Considering making the switch to solar energy but feeling a bit skeptical? Below, we bust 5 big myths on powering your home with solar panels:
Myth #1: Canada is too cold for solar power
Solar panels need light, not heat! It’s extremely unlikely that water or snow will freeze on your panels, because of how they are designed and installed. Dark silicone cells on the panels are designed to absorb heat, meaning once a portion of the panel is exposed to the sun, heat will spread throughout and melt the snow. Given panels are installed at an angle, snow slips off easily- so it’s common to see a roof covered in snow, while panels remain snow-free.
Myth #2: Canada has too much snow for solar power
This one relates to the first myth. While a foot of snow would block the sun, snow has an overall insignificant effect on solar production. In fact, when the snow melts it cleans the panels! The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology studied snow coverage on solar panels and found that snow coverage (averaging near 50 inches a year) only reduces solar energy output by about 5% annually. Fortunately, even at a 10% loss of energy, solar panels are designed to still meet 100% of your demand.
Myth #3: Solar panels decrease your house’s value
Actually, in Ontario, it’s the opposite. Studies by Bluewater Energy have found that for each 1kW of solar installed, your home’s value could increase by up to $6000. For an average home, it’s roughly a 3-4% increase. So if your home is worth $700,000, that means an increase of somewhere between $21,000 to $28,0000. Economists at the University of California, researchers from Sabanci University (Turkey) and Tilburg University (Netherlands), and reports by Forbes and Bloomberg have found that homes with solar panels tend to sell faster than those without.
Myth #4: Solar panels need to be replaced often
Solar panels are installed to last, so expect them to continue to produce power for at least 25 years- and most companies offer a warranty to give you peace of mind.
Myth #5: Firefighters cannot put out a fire if you have solar panels
While it’s true that solar panels change how a fire department responds to an incident, there are additional safety measures that can be implemented to ensure firefighter safety.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, rooftop solar panels pose an increased risk of electrocution for firefighters. Gaining rooftop access is crucial for firefighters, and panels are known to limit access because modules cannot be cut through. Cutting a hole at the top of a roof allows for a fire to rise out of a building at its highest point, and increases the visibility and the chances of survival of anyone who is trapped inside.
However, this can easily be prevented by knowing your system. For starters, shutting down systems in accordance with electric code requirements will protect first responders. There should also be clear labelling in your home to indicate which power lines are connected to the solar system, in order for firefighters to have speedy access to the system’s different components.
The Solar Energy Technologies Office funded the Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) program, as a way to provide tools to firefighters and fire code officials who manage solar equipment as they put out fires. Learn more about this STEP project here. You can let your local firehouse know that your home has a solar system installed.
If you’re looking to learn more about solar power, including how much it costs in Ontario, check out or Solar Power 101 blog.