Solar Energy for the Cottage

Solar Energy

With the cost of hydroelectricity consistently on the rise, people are looking for alternative energy sources to help cut down on costs. A type of alternative energy that makes economic sense in Ontario cottage country is solar panels. They are eco-friendly electric generators, have no moving parts, zero emissions, require very little maintenance and convert sunlight into electrical energy.

Living in Ontario’s Near North means that our country homes and summer getaways are usually remotely located and typically some distance from existing power sources. Often times, we pay higher monthly service fees just for transporting the electricity – even in months where the cottage is not occupied. And let’s not forget that power can go out for extended periods in rural areas. If your cottage is just for weekend use or just for weekends in the summer, solar power may be something you want to consider.

How Solar Panels Work

Most solar energy systems for cottages include batteries that will collect energy. This is so the lights and appliances can run during the weekend when energy is in high demand. These solar electric systems work by converting the sun’s energy using silicon cells wired together. The electricity produced is in direct proportion to the amount of sunlight. On a day filled with sunshine, the cells will produce 100% power. Cloudy and overcast days generally produce about 50% power and rainy days around 20%. Some people will get a backup generator just in case – for those rainy days!

Every site is different and not all cottages are set up for solar power. Panels should not be in the shade during the day, especially in the summer months. Roofs need to be angled at 30 to 40 degrees, face south and be strong enough to handle the extra weight of the panels.

Despite the initial expense, solar energy through rooftop photovoltaic panels is becoming increasingly popular. It can cost between $28 000 and $50 000 to install, but the panels have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years or more. The panels will generate free electricity the whole time, which means no more hydro bills and transport costs. Another added bonus is the benefit to the environment.

Before you make a decision about whether or not to make the switch to solar energy, you will want to do some research to figure out how much energy you will require. Make sure you consider the watts, amps and voltage of each product and find the best one suited for your cottage.


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