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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Raysolar / Operations Questions

General questions about Raysolar and Our Business

Do you offer financing for large purchases?

We can assist you with an application for financing through Financeit, a 3rd party finance company based in Toronto, ON. Applications are subject to credit approval. Financeit offers weekly, biweekly or monthly installments with many different options to help find the solution that works best for you!

Do you ship products across Canada?

Yes. Raysolar ships products nationwide from one of our many distribution locations.

What are my payment options?

Customers can pay for their larger purchases with financeit financing, or they may choose any of the following accepted payment options: E-transfer, Visa, Mastercard, debit, cheque, EFT, Bank Draft, or direct bank transfer for those applicable. (please note partner accounts paying with credit card, or any purchase of more than $10,000, incurs a 1.5% surcharge).

What is a site consultation, why is it needed, and what are the fees?

A site consultation is an essential part of designing and quoting a solar PV system to avoid delays and potential cost overruns. The information gathered helps the design engineer to refine the quote as much as possible. It is necessary to have an experienced solar installer or design engineer on-site to identify critical points of interest, such as: shading, site dimensions and layout, existing electrical infrastructure, and identifying the required scope of work specific to each project. Fees are dependent on certain criteria, such as: site location, distance, and the time spent on-site.

What is RS emPowerment Training?

RS emPowerment training is an educational curriculum developed by Raysolar to educate people about the basic solar PV design and installation fundamentals. RS emPowerment is available as an on-site training service, a textbook document, and alternatively as a detailed course structure that can be implemented in any educational facility across the country. Our goal is to make RS emPowerment training available to the largest possible audience in order to proliferate the use of solar technology.

What is the Raysolar Partnership, and how does it bring value to me?

We stand by our products, services, and the customers we serve. Raysolar uses these core values to deliver uncompromising support as communities continue to make the switch to renewable energy systems. Raysolar Partners share our vision. We offer our extensive industry experience and customer service to work with your business on all fronts; technical design, support, sales and marketing.  

What is the Raysolar Workmanship Warranty?

Raysolar guarantees the workmanship from our technicians for a period of one year. This workmanship warranty does not apply to products or any issues that may arise from existing infrastructure, user negligence or error. Product warranties are provided by the product manufacturer and we’re here to help.

2. General Solar PV Questions

General Questions related to All Solar PV Systems

How do I keep my Solar Panels clean?


It is important to keep solar panels clean to ensure maximum output. High quality solar panels’ surfaces are made of tempered glass and are easily cleaned with water. Often rain is enough to clean dust and dirt but localized conditions may require more concentrated cleaning methods. Bird droppings, tree sap, and dirt from wind storms are examples where using a mild solution of water and vinegar along with a foam scrub brush will aid in the soil removal. Harsh chemicals should not be used.

How do the changing seasons affect my solar PV panel production?


The changing seasons affect solar PV production in two significant ways: the total “Sun Hours” available during the day, and the sunlight’s “angle of incidence” as the light rays strike the solar panel’s surface. The ideal tilt-angle and orientation is subject to the geographic region of the installation; the tilt, orientation, and geographic location will determine the resulting variable sun hours and angles of incidence throughout each year. Solar panels installed north of the equator (ie. northern hemisphere) will be pointed South, East or West. The inclination of the panels and racking will depend on how far away from the equator the system is installed. Extreme Northern latitudes have very low sun angles, meaning the Sun is very low in the sky. This indicates that a South facing array at a steep inclination would best capture the movement of the Sun, from sunrise to sunset. The total sun hours will determine the duration of time that the solar panels will be exposed to the Sun. The Sun’s height in the sky changes throughout the year, and is lowest in the sky during the winter. The low sun angle means that the Sun’s rays must pass through more of the Earth’s atmosphere before reaching its destination, which allows for the gases of the atmosphere to deflect and diminish the strengths of the Sun rays; this is called atmospheric scattering.

How does a photovoltaic (PV) solar system work?

Solar PV systems use silicone wafers called solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The solar cells consist of one or two layers of a semi-conducting material. When sunlight shines on the solar cell it creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the sunlight, the greater the flow of electricity. Solar cells are referred to in terms of the amount of energy they generate in full sunlight, measured in electric power, Watts or Kilowatts. The solar cells are wired together to make solar panels, conventionally having either 60 or 72 cells. Solar PV panels produce raw DC electric power when exposed to sunlight, and an inverter can convert this DC power into conventional AC power, which is the type of electricity used in your home appliances. Grid Tied solar PV systems send the electric energy to the grid connection in the building, and out to the power grid; energy that is sent out this way is measured on the meter-base supplied by the local electricity company and credited on the electricity bill against the cost of the energy that is consumed; this is known as net-metering. Off Grid solar PV systems do not have a connection to a power grid, and instead use batteries to store energy produced from the solar panels.

How does a photovoltaic solar panel work?


Solar panels can either be polycrystalline or monocrystalline, both of which are silicone based. The basic scientific principle is based on the photovoltaic effect. This effect allows photons from the Sun to dislodge electrons from a material and then transfer those electrons through wires which can be used to perform work. Solar PV systems use silicone wafers called solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The solar cells consist of one or two layers of a semi-conducting material. When sunlight shines on the solar cell it creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the sunlight, the greater the flow of electricity. Solar cells are referred to in terms of the amount of energy they generate in full sunlight, measured in electric power, Watts or Kilowatts. The solar cells are wired together to make solar panels, conventionally having either 60 or 72 cells.

How does a roof mounted solar PV system protect my home’s roof from water infiltration?

Solar systems installed onto asphalt shingle roofs use a thin metal sheet, a mechanical shingle called a flashing, that slides underneath the asphalt shingle to cover the roof penetrations of the hanger-bolts to divert water over top and away from each connection point.

What are my solar PV racking and mounting system options?

Racking systems are the structures that mount solar panels in place. Racking systems must be designed properly to ensure that they can resist geotechnical failures, wind-loading failures, and structural failures. Ground-mount racking systems are installed on the ground, and are typically made of extruded aluminum. Ground mount systems are typically installed using helical piles, or ballasted foundations. Roof-mounted racking systems are installed on the roof of an existing building. Roof-mounts are more common and typically more cost effective; however, ground-mounts in northern locations can increase a system’s production by achieving a higher-sloped tilt to optimize the energy that can be harvested.

What are the benefits of a Single Axis and Dual Axis Tracking racking system?

Tracking ground-mount racking systems are commonly referred to as ‘trackers’. Single axis trackers follow the Sun, east to west, following its path during the day to maximize the available Sun exposure. Dual-axis trackers follow both the daily East-West movement of the sun, but also the vertical movement in the southern hemisphere throughout the each year. While tracking systems are the most efficient for solar production, the cost of these tracking systems is significantly higher than the other methods of mounting. If a client is looking to maximize energy production in an location where space is limited, then a tracker would be an excellent solution.

What is Net Metering?


Net Metering specifically applies to grid-tied solar PV systems, and measures the amount of energy produced against the amount of energy you use. Solar PV systems offset your energy usage by using energy produced from the Sun, rather than using energy purchased from the electricity grid. Excess energy produced during the day will provide the homeowner with a form of energy-credit that can be used at a later time. Lower your electricity costs while protecting the environment. Ask us about how net-metering works with your local energy provider for more information. Net metering is a program offered in certain locations around the world to allow individuals who generate some or all of their own electricity to export a measured amount of energy (kWh) to the power grid, and then use the equivalent energy at a later date via an energy credit. Net metering agreements allow for grid-tied PV systems to effectively recoup their initial cost through a form of payback via displacing energy consumption with energy production.

What is solar irradiance, and how does it vary geographically?

Solar radiation refers to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Sun. The energy carried by the sun’s radioactive rays are dissipated into the water vapour and gases in the earth’s atmosphere and is significantly reduced before striking the earth. The Sun is weaker in Northern or Southern locations (far from the equator) because the Sun’s rays strike the earth at a shallow angle that can be more easily deflected by the atmosphere. The solar radiation simply bounces
off the earth’s atmosphere and is deflected back into space before it can reach the earth’s surface.

What is Surge Protection Device (SPD)?

It protects your home from Voltage spikes that can come from many different places. It keeps your home and appliances safe from harm when these Voltage spikes try to enter your home.

What is the best direction for my solar PV panels to be directed toward?

Directing the solar panels toward South allows for the highest opportunity for optimal Sun exposure throughout each day and year. As the seasons change, depending on your geographic location, this becomes more or less critical to the energy that could otherwise be harvested. The high altitude of the Sun’s path in the summer sky allows for more forgiveness for shallow sloped solar panels facing east, south east, west, or south west, as opposed the conventional approach of installing them facing direct south, as the sun travels much wider east and west than in the Winter. Conversely, the low altitude of the Winter Sun’s path requires a steeply sloped South facing solar panel to ensure that the Sun hours and angle of incidence are optimized for energy production. Attention to these details are vital for optimizing the performance of an off grid solar PV system.

What is the best tilt or slope for a solar PV panel?

This varies from Region to region. The ideal tilt-angle and orientation is subject to the geographic region of the installation; the tilt, orientation, and geographic location will determine the resulting variable sun hours and angles of incidence throughout each year. Solar panels installed north of the equator (ie. northern hemisphere) will be pointed toward the South, East or West. The inclination of the solar panels and racking will depend on how far away from the equator the system is installed. The best average yield estimate would be to set the solar panels at an angle close to the location’s latitude degree.

What types of Solar Panels are Available?


Solar panels are made from silicon. Conventionally, they’re available in monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or amorphous silicon. Crystalline structures are more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, and that is why we offer polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels.

Why is grid tied solar PV the right decision for me?

 

  • Hedge your energy costs: Offset energy prices and the unpredictable energy-rate increases by generating your own clean power. With the demand for electricity ever increasing, and the viability of generating power from coal (and other GHG emitting sources) decreasing, the cost of electricity is only expected to rise more quickly than ever! Solar PV will save you money!
  • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Electricity generated by burning coal and fossil fuels emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Solar PV energy is the solution. Contribute to a greener and brighter future by generating clean and renewable energy at home!
  • Increased Property Value: Solar is a smart upgrade that increases the value of your home.
  • If these benefits make sense to you, it’s time to go green!

 

Will my solar panels work in really cold weather?

Solar panels perform better in colder conditions, provided that they are not covered with snow. The shorter days, and shallow angle of the Sun, will cause the solar panels to produce less power during the winter months. It’s best practise to increase the slope of the solar panels during the winter months to maximize the energy production. Sizing a solar system for winter operation must be carefully considered to ensure reliable performance.

Will shade on some of my panels impact production?


The effect of partial-shading from trees or other objects will affect the system’s overall performance. For grid-tied PV systems, the losses experienced from shading can be significantly minimized with the use of microinverters instead of using a string inverter. For off-grid PV systems, shading can be a bigger problem as users rely on harvesting every bit of sunlight. A thorough review of the site conditions, before design and installation, will ensure that the effects of shading is avoided or at least mitigated.

Will snow impact the performance of my solar PV array?


Complete snow coverage (~ 2” thick) will prevent solar panels from producing energy. As with the concerns surrounding shading, the effects of snow can be mitigated with the use of microinverters instead of a string inverter (if the solar array is being cleared throughout the winter months). Snow will typically begin to shed itself from the solar array if the solar panels are tilted to a minimum of 60°; however, as the dark surface of the panels heats up from the Sun, solar arrays with a tilt of 45° will also begin to shed their snow. Greater amount of snow and can be easily removed with a non metallic roof rake. The reflective power of the snow’s surface surrounding the solar panel provides an albedo effect, and has been known to increase energy production; this is especially prevalent with ground-mounted bifacial solar arrays. Many grid-tied solar PV roof-top arrays will remain covered by snow throughout the winter as users know that energy production in the winter months is significantly less than what can be expected during the other seasons, due to slope and orientation of the Sun with respect to the roof mounted solar panels.

3. Grid-tied Questions

Questions about Solar PV systems that are tied to an electrical Grid.

How much would it cost to install a solar PV system?

Installation costs will vary from system to system. Your energy need could be vastly different from my energy needs so it’s hard to determine a set rate of installation. Depending on how large of a system to be installed, the site location, and scope of work, the prices will vary. A site consultation is required for the preparation of a detailed design and service agreement. Speak with one of our experts to determine your specific needs and we can come up with a solution that works best for you!

I am very worried about power outages and losing heat in the winter time. Will a grid-tied system provide power during an outage?

No.  A standard grid tied solar PV system will not provide power in the event of a power outage as the Canadian Electrical Code dictates that the system must be disconnected from feeding into the grid in the event of an outage; however you can consider modifying the configuration of the existing grid tied system by adding a battery bank and correspondingly sized inverter/charger and critical loads panel to provide power in the event of an outage. Let us know if you’re seeking more information about adding battery back-up to a critical loads panel, whether you have a grid tied solar PV system or not, and we can assist you with sizing the necessary battery bank to power the critical loads for a certain number of days. Consult an professional for the installation of your solar PV system. Raysolar and it’s Partner network can help make your solar project a reality.

What are microinverters?

Microinverters are a plug-and-play device used in photovoltaics that converts direct current (DC) generated by solar PV panels into alternating Current (AC), and are typically installed beneath the surface of the solar panels, on the racking system. Microinverters are equipped with rapid shutdown capability. Microinverters and power optimizers are the best solution for installations where one or more panels may be intermittently shaded, or on a roof mount where PV panels are mounted on both the east and west facing roof surfaces.

What are string inverters?

String inverters are used in photovoltaics to convert direct current (DC) generated by solar PV panels into alternating Current (AC), and are typically installed on the outside wall of the building near the meter base, or inside near the main distribution panel. String inverters use strings of solar panels (typically < 600Vdc).

What are the benefits of using microinverters?

The main advantage is that they electrically isolate the panels from each other, so small amounts of shading, debris, snow or dirt on any pair of solar modules, or even a complete solar panel failure, does not disproportionately reduce the output of the entire solar array or system. Microinverters also allow for enhanced monitoring capability for each solar panel in the array.

What is a grid-tied solar PV system, and why is this good for me?

Hedge your energy costs: Offset energy prices and the unpredictable energy-rate increases by generating your own clean power. With the demand for electricity ever increasing, and the viability of generating power from coal (and other GHG emitting sources) decreasing, the cost of electricity is only expected to rise more quickly than ever! Solar PV will save you money! Reduce your Carbon Footprint: Electricity generated by burning coal and fossil fuels emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Solar PV energy is the solution. Contribute to a greener and brighter future by generating clean and renewable energy at home! Reliable Power: Solar systems generate power for decades and are backed by warranties to protect your investment. You may also consider battery back-up for your home in the event of a power outage. Increased Property Value: Solar is a smart upgrade that increases the value of your home.If these benefits make sense to you, it’s time to go green!

What is my payback on a grid tied pV system?

Depending on where you live and the cost of the energy you use ($/kWh), this will vary. The average rate of return on your investment in a grid-tied Solar PV system would be approximately 7-12 years. If you have access to a provincial or federal rebate, the payback period can be further reduced.

What is Net Metering?


Net Metering specifically applies to grid-tied solar PV systems, and measures the amount of energy produced against the amount of energy you use. Solar PV systems offset your energy usage by using energy produced from the Sun, rather than using energy purchased from the electricity grid. Excess energy produced during the day will provide the homeowner with a form of energy-credit that can be used at a later time. Lower your electricity costs while protecting the environment. Ask us about how net-metering works with your local energy provider for more information. Net metering is a program offered in certain locations around the world to allow individuals who generate some or all of their own electricity to export a measured amount of energy (kWh) to the power grid, and then use the equivalent energy at a later date via an energy credit. Net metering agreements allow for grid-tied PV systems to effectively recoup their initial cost through a form of payback via displacing energy consumption with energy production.

What is Net-metering, and how does it help me with my electricity bills; payback period?

Net Metering specifically applies to grid-tied solar PV systems, and measures the amount of energy produced against the amount of energy you use. Solar PV systems offset your energy usage by using energy produced from the Sun, rather than using energy purchased from the electricity grid. Excess energy produced during the day will provide the homeowner with a form of energy-credit that can be used at a later time. Lower your electricity costs while protecting the environment. Ask us about how net-metering works with your local energy provider for more information. Net metering is a program offered in certain locations around the world to allow individuals who generate some or all of their own electricity to export a measured amount of energy (kWh) to the power grid, and then use the equivalent energy at a later date via an energy credit. Net metering agreements allow for grid-tied PV systems to effectively recoup their initial cost through a form of payback via displacing energy consumption with energy production.

Why is grid tied solar PV the right decision for me?

 

  • Hedge your energy costs: Offset energy prices and the unpredictable energy-rate increases by generating your own clean power. With the demand for electricity ever increasing, and the viability of generating power from coal (and other GHG emitting sources) decreasing, the cost of electricity is only expected to rise more quickly than ever! Solar PV will save you money!
  • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Electricity generated by burning coal and fossil fuels emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Solar PV energy is the solution. Contribute to a greener and brighter future by generating clean and renewable energy at home!
  • Increased Property Value: Solar is a smart upgrade that increases the value of your home.
  • If these benefits make sense to you, it’s time to go green!

 

4. Off the Grid Questions

Questions about off-grid Solar PV Systems

Can I run baseboard heaters with an off-grid solar system?

It is highly recommended that an alternative heating source is used if at all possible. An electric heating appliance has a very high energy demand, but with the right size of system, yes it is absolutely possible to do.

Can my solar PV panels be located very far away from my batteries?

Technically speaking, yes, the solar panels can be located very far from the batteries, charge controller, and inverter. The concern is something called voltage drop. The higher the voltage in the DC circuit between the Solar panels and the Charge controller (near the batteries), the less energy losses that there will be over the length of a cable; however, the higher the current (amps), the higher the energy losses will be. Thicker cables can be used to mitigate the effects of voltage drop, but this can be an expensive solution. Charge controllers should be installed adjacent to the batteries, and it can be beneficial to use an MPPT Charge controller to allow for higher DC string voltages to optimize the design to mitigate the effects of voltage drop over the length of the cable between the Solar panels to the batteries, as MPPT controllers allow for higher string voltages than PWM. You want to try and keep your PV array as close to your Batteries and Inverter so you can maximize the amount of energy that reaches the batteries; However, you also want to have your array where it will get as much exposure to the Sun as possible. Speak to a solar expert for more information about your specific scenario.

Do I need/want a generator with my off grid system?

A Generator is useful to have for Off-Grid systems to act as a backup in case of long lasting bad weather. Generators are an important consideration for any off-grid solar PV system, not only as a backup power source but also as a tool for proper system maintenance and support. Generators are most commonly used within a solar PV system as an external charging source for maintaining the battery bank during low-charging periods, or performing equalization maintenance charging on the battery bank.

How do I properly Winterize my off-grid PV system?

STEP #1: Turn off all DC and AC Loads* (or put system AC breakers in BYPASS mode*)
STEP #2: Fully charge the battery bank with external AC input source
STEP #3: Tilt PV Array for winter angle (if applicable)
STEP #4: Check Specific Gravity levels (FLA batteries only)
STEP #5: Initiate an equalization cycle (FLA batteries only)
STEP #6: Turn off Inverter/Charger
STEP #7: Turn off Solar PV input and Charge Controller
STEP #8: Turn off Battery Switch (if no switch exist, carefully disconnect positive inverter cable at battery)

How do you safely connect batteries together?

In order to safely connect batteries together, you would use battery interconnect cables that are of a properly sized wire gauge based on the power of your inverter. Never parallel together strings of different voltages; series connections should be made or removed before parallel connections. Consult an expert for assistance.

How far can my inverter be from my batteries?

Ideally an inverter should be installed within 5 to 10 feet of the battery bank. If you increase this distance, you will need to use thicker DC cables to compensate for a drop in voltage and to avoid increasing DC ripple (noise).

What are AGM & FLA acid batteries, and how are they different?

Batteries are used to store your energy in off-grid and hybrid applications. AGM batteries are made from Absorbent Glass Matt (similar looking to a sponge) and they are completely sealed. AGM batteries have no maintenance and do not off-gas and therefore do not require venting. FLA Batteries require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity, and must be vented to the outside air. Flooded lead acid (FLA) batteries are commonly found in automobiles, forklifts and pallet trucks.

What are series and parallel battery connections, and why do I care?

Series connections are made between batteries to increase the voltage in a string; positive terminal to negative terminal. Batteries, or strings of batteries, can be wired in parallel to add additional capacity, positive to positive and negative to negative. Consult an expert before making or removing battery connections. Never parallel together strings of different voltages.

What are the benefits of AGM batteries over FLA batteries?

AGM batteries are made from Absorbent Glass Matt (similar looking to a sponge) and they are completely sealed. AGM batteries have no maintenance and do not off-gas and therefore do not require venting. They are perfect for keeping inside your home or cabin and are totally hassle free!

What is a System Control Panel (SCP)?

A system control panel is a remote display panel for Schneider Conext Systems that can be mounted in a convenient location inside your home for easy monitoring of your solar PV system details.

What is an off-grid solar PV system, and why is this good for me?

Off-grid systems are good for users that do not have access to an electrical utility. Off-grid PV systems allow users to have access to reliable electricity without connecting to a power utility.

What is Auto Generator Start (AGS)?

AGS or Automatic Generator Start is a device that senses when the batteries are below a certain state of charge, and it will automatically start the generator to initiate charging if necessary.

What is solar thermal heating?

Solar thermal systems use the sun to heat to air with the use of some form of heat exchanger. This also includes categories of products that heat hot water that can be used to preheat water for use inside the building, or to provide passive heating by circulating throughout the building or using water-air heat exchanger to vent warm air throughout.

What is the best racking system for off-grid applications?

Top of pole ground-mount racking is recommended for most off grid systems to allow for seasonal adjustment of the solar panel tilt. Off-grid users typically have larger yard space to allow for ground mount solar systems. In some cases, roof mounts are still the most economical and effective option for off-grid users, and the additional power can sometimes instead be made up with the addition of one or two more solar panels. Increasing the slope of the solar panel racking to a near vertical tilt during the winter will allow for snow to shed itself from the array’s surface.

Why do FLA batteries need to be vented to the outside air?

FLA batteries will off-gas hydrogen. Hydrogen is a flammable gas. Hydrogen sulphide can also be off-gassed. Hydrogen sulphide is noxious.

5. Solar Panels

Questions about Solar Panels

How do I keep my Solar Panels clean?


It is important to keep solar panels clean to ensure maximum output. High quality solar panels’ surfaces are made of tempered glass and are easily cleaned with water. Often rain is enough to clean dust and dirt but localized conditions may require more concentrated cleaning methods. Bird droppings, tree sap, and dirt from wind storms are examples where using a mild solution of water and vinegar along with a foam scrub brush will aid in the soil removal. Harsh chemicals should not be used.

How do the changing seasons affect my solar PV panel production?


The changing seasons affect solar PV production in two significant ways: the total “Sun Hours” available during the day, and the sunlight’s “angle of incidence” as the light rays strike the solar panel’s surface. The ideal tilt-angle and orientation is subject to the geographic region of the installation; the tilt, orientation, and geographic location will determine the resulting variable sun hours and angles of incidence throughout each year. Solar panels installed north of the equator (ie. northern hemisphere) will be pointed South, East or West. The inclination of the panels and racking will depend on how far away from the equator the system is installed. Extreme Northern latitudes have very low sun angles, meaning the Sun is very low in the sky. This indicates that a South facing array at a steep inclination would best capture the movement of the Sun, from sunrise to sunset. The total sun hours will determine the duration of time that the solar panels will be exposed to the Sun. The Sun’s height in the sky changes throughout the year, and is lowest in the sky during the winter. The low sun angle means that the Sun’s rays must pass through more of the Earth’s atmosphere before reaching its destination, which allows for the gases of the atmosphere to deflect and diminish the strengths of the Sun rays; this is called atmospheric scattering.

How does a photovoltaic solar panel work?


Solar panels can either be polycrystalline or monocrystalline, both of which are silicone based. The basic scientific principle is based on the photovoltaic effect. This effect allows photons from the Sun to dislodge electrons from a material and then transfer those electrons through wires which can be used to perform work. Solar PV systems use silicone wafers called solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The solar cells consist of one or two layers of a semi-conducting material. When sunlight shines on the solar cell it creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the sunlight, the greater the flow of electricity. Solar cells are referred to in terms of the amount of energy they generate in full sunlight, measured in electric power, Watts or Kilowatts. The solar cells are wired together to make solar panels, conventionally having either 60 or 72 cells.

What is the best direction for my solar PV panels to be directed toward?

Directing the solar panels toward South allows for the highest opportunity for optimal Sun exposure throughout each day and year. As the seasons change, depending on your geographic location, this becomes more or less critical to the energy that could otherwise be harvested. The high altitude of the Sun’s path in the summer sky allows for more forgiveness for shallow sloped solar panels facing east, south east, west, or south west, as opposed the conventional approach of installing them facing direct south, as the sun travels much wider east and west than in the Winter. Conversely, the low altitude of the Winter Sun’s path requires a steeply sloped South facing solar panel to ensure that the Sun hours and angle of incidence are optimized for energy production. Attention to these details are vital for optimizing the performance of an off grid solar PV system.

What is the best tilt or slope for a solar PV panel?

This varies from Region to region. The ideal tilt-angle and orientation is subject to the geographic region of the installation; the tilt, orientation, and geographic location will determine the resulting variable sun hours and angles of incidence throughout each year. Solar panels installed north of the equator (ie. northern hemisphere) will be pointed toward the South, East or West. The inclination of the solar panels and racking will depend on how far away from the equator the system is installed. The best average yield estimate would be to set the solar panels at an angle close to the location’s latitude degree.

What types of Solar Panels are Available?


Solar panels are made from silicon. Conventionally, they’re available in monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or amorphous silicon. Crystalline structures are more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, and that is why we offer polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels.

Will my solar panels work in really cold weather?

Solar panels perform better in colder conditions, provided that they are not covered with snow. The shorter days, and shallow angle of the Sun, will cause the solar panels to produce less power during the winter months. It’s best practise to increase the slope of the solar panels during the winter months to maximize the energy production. Sizing a solar system for winter operation must be carefully considered to ensure reliable performance.

Will shade on some of my panels impact production?


The effect of partial-shading from trees or other objects will affect the system’s overall performance. For grid-tied PV systems, the losses experienced from shading can be significantly minimized with the use of microinverters instead of using a string inverter. For off-grid PV systems, shading can be a bigger problem as users rely on harvesting every bit of sunlight. A thorough review of the site conditions, before design and installation, will ensure that the effects of shading is avoided or at least mitigated.

Will snow impact the performance of my solar PV array?


Complete snow coverage (~ 2” thick) will prevent solar panels from producing energy. As with the concerns surrounding shading, the effects of snow can be mitigated with the use of microinverters instead of a string inverter (if the solar array is being cleared throughout the winter months). Snow will typically begin to shed itself from the solar array if the solar panels are tilted to a minimum of 60°; however, as the dark surface of the panels heats up from the Sun, solar arrays with a tilt of 45° will also begin to shed their snow. Greater amount of snow and can be easily removed with a non metallic roof rake. The reflective power of the snow’s surface surrounding the solar panel provides an albedo effect, and has been known to increase energy production; this is especially prevalent with ground-mounted bifacial solar arrays. Many grid-tied solar PV roof-top arrays will remain covered by snow throughout the winter as users know that energy production in the winter months is significantly less than what can be expected during the other seasons, due to slope and orientation of the Sun with respect to the roof mounted solar panels.

6. Hybrid-Solar PV

I am very worried about power outages and losing heat in the winter time. Will a grid-tied system provide power during an outage?

No.  A standard grid tied solar PV system will not provide power in the event of a power outage as the Canadian Electrical Code dictates that the system must be disconnected from feeding into the grid in the event of an outage; however you can consider modifying the configuration of the existing grid tied system by adding a battery bank and correspondingly sized inverter/charger and critical loads panel to provide power in the event of an outage. Let us know if you’re seeking more information about adding battery back-up to a critical loads panel, whether you have a grid tied solar PV system or not, and we can assist you with sizing the necessary battery bank to power the critical loads for a certain number of days. Consult an professional for the installation of your solar PV system. Raysolar and it’s Partner network can help make your solar project a reality.

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