Preparing for Installation:
Why should I switch to Solar?
The sun rises every day, making solar power our most abundant and clean source of renewable energy. It reduces the need to rely on more harmful and polluting sources of power, such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas. A residential solar system is an investment in the future of our planet, enhancing the quality of our personal and environmental health.
In addition, Fast-Rack solar power technology has come a long way, making residential solar more affordable and efficient than ever. We are currently facing some of the highest electricity prices in Canada and they are continually rising. Solar at home is a great way to better control your energy future.
Is my home good for solar?
Many things determine the level of suitability for solar at your home. The roof area, pitch(slope) and direction, roofing material, roof obstructions, shading on the roof caused by tree branches and other homes, and your electrical panel’s capacity. Fast Rack ultra-rail system is designed to work with most roof types and is aesthetically attractive.
Our solar experts can help you determine how suitable your home currently is. They will provide customized assessment to understand your energy requirements, and help you make the best decision for your energy needs.
How do you size my solar system?
We start by using your historical usage to design a Fast-Rack solar system that will be sufficient for your normal energy needs. The system size is then aligned with satellite imagery of your south roof and your aesthetic preferences. Lastly, the system can be scaled down to suite your budget.
I live in a condo building; can I still implement solar?
Most condo buildings that implement solar utilize it as a way to offset common load areas, such as hallway and lobby lights, or such instances as heating a hot tub or pool. Recently, the City of Victoria saw Central Park condominium implement 60-solar panels to offset over a third of their annual energy bills for their common areas.
Are there incentive available for my solar system?
Will solar panels increase the value of my home?
Similar to any home improvement, a Fast-Rack solar system can increase the value of your home. It is often an appealing feature to a buyer and reduces their electricity costs into the future. A Zillow study from 2019 demonstrated that homes with solar panels in the U.S sell for 4.1% more on average, that is enough to recover your entire investment.
How Does Solar Work:
How does a Fast-Rack solar system work and what are its components?
A residential Fast-Rack solar system has various components that work together seamlessly to convert the sunshine into usable energy for your daily needs at home.
Solar electricity is generated when photons (sunlight) land on a solar photovoltaic cell. Energy is created inside the solar cell as the solar radiation is converted into DC electricity. However, this energy will not be ready for use yet, you still need an inverter to blend it into your home. The main benefit is that there are no moving parts, so no maintenance or wear and tear.
The inverter converts the solar energy from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which is used by your home’s electrical system and appliances. These inverters may be small units mounted behind the solar modules called micro inverters or a larger unit mounted in the garage or outside wall called a string inverter. Your installer will help you choose the right solution for you.
Main Electric service panel
Your electrical panel takes electricity flowing from your inverter, and blends it into your home. The energy can flow into all the appliances that you are using at that time. If your solar system is producing more energy than required for your current needs, the abundance will flow back into the utility grid.
The bidirectional meter is a way to measure energy flowing to and from the grid and is supplied by your utility. Any excess electricity produced by your solar system will be sold back to the grid, providing a credit which offsets your monthly electric bill. The utility will read the energy you used and the energy you put back onto the grid and you only pay for the NET difference.
What is net metering and net billing?
Net metering/billing is a program whereby eligible home owners can reduce their net energy demand by supplying their home with solar electricity and exporting surplus generated energy back onto the grid for credit towards their electricity bill.
Here’s how it works. When the sun is available on your solar modules, their power will be converted by the system and fed into your home. The loads in your home will consume this power and any power left over will flow back into the grid. Your utility will subtract the value of electricity you supply to the grid (outflow) from the value taken from the grid (inflow). What you’ll see on your bill is the “net” difference between those two amounts.
Net billing and net metering are similar programs in that they both offer you a NET savings. The key difference is for net metering the any excess energy generated is given back to you as an energy credit (kWh credit against kWh used). For Net billing the transaction is in dollars, consumption and generation are recorded and billed separately, and you will get charged your full retail rate per kWh when consuming energy from the grid, and are paid the wholesale price when you sell it back.
You can check with your local utility to see if your province operates under net metering, or net billing. Make sure the equipment you are using is approved for these applications. Fast-Rack solar systems are approved to feed power back to the grid.
What is a kWh?
A kWh stands for kilowatt hour, which represents 1000 watts x hours (power x time). It is the standard unit of measurement for how much energy your using, like volume. It is not the number of kilowatts you are using per hour, rather it is the amount of energy required to power a 1000-watt appliance for an hour.
For example, if you switched on a 100 W lightbulb, it would take 10 hours to rack up 1 kWh of electricity. The more power an appliance utilizes, the faster it will use up one kWh. A 500-watt vacuum cleaner will use up a kWh in two hours.
Your utility bill is based on the amount of kWh you used in the billing period. Your utility tracks how many kWh you purchase from them, and the amount of kWh you send back to the grid.
Will my Panels work when it’s cloudy and in the winter?
Yes, your Fast-Rack system will be able to produce electricity in all types of weather and seasons. The output of your system will vary from day to day with the changes in weather (temperature and amount of sun). For example, on a cloudy day it is possible your solar system will only perform at the 10-25% range. This is OK, what is important is how much energy your system produces over the whole year.
In the summer your solar systems energy production will peak, and in the winter months it is expected to be the lowest because of the variable weather patterns and short days.
Snow cover may have an effect on solar panel efficiency, and steeper mounted panels are better at shedding accumulated snow and ice than flatter mounted panels. A study by Alberta Institute of Technology found that the impact of snowfall only results in a three percent loss of solar power. You can clean them off if you want that three percent.
When we provide a free solar assessment on your property, we will factor in the sunlight exposure, and climate of where you live to ensure that your solar system can adequately service your energy necessities.
How long will my solar panels last?
The Fast-Rack solar panels have a standard warranty for 25 years. This does not mean that your panels will stop producing electricity after 25 years, it just represents the amount of time to which energy production capabilities are covered under warranty. The truth is, your solar panels should be able to work for over 50 years.
The solar panel degradation rate is unique to photovoltaic type, but you can expect your solar panels to be producing at 85% – 90% capacity after a 25year warranty period.
How much maintenance will my solar panels require?
Fast-Rack solar systems do not comprise of moving parts; thus, they are less susceptible to damage and require minimal maintenance. To best take care of your system, your panels should be inspected a few times a year to clean any dirt and debris build up.
Do solar panels work at night?
Given that solar panels need sunlight to generate power, their production is dormant at night. But you still have power at night when you go solar through net metering or a home battery system.
Net Metering: When you generate excess energy, it is sent back to the grid and you receive credits. During the night time you can apply those credits towards drawing electricity from the grid. This way you never waste the energy your produce from the sun!
Battery storage: Most places have utilities that allow for net metering or net billing. However, in certain places, often remote, energy independence is required from your solar system through battery storage. In this scenario, rather than sending your excess energy to the grid, you are able to store it and use your own energy later. Energy is first consumed by your appliances and then the access is stored in the battery.
What happens during a blackout?
Conventional Fast-Rack grid tied systems need utility power to operate, and will not power your home during a blackout. However, one may have their system designed with a battery bank, which can produce energy and power your home with, or without power from the grid. A home solar system used in conjunction with a hybrid or off grid inverter, associated electrical modifications, and a battery bank can enable a grid tied home the ability to maintain power during blackouts.
How do I choose an installer?
There are a growing number of installers across Canada, so it is important to know what to look for in an installer. If you are considering solar for your home, a knowledgeable and experience PV installer will ensure your solar system will be long lasting, durable and produce the most energy while be cost effective. With our strong installer network and our expertise, we are able to connect you with a credible installer for your system.
The following list are some common things to keep in mind when assessing a solar installer.
- Experience – It is important to select a solar installer with experience installing solar electric systems
- Location – It may be wise to have the installer located close to where the installation is to be. Travel and shipping costs to the site may outweigh the benefit of hiring a cheaper installer out of the region. A local installer can also service your site in a timely manner if any problems occur later on.
- Licensing – The solar installer should hold a valid electrical contractors license in good standing or has a business relationship with a valid electrical contractor to complete electrical work (field wiring)
- Interconnection and permitting: The installer hired may offer to complete all required permitting, such as electrical and building permitting as required. As well they may offer to complete all interconnection requirements from the power distribution company. There may or may not be additional fees for those services.
- Equipment – Ensure brands offered by the contractor come complete with warranties; equipment such as solar modules may also come with guaranteed power output terms. Make sure proposed proposed equipment is approved and has the proper electrical safety mark.
- Performance – Being able to measure performance of the complete solar PV system is a useful metric to analyze the return on investment for the system. A solar contractor may give an estimated energy production and may offer some guaranties of performance related to their estimate.
- Warranty: In case of equipment failure, it is important to know what is covered by warranty and who is responsible for servicing and/or replacement in case of a fault. Make sure the contractor provides you with a written copy of what is covered by their workmanship warranty (non equipment failure) and the term this covers
- Insurance: It would be beneficial to obtain a liability insurance certificate with a minimum of $2,000,000 in coverage from the installer to ensure that the contractor has proper coverage to handle any incidents occurring during installations.
- Finalizing proposal – Review the proposal given to you by the contractor for solar module layout, wire routing plans, equipment being installed and production/saving estimates. Discuss your energy usage with the solar contractor you interview to ensure the system is sized for your needs. Review any potential changes to your electrical consumption that may be coming in the near future, electrical vehicle, hot tub, heat pump etc. Both you and your installer should sign a copy of the plans to show you have agreed on what is installed.
What permits will I need?
Not every home is the same, thus permitting requirements can differ from job to job. An electrical permit will always be mandatory, while a building permit will be deemed necessary upon assessment although often required. The permitting process will usually be taken care of by your installer.
How long will it take to get my solar energy system turned on after installation?
Once installed, your system will still need to pass your local municipalities inspection. After this, your utility company will review the system and interconnect it to the electrical grid before giving permission to turn the system on. This process differs across utility companies. After this is complete, your installer can show you how to turn on your system and it is ready for use!
What is the warranty on a solar energy system and how long does it last?
There are various components to a residential solar system and these are all supplied by different manufacturers. While they may all provide different warranties, the industry standard is 25-30 years. In the case of equipment failure, it is important to understand what is covered by the warranty and who is responsible for servicing in any fault.
How do I pay for electricity with solar?
When you go solar, you will still receive a utility bill because you are receiving power from both your system and the grid. Therefore, your utility bill represents any extra power you will consume that your solar system does not provide.
The incremental power you have to purchase is dependent on various things such as how much energy you are using, the size of your solar system, and seasonal and weather patterns. Because of the seasonal component, when measuring your energy costs, it is important to measure them on an annualized basis.
How does paying for solar help control my costs?
Utility rates are expensive, and rising unpredictably. Installing a residential solar system will help you not only lower your annual electricity costs initially, but help protect you against higher utility rates in the future.
How much can I expect to save when I go solar?
When you request a solar assessment, our team will assist you in determining your predicted savings. Request your free solar assessment today to see if solar is the right fit for your home energy needs!
Why go Solar with Fast-Rack?
We at Fast-Rack have a great depth of experience in the solar field. Our experience in the multiple facets of solar such as installation, manufacturing, and distribution has enabled us to design the best racking system for your home. Our systems not only take into account the needs of your personal quality and design preferences, but also provide an easy-to-use and quick racking solution for your installer.
What warranty protection does Fast-Rack provide?
Every Fast-Rack product is covered by our standard 10-year product warranty, which can be upgraded to 25-years. This guarantees that all products are free from any manufacturing defects and will perform as we state in our printed literature.
What makes Fast-Rack the best choice for home solar?
- Sleek & Powerful: Fast-Rack Solar Systems don’t just lower your electric bill; they look good while doing it. With optional black modules and available trim kits, Fast-Rack can make your system the best-looking system in your neighbourhood.
- Durable: Your solar system is one of the most important investments you can make. That is why every component of your Fast-Rack System has been tested to ensure quality, even in Canada’s most extreme environments.
- Waterproof: Fast-Rack Talons ensure that your system never leaks. This revolutionary product provides its own integrated multilayer waterproofing protection system that is guaranteed not to leak. Furthermore, the Fast-Rack Talon also enables homeowners to place their solar system anywhere on the roof that they like.
- Lower Cost: Fast-Rack is just that, Fast. Faster installations mean less time and thus lower cost.
- Protected: Every Fast-Rack product is covered by our standard 10-year product warranty, which can be upgraded to 25-years. This guarantees that all products are free from any manufacturing defects and will perform as we state in our printed literature.