We are a listed dealer and installer for Home Energy Solutions, one of Canadas pioneer and leading companies in solar electricity (photovoltaic).
We provide services from designing, engineering and installing Solar Off-Grid & Grid-Tie Systems. With most of our clients living in remote off-grid locations, pre-wired and pre-installed systems & components are often used to keep on site installation time and cost at a minimum. With solar cost per Watt getting lower and lower every year, BC Hydro's Net-Metering Program (Grid-Tie) is getting more and more interesting for any Hydro customer who wants to offset energy consumption.
Pre-wired Power Centre with Charge Cntrollers:
6.0kW Grid-Tie Installation with Micro Inverters
Remote System Monitoring
Engineered System Designs
FAQ to Off-Grid Solar Systems:
Solar can be used to provide the majority or all of the power in a remote cottage or home. Ideally, the solar system is designed by a professional to match your lifestyle and electrical load. The systems are modular so they can grow as your power needs change. Off-grid solar systems have storage bat- teries, and often have generators for back- up. The inverter systems for off-grid appli- cations have built-in battery chargers, and can even be used to start the generator automatically if needed.
Most inverters used in off-grid homes connect directly to the AC load centre, and therefore energize the whole house. Inverter output is either modified sine wave (cheaper) or sine wave (cleaner). Other features to compare are charger size, efficiency and warranty.
Batteries are your gas tanks. Deep cycle batteries are recommended as they can handle deeper discharges better. Flooded cells offer the best value. 6V batteries like the Surrette S-600 are popular for smaller systems, and larger, industrial Big Red cells are used when more capacity and life are needed. Proper charging and limiting discharging is the key to long battery life.
The PV and battery system are sized to meet your power needs. A qualified installer will review your electrical loads and help you select the right equipment. For a full time home, a 1kW system will deliver on average 1.5 kWh per day in December, and about 4.5 kWh in the summer. Note that you can increase your solar system size at any time as your needs grow. However, it is wise to select a larger battery initially as they must be replaced rather than expanded due to the general rule about not mixing old and new batteries.
In the simplest case, charge controllers limit the solar power going to the batteries so they don’t overcharge. Series Controllers do this with a relay that is opened after a certain battery voltage is reached. This is the simplest and cheapest route. PWM Controllers taper the current to the battery as the voltage rises through Pulse Width Modulation of the energy input. This is better for battery life as it adds a float charge to keep batteries at 100% full. Larger solar arrays use MPPT Charge Controllers. Maximum Power Point Tracking circuits monitor solar panel current, voltage and temperature and get the maximum amount of power they can out of the solar array. This type of controller works with all voltage panels, and can accept high voltage input while charging a low voltage battery, allowing you to wire panels in series rather than parallel. MPPT controllers are more expensive, but the extra energy harvest is usually worth it..
In Canada, the optimum tilt angle is equal to latitude + 15 degrees for winter output, and latitude – 15 degrees for summer output. That being said, 10 to 15 degrees off the optimum does not have much impact in production. If the off-grid project is seasonal (like a summer cottage) a tilt angle that matches the roof slope is usually acceptable. For a full time home, solar panels tend to be steeper. This helps shed snow, and maximizes winter production when the solar insolation is at its lowest..
A refrigerator is one of the most essential appliances in a home, and one of the more significant electrical loads. However, the best Energy Star rated refrigerators today can consume as low as 1.3 to 1.5 kWh per day. Older fridges and freezers required 3 to 4 kWh per day, making them very difficult to run with a battery system. It takes about 1.5 kW of PV panels to deliver 1.5 kWh of power in December, so you can mate a good fridge and 6 250W solar panels for year round use. It the fridge is only used seasonally, say from April through October, then a 3 module system should deliver approximately the right amount of power. Our advice - buy the fridge based on its EnerGuide rating - the lower the consumption the easier on the power system.
FAQ to Grid-Tie (Net Metering) Solar Systems:
Why invest in a grid-tie system?
Solar users like using their own energy first, and knowing its source is clean, renewable energy production. Solar fixes the energy costs, avoiding utility rate increases. Some provinces like Ontario have a feed-in tariff that offers to purchase the power from your system, creating an income stream.
Solar energy does vary throughout the year. The graph above is for Vancouver. In practice, grid-tie system owners don’t usually worry about snow as winter months have low production.
Solar electric panels feature a 25 year output warranty and will likely last for 30 years or more. This means the system you install today will produce free and reliable electricity for decades. As an investment in your home, cottage or RV, your system will enhance its value while delivering clean, quiet energy for you to use. Now that’s a smart investment!
Grid-tie solar systems are used for homes in the city. A solar system mounted on the roof can produce some or most of the electricity consumed in the home. Most Canadian houses use between 5,000 kWh (very efficient) and 13,000 kWh (not very efficient) per year. Solar systems can reduce electrical consumption by the following amount:
See the cross section of a house with solar grid-tie system. There are two basic components:
Solar array: One to ten kilowatts of solar panels, typically mounted on unused south facing roof space.
Inverter: Converts solar energy (DC) to match utility power.
Grid-tie systems safely disconnect in the event of a power failure. We offer the option of a Secure Source battery backup that would run some selected loads like pumps or lighting in the event of a blackout.
In most of Canada, a kilowatt (1000 watts) of solar panels (area A. of 80 - 90 ft2), mounted with good exposure facing south, could generate between 1000 and 1400 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. The map below shows how this varies around Canada.