March 29th, 2011

How Solar Electricity Works

Before I start this new blog, I’d like to review some important vocabulary.

Solar Electricity = Solar PV or just plain PV (PV means PhotoVoltaic)
MicroFIT = micro Feed Into Tarrif program designed by the Ontario Power Authority (10Kw or less) – typical for homes
FIT = Feed Into Tariff Program, like MicroFit but for over 10kW – typical for commercial and industrial applications
kW = Kilowatt
kW/h = Kilowatt per hour, as you see on a standard hydro bill
1 Kw = 1000 watts

For some time now I’ve been trying to understand why some people haven’t even acknowledged the existence of solar electricity, or how it works.  If I happen to start a conversation about solar (which I often do), I usually hear the same old “oh forget that, it’s way too expensive…”.  I then proceed to tell people that solar systems, as well as the microFIT and FIT programs, are designed to accommodate 95% of homeowners and their unique budgets (providing your roof has the solar potential of course!).  It’s usually at this point that I offer to sit down and buy a few cups of coffee.  

Almost all system designs have a return on investment of 9 to 12 years.  This number depends on your system’s power generation as well as other factors, but we’ll come back to this later.   Systems are now available starting at 750 watts (represents an average of over 8 light bulbs), and with a MicroFit contract that represents 80.2 cents per kW (or, if you exceed 10kW, 71.3 cents per kW) for a contract that’s good for 20 years.  Minimal upkeep is required and most importantly, your system can be upsized after that 20 years, or even better a contract renewal at same or better rates may be in the making with the government.   Let’s remember one thing here – our government program comes from the German system.  They were the first to successfully achieve this microFIT program.  Their initial contract term was for ten years, and area residents were in a fright wondering what was going to happen at the end of their contract term.  Recently, the German government decided to renew contracts from those customers who were interested in doing so.  Our prediction is that our government will do the same in order to benefit programs in place to manage the possible energy shortage in years to come.

So back to simple math.  A system that generates .75 Kw/h (750 watts per hour) would cost approx. $8,000.00 to install.  This system has a return on investment (via the MicroFIT program) of approx. 12 to 13 years.  The remaining 7 to 8 years on the contract is money in your pocket.  Here are a few examples:

Size Installation Cost Return on Investment
2 kW/h $14,500 9-11 years
3 kW/h $23,000 10 years

Now, let’s be realistic here.  The average family moves every 3 to 5 years, which can dampen the quality of this investment.  However,  predictions from many colleagues tell us that for every $1,000 in reduced operating annual utility costs, your resale value increases by about $20,000.  I personally find those amounts hard to believe here in Ontario during this economy, but my point is quite simple – your investments aren’t going to waste.  In addition, contracts with the Ontario Power Authority are transferrable, so the contract you have for your home can be transferred to the buyer of your home when the time comes.

I always like to save the best part for last: we now offer financing on solar PV systems!  You’ll have to contact us for specifics , but think of the possibilities! An investment in your home that is guaranteed to keep a positive flow in your cheque book until it’s paid off!  And beyond the pay off of the system, there is a guaranteed income being generated for your home.

There are many factors to consider:  your roof’s pitch and how far off true south you really are are just to name a few.  This however, is our next blog’s topic. Meanwhile – give us a call!! We’d be happy to come out and talk to you about your home’s solar potential!

Thanks for reading!

It’s hard to find a homeowner these days who hasn’t been affected by the Enbridge Budget Billing changes. In fact, many have had to forego other endeavours because of the large pay outs they’ve needed to make to Enbridge, leaving consumers frustrated and tired of shelling out so much of their hard earned cash to the utility companies. This becomes even more bothersome when the majority of Canadians are so mindful of energy usage these days; spending big bucks on energy efficient appliances, water reducing shower heads, midnight laundry to catch the off peak hours, and particularly cutting back on basic comforts such as heating and air conditioning.

What if you could live comfortably again, significantly reduce your utility bills AND help the environment? Trow Mechanical believes you can do all of these things (in fact we can prove it), and a little bit more. You can also extend the life of your heating and air conditioning systems, add to the value of your home, make long-term and lasting investments while also contributing to the health of everyone in your home. How? Here’s just a few options:

Smart Thermostats

Have you ever gone away to a nice, warm climate during the depths of our freezing Canadian winters? Do you ever, even for a moment, wonder if your home is safe while you’re gone? Not just from robbers and the boogeyman, but from pipes freezing, furnaces overheating or the housesitter trying to achieve the same climate in your home as you have in the Carribean? Imagine having a thermostat that could control all of these things. The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is a state of the art, easy to install thermostat that you can control remotely from any computer, or even from your iPhone. It sends alert emails to you if something in your system fails, and can regulate itself based on automatic updates it receives from the Weather Network. This thermostat is so smart, it can even help your air conditioner and furnace run more efficiently, has an endless number of programming options to suit anyone’s lifestyle, and it’s as easy as ordering those plane tickets you bought online for your winter vacation.

Visit our Product Page at www.trowmechanical.ca/products.html to learn more, or contact us at 888-706-0479 to get a free estimate.

Solar Wall

Solar systems can be expensive, and Trow Mechanical Inc. installs them from simple pool heater applications to full heat and hot water systems for industrial warehouses. But you can start off easy, and make a small investment that can provide supplemental heat for the whole winter and add to your comfort in the rooms that you spend the most time in. Solar Wall technology is a two day installation that can provide up to 100 degrees F heat in up to 750 square feet of space per panel. it powers itself, and it uses only the power of the sun. Imagine being able to heat your living room, finished basement or bedrooms without using a single cent of hydro or gas? And without having to spend a fortune on the installation!

Visit our Product Page at www.trowmechanical.ca/products.html to learn more, or contact us at 888-706-0479 to get a free estimate.

Economizers

Did you know that your air systems, like your furnace and air conditioner, use the greatest amount of power and fuel during their first minute of operation? You’ve probably noticed that your air systems don’t run continuously all day and night (and if they do – call us!), but rather come on and off throughout the day in order to maintain a desired temperature in your home. High efficiency units run in different stages, and use fuel differently, but they still come on and off frequently. An economizer can make a new or old system run using even less fuel and power by learning your home’s ability to hold heat in the winter and expel heat in the summer, and by telling your air equipment how to run more effectively. Now it’s possible to make an already highly efficient air system run even better, or an older system to work with less effort. By helping this equipment run less often while still maintaining the desired indoor temperature, you’ll save money on power and fuel, and your equipment will have greater longevity. All of this from an installation that can be done in about an hour!

Visit our Product Page at www.trowmechanical.ca/products.html to learn more, or contact us at 888-706-0479 to get a free estimate.

September 20th, 2010

It’s not easy being green!

First of all, thank you for visiting the Trow Mechanical Inc. website, and for checking out our blog. And since you’re here, thanks for considering your options for making your life a little greener. It’s not as easy as the commercials on tv make it out to be, and let’s face it, you don’t slave away at work all day to spend a fortune on a system that simply makes your home greener. These days, investing in your home or business has to both save the world AND your wallet, and you can literally get a University Degree figuring out how to do both.. Therein lies your answer; the age old saying, knowledge is power (literally and figuratively in this case!). After all, we all needed to learn a few things to get those dollars in our wallet to begin with, and the destruction of the earth by way of power and technology was not come by with a kindergarten education. Knowledge got us here, and it will see us through.

I am Shawn Racette, and I formed Trow Mechanical Inc. with the drive and ambition needed to not only install greener systems, but to help our consumers understand why they need them. Any good salesman can sell you a top of the line vehicle, but if you don’t know how to drive it, what’s the point? Anyone who can read the newspaper can understand why it’s important that our generation needs to make some serious changes to save the earth, but when it comes down to how to make that happen in the most complex systems in your property, the mechanics become a little more complicated. That is why we created our website to be a useful source of information, it is the sole reason why I’ll write blogs about how I’ve helped your neighbours, and it is the foundation of the conversation I’ll have with you when I’m in your home showing you how it all comes together. And at the end of the day, I understand that as nobel as it is to want to reduce your carbon footprint and make a cleaner earth for your children, it all comes down to money in and money out.

Now you may ask yourself – can’t I just spend a few hours on the net and talking to the guy next door with the solar pool heater and understand just as much as this Shawn guy? Ask my wife, and then ask your own. She’ll tell you about the many hours driving to the cottage filled with conversations about how to make water flow through a pump at a slower rate so that it can absorb what seems like miniscule BTUs of heat from a solar system, and the huge impact that has on the efficiency of that system. She’ll tell you about the stacks of books, certifications and conversation notes in my office all relating to how one drop of water in a solar evacuated tube can heat an entire home. She’ll also tell you how nice it is to live in a solar heated cottage without having to wear her hat and gloves inside; and that using the power of nature to create comfort in her home doesn’t mean she has to sacrifice fashion. And we can both attest to the benefits of what I call Progressive Installation; adding a few new components to the solar system each year, and managing a budget that doesn’t break the bank account.

You can begin by adding an Economizer and a Smart Thermostat to reduce your utility bills. Then you can add a Solar Wall to heat up a drafty, otherwise expensive to heat finished basement. Follow that with a few panels to heat your pool well into the fall season, and then supplement your furnace heat in the winter. By this time, you’ve saved so much in your utility costs that you can start adding solar panel systems that heat all of your domestic hot water and heat your entire home. Before you know it, you’re off the grid, no longer paying utility bills, and you can buy that new 42” inch tv while you’re wife soaks in that new hot tub you can afford to buy AND maintain. Meanwhile, you can tell all your friends about how much money you saved, and how this amazing new system works while they drop their jaws at how smart this solar system has made you.

Can I personally change your life? No. But I can make it make more sense, help you make more cents, and make it easy being green. Reading my blogs is the first step, and the second is simply picking up the phone.