Frequently Asked Questions
General Solar Questions
What's the difference between solar PV and solar thermal?
Solar photovoltaic makes electricity; i.e. lighting, appliances, convenience, communications, entertainment, air conditioning.
Solar thermal makes heat, usually domestic water, and any excess can also be used to supplement space heating or recreation (e.g. hot tub, pool, sauna).
What kind of system is suitable for my needs?
If your goal is to be completely energy independent then we recommend both a PV and thermal system. Using PV for heating is inefficient and requires three times the roof space whereas thermal is unable to provide the electricity necessary to run your appliances. A combination of systems will meet both your heating and electrical needs.
If your goal is to reduce your monthly energy bills or greenhouse gas emissions then geographic location should be taken into consideration. In colder climates an average of 70% of a households energy use goes towards heating, making a thermal systems a better choice. In warm climates, where heating is not as important, a PV system may be the better choice. Factors such as building insulation and efficiency of already installed water heaters and furnaces should be taken into consideration as well.
How will solar affect my energy bill?
An energy bill is made up of several charges: the energy charge, line charge and connection fee. In this area line charges make up about 60% of your power bill. Solar PV and solar thermal will reduce your electricity and natural gas bills:
Using energy while solar is being produced will save you buying electricity from the grid and save you around $0.3 to $0.4 a kWh. Exporting energy you will offset the energy component and be credited between $0.07 and $0.09 a kWh.
Note that in Alberta, ‘generation and export’ only benefits the homeowner by the price of power. The homeowner does not receive credit on all the other charges for energy exported.
The solar energy conversion to heat energy is about 70%, in comparison to electricity which is about 15%. Thermal energy is typically measured in GJ for natural gas. With thermal collectors you will see a reduction in the cost of energy consumed in this portion of your natural gas bill.
Is my roof suitable for solar panels?
Solar panels work on a range of roof angles and aspects. A 15-45° roof pitch will get the best year-round results. If your pitch is lower than this, then adding more panels or tilting them on frames can increase winter production.
Aspects from East through to West work well. East produces more power in the morning, North will give the largest peak at midday and West will produce more power in the afternoon.
Your solar panels should be positioned in an area with little to no shade, so watch out for chimneys and other roof penetrations. At design stage the location of these roof penetrations can often be changed. Both solar PV and solar thermal systems can be designed to integrate into the building construction. Building-integrated solar design incorporates solar modules or collectors on windows, exterior walls, roofs, or even contained within banisters and railings.
What size system do I need and how much will it cost?
Conventional homes in Canada use about 8,400 kWh/year of electrical energy. Depending on how much electricity you are looking to generate, the following basis can be used in determining costs of a project:
Conventional homes in Canada use about 25,000 kWh/year of heat energy. The costs for a 1-5 collector system ranges anywhere from $3,391-$10,650 depending on the equipment and heating needs you require.
Can I go off-grid?
Most residential homes in Alberta in urban neighborhoods are better suited being grid-tied with natural gas or electric heater as a backup. This is due to our long winters, and having to maximize peak sun hours with fewer daylight. This is still beneficial for solar investors as increased generation during the summer months provides credits on your energy bills, which often times balances out having to pull from the grid during winter months.
The feasibility of going off-grid will vary from region to region. An off-grid concept is still achievable in remote properties such as cabins; or if you are considering for a detached garage, greenhouse, or recreation (pool, hot tub, sauna).
Solar Thermal Questions
What are the components of a Solar Thermal system?
The major components of Solar Thermal systems are Collectors, a Solar Tank and Solar Pump Station. Our Solar Pump Station is known as the Freedom Won pump station.
What is the Freedom Won?
The Freedom Won Solar Pump Station is a solar thermal pump and control system that utilizes a PV panel to power a DC pump. This pump station is a patented Simple Solar technology that is fully assembled in our shops. The closed solar loop includes a heat dissipater controlled by a thermostatic valve that ensures the solar fluid does not exceed the safe maximum temperature. The Freedom Won solar pump station can be installed with all flat plate or evacuated tube collectors. With its low pressure and actively regulated temperature control it is suitable for PEX linesets. The solar provider saves equipment cost and installation time while the client benefits from an easily installed, reliable, automatic, cost effective and safe solar heater.
Can my system overheat in the summer months?
No. One of the features of the Freedom Won system is the automatic heat dissipator which prevents the system from overheating during increased generation in summer. The automatic heat dissipator ensures safe, consistent operation and long glycol life.
Will I need a certified electrician to install this system?
No. A lot of urban areas in Canada require PV systems to be installed by a certified electrician. Solar thermal systems can be installed by the homeowner itself and we will make sure you are equipped with the full installation manual to tackle your project. Whether it be to heat your domestic hot water, or for in-floor hydronic space heating, or heat your outdoor hot tub, we have specification sheets for all types of applications that the solar thermal system could be utilized for.
What are the maintenance costs of the system?
The maintenance costs are very low. We recommend a glycol change every 2-3 years. Other repairs would also be very minimal and could be expected every few years, however there are not any huge replacement costs.
Will my system shut off in a power outage?
Solar thermal systems work independent of the grid. While a grid connected PV system would shut off when the grid is down, solar thermal systems carry net zero resilience so you would continue to have heat!
Solar PV Questions
How does solar PV work?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy captures energy from the sun and turns it into DC electricity. The energy we use in our homes is AC electricity. An inverter is used to turn the DC into AC electricity so we can use it in our homes.
The solar power produced will first feed electricity in the home. If there is more solar than demand, the remaining electricity will be exported to the grid and your power company will give you a credit on your energy bill. If there is less solar power than demand, the grid will provide the extra power needed to run your electrical supply.
What are the components of a solar PV system?
The major components of solar PV systems are modules, inverters, and racking.
Do I need a License to Connect Solar to the Grid?
Yes. Most people who own grid-connected solar systems require a license from your electrical utility. There may be restrictions on the size of the solar system or the amount of electricity generation.
In Alberta, for example, a grid connected solar system requires a microgeneration agreement. Small solar systems require a micro-generator license that limits production to your annual consumption. The maximum size of a microgeneration site is 5 mw. Then a ‘Distributed Generator’ license would apply and allows solar production up to 25 megawatts. Above that, a solar system must be registered as a powerplant. Other provinces and states have their own licensing requirements.
Why does a microgeneration license limit my production?
The powerlines and other equipment owned by the utility can only have so much power going through them at once. It would be very dangerous to exceed the rated power and would also result in grid failure. By limiting generation to the amount of annual use, it is expected the distribution system will not require upgrading.
What will I need to go off-grid?
To go off-grid with solar you will require batteries which will probably cost more than the solar system. If you are on the grid, you do not need batteries. In addition, your local municipal government may have placed restrictions on going off-grid.
How many batteries do I need?
If you are on the grid, you don't need any. If you are off-grid, you will need to know how much energy you use over a day. You will then choose your batteries to give you one or more days of battery power, known as days of autonomy. A typical house in Alberta uses about 10,000 kwh of electrical energy a year averaging 30 kwh per day. An off grid system with batteries for one day of autonomy (30 kw) for such a house would cost approximately 100 000 dollars for the solar equipment, batteries and inverters, switching and control hardware. For most people it is advisable to adopt significant energy saving strategies prior to going off-grid.
Do I need a back-up generator if I am off-grid?
The cost of batteries is a significant barrier for most people interested in off-grid. By adding a generator, you can have a minimum of batteries. Most days your electricity will be supplied from solar and batteries however if the sun is not shining for a few days in sequence, the batteries will run low then the generator can be activated and supply your electricity until the sun returns.
EV Charging Questions
What does the optional 'Installed by Qualified Electrician' include?
This option includes delivery and installation by a qualified electrician. Once your order is ready for delivery, we will contact you to arrange an installation time.
Unfortunately, at the moment we're only able to offer this option to customers with postcodes beginning with T1Y or T2A - T3S.
Can I install the EV charger myself?
Most likely, no. In order to get an electrical permit most jurisdictions require EV chargers to be installed by a master electrician.
How long will it take to charge my vehicle?
It all depends on your battery’s charge status upon connection. The FLO Home G5 will provide up to 30 km of range per hour of charging and will charge your car up top 5 times faster than a 120 V outlet.
How much do you charge for shipping?
Shipping costs are item dependent and are viewable at checkout. Though we strive to be as accurate as possible, please note that these are estimates only. In the event that the cost differs significantly from the estimate displayed at checkout we will contact you with the updated cost. If, at that point, you do not wish to continue with your order then a full refund will be given.
How long until I receive my order?
In stock items will be shipped the same or next business day. Customers in Canada can typically expect their orders within 3 to 7 business days. Please note, solar tank purchases may take an additional 7 to 14 business days.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes, we do. Please contact us for a shipping quote.
International orders vary in cost and typically take 8 to 12 business days for delivery (plus customs clearance time). Please note, solar tank purchases may take an additional 7 to 14 business days.
Import duties and tariffs are not included in your final order price. Therefore, you may be required to pay additional duties and taxes upon receipt. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes. Unfortunately, we are unable to control the receipt country's tariff and trade requirements.
How do I track my order?
We will email you a tracking number once we've shipped your order, which you can use to track your shipment.
Can I return my product?
We want you to love your Simple Solar products, but if you're having issues we make returns as simple as possible.
If you purchased your Simple Solar products within 90 days from our online store, you are eligible for a return.
Please contact us to arrange a return. We will refund your purchase price minus shipping & handling within 30 days after we have received the product back.
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