Solar 101

A photovoltaic (PV) system is a series of solar panels (or modules) connected to inverters which change the electricity from direct current (DC) produced by the panels into alternating current (AC), making it compatible with your home’s power system.

Using solar power means you’re buying less electricity from the grid than you normally would, or you might even be selling the excess back - either way you’re saving money.

Solar Module (Panels) warranties explained

Solar panels will produce electricity for a long time, much longer than your payback period, which is one of the great reasons to invest in them. Solar panels have two types of warranties. They have a 25 to 30 year linear performance warranty, which means that the manufacturer guarantees that their efficiency cannot drop below a certain percentage (usually 85% at the end of lifetime). And a manufacturing warranty that covers manufacturing defects, ranging from 12 - 25 years.

Industry Leading Modelling

We use satellite data, drone imagery, LIDAR (laser scans from space!) and physical measurements to create a highly accurate digital model of your roof down to every last vent. We also model nearby trees and structures to be able to accurately simulate shading conditions. Using predictive weather and sun path models, the software builds an irradiance map that informs placement of the solar panels (which is both a science and an art, in our opinion).

A model or forecast is only as good as the data that you use to make it - this is why we focus on gathering detailed data that we need before designing a solar system for your home. This information usually includes:

Your historical electrical consumption
Electrical panel capacity and electrical meter type
Roof type and condition
Roof orientation and geometry (often through drone footage)
Your needs and preferences regarding what type of solar technology you would like

Simulating and Forecasting

We then move onto the process of forecasting the electricity production and financial performance of the solar system in order to create a customized proposal and quote. This takes into account dozens of factors including:

Client electricity costs and consumption patterns
Utility rate escalation based on historical data
System degradation and losses (including snow losses)
Solar panel and inverter models
Local historical weather data

No batteries required!

The most straightforward solar system is called a “grid-tied” system which means that (in Alberta) your system automatically buys and sells electricity to the electrical grid depending on whether you’re producing excess or not. You can fully offset your home's electricity consumption, in which case over a year your system will produce the same amount of electricity as you consume in a year, or you can offset some of your electricity costs.

...unless you want batteries

Off-Grid or hybrid (grid-tied with battery or generator backup) are options too and, though they are a little more expensive, they offer partial or complete energy independence! That means that during a bad storm (or the end of the world) you’ll be the hero on the block that can charge your and all your neighbours' devices.

What custom system would fit your needs?

Below there are three areas of customization we can provide for our clients. We often aim for a balance between the three!


You might already have a budget or a payback period in mind. Buying a solar system is similar to buying a new kitchen, there are many options you can choose from and the level of customization can be quite high. When designing a solar system for you we will take into account your priorities and find a custom solution that fits your financial needs.

Off-Grid Reliability

Your priority might be to go off-grid or not have to rely on the grid so heavily if and when it goes down. In this case, we can focus on building a system that has battery storage or even generator backup. These systems might not be the most economical, but will give the off-grid reliability factor.


Your priority might be about having the most high-tech house on the block. From products to layout, we can design a system with special features such as all-matte black panels, stylising them with your roof lines, and panel-level production data that will up the modern-factor of your home.

Frequently asked questions

From design to maintenance and weather, we tackle a few commonly asked questions. If your question isn't here, please contact us!

Will snow and hail be a problem?

Solar panels are actually more efficient when they’re cold! They’re also inclined, super smooth and warm up quickly under sunlight so if we get a snow dump, they won’t be covered for long. Overall, snow will only reduce a system's output by around 5% per year, and we account for this in our designs & financial projection.

Modern panels are also tested for hail and shouldn't have problems surviving hail storms. They should however be added to home insurance in case of a freak hailstorm or other uncommon weather events.

What does maintenance of my solar system look like?

A solar array requires almost no maintenance. Occasional rainfall keeps them clean and we always install a protective guard that keeps animals and leaves from getting under the panels. We offer inspections to check that the wires stay in place and the monitoring app will let you (and us!) know if anything isn't working like it should.

How do solar panels affect my roof?

They can help extend the life of your roof through providing physical coverage. Solar systems last a long time, so if you have a roof that needs replacing within the next 10 years we suggest doing that before installing a solar system, otherwise you’ll have to pay to get it dismantled and re-installed. We don't usually recommend putting solar on wood shakes due to the potential fire hazard. We work with roofers who can advise as needed.

What is the Greener Homes Loan?

The Greener Homes Loan is an interest-free loan (up to $40,000) that can cover the remaining cost of the installation. There are additional incentives available depending on where you live. We walk all our clients through the application process.

How many panels would I need? How do you calculate system size?

An average family home in Calgary consumes around 6000 kWh of electricity per year, but this figure ranges from 4000kWh to 10,000kWh+. Going electrically net-zero (installing a system that produces the same amount of electricity per year that you consume in a year) usually requires between 14 and 25 400W panels for an average home. However, you do not have to invest in a net-zero system to benefit from solar; if you have a perfect roof face that offsets 50% of your consumption, it might only cost 40% of what a full net zero system would cost for your home! We design a system to meet your objectives, need and roof geometry. We're happy to meet and talk about your needs and answer any questions you might have.

What are all the inverter options?

All inverters convert the electricity your solar panels produce into useful 110V AC electricity that you can use to power your home. String inverters group your panels into strings (like christmas lights) and combine all the electricity they produce before converting it. They are simple to install, very economical and perfect for large unshaded roofs. Conversely, microinverters convert the electricity of each panel individually making systems highly shade tolerant and efficient, but more expensive than string inverter systems. Microinverters are great for roofs with many faces or lots of shading. DC-Optimizer systems are a hybrid of the two and are useful in some specific cases.

Aren't payback periods way too long?

Because solar costs have dropped over 80% in the past 10 years, payback periods are much better nowadays. Our clients see payback periods between 6 - 12 years, depending on what you are currently paying for electricity, and your roof geometry and orientation. Your solar system will produce electricity for 25+ years so after it has paid for itself, you’ll be making money. Our solar systems provide, on average, a rate of return on investment of 5 - 12% over their lifetimes, and sometimes even higher - often beating the market. We also have some extra strategies that we can take you through to accelerate your payback period once your system is installed.