Despite solar power’s unparalleled ability to offset tonnes of carbon emissions while saving thousands of dollars, the primary decisive factor for most people is its cost. And that seems reasonable, as solar’s price tag still remains significant enough for a potential customer to ponder over, even though there has been a dramatic 80% decrease in prices in just a decade.
But before we tackle the question of whether solar is a good investment, which it obviously is – let us find out how much it costs to put solar panels on the roof of a Canadian household.
Cost of Solar Panels for Canadian Homes
The cost of solar panels varies based on many factors such as the installer, your location, complexity of installation, equipment used, etc. However, it can be said that the average price for installing solar panels on your roof is about $3 per watt.
A typical Canadian household needs anywhere between 5 and 10 kW of solar panels. Considering a 5 kW system and the $3/W pricing, you would need about $15,000 to get solar panels for your home. Generally, the price per watt is inversely proportional to the size of the system, so larger systems might be priced lower than $3 per watt.
Depending on where you live, you might also be eligible for one of the several rebates and incentives available throughout Canada. Depending on which incentives apply to you, the pricing may come down to $2.7/W or lower. You can find a comprehensive list of all the available rebates and incentives for each of the provinces in Canada on our incentives page.
Can You Really Get Solar Panels for Free?
By now, at least one solar company must have approached you offering solar panels for free, and you are wondering how this works, since nothing of value really ever comes free, especially something like solar. You are right, technically there isn’t such a thing as free solar panels.
What these companies are offering customers is energy from solar panels that are leased. So instead of buying power from the grid company, you will buy it from the company that installed solar panels on your roof (but technically owns them). Therefore, you are not getting panels for free, since you are not the owner of them.
It might seem like a very attractive offer – not having to pay anything upfront and enjoying relatively cheaper power. However, leasing solar panels provides far less financial value over the system’s lifetime. And if you feel hesitant to pay a significant amount upfront, there’s another option that brings you the best of both worlds. Keep reading to know.
What is the Best Way to Finance Solar for My Home?
Here’s a universally true fact about purchasing solar panels – buying them cash always results in maximum savings. In other words, a cash purchase of solar panels provides a much shorter payback period than leased panels.
That being said, a cash purchase might not be a feasible option for many customers. Fortunately, a third option exists which combines the advantages of both cash purchase and a lease, while addressing the limitations of both – a bank loan.
Solar panels can be purchased with a loan, reducing upfront payment while increasing payback by just a small amount. In some locations, you can also benefit from provincial clean energy financing programs that offer loans at low interest rates. Some banks or financial institutions also offer the same throughout the country.
There is no general rule as to which is the best way to buy solar panels, but the preference should always be to purchase cash, followed by a bank loan, and lastly a lease.
How Long Does it Take for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves?
Often, the payback period of solar panels (or any commodity for that matter) is a much better purchase criterion than the price tag. When it comes to solar panels, payback periods have seen a steep decline with the plummeting prices.
The time taken by solar panels to pay for themselves varies with many factors such as the cost of your system, existing expenditure on energy, and available sunlight. But in general, solar power systems in Canada pay themselves off within 8-15 years of installation.
Considering the seriously long life of solar panels, i.e. three decades at minimum, it means that panels with even the longest payback periods will generate free energy for over 15 years of their life, which is truly remarkable!
If you are going with an experienced and reputed company, you can be assured that your solar panels will perform their best throughout their lifetime, thanks to excellent design and installation – leading to the lowest possible payback period as well as a long life.
Is It Worth Going Solar in Canada?
The enormous nation of Canada is blessed with equally enormous amounts of natural resources, be it freshwater or wood or even coal. Coupled with the high prices of solar panels in the past decades, going solar wasn’t a particularly attractive option – until a few years ago.
Take globally changing climate and steadily depleting resources, put it in the equation with the disruptive decrease in the prices of solar and an incessant increase in the prices of conventional energy, and you have a clear prediction – the time for solar is here!
As mentioned before, even if your system cost somehow allows for the minimum possible savings from solar, the savings are still substantial. And of course, it goes beyond just saving money, you’ll play a small role in saving the planet too – a perfect win-win!