Frequently Asked Questions
How it Works
How does Solar Power work?
Simply put Solar power works by converting light from the sun into electricity. Sunlight in the form of photons hit the solar panels on your roof or ground mount. The panels absorb and convert the energy from freed electrons to DC current, which then flows to an inverter and is converted from DC electricity to AC electricity. This electricity is then used to power your home and if there is excess power generated it can be exported to the grid.
How long does it take to pay back the cost of the system?
Typical payback periods for On-Grid systems are now as low as 6 years with the $5,000 Greener Home Grant. Off-Grid systems are even lower because of the high cost of alternative fuels. Choose the payback period that works for you. If you are financing your system purchase the payment is often less than your current power bill
What is the Grid?
The Grid refers to an inter-connected power network that delivers electricity from producers to consumers. Areas serviced by electricity producers through an electrical network are referred to as On-Grid.
Geographic areas which do not have electrical services are referred to as Off-Grid and typically rural or remote locations.
The major difference between On and Off Grid systems are how the excess energy is stored. On-Grid Systems are controlled by a net metering agreement with the producer which sets out the terms for the storage and exchange of the electricity produced by the system, whereas with Off-Grid systems the storage of excess solar energy is managed through a specially designed battery storage system installed at the property.
Do all systems need batteries?
No. Typically batteries are used in Off-Grid installations for power storage. With On-Grid systems, the Grid is the storage system. On-Grid site battery storage is an option, but rarely selected.
What is Net Metering?
Net metering is a process which allows solar energy producers (homeowners, businesses and institutional customers) who generate their own electricity using on-grid solar energy systems to export their surplus energy back to the grid under buy-back or credit systems and draw from the grid when they need supplementary electricity.
My Roof is old. How old is too old?
Installing solar energy systems on an older home is very common.
Costs & Savings
How much does a system cost? Are there grants available?
Systems generally range from $7,500 to $20,000 and even lower now with the $5,000 Greener Home Grant. The cost is based on your goals, electricity requirements and sun exposure. Some people choose a small starter system to see how it performs. If you choose a starter system we will explain how simple it is to expand the system.
How much will I save per month?
Monthly savings vary based on the system size you choose, how the purchase is financed and the hydro rates over time. The following example is of a 9 panel kW system designed to save 60% of the power costs.
You start by saving money and the environment from Day 1!
Avg. power cost:
$200 per month
System cost and size:
$20,000 less $5,000 Greener Home Grant = $15,000
9 panel PV kW will produce 60% of power needs
Can upgrade to 100% - Ask us How
Home Equity Loan:
$137.16 per month
60% of your Power Costs
NET GAIN OVER SYSTEM LIFE: $64,869
I am getting close to retirement, does it make sense to make this purchase at this stage of my life?
Many people are installing solar as they get closer to retirement to protect themselves against future rate increases. Electricity costs in BC have increased an average of 6-8 % for Step 1 and 2 over the past 10 - 12 years. Once you install the system future rate increases are avoided.
Do I get paid for the extra power I generate?
Technically, yes. Everything is measured in kwh (Kilowatt hours) and you are credited 1-for-1 pased on net-metering. If you over produce in the course of a year, you should recieve money back or credits from the utility provider.
What is the process to apply to the utility company for credits from my solar energy system?
In most jurisdictions, Riverside Energy Systems homeowner service includes the building permit, co-ordination with utility providers and initiating the net metering arrangements. Contact us for details in your area.
Do Solar Panels add value to your home?
The desirability of a property that generates significant power savings is unquestionably superior, has a value-added feature and likely to sell more quickly. In BC there have not been enough solar systems installed to substantiate the market trend and evidence, however in the United States (California and Arizona particularly) where Solar has become very widespread it is undisputed by realtors and appraisers that owned systems increase the value of the property relative to the cost.
Life-Span, Warranty & Maintenance
How long do Solar Panels last?
Panels last approximately 30 - 35 years. The life span depends on location, weather conditions and maintenance. This doesn't mean the panels on your roof will just stop producing electricity, it just means their energy production will decrease by what solar panel manufacturers consider optimal.
Do the Panels break easily?
No. Solar panels are installed all over the world, in an array of extreme temperatures and climates. Solar panels are rated for rain, snow, sleet, hail and more.
Do Solar Energy Systems come with a Warranty?
Yes. At Riverside Energy Systems we use high quality panels from two different manufacturers, Hanwha Q Cells and Canadian Solar Inc. Each carry a 25 year warranty.
Does Riverside have an annual maintenance program?
Yes, for Off-Grid Systems. Riverside Solar Energy System Check-up $399 plus gst**
For Off-Grid Systems - Annual Check-up Service Includes:
- Battery Inspection (water levels, clean posts and tighten connections)
- Inverters / Charge Controllers, (tighten all connections, check and modify set points)
- Solar panels, tighten hardware, seasonal adjustment
- Measure Output
What sets Riverside apart from other Solar Companies?
- Our systems and product choices provide high value solutions but not necessarily the highest cost.
- We are committed to using only tier 1- grade A solar panels.
- Our 25+ years of solar experience and the engineering and electrical expertise on our team.
- We are recognized solar experts by government agencies and educational institutions.
- We partner with educational institutions and First Nations to develop lasting legacies through capacity building relationship.
- We co-wrote the Natural Resources Canada Planning and Decision Guide for Solar PV Systems. Link to request guide.
- As industry leaders we were committed to solar energy before others even thought about it.
- Most importantly, our great team is passionate about solar energy as a renewable resource, savings for our customers and leaving the planet a better place.