Tag: solar installer

global solar

Solar – A Global Observation

Consumed by local solar events, it is easy to forget how global industry trends can also affect us. The US tariffs on the solar industry, for example, are a powerful reminder of the global economy and how closely tied we really are. With so much going on in the world of solar, we decided to explore a bit outside of our local industry, to understand what impacts the rest of the world might make.

USA

Two major events have occurred in the United States this year which have seen a ripple effect in the solar industry worldwide. No. 1 was California’s mandate to install solar on all new homes. No. 2 was the Tariffs imposed by the federal government.

Sunny California Goes Green

California committed fully to going green this year by mandating all new homes be built with solar panels starting 2020. While some argue that this command and control technique is not the best way to reduce carbon emissions (for any number of reasons), others think this will encourage the future development of the state commit to sustainability in architecture. Regardless of what side you are on, it means that homes will continue being built, and will require solar panels. Some homebuilders may consider pre-building and permitting homes to avoid meeting these new regulations, but homes will still be built beyond 2020. This will lead to an increase in solar module demand, and may increase the price of solar modules.

Trump’s Tariffs

The US solar industry has seen not one, but two sets of Tariffs to solar. The first was a 30% tariff on all solar cell and modules implemented in January 2018. Most recently, an additional 25% tariff has been imposed on imported products from China, including solar cells and modules. While it may be too soon to understand the full implications of these, two subsequent events have occurred. Following the initial imposition of 30% tariffs, $2.5 billion was lost in cancelled projects, not to mention the loss of jobs across the country. The second event that occurred was the increase in US based manufacturing plants. Some of these manufacturers are US based companies taking advantage of a higher barrier of entry to foreign firms; others are foreign firms seeking to circumvent the tariffs imposed.

Despite the increase in domestic manufacturing, the cost of foreign goods with high tariffs or the cost of domestically produced materials may have some influence on the price of solar in the US.

China

China continues to build solar cells and modules, in both China and the US. Recent Chinese government decisions to cut funding for solar could actually boost global panel production. Solar panels built in China are expected to see a significant fall in prices due to high manufacturing for current demand, but will likely not let up once domestic demand falls.

India

As India proposes to implement a 25% safeguard duty on solar panels from China, local solar companies are stockpiling solar panels from China. This stockpiling also contributes to an increased current demand for the Chinese solar panels.

Canada

So what does this all mean for us here in Canada? The US Tariff has already created reduced international solar cell and module demand, but has also increased local producers. China is currently encountering a high demand for solar cells and modules and has ramped up domestic and international production to keep up with the demand. These measures all create an increase in production and supply of solar panels. Furthermore, while the US pays more for imports and domestic products, Canadian solar installers can look forward to reduced prices due to the supply of modules and lack of tariffs.

 

Have other thoughts on global solar? Drop us a line! 

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Solar contractor

Hiring a Solar Contractor

Okay, I’m in. How do I evaluate solar quotes?

What is qualified vs. Fly by night

The first thing to examine or look for when you are seeking a contractor to install your solar panels is their reputation and credibility. It is unfortunate, but true, that there are some contractors who start company’s, obtain contracts, and haphazardly completes their jobs (if they complete them at all).

Look for a contractor who:

  1. Has several years of experience
  2. Has owned and operated the same business for several years
  3. Has positive reviews or can provide references
  4. Provides warranties on their work and can provide you with product warranty information
  5. Can provide qualifications of company and installers
    1. Labourers can be used for some of the very initial work, but most work must be completed by a Journeyman or Master Electrician with CSA Certification.
    2. Do they subcontract any work out? If so, what kind of workmanship warranties do they provide for contract workers, and how can they guarantee the sub-contractors’ qualifications?
    3. Do they use any engineers? Your solar installer should be using a qualified engineer for advice on structural integrity to protect your new solar investment, and your home.
    4. SESA and CanSIA membership can help prove company legitimacy.
    5. A solar energy specialist is as knowledgeable as any electrician but will have CSA certification and years of experience specifically with solar energy systems. This ensures you get the best system, and the best installation.
    6. Finally, verify the payment terms and that the company has WCB.

How do I find a qualified contractor?

You can find a complete list of solar energy contractors at the Solar Energy Society of Alberta. Alternatively, you can just call us!

How do I compare solar quotes?

  1. First, know that cheaper is not better. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. If a deal seems to good to be true, it likely is. A qualified solar contractor pays for a highly qualified team to complete the design and build of all solar energy systems, and will purchase the most affordable, available product that meets their customers unique needs. High quality products and workmanship is often more expensive but is well worth it. It is like purchasing a new car from an authorized and well-known brand, versus paying for a vehicle that someone has assembled in their garage out of spare parts. Do your due diligence to ensure you are getting the most reasonable price, for quality work performed by a qualified company.
  2. An on-site assessment should be conducted. Sure, a quick off-the-cuff rough estimate might help you ball-park the cost of a solar energy system in general, but when you are looking to compare estimates, the estimate should be based on your home. Your short-listed contractors should perform a site visit to assess for structure, slope, shade, among many other factors. If they don’t visit, the quote you receive may not be very reliable.
  3. Compare price, size, and quality of products used. If you see products from a chain consumer hardware store, this may be a red flag. Qualified solar energy contractors will often use solar equipment distributors, where they will get better prices, better quality products. In addition, many of these distributors will only sell products to qualified contractors which will help you verify the company legitimacy.

Can I install solar panels myself?

Not unless you are a CSA certified journeyman or master electrician and seek a qualified engineer to assist with the site assessment and system design. Solar energy systems literally harness the power of the sun with the intent of providing enough electricity to power a home. That is enough electrical current to severely injure, or potentially kill a human being. Please, seek the expertise of a certified solar contractor for the design and installation of your system for your safety, and that of your family.

If that is not reason enough, solar contractors often get less expensive products because they purchase them frequently, and from trusted distributors. That means you are likely to receive better quality, less expensive panels by using a solar contractor.
What are the different types of solar panels?

The two most commonly used types of solar panels used are ‘monocrystalline’ and ‘polycrystalline’. Learn more about what a solar panel is made of, and what the difference is here.

How does the installation process work?

When we install solar panels, we use a simple 5 Step Process that is detailed here.

Should I ask for a solar monitoring system?

You don’t have to but can! Solar monitoring allows you to check the efficiency of your solar energy system, and you would be able to tell right away if something is not functioning correctly with one of your panels. Talk to your solar contractor for more information, and to find out if a solar monitoring system is right for you.

Do I need to install batteries?

For a grid-connected system you do not need batteries, although if you would like them, it may be an option.

If you’re ready to go solar, give us a call. We’ll answer all your questions, and provide you an estimate based on your home and lifestyle.

Gridworks Energy Group
587-405-9090

Gridworks Energy Solar Panels