In our previous episode, we were talking about the ludicrous price it costs to drag a power line to your cottages up north (we’re in Canada, so you’ll have to bear with our mannerisms). Before we go further into the whole business of counting the dollar signs, let us talk about the costs of installing a fully functional solar system. Now, a lot of people have been turned off by the up-front costs of installing solar, but, what exactly is the price? Well generally, when you are trying to install solar, the rule of thumb is that it takes roughly $10,000 to install a kW. You will have to keep in mind that this estimate is generally a worst case scenario. Now most houses, especially in cottage country usually don’t use that much electricity. We find that people who are installing solar generally only need somewhere between 2 to 3 kW of electricity to live comfortably with all the necessities. Now if you are a sucker for luxuries like I am, you might need 4 or 5. If you have a family and plan to live there year round, you might be looking at 7+ kW worth of electricity. Either way, that’s a hefty amount of money you’d have to pony up, right?
Let’s look at the cost of dragging a hydro line up instead then. You need a pole at least every 90 meters from the nearest road allowance pole. The installations vary depending on the distance you need to cover, but, for this exercise let’s pretend that you are the average off-grid home owner. Suddenly, you are paying $30, 000 – $40,000 just to just drag that hydro line up to your house and you are responsible for the maintenance of all the utility poles and wiring on your property as well. Well, if you have a family and you’re planning to live, you’re probably thinking, ‘That’s fine, it is still cheaper than installing solar.’
But wait, there’s more! You’re still paying that electricity bill every month, but that’s fine, right? You’re still up $10,000. There is no possible way, your electricity bill could make up that difference in your lifetime. Oh, how surprised people are when they receive their first bill. What most people don’t realize, is that they don’t pay for electricity, especially in remote areas. What they are really paying for, is the delivery of that electricity.You could leave your home for 2 months and still find a very expensive bill waiting to welcome you back. This also makes it even more unfeasible for cottage-goers who only really live in their homes for a season or two.
You will have noticed that I did not bring up any specific numbers because, at the end of the day, each case is different. But there is a point at which it makes more sense to install a solar system and it is up to you to discover that point. There are always locations out there where it is more feasible to connect a hydro line then to install a solar system. It is up to each individual to do their due-diligence.