Although Solar Energy has been around for many years, there are many misconceptions about it's use and installation procedures. Here are a few of the questions you might be asking yourself. Hopefully our answers will clarify things for you. If not please contact us for more information.

Q: How does a solar water-heating system work?
A: Every solar water-heating system features a solar collector that faces the sun to absorb the sun's heat energy. This collector can either heat water directly or heat a working fluid that's then used to heat the water. In active solar water-heating systems, a pumping mechanism moves heated water through the building. In passive solar water-heating systems, the water moves by natural convection. In almost all cases, solar water-heating systems work in tandem with conventional gas or electric water-heating systems; the conventional systems operate as needed to ensure a reliable supply of heated water. There are many types of solar water heaters. Each has strengths to recommend it for specific climates and water conditions. Solar system professionals can help you select the most appropriate system for your area and your needs.

Q: Are there any disadvantages to using solar energy?
A: The energy in sunlight can be used for many purposes, including heating water for a building or swimming pool. And using solar energy has many environmental and life-cycle economic benefits. However, solar energy heating or solar electric products often have higher first costs than other, similar products do. This means it will probably cost more initially to purchase and install a solar system than it will to purchase and install another kind of heating or electric system. Still, in nearly all cases, you will recover your initial costs through substantial fuel savings (as shown in lower utility bills) over the life of the product. Many solar systems last from 15 to 30 years.

Q: What happens if I sell my house?
A: It has been reported that sustainable energy solutions can add up to ten times their cost to the value of a residential property. So you can rest assured that you have made a sound investment in your home equity. All warranties are transferable to the new owner and so the buyer of your home will enjoy trouble free solar hot water for years to come.

Q: What happens when my roof needs replacing?
A: We work closely with a number of RCABC approved roofing companies to guarantee no extra costs for their work around solar installations. During the roof job we disconect the panels, move them asside until the roofing work is complete and then reconnect them seamlessly. A small service charge of $250 applies.

Q: What about the GST on the manufacturer's rebate?
A: The manufacturer's rebate is adjusted to include GST so that you will only accrue GST on the net amount of your purchase.

Q: Does PST apply to your system?

Q: How long can I expect the system to last?
A: With minor maintenance and regular inspections the system can last up to 30 years.

Q: What about Service Contracts?
A: The Service contract that includes the annual draining and inspection of the CamoSun Seasonal Performance System costs $100 per year. The first two years are included in the cost of the system and once you are familiar with the system you may choose to entertain the D.I.Y. option for only $25 per year.

Q: Can a solar water heater replace an electric or gas water heater?
A: Not completely. Conventional electric or gas water heating systems are still necessary as a supplement to the solar water heating system, largely because the sun might not shine in a particular area for several days at a time. However, because solar water heaters are designed provide hot water directly to the tank of a gas or electric water heater, they reduce the need for the water heater to run on conventional fuels. And this in turn reduces your gas or electric bill. Depending on where you live, solar water heaters can provide up to 80% of your home's annual water-heating needs.

Q: Can solar water heaters be used in British Columbia or colder climates?
A: Yes. Solar water heating technology is effective regardless of the outside temperature. In colder climates, more energy is required to heat cold incoming ground water, so using solar energy in such conditions could dramatically lower a consumer's utility bills. In addition, colder incoming ground water helps solar water heaters to operate at higher efficiencies.

Q: Can solar power be used to heat my home and business?
A: Pre-engineered residential solar space heating systems are currently not readily available to consumers. But many solar energy professionals can engineer a system for you, on request. However, solar space-heating systems are considerably more expensive than solar water-heating systems. Depending on the size of the space that needs heating, a solar system could cost anywhere from $3,000 to more than $10,000. Pacific Solar Smart can explain what would be involved to purchase this type of solar system. You may want to consider increasing your insulation and using passive solar technologies-such as large, energy-efficient, south-facing windows-as an alternative.

Q: What about heating my swimming pool with solar?
A: Solar swimming pool heating is the most common way that people in British Columbia utilize solar energy today. Solar pool-heating systems increase water temperature by 10 degrees or more over an unheated pool, and can extend the swimming season by two to three months. System prices range from $2,500 to more than $5,000, depending on the size of your pool and on other conditions such as shading and proximity to the ocean. When systems are installed to replace a conventional gas or electric swimming pool heater, the initial investment can usually be recovered in approximately three years, sometimes less.