Solar Sensibility

Festooning your roof with solar panels not only has a positive environmental impact, it can also lower your energy bills and increase your property value. But it requires some prep and research to make sure it’s the best choice for you, says Derek Power, founder and Director of Innovation at Power Networks, solar installers and renewable energy specialists based in Toronto.

By Laura Bickle | 2 minute read

Sep 26

Francisco Alvarez

“The value [solar adds to your property] works out to be two times the value of the installation cost. So if you spent $20,000, you could expect a $40,000 increase in the value of your home.”

Derek Powers

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How do you know if your home is a good candidate for solar?

The first thing to ask yourself is how old is your roof. If it’s over 10 years-old, you may need to replace it before you install solar panels. You also need to identify if your home is energy efficient. Are your windows tight? Do you have sufficient insulation? Does your home meet all the EnerGuide guidelines? The return on investment of these measures is three to one, four to one with solar. After you’ve gone through that process, that’s where the economies of solar start to make sense. 


The next thing homeowners should do is to call the power company and ask them to do a connection impact assessment. You can also get it online. Ask how many kilowatts you can put on your roof. It’s generally free but some companies will charge you for it. 

What is the financial impact of going solar?

A traditional net metering solar system would cost around $20,000 to $25,000 (Canada Greener Homes Grants are available). The return on investment takes [or “payback period”] around 10 to 12 years. Solar panels last approximately 50 years, while the accompanying power inverters and batteries last 10 to 15 years.

How does adding solar impact property values?

The value works out to be two times the value of the installation cost. So if you spent $20,000, you could expect a $40,000 increase in the value of your home. Little maintenance is needed if the panels are installed properly with a quality product, and if you have squirrel guards.

solar panels

Before installing solar panels, Derek Powers advises homeowners to get a connection impact assessment from the power company.

What are common misconceptions about solar for homes?

A big one is that you will have a zero-dollar power bill. You always have distribution fees and other costs. The power you generate is exported to the power company’s lines, and then you consume other power. But anything extra you make goes to the power grid in exchange for credit down the road. With this process — called “net metering” — you’re offsetting about 40 to 60 percent of the power that you consume.


Also, solar will never be able to produce enough [energy] to heat your house. You cannot fully heat a traditional Canadian home with just the solar panels on your roof. 

How does solar affect insurance?

Some insurers may try to increase your home insurance premium. Solar is CSA approved and government regulated. It is not expensive. Be sure to shop around.

Laura Bickle

Wahi Writer

Photo: Joanne K Photography

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