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Solar Photovoltaic Cells for the Kingston Home FAQ

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Kingston Solar Array FAQ
Solar Array Example.jpg

A roof-top photovoltiac (PV) array installed in Bensheim, Germany. PV arrays convert solar energy into electrical energy which can be used in the installed location or connected to a distribution grid.

A solar cellDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD., or photovoltaic (PV) cell, is a device that converts solar energy into electrical energy via the photoelectric effectDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD.. A solar arrayDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. is a grouping of individual solar cells that are electrically connected to produce electrical power. By installing a solar array, users can generate electricity for their personal use or for distribution on a connected electrical grid. Solar arrays can offer environmental and financial benefits for both the homeowner and the community at large. Many people are curious about solar technology and this page aims to answer questions relating directly to photovoltaics in general and also addresses specific questions related to installing a PV array in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

The questions are grouped into the following categories:

  • Technological
  • Financial
  • Administrative
  • General
  • Feed in Tariff (FIT) FAQs


Technological FAQs

What are the different types of solar cells?

Emily, Amir, Matt, Steven

Does the efficiency of a solar cell decrease over time?

The efficiency of solar cells does decrease over time due to harmful ultraviolet ray degradation, but this effect is small. Generally speaking, solar cells can be expected to last over 20 years.[1] Companies will often offer warranties between 10-20 years on their solar panels. A good discussion on the lifespan of PV modules can be found here.

Does Kingston have enough solar energy for solar panels to be feasible? What about winter?

Amir, Lindsay, Ha

Are solar panels environmentally friendly?

Renee, Colin (LCA etc)

Can they be recycled?

While there are many types of solar cells available, most of the current photovoltaic technologies are fully recycleable. The majority of commerical solar cells are primarily made of silicon, which can be fully recovered. A number of different chemical processes can be used to recycle the silicon in the photovoltiac cells into pure silicon wafers. As well, the glass, aluminum frame and electrical wiring can be recovered and recycled.[2] Recycling of solar panels is economically attractive as most of the raw silicon processing steps can be bypassed when using recycled materials.[3] The recycling process is currently done by several companies such as SolarMaterial. For other photovoltaic technologies, such as Group-III thin film technologies, the material components can still be recovered but the recycling technolgies are not as well established as silicon-based photovoltaic recycling. For example, cadmium telluride photovoltaicsDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. can be recovered using a pyrolysisDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. process.[4] It is also important to note that the long lifespan of photovoltaic panels (upwards of 20-30 years) will allow for the further development of recycling technologies.

Are solar panels safe (health, environment, etc?)

Renee, Colin

Are there certified installers and retailers in Kingston?

Several retailers and installers can be found at SWITCH.

These include:

  1. Downunder Solar and Electrical
  2. Eco Alternative Energy
  3. Quantum Renewable Energy Inc.
  4. Renewable Energy of Plum Hollow Inc.

Where can I find out about renewable energy dealers, sales, installation and equipment?

What is the warrantee on solar panels?


What do the terms on-grid, grid-connected, grid-tied and off-grid mean?

On-grid, grid-connected or grid-tied means connected to the utility electrical grid. Off-grid refers to systems that are not connected to the utility electrical grid. An off-grid system must be custom designed by a solar power expert. [5]

How hard is it to get connected to the grid?

Lindsay, Amy

What if bird droppings fall on my panel?

Amir, Ha

What if a projectile or object hits my panels (roof top or ground mounted)?

Amir, Ha

What does "energy conversion efficiency" mean?

Amir, Emily

Will my system work on cloudy days?

Amir, Emily

Why is shade a problem?

Amir, Emily, Lindsay

What happens if there is a power outage?

Colin, Renee

What are the disadvantages to using solar energy?

Steven, Matt

Can the modules withstand high winds and hail?

Emily, Amir

How long will my solar power system last?

Kadra, Steven, Matt

Can I be totally independent from the utility?

Amy, Lindsay

How can I tell a water heating panel from a solar electric module?

Lindsay, Amy

Can I add reflectors/concentrators/trackers to the solar array installation to increase the power they generate?

Solar cells will produce more electricity if the incident light is concentrated by using mirrors or reflectors. Concentrating the light through optics and reflectors can be an economical way to improve the power capacity of a system. An example of a light concentrator device is a fresnel lens system, and an example of using this technology with solar cells can be found here.

Solar trackersDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. are devices operate by changing the angle of the solar panels to follow the sun as it moves across the sky. With the solar panels facing the sun for most of the day, the power generated is larger than the power generated without the tracker installed. Trackers come in a variety of options depending on the different number of rotational axis used to track the sun. The cost of the tracker often is not worth the additional power increase they provide.

It is important to be aware of the concentrator and tracking options for solar installations, but the cost often does not justify their installation. It is a good idea to ask about them when consulting with a company for a roof-top solar installation. A good resource on solar trackers/concentrators can be found here.

Financial FAQs

What is the Feed in Tariff (FIT) and how does it affect me?


How can I get a site investigation and financial feasibility study done on my house?

Kadra, Emily

Does it cost me to apply for the FIT?

Kadra, Emily

Will Solar Panels affect the property value of my house?

Kadra, Emily

Can I sell my panels to the manufacturer or other users second hand?

Emily, Kadra, Amir

Are Solar panels too expensive to install to give me back a reasonable return?

Do you really think solar and renewable energies are a good investment?

Kadra, Amir, Emily

How do I get financing?


What maintenance does the system require? How much does the maintenance cost?

Kadra, Amir

Will Insurance companies cover my panels?


Is the FIT better than the RESOP ?

Lindsay, Emily

The FIT is an improved program, geared towards increasing the amount of residential PV

Are government incentives available to reduce the price?

Kadra, Emily

Are there discounts or other ways to reduce the cost of my system?


Kadra09 18:52, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Administrative FAQs

Do I need approval from my homeowners’ association?

Some homeowners’ associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds. If you belong to a homeowners’ association, consult your covenants for details.

If I rent a home or apartment, can I still get a system?


Do I need permission from the local utility to connect my solar system to the grid?

Lindsay, Amy

What if I need a new roof or am building a new house?

Lindsay, Kadra, Emily

General FAQs

What happens if I move/ sell my house?


Does investing in Solar PV and other renewables help the economy and the environment?

Renee, Colin

What support groups or resources exist in Kingston?

Amy, Lindsay (can you add others?)

  2. Utilities Kingston

Can I install it myself?

Amy, Amir

Feed in Tariff FAQs

More answers to FAQs regarding the FIT can be found at “Online Q&A”, OPA FIT

How long does it take to get a FIT contract?

Kadra, Matt

What are the requirments to getting a contract?

What income is generated by having solar panels?

Is the revenue generated from the solar panels taxable?

  • Yes. The electricity sold to the OPA is taxable.
  • Exemptions may be possible under the Assessment Act for certain types of property

Is the FIT indexed for inflation?

  • The contract price is increased 20% relative to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Solar PVs, once in operation for the life of the contract.

What if technology changes or the FIT is reviewed?

  • New costs or changes in technology do not affect existing contracts. Reviews only affect new contracts.

When do contracts begin?

  • The OPA contracts will be offered almost automatically to the proponent upon connection to the grid after an application process.

What if I sell my home? Is the contract transferrable to the new homeowner?

  • The OPA contract can be assigned to the new homeowner upon the sale of the home. The new homeowner would be receive payment for the remainder of the contract payment term.

Can I cancel my contract at any time?


  1. Zimmerman, C.G. ‘’Time dependent degradation of photovoltaic modules by ultraviolet light’’, (2008). Applied Physics Letters, Volume 92, Issue 24. Available online at
  2. Muller, A., Wambach, K., Alsema, E. ‘’Life Cycle Analysis of a Solar Module Recycling Process’’, (2003) Materials Research Society. Avaliable online at
  3. Fthenakis, V.M.’’End-of-life management and recycling of PV modules’’, (2000) Energy Policy, Vol. 28, Issue 14. Pg. 1051-1058. Available online at
  4. Patent for Process for recycling CdTe/Cds thin film solar cell modules. Available online at

Kadra09 20:49, 5 June 2009 (UTC)