Over the past several years, the cost of solar panels has fallen while their performance has improved. This means in places like Vancouver Island it now makes sense to install solar panels. Natural Resources Canada estimates that on southern Vancouver Island, solar can generate as much as 1,150 kilowatt hours of electricity each year for every kilowatt installed. What is a “grid tie” system.

Grid-Tie Solar Energy Systems

“Net metering” is the program and agreement with the utility (BC Hydro) that keeps track of how much electricity a solar array puts back into the grid. Excess solar power fed back to the grid is measured by the smart meter and you are then given energy credits against the energy you use from BC Hydro. This is calculated each billing period and you pay the net. If your solar array produces more than the household electricity used in a year, BC Hydro will buy that electricity from the homeowner at a fixed wholesale rate.

Battery Backup consists of batteries that store electricity from solar panels for when neither solar panels nor the grid can supply power to the home. Battery Backup is best suited for remote location properties that aren’t able to connect to the BC Hydro grid and for rural locations where BC Hydro often has power outages. If you are connected to the BC Hydro grid and your power doesn’t go out very often then “grid tie” is the best solution and avoids the cost of buying and installing batteries.

Yes! But you may not want to….

Of course it’s technically possible to go off-grid but in reality, for most people, it’s both cost prohibitive and in many cases once the various systems are explained people who are on the grid get much more bang for the buck by going grid tie.

Every form of power generation requires energy to manufacture. The benefit of solar panels is that after they are installed, they produce zero emissions and they can last from 20 to 30 years. The typical PV system takes 2-½ years of operation to generate the energy required to manufacture it.