SolarUp – Ontario #1 Solar Panel Installation & Design Company

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how much does it cost to install solar panels?

In this article we will break down the cost of solar panel systems in Ontario and even provide you with a handy solar panel system calculator to help you estimate the approximate cost of a solar panel system.

Ontario Solar Panel Cost Calculator: How Much Can You Save?

There are several environmental and residential advantages to investing in solar power. For instance, the installation of a residential solar panel system in Ontario is a great way to combat climate change and harness the power of the sun to generate clean energy for your home! However, the desire to save money on electricity costs remains the primary reason more Ontario homes are considering going solar.

As a result, one of the first questions homeowners in Ontario tend to ask is “how much are solar panels in Ontario?” or “what is the total cost of installing solar panels in Ontario?”

On the surface, these questions may seem easy to answer, but in reality, they are far more complex than one might think.

That is why we have written this article in an effort to break down the total costs associated with a residential solar panel system in Ontario. In addition to providing you with the necessary tools you need, like our handy solar panel system cost calculator, to assist you in estimating the approximate cost of a solar panel system for your Ontario home!

To this end, we shall begin by discussing the 7 different key factors that influence the total cost of a residential solar panel system in Ontario. 

1. Installation Type

When debating whether to install a residential solar panel system for your Ontario home, first you must consider the installation type. Since the type of installation has a significant impact on the overall cost of your solar power system. To this extent, we have outlined the general cost benefits and losses of the different installation types that are available for you to choose from. Making it easier for you to decide what the right installation type is for you; those are as follows:

Roof-Top vs. Ground-Mounted

Generally, roof-top installations tend to be less expensive than ground-mounted residential solar panel installations.

Provided that, ground-mounted solar panel systems require the use of additional materials and labor such as ground posts and fencing, all of which often result in increased costs. However, to be effective, a ground-mounted solar panel system must be securely anchored into the ground and surrounded by a perimeter fence.

Pitched Roof vs. Flat Roofs

Rooftop suitability for residential rooftop solar panel installation depends on several factors, most notably the roof’s slope orientation. That being said, most homes in Ontario are built with a pitched roof, which makes solar panel installation less costly. Whereas Ontario homes that have a flat roof often require the use of more materials and labor, given that there is no slope. Thus, flat-roofed installations tend to be more expensive

Shingles vs. Steel Roofs

Most Ontario homes have a shingled roof and that is the most common roof type for solar panel installations. 

Homes with steel roofs can still have solar panels installed on them but it requires specific non-penetrating clamps.

That being said, the cost difference between these two installation types is quite small in comparison. However, based on the condition of the shingled roof, the solar panel installations can be slightly more cost-effective.

2. Solar Equipment Selection (Solar Panels, Inverters, and Racking)

Solar Panels

Selecting the right type of rooftop solar panel system for your Ontario home is yet another key factor in determining the total cost of a residential solar power system in Ontario. In addition to estimating what percentage of your total electricity consumption will be offset by your solar panel system, there are a number of factors that will affect the outcome, including:

A) Solar Panel Material: Polycrystalline vs. Monocrystalline

Solar panel systems that use polycrystalline solar panel cells (bluish in color), which are solar cells that are made from multiple silicon fragments that are melted together, are generally less expensive for homeowners in Ontario to purchase and install. Meanwhile, solar panel systems designed with monocrystalline solar panel cells (uniform black color) have solar cells made from single silicon and are often more expensive upon purchase.

B) Solar Panel Brand

If you’re thinking about getting rooftop solar panels for your Ontario home, you might be wondering which manufacturers are worth your time. To that extent, a tiered classification system for solar panel manufacturers was invented. 

However, most Ontario manufacturers worth your while tend to fall under “Tier 1”. Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers can be defined as those who have been manufacturing solar panels for nearly 10+ years and are highly regarded amongst the solar power industry with regard to the quality, warranty, and service of their products.

Having said that, Tier 1 solar panel systems are usually more expensive than small-to medium-scale manufacturers (Tier 2) and assemblers-only (Tier 3) solar panel systems.

C) Efficiency

The total cost of a residential solar panel system also depends on the overall efficiency of the panels.

Solar panel efficiency is defined by its ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into alternating current (AC).

Today (2022), most residential solar panels range between 15% and 22% efficiency, and usually the higher the efficiency, the higher the cost.

D) Output

Another key factor in determining the total cost of a residential solar panel system is the panel output.

Most residential solar panels on the market today are rated to produce between 300 and 500 watts.  The higher the wattage of a solar panel, the more electricity it can produce under the same conditions. 

Generally, the higher the power output of a solar panel, the more expensive it will be. 

E) Size

Figuring out the proper size of a solar panel system, in terms of how many solar panels are required to efficiently power your Ontario home, is one of the most significant cost-determining factors.

However, to make things easier to understand with regard to how size influences cost, we have broken down solar panel systems into two size groups: 

  1. 60-cell solar panels (3.25 x 5.4 feet) – these panels tend to cost less as they are typically used for residential projects with small roof spaces.
  2. 72-cell solar panels (3.4 x 6.9 feet) –  these panels are often more expensive and typically used for residential projects with larger roof space.

Inverters:

Selecting the right type of inverter for your residential solar panel system in Ontario is the next key factor in determining the total cost of your residential solar power system.

A solar inverter has one core function, which is to convert the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which is the type of energy used to power your home.

To that extent, the type of inverter can largely impact the total cost of your solar panel system. In this section we will highlight the three basic types of inverters that you can choose from, they are as follows:

A) Traditional String Inverters:

Traditional string inverters are a type of central inverter that connects each solar panel in a system to a “string” that is wired together in a series to form a chain of solar panels. At which point, the chain of solar panels is then plugged into a string inverter so that you can begin generating electricity used to power your home. However, the output of a string inverter is dependent on the weakest panel in the chain. As a result, there may be substantial energy losses due to uneven, dirty, or shaded panels. That being said, traditional string inverters are by far the cheapest option among solar inverters available on the market.

B) Inverter + Power Optimizers:

A combination of an Inverter + power optimizer is placed under each individual solar panel so that “weaker/less effective” panels won’t affect the performance of the “stronger” panels in the system. 

A system using inverters with power optimizers is usually more efficient and more expensive too.

NOTE: Some of these inverters can even come “EV Ready,” meaning that an EV charger can be directly connected to the inverter.

C) Microinverters

Microinverters, or solar micro-inverters, are simple plug-and-play devices used in solar panels that convert direct current (DC) generated by a single module into alternating current (AC), which is used throughout your home.

Microinverters differ from traditional string and central solar inverters, which link a single inverter to multiple solar panels. The output of several microinverters can be combined and frequently fed into the electrical grid. 

The size of each microinverter is like that of an internet router, and they are individually installed underneath each solar panel. 

Overall, microinverters offer many advantages but are significantly more costly in comparison to the other types of inverters available

Racking Systems:

A racking system lays the foundation that holds your solar array in place. To that extent, the type of racking system you choose can largely impact the total cost of your rooftop solar panel system. As a result, in this section, we will discuss the two main types of racking systems that are available for purchase.

They are as follows:

A) Railed Mounts

Attaching your solar panels to a rail system installed on the roof is one of the best mounting options because they are easy to mount, don’t interfere with other areas of your home, and allow for a clean look. What’s more, this type of racking system also provides rail-based mount attachment options for tile, metal, and composition shingle roofs. 

As a result, railed mounts are easily the most popular choice for homeowners with sloped roofs, in particular. 

Lastly, this type of racking system is the least expensive option for purchase with a rooftop residential solar panel system.

 

B) Rail-Free Mounts

Rail-free mounting systems are a type of racking system that requires the use of fewer components upon installation. However, they also require more expertise and precision on the part of the installer. 

Considering that not all roofs have a completely straight slope. As a result, rail-free mounts can prove more challenging. That being said, rail-free mounts are less common and can often be more expensive to purchase due to the added complexity of this type of racking system.

3. Soft Costs: Permits, Utility Connection Fees, and Solar System Design & Engineering

The “soft costs” that are often associated with the purchase and installation of a rooftop residential solar panel system are simply the “non-hardware costs associated with going solar”. To that extent, some of the soft costs that we will be discussing in this article with regard to the total cost of a solar panel system in Ontario are permits, utility connection fees, solar system design, and engineering.

Building Permit Application Fees:

Installing a rooftop residential solar panel system on your Ontario home requires you to obtain a building permit from the town or city in which you live. 

The cost of a building permit for your system will vary depending on the area in which you live and the difference in cost could range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Utility Application and Electrical Connection Fees:

Investing in a rooftop residential solar panel system in Ontario is more affordable than ever in part due to Ontario’s Net-Metering Program, which refers to the way in which homeowners are billed for their solar energy systems by their energy distributors. Specifically, net-metering measures how much solar energy a system generates in relation to the total energy consumption of a household. Any surplus energy that is generated is directed back into the utility grid for credit.

However, connecting to the utility grid isn’t free. In fact, it requires you to fill out and submit a variety of different applications, all of which vary depending on the utility company that you are connecting to. 

Needless to say, most applications and “connection fees” have costs associated with them and each utility company has its own application process and fees.

Solar System Design and Engineering:

Designing and installing a solar panel system is complicated and requires both electrical and structural engineers to be built. They provide skills, knowledge, and expertise in designing key components of the solar panel system. 

That being said, the larger the solar panel system, the more expensive it will be.

4. Electrical Main Panel Upgrade

For most Ontario homes, installing a solar panel system does not require additional upgrades to the pre-existing electrical panel. However, when the electrical panel is too small, old, or rated for lower amperage, as is the case for some of the older, smaller homes in Ontario, then some upgrades might be required in order to properly install a residential solar system on the home’s roof. Thankfully, the cost of upgrading your electrical panel is relatively inexpensive for older homes and should make your home safer and more compliant with future regulations.

 

NOTE: The solar panel installation company will usually have information about whether your panel needs to be upgraded during the initial assessment of your home

5. Warranties

When it comes to the purchase and installation of a new residential solar panel system for your Ontario home, the warranty of the system can play a significant role in determining the total cost. 

Considering that, you may choose to opt for a solar panel system with a higher price tag based on the type of warranty associated with the system. As such, we want to take this time to highlight the main two types of warranties you often see in electing to go solar. They are as follows:

Manufacturer Warranties:

Usually, more reputable solar manufacturers will offer additional warranty coverage for all of their equipment. However, this often means that the equipment available for purchase comes with a higher price tag. Additionally, you can also purchase extended warranties on some solar components to give you more coverage.

Installer Warranties:

Solar installers may also offer additional warranties on residential solar panel systems, such as power performance guarantees, equipment and material warranties, and regular preventative maintenance. 

This is especially important when it comes to the longevity of your system. However, it’s important to note that while some installers may include additional warranties as part of the standard cost of a solar panel system, others may charge extra. 

That being said, installer warranties aren’t always guaranteed as such. That’s why it’s important to do your research ahead of time on the types of warranties being offered by the installer upon the purchase and installation of your residential solar power system.

6. Cost of Labor

The design and installation of a residential solar panel system for your Ontario home can often be quite complex. This often requires a team of solar installers, engineers, and electricians to work together, side-by-side. Together, they are able to ensure the installation is carried out successfully and with maximum quality from start to finish.

However, depending on the level of expertise that is required on behalf of the solar panel installer, the cost of labor can vary greatly across similar solar panel system size installations. 

The main differentiating cost factor is that the more experienced solar installers are likely to charge more for the solar panel installation process. That being said, when it comes to choosing your solar installer, the more experienced solar installers are often worth the increased costs associated with them. Because, you have a better chance of a worry-free installation, which will help to save on service costs in the future.

7. Grants and Incentives

To further encourage investments in renewable sources of energy, like that of solar power technology, the Canadian Government has put forth initiative programs, such as the Canada Greener Homes Grant Initiative. This initiative was put in place to secure electricity generation to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity across the province.

 

By way of this initiative eligible Ontario homeowners are able to receive up to $5,000 towards the cost of approved energy-efficient retrofits to their home. Alongside an additional $600 to offset the cost of any home energy evaluations and expert advice, so that they can begin planning their energy-efficient retrofits accordingly.

 

Eligible homeowners in Canada regardless of where you live can participate in the initiative. However, only one homeowner per home can register. That being said, in order to qualify for the Canadian Greener Homes Grant, there are a few rules you must follow.

Those are as follows:

  1. The property must be owned by a person who lives there (not a corporation)
  2. You must live in the house for a minimum of 6 months (not a new build or developer)

The Canada Greener Homes Grant is prorated based on the added electrical capacity to the house up to $5,000

For example, adding 1.0 kW will qualify you to receive a $1,000 grant. Adding a 2.0kW will qualify you to receive $2,000 and anything over 5kW will grant you $5,000.

Summary

Solar power has always been a viable source of renewable energy, but it has only recently become cost-effective for the average consumer.

In the past ten years, the price of solar panels has decreased by 80% thanks to advancements in technology and with the introduction of “Net Metering” and incentives such as the “Canada Greener Home Grant” solar panels systems are cheaper than ever.

You can trust the solar experts at SolarUp to assist you in determining the cost of your solar power system! Call for a free consultation: (416) 613-9996 or fill out our contact form today.

SolarUp – Ontario #1 Solar Panel Installation & Design Company