FAQ: Stuff we get asked a lot

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There's a lot of talk lately about battery backup. What's it all about?

Grid-tied, net-metered solar systems are fantastic – you get the benefit of all the power you produce, either at the time of generation or as a credit against future use (up to the point of being net-zero). The one downside, however, is that the solar does not operate when the power is out, unless a battery back up system is installed. This is for the safety of those working on the power lines—solar energy sent back to the grid during a power outage could seriously harm someone. The inverters turn off immediately when the grid goes down, and do not come back on until the grid is stable.

We are now offering our SKYSTOR battery backup solution to keep your solar running during an outage, so you’ll be powered by solar by day and battery by night! For more info click here.

At the moment there is a rebate pilot program available though Efficiency NS of $300/kWh up to $2,500.

What's this I hear about a government rebate on solar?

It’s true! The SolarHomes rebate through Efficiency NS is currently set at $0.30 per watt, up to $3,000. It does not require a Home Energy Audit, just an application we can fill out and submit on your behalf. All primary and primary seasonal homes in Nova Scotia are eligible, including new builds.

More details are available here : SolarHomes

How about businesses? Any incentives there?

There are! The most recent Federal Budget includes Investment Tax Credits for up to 30% for taxable entities and 15% for non-taxable entities to help offset the capital costs of purchasing a solar array. There is an Atlantic Tax Credit of 10% which may be stackable with some other incentives, and you can take advantage of accelerated depreciation of the asset—100% in the first year!

There may also be programs available through Efficiency NS.

And farms?

The most recent Federal Budget includes Investment Tax Credits for up to 30% for taxable entities and 15% for non-taxable entities to help offset the capital costs of purchasing a solar array. There is an Atlantic Tax Credit of 10% which may be stackable with some other incentives, and you can take advantage of accelerated depreciation of the asset—100% in the first year!

There are various agriculture-specific funding streams that open various times throughout the year, and Efficiency NS has a program for farms and agricultural businesses as well.

Are you installing in my area?

Yes, we install across Nova Scotia! For crew safety and quality of work, solar is best installed in above zero temperatures and dry conditions, so we typically do not install in winter – that means new installations will take place in spring 2024. Fill out our Get a Free Quote form with some information about your property and we’ll get back to you.

How long does installation take?

A typical residential solar installation takes about 3-5 days, with some time in between for inspections. Battery installations are usually around 3 days.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the system depends entirely on its size. Fill out our Get a Free Quote form to help us determine the appropriate size and we can go from there!

Is there any financing available?

Talk to us about our exclusive tax-advantaged leasing program, with no payments until May 2025.

Some municipalities offer PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs to finance your project.

Credit Union Atlantic is another great option.

There is also up to $40,000 available interest-free through the Greener Homes Loan.

We can walk you through all of your options!

What size system should I put on my home?

The system you should choose for your home depends on how much power you consume, and what percentage of your consumption you would like to generate through solar energy. There are other considerations as well; such as the available space for panels, and the load your electrical panel can carry. A good start is to look at your NS Power bill which tells you the power you have consumed in the last year, and then fill out our Get a Free Quote form so we can determine what size system will work best for you. Ideally, the annual production of the system should be about the same as your power consumption.

How can I figure out my power consumption?

On the right hand side of your power bill it lists your Past Electric Use. Add up the 6  previous billing periods and that will give your consumption for the last year.

Power Usage Example

How do I know if my roof is suitable?

We will do a preliminary assessment of your home to ensure its suitability, but if it faces to the south (optimal), or to the east or west or somewhere in between, and is unobstructed it should be a good candidate for solar panels. Other things to consider are age and condition, as well as the pitch.

Do the solar panels need to go on the roof, or is there somewhere else I can put them?

No, they don’t need to be on the roof. If you have an unobstructed area on your property it may be a great place to install solar panels. However, there are additional costs associated with a ground mounted system.

Do I have to be connected to the NS Power grid? Do I need batteries?

Electricity production from solar panels is very high in the spring/summer/fall but is fairly low in the winter so being on the grid is pretty essential for the winter unless you have some other way of generating power or storing power long term. The enhanced net-metering program through NS Power is one of the best in the country, allowing you to use or get credit for all the power you produce.

This means that if your home is connected to the power grid, you do not need batteries. The excess electricity your panels generate during the day goes into the grid, and you draw power off the grid when you need it. However, as discussed above your system will not produce electricity when the power is out, even if the sun is shining. To use your solar when the power is out, you would need a battery backup system. More info on that is here.

Do I need to contact Nova Scotia Power?

We’ll submit the application on your behalf when the time comes, but if you have specific questions you may find the answers in the FAQ’s on NS Power’s website (or just ask us! We know exactly how this works!). You’ll find those NSP FAQs here.

How long does the system last?

Our panels and micro-inverters are BOTH warrantied for 25 years, and have a lifespan of more than 30 years. Our systems have a degradation factor of 0.25% per year, which means they maintain a very high level of efficiency over time. We also offer a 4-year installation warranty, and put our products through robust testing to ensure the systems we install are of the highest quality and are built to last.

Our battery backup systems have a 10 year warranty on the hybrid inverter, and the batteries are rated to 6,000 cycles.

What happens in the winter, will snow stay on the panels?

Solar panels are smooth so snow doesn’t stick to them like it does to shingles. They are dark in colour and absorb sunlight, so when the sun shines, the panels heat up and the snow slides off. If there is a lot of accumulation and little sunlight for a period of time snow may build up on them, and you may want to look at safely removing it in order to achieve better production.

Here’s a great example of snow coming off solar panels before the steeper metal roof next to it:

Snow on panels

What happens if I sell my house?

If you are financing your system with us and sell your home within the financing period, you have a couple of options: We can remove the solar panel system and install it on your new home, or you can buy out the remaining portion of the lease and sell the system with the house.

The solar PV system and the electricity cost savings the new homeowner will enjoy should substantially increase the value of your home, and help it sell sooner.

Will my property taxes increase?

At this time there is no value added to the property assessment for solar PV systems.

Home Insurance. Any implications there?

You need to let your insurance company know you are installing a system. Solar panels are built to resist relatively extreme weather conditions, however if the system is damaged, it’s your insurance that will need to pay to repair/replace the system. With some insurance companies it is very straightforward, whereas some companies have size limits or won’t insure solar at all. It’s best to have the conversation ahead of time, and it’s worth looking at different providers. If you have trouble get in touch with us, we’re happy to help if we can!

Can NS Power stop offering net metering?

New legislation in 2022 enshrines solar “as of right” for simple systems under 27kW AC. While we still need to go through Plans Review approval with NS Power, we no longer need to ask the utility for permission to net-meter. The program for more complicated systems or those larger than 27kW AC but less than 100kW AC has recently launched, and the program for installations over 100kW AC is forthcoming.