP. is one of the leading roofing companies in Edmonton when it comes to solar panel installation. Our experienced roofing team have installed residential and commercial solar arrays for clients all around Edmonton. We can help you save money on your energy bill, access clean energy for your property and help guide your system through eligible programs.
To speak to our roofing contractors about having solar panels installed for your home or business, just contact A.Clark Roofing & Siding LP online for a free estimate or give us a call at 780.465.7571
This blog was originally published on April 7, 2018 but was updated in June of 2020.