Putting a solar system on your property: Your Options

Feb 03, 2016

efan solar

We’re often asked questions like “can SolarShare put solar panels on my house” or ‘’can you tell me how expensive it would be to buy a home solar system”?

SolarShare actually doesn’t do either of these. Rather, we lease commercial-scale rooftops and fields unsuitable for agriculture, finance solar projects, and work with developers to build them. Then we sell solar bonds in them so that the community can invest in clean energy.

But we wanted to provide some helpful information for those of you who might want to go solar yourselves or would simply like to know your options.

1) Want to purchase a system for your property and connect to the grid?

MicroFIT

Launched in 2009 as part of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, this program provides homeowners and other eligible participants with the opportunity to develop a small or “micro” renewable electricity generation project (10 kilowatts (kW) or less in size) on their property.

Under this program, homeowners are paid a guaranteed price over a 20-year term for all the electricity they produce and deliver to the province’s electricity grid. Those who take advantage of MicroFIT must finance the solar projects themselves and pay for the installation and development.


2) Thinking about leasing your rooftop to a solar developer to earn revenue?

Free Solar Programs

For those who want to have solar panels on their property but cannot afford the development costs, several companies have created solutions. They will lease rooftops and fields from property owners and pay for the development, installation, and maintenance of the solar systems. These companies take advantage of the MicroFIT program and the guaranteed electricity purchase price for 20-years while paying the property owner leasing fees. This service is provided by various companies in Ontario, including Grasshopper Solar, Solsmart, and Efan Solar.

3) Interested in installing your own system and powering your home or cottage?

Going Off-Grid

SolarShare’s president, Mike Brigham, designed and installed his first off-grid solar electric system in 1985 at his island cottage north of Toronto. Since then he has designed, installed and helped maintain other off-grid systems for friends and neighbours. “I have the least expensive electricity of all my neighbours at the cottage", says Mike, “and I don’t get black outs, which happen frequently in cottage country.”



SolarShare President Mike Brigham's cottage solar system

An increasing number of people are installing solar systems on their property and using the electricity themselves without connecting to the grid. As the price of PV panels and system materials fall, this option is becoming more financially viable. Generally, batteries are used to store the solar energy for use at night or cloudy days, and battery technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Companies like Solar Ontario will help you design an off-grid system for your location and needs.

We chatted with Jordan Mulville, an experienced solar energy technician who now teaches future solar technicians at North American Trade Schools, and got his advice about choosing a solar installer.

“Price should not be a customer's first point for choosing their installer. A quality built 10kw system won't be rushed and requires a few days at least and no more than 4 installers for MicroFITs. A company that guarantees a fast install may not be as thorough. The last thing anyone new to solar wants is a system with mistakes made during the installation. Companies that don't do quality work may not last long enough to come back and fix a problem. Choose companies that have an abundance of years of experience installing systems. Aside from quality of work, the product choice is next and customers should always feel empowered to do research on the products they are being offered. Ontario has a great selection of domestic products for all parts of the PV system, making Ontario manufacturers a safe choice.”