Solar 101

SOLAR PV SYSTEMS: THE BASICS YOU NEED TO KNOW

More and more Manitobans are interested in using solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to power their homes and businesses. And it’s no wonder why! When it comes to renewable energy sources, the sun is high on the list. Harnessing the sun’s rays through the use of solar PV creates clean, useable energy that reduces the need for traditional energy sources.  

But how do solar PV systems work? What are the benefits for homeowners and businesses? What are some important things to keep in mind before making the investment? And does Efficiency Manitoba offer rebates to help me install a solar PV system (hint: the answer is yes)? 

WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY?

First, we need to define solar energy. Solar energy captures light from the sun and converts it into forms of energy, like electricity and heat, that we can use. Two methods of energy generation are commonly seen in homes and commercial buildings: solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal. Both methods use the sun’s energy to create usable energy. However, solar PV systems use the energy to generate electricity, whereas solar thermal systems use the energy to heat air or water. This article is focused on solar PV systems for generating electricity. 

HOW SOLAR PV SYSTEMS WORK

Solar PV systems are the most used solar technology. Solar panels can be affixed to rooftops using racking equipment or installed directly on the ground with a ground mount. During the day, solar PV panels produce direct current (DC) power from the sun’s rays, which is fed through an inverter to create alternating current (AC) power. AC is the most common type of electrical current used in our homes. 

THE BENEFITS OF SOLAR PV

There can be many benefits to installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system: 

  • It provides energy to your home or business in a sustainable manner.  
  • It helps reduce your monthly energy bill. 
  • It mitigates the impact of future rate increases.  
  • It can increase the value of your property. 

CONNECTING TO THE GRID

Most solar PV systems currently being installed are grid-connected. In a grid-connected system, any surplus electricity generated by your solar PV system, that is not used in your home or business, is exported back to Manitoba Hydro’s electrical grid. Connection to the grid also ensures you have a reliable supply of electricity when your solar PV system isn’t generating enough for your needs. Grid-connected solar PV systems can significantly reduce the amount of electricity you buy during daylight hours depending on a number of factors. 

Manitoba Hydro has a wealth of great information about grid connection. Go to their website to learn more about grid-connected solar PV systems. 

PANEL MOUNTING OPTIONS

There are two main ways to mount your panels: rooftop or ground mounted.  

Rooftop systems are mainly installed in urban areas where there’s not enough space for a ground system. They’re limited by the size of the roof and the roof slope can make it difficult to optimize production of solar energy. They’re still a great option and will produce a desirable amount of electricity depending on the orientation and inclination of the roof.  

Ground systems are more common on large properties where there’s lots of space. Fixed panel systems facing due south at 40° to 50° inclination achieve better energy output, which is easier to do by using a ground system. A rooftop system is often limited to the direction the roof faces (which is often not due south) and the roof slope (which is usually lower than the ideal inclination).  Because they’re more accessible, fixed ground systems are generally easier to maintain and keep clean and clear of snow compared to rooftop systems. 

INSTALL A SOLAR PV SYSTEM & GET A REBATE

If you’ve determined that installing a solar PV system is a wise investment for you, we can help. We offer rebates on solar PV systems for homes and businesses connected to Manitoba Hydro’s grid.

OUR SOLAR REBATES

Visit our program pages to learn more and find out if you’re eligible:

SOLAR FOR YOUR HOME

We’re offering a rebate of $0.50 per direct current (DC) watt installed on homes connected to Manitoba Hydro’s grid, up to a maximum of 10 kW and $5,000 per home.

SOLAR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

We’re offering a rebate of $0.50 per direct current (DC) watt installed on businesses connected to Manitoba Hydro’s grid.

LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION?

SOLAR REBATE PROGRAM

Check out the rest of the articles in our solar series.


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