Frequently asked questions

Is Alberta a good place for solar energy?

Alberta has an abundance of solar energy that is free and waiting to be used. Germany has been of the forefront of global solar development. The map below shows that Alberta has a significantly greater solar resource than Germany

What is needed to complete a solar site assessment?

We need the following to do a proper assessment

  • Prefer 12 months of Utility bills - minimum 4 months that include a yearly graph of consumption.
  • The GPS Coordinates of the location being assessed.
  • Roof Material
  • 3rd Party Authorization for us to receive data to ensure we give an accurate assessment on financial analysis.

Why do I need a solar site assessment?

  1. The assessment shows you what the system will look like from a bird’s eye view.
  2. Gives you an accurate reading of your consumption over the year WITH AND WITHOUT Solar installed.
  3. Costs and financial analysis.

How do I know if my location is good for solar?

Although the following are perfect/ideal conditions, you do not need all of them to benefit from having solar:

  • Faces true south or close to true south (West/East Works well too).
  • Has solar access year-round. Minimal shading from trees or buildings to the south.
  • The steeper the roof angle the better specifically on south facing roofs.

Is solar financing available through 3B Energy?

The simple answer is yes. There are a number of options available which include:

  • 3B Energy LTD is an ATB authorized dealer under the ATB Solar Program. (This program is only available through the ATB Dealer network (Unavailable at the branch level).
  • Ask your solar sales rep to give you an estimated cost to finance your system and explain program options (Finance/line of credit)

Can I move my system?

Yes, because you are the owner of the equipment so you can take it with you wherever you go. Our installation crews can take down the system at your current home and install it at your new location (quotes for this service are case by case). Something else to take into consideration is that solar is an asset and if you leave the system where it is, it will increase the overall value of the property.

How long will my system last?

Typically, the solar modules will last 30 to 40 or more years when installed properly and checked periodically. The only other major part of a grid-tied system is the inverter which normally carries a warranty of 12-15 years. (EXTENDED WARRANTIES ARE AVAILABLE)

Does my system come with a warranty?

Yes, we offer 2 yr. Workmanship warranty on the system we install (Industry standard is one year). There is also a manufacturer warranty on inverters (12 yrs- 15 yrs with extended warranties up to 25yrs). As well there is a manufacturer power warranty/guarantee that the panels will produce 80% in 25 yrs. Physical damage is also typically covered under home insurance.

How much space do I need for a system?

Most rooftops offer more than enough space for an adequate size system. Ground mount systems are excellent as well. We recommend the system that provides the best cost/benefit based on your specific location. In bright sunlight, a square foot of a conventional photovoltaic module will yield 12 watts of power. That’s a helpful rule of thumb for calculating a rough estimate of how much area you might need.

Do I need special insurance requirements?

NO, there are no special requirements. Simply add the value of the system to your insurance.

How much power are people making with their systems?

There are many factors involved as every location is different. We offer free assessments that give a breakdown of the costs, savings and energy consumption for you to see for your potential for generation. The software we use to do this is extremely accurate and considers a SCIENTIFIC approach to weather patterns, daylight hours etc.the system.

What are the projections for energy costs?

The Alberta Electric System Operators have made the following projections. With government removing the cap on retail energy prices we have seen a significant increase in electricity prices. THE CURRENT wholesale pool PRICE for energy has already risen 70% in 1 year and is projected to rise 23% in the next 4 yrs. We have done our homework, know the facts and want to inform our friends and neighbors of the expected increases in electricity costs. It's better to be prepared than to be left in the dark!

Can I put in a grid-tied solar system larger than my usage?

Yes, generally, we try to create enough power from the system to offset 110% of usage. Any excess energy is exported to the grid and will show up as a credit on your utility bill. As of January 1, 2009, Alberta established that the energy retailer must buy back exported power at a rate equivalent to the customer’s retail rate. If you buy for 8 cents per kilowatt hour you will be credited at 8 cents per kilowatt hour for the excess you produce. (See the next point for information on how to be credited 2-3 times your charged rate)

What are the benefits of being a 3B Energy "Solar Club" member?

3B Energy, is an authorized partner with New Gen Energy and if you sign up for the Solar Club you can receive credits for overproduction at a rate 2-3 times higher than what you are being charged at. For Ex. If your current retailer charges you 7 cents/watt for power and you produce more power than you use you would credited that same rate. If you are a registered Solar Club Member you can join to receive rates over 18 cents/watt on any energy you put back into the grid. Put simply many home/business owners are totally offsetting their consumption and in some cases putting money back in their pockets from the small amount of excess credited at a higher rate.

What are the effects of snow on panels?

Most solar irradiance comes in spring/summer/fall months when there is no snow coverage. If most ‘sun-hours’ come when there is no snow, then the effects of snow coverage are minimized. To quantify this trend, NAIT performed an in-depth 3 year study of snow coverage on solar modules in Edmonton, Alberta and Grand Prairie, Alberta. This study determined that snow coverage will only reduce annual solar energy output by ~3%. ( So although snow can be a nuisance, the panels we use are a solid black color that creates a small amount of reflective heat. Which therefore makes it easier to melt any snow that accumulates on them. So in many cases a few inches of snow will simply melt or slide off. As well, cold weather is actual a better scenario because the ‘heat loss’ associated with the production and ‘line loss’ associated with the electricity travelling through the lines is dramatically reduced therefore making the process of production more efficient.

Do I need to clean my panels?

Modules can require a small amount of maintenance. They can get covered in dirt, dust, bird droppings or snow. Usually, rain will do most of the cleaning for you.

What about hail damage?

Solar panels are made with a tempered glass that gets tested and rated for 1″ hail at 88kph. The fact that most modules are set at an angle reduces the likelihood of a direct perpendicular hit.

Is the assessment process for an on-grid system the same as that for an off-grid system?

No, the design process for an independent system (not hooked up to the utility grid) is substantially more involved. It will require a complete load analysis to accurately size the system components such as batteries, charge controller, solar array, etc.