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Solar panels? No-brainer.

     August 20, 2014 10 Comments

Alright, so I think it’s time to explain why I chose to entertain a solar panel quote and why in the end, it ended up being such an easy decision for our build. First of all, I am going to go out on a limb here and start a new trend: I don’t hate the earth. I know, bold of me to say, but I don’t. I really want it to be around for a long time. Next, I believe the science that says that the sun gives out energy for free. Third, solar panel technology isn’t where I would like it to be yet in my solar fantasies, but it’s darn good. Here’s my story.

My politically-charged Facebook friend Saskboy was posting about alternative energies as he often does. People said it was too expensive and I made some typical melodramatic comment like “what is too expensive if we don’t have an earth to live on anymore?” Typical Dan! But I also asked what local companies were doing it, because I figured I should be right in their target market, but I didn’t yet feel like I was being advertised to by any local solar suppliers. Saskboy referred me to Sound Solar. I sent our plans to Brooke, one of the owners to get a quote.

The price came back $1000 under what I had indicated what was the top of our budget. However, there’s a 20% cash back grant from Sask Power (click here to read about their rebates), and being able to trade for some of the job certainly lessened the blow. Without yet getting into too many technical details, at our cost after rebates, the expected usage level of power for the house, anticipated increases in power costs (hint: nearly 15% in next 3 years!), I envision the time to recoup the costs associated with installing solar around only 8-9 years. Here’s what it will look like on the roof:

mockup of roof solar plan

Some think it’s an eyesore. I think it’s the most beautiful thing ever.

BUT… most important to us is that the House Trade Built isn’t burning coal (as much) to meet its power needs. With very little regular maintenance, these panels will protect the roof and power the home for decades to come. And decades later, when technology is cheap and more efficient, the house owners can upgrade. But by then, the entire world will be powered by wind and solar once we grow up and realize that the big oil companies are destroying the world for the sake of the almighty dollar. But just slagging on oil companies won’t help. As a population, we need to stop demanding it from them and they’ll have nothing to supply. If you have a decent sized South-facing roof, I suggest you look into the grants before they expire this November. 

Probably the best part of the entire process so far with Sound Solar is that they also said they can counsel us to ensure we are installing proper lighting, automation, and fixture choices to ensure the power consumption is as low as possible. The only thing better than free power from the sun is not needing to use as much to begin with. Why? Because then those fortunate enough to have solar panels can start giving back and sharing with their neighbours so that we can cut our coal consumption while we still have an earth to save. I feel like a solar pioneer. If I pay more now so that local companies can be more fruitful and get the word out to more people, the earth will be a better place.

Do you have solar panels? If you could go back in time, would you make the same decision? What motivations lead you to pay the large up-front cost?

About the Author
I’ve lived in Regina for 30 years, and will never leave. I have a love for science, technology, business, and construction. I have my education degree majoring in Business Ed, minor in Chemistry. I taught some of the province’s best and brightest at Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies for three years while doing renovations and house flipping in my spare time. I’m good with numbers, finances, and planning. However, I can’t design my way out of a paper bag. I have total trust in my wife's design choices and am letting her make the calls throughout this project regarding colour and decor.

10 Enlightened Replies

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  1. lance says:

    Personally solar panels would be an investment that doesn’t pay off right away, but once it does you will look back fondly of the purchase.

    • mm Dan says:

      I know… but for me it was about how IF I could afford to reduce my carbon footprint, then I have an obligation to do so. We are excited about it!

  2. Travis says:

    Is there a limit to how many panels you can put on a certain area of roof? I know a third row would have put you over budget. If budget wasn’t an issue could you get another row on that section of roof?

    • mm Lauren says:

      There’s really no limit due to weight and things like that, but you do need access of some sort on the south side roof for something related to fire. I believe it’s a 2 foot by 2 foot space needs to be free.

      If budget wasn’t an issue, I could have fit 3 rows of 7 panels doing them horizontally and generated 15% more power. However, I asked the owners of the solar company “what would you do if this was your house?” and they said they wouldn’t even need 18 panels to net-zero out their usage. So I thought there was no harm sticking with 18.

  3. Travis says:

    I guess if you have to reduce the row length to get another row it’s not really worth it.

  4. James says:

    I would love to see a financing option from those guys. It would make it easier to afford. I would consider installing if that were the case.

  5. Heather Gieni says:

    Looks great! This makes me more excited about solar panels.

  6. Mike says:

    good job Dan. Have a question about possible damage from hail, wind, storms, etc. Is it covered by insurance? extra premium? what about snow in the winter, will it stick and have to be shoveled off regularly? So how much a month actually think you will be saving, $50 to $100 maybe? Thanks

    • mm Dan says:

      The panels are nearly indestructible, and covered by manufacturer warranty. If I recall correctly though, we’d have to pay to get them serviced. But this is still why it’s important to do business with a local company that’s going to be there for the long haul.

      Great question about the Winter! The panels are self-melting, but they need a corner to get started. So if a foot of snow falls overnight, and there’s sun in the morning, you need to shovel off just a small corner or one panel, and then the rest will slowly melt from the heat as they are interconnected.

      I’ll be personally saving about $80 per month in year 1, but that amount increases yearly with SaskPower rate hikes.

      • A roof-rake will help knock the snow off, and increase production immediately as the snow is completely cleared. Or you can be more passive and let it melt off, but you’ll lose part of the income from a day. In some Winter months, there isn’t much production to be had, sometimes about half what you’d make in March.

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