top of page
  • Facebook
Island Community Solar Co-op Logo

A Complete Guide to Solar Panel Systems in British Columbia

It’s no surprise that solar energy has become one of the most popular renewable energy sources across British Columbia. As solar photovoltaic (PV) systems become more accessible due to decreasing costs and increasing availability, more British Columbians are looking towards clean/sustainable energy sources to power their homes and businesses and reduce their environmental impact. 

Is Solar Power Possible in BC?

a map of British Columbia showing the solar irradiance potential for each region

We wouldn’t be talking about solar panels in BC if it wasn’t a viable option for most of the province! According to BC Hydro, the average 16-panel solar photovoltaic system in the province produces 7,700 kWh of electricity over a year, or 77% of an average household's electricity usage. Of course, these numbers will vary slightly when factoring in variables like roof direction (south-facing is optimal for solar panels), surrounding barriers such as hills or trees, and the region of

the province. Some solar PV (photo-voltaic)

Image Credit: Energy Hub systems come close to being able to produce enough energy to power an entire home; it is wise to tie the system into the power grid to cover any shortcomings. Although some areas of British Columbia may see more sun than others, island and coastal regions like Nanaimo, Campbell River, and the east and south coasts of Vancouver Island are especially suitable for solar systems. 

Deciding If Solar is Right for You

Like any major decision regarding your home or business, you’ll want to research solar systems and determine if it is the right choice for you. Solar systems for homes and businesses bring many benefits including increased property value, decreased electricity costs, and decreased carbon emissions. Still, they are also a long-term commitment with most systems lasting 25 years (usually much longer). You’ll need to ensure your buildings and roofs have a long life left, and if not, they’ll need to be upgraded before your solar installation can begin. Another factor to research is whether or not your installer will cover maintenance. All systems installed through our partners at Viridian Solar Co-op include a warranty, maintenance, and snow removal. 

Deciding on Your System: Grid-tie vs Battery Backups

One of the biggest benefits of solar panel systems for homes or businesses is that they are adaptable to your needs. The size of your system will depend on the amount of viable roof space you have and the amount of solar energy you are looking to generate. Many homes and businesses choose a grid-tie system, feeding all excess electricity into the grid, and then taking it back when the sun isn’t shining. In this system, you are “paid” for your excess energy production through credits from BC Hydro. In the cases where your system is not able to produce enough energy to sustain your home or business, those credits will be automatically used to make up for the deficit. If you want to remove yourself from the grid fully, you’ll want to look into battery backups which will store any excess energy produced to be used later. This is the norm for small island off-grid cabins.

a diagram of a residential solar panel system connected to a city grid

Choosing Your Solar Panel Provider 

There’s no shortage of solar system installers throughout Vancouver Island and across British Columbia, but it is important to find one that offers the type of solar system you are looking for, as well as shares your values. Things to look for in a solar provider:

  • They offer financing or leasing options that align with your needs

  • They offer free or low-cost assessments of your property or properties to ensure solar is the right choice for you

  • Their installers are certified and have images and/or videos of their previous work available to view

  • They have a positive track record with visible reviews on their website, social media, or Google Reviews

  • They have a comprehensive warranty that provides a level of protection you are comfortable with

  • Their company values align with your values

Next Steps 

Do you want us to make this easy for you? If you are serious about going solar we can arrange two quotes from different companies and go over the results with you, for no charge! We can also assist with larger installation projects such as multi-family buildings, community centres, and businesses, and help you mitigate the up-front costs. Reach out to us at any time to start the process. After you make your decision and the system is active, you can enjoy the freedom of producing your own energy! The installation process is quick, lasting just a few days (weather permitting) and once your system is installed you’ll immediately begin harnessing the power of the sun and lowering your energy bills! 


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page