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Solar Energy Calculator for 3000+ Canadian Cities & Towns

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: May 9, 2023
WOWA Trusted and Transparent

Solar Power Calculator for Grid Connected Residential Properties

PV Potential
Needed Capacity
Number of Panels
Area of Panels
351sq. ft
Solar Panel Cost
Payback Period

What You Should Know

  • The main components of a self-sufficient solar energy system are solar panels, charger, battery, and inverter.
  • Connecting a solar system to the grid reduces the components needed in the system and, thus, the capital cost of your solar power project.
  • The main components of a grid-connected solar system are an electric current inverter and solar panels.
  • Greener homes initiatives can be used for financing a residential solar project.
  • In many instances, solar systems are sound financial investments and the right choice for the environment.
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solar panel infographic

How does the Solar Panel Calculator Work?

Judging Your Electricity Need

This calculator multiplies your electricity consumption by the percentage of electricity you wish to source from the sun. Electricity consumption is usually measured in kWh. k stands for kilo, meaning 1000; W stands for Watt, the unit of power in the international system of units. 1 Watt equals 1 Joule per second. The letter h stands for hour. When power is multiplied by time, the result is energy.

If you don't know your average electricity consumption, you can make an educated guess by noting the per capita electricity consumption for each province and territory in Canada. Quebec ranks 1st in electricity consumption at 21.0 MWh, followed by Saskatchewan at 20.0 MWh, Newfoundland and Labrador at 19.3 MWh, Alberta at 18.7 MWh, New Brunswick at 19.3 MWh, Manitoba at 16.1 MWh, Prince Edward Island (PEI) at 14.2 MWh, B.C. at 12.9 MWh, Yukon at 11.0 MWh, Nova Scotia at 11.1 MWh, Ontario at 9.5 MWh, NWT at 7.42 MWh and Nunavut at 6.13 MWh. M stands for mega or million.

Quebec buys cheap electricity from Labrador and produces its own cheap hydroelectricity. Thus Quebec offers the most affordable electricity in Canada, and most residents heat their homes with electricity. In provinces west of Quebec, many residents have access to cheap and accessible natural gas and use it for heating their homes. In areas east of Quebec, there is limited access to natural gas, so most people use electricity or fuel oil to heat their homes. Neither electricity nor fuel oil is cheap in Atlantic Canada; affordable options are firewood and coal, both of which are inconvenient.

Electricity price by province, based on monthly consumption of 1,000kWh, and per Capita electricity consumption

Alberta16.6¢/kWh18.7 MWh
British Columbia12.6¢/kWh12.9 MWh
Manitoba9.9¢/kWh16.1 MWh
New Brunswick12.7¢/kWh19.3 MWh
Newfoundland & Labrador13.8¢/kWh19.3 MWh
Nova Scotia17.1¢/kWh11.1 MWh
Northwest Territories38.2¢/kWh7.42 MWh
Nunavut37.5¢/kWh6.13 MWh
Ontario13.0¢/kWh9.5 MWh
Prince Edward Island17.4¢/kWh14.2 MWh
Quebec7.3¢/kWh21.0 MWh
Saskatchewan18.1¢/kWh20.0 MWh
Yukon Territory18.7¢/kWh11.0 MWh
Canada Average17.9¢/kWh15 MWh
Price data from energyhub.org
solar panels image


Solar energy production depends on the amount of light the panels receive, which in turn depends on the intensity of light, duration of sunshine and the angle it makes with the solar panel surface. The light intensity and duration of sunshine depend on your solar system's location. More specifically, they depend on the geographic latitude, elevation and cloud cover, amongst other factors.

Thus, you should enter your province and the closest municipality to your project. Among Canadian provinces, Saskatchewan is exposed to the most sunlight, followed by Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Because of incentives offered to solar energy production in Ontario, most of Canada’s solar energy production is concentrated in the province of Ontario.

Positioning a solar system

The installation site for solar panels should be free of shade. Solar panels receive maximum irradiation when they are perpendicular to the incoming sun rays. Therefore, to generate maximum power, you need to have your panels turn and keep facing the sun. This requires the panels to have two axes of rotation.

Turning panels by hand makes them labour intensive, while equipping them with motors programmed to keep the panels facing the sun increases capital and operating costs. Thus most solar panels are fixed. They should face south to minimize the average angle of a line normal to panels and sun rays to maximize the electricity produced.

But as peak electricity consumption is in the afternoon, electricity produced in the afternoon is more valuable than electricity produced in the morning. Thus if you face time-of-day pricing (like in Ontario and Nova Scotia), panels facing west would produce less but more valuable electricity. Thus only parts of your roof facing in a direction between south and west are suitable for solar installation.

You can move your peak production time to earlier hours of the day by tilting your panels toward the east, while you can move your peak production to later hours of the day by tilting your panels toward the west.

You must ensure you have more than the required roof surface in the appropriate direction. Any roof part with a vent, chimney, skylight or pipe is not appropriate for panels.

Furthermore, to maximize year-round solar energy production, your solar panels should tilt toward the equator as much as your latitude. For example, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are located at 44N, 46N, and 49N latitudes. Solar panels installed in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver achieve maximum energy production by making 44, 46, and 49 degrees angles with a horizontal plane. By increasing this angle, energy production during winter increases, while by decreasing this angle, energy production is increased in the summer.

A problem you might encounter in places very far from the equator is that large panel tilt increases the likelihood of wind damage to the panels. Sunshine's angle with your panels depends on your solar panels' direction. Therefore, in the calculator, you should choose the direction you are planning for your panels.

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Maximum photovoltaic potentials in Canada

Rank Population Center Province Maximum Photovoltaic potential (kWh/kWp)
3VancouverBritish Columbia1426
6Ottawa–GatineauOntario / Quebec1667
8Quebec CityQuebec1574
12VictoriaBritish Columbia1555
13HalifaxNova Scotia1459
17St. CatharinesOntario1615
19St. John'sNewfoundland and Labrador1240
20KelownaBritish Columbia1610
25AbbotsfordBritish Columbia1410
29MonctonNew Brunswick1566
30White RockBritish Columbia1476

Judging Your Solar Installation Capacity and Size

To calculate the nameplate capacity for your solar system, we use photovoltaic potentials for your city as published by the Ministery of Natural Resources, 2020. The photovoltaic potential is defined as the amount of electricity that can be produced per unit of nameplate photovoltaic panel capacity.

The photovoltaic potential depends on location, weather conditions and panel direction. For calculating the photovoltaic potential, the weather condition is assumed to be that of a typical meteorological year. A typical meteorological year is composed of typical meteorological hours. Each typical meteorological hour is an hour, with meteorological conditions being the median of historical meteorological conditions at that hour of the year. Meteorological conditions of interest include direct normal irradiance, ambient temperature, humidity, and wind.

There are solar panels with various capacities. Solar farms commonly use larger solar panels with higher capacity compared with residential solar installations. Each solar panel consists of several solar cells serially connected. Residential solar panels typically consist of 60 solar cells, while industrial solar panels usually consist of 72 solar cells.

Therefore to calculate the required solar energy system capacity, the necessary annual electric energy is divided by the photovoltaic potential. The photovoltaic potential is greatest if panels rotate around two axes and always face the sun. The photovoltaic potential of rotating panels for the 30 largest Canadian population centers is reported in the table above.

Residential solar panels in the North American market average a nameplate capacity of 355 watts. So by dividing your required solar power capacity by the number 355, we derive the approximate number of required solar panels.

solar panels image

Residential solar panels are typically 65 by 39 inches. Thus the area necessary for installing panels is the number of panels times 17.55 square feet. One of the most critical points to consider when assessing the viability of solar power for your residence is if you have an appropriate surface for installing your solar panels.

Judging Your Solar Installation Cost

The cost of your solar project scales with your power requirement, but this scaling is not linear. The larger your project, the lower your per-watt cost would be. This calculator uses the average price for solar systems with a capacity close to your required capacity.

Incentives For Installing a Solar System

Canada greener homes grant is a program where the federal government incentivizes Canadian homeowners to renovate their homes in ways which reduce the home’s energy intake. This program offers up to $600 for pre and post-renovation energy audits, up to $5,000 for energy-saving renovations, and up to $40,000 for interest-free loans for energy-saving renovations. Installing a residential solar system qualifies as one of these energy-saving renovations.

Alternatively, you might be able to deduct part of your solar energy costs from your income through a home renovation tax credit.

Financing Your Solar System

The easiest and most profitable way to finance your solar system is to use your savings and replenish your savings by using the money you would have paid for electricity bills otherwise. At the end of the payback period, you would have free electricity just by keeping your solar system clean as you keep other parts of your home clean.

If for any reason, you prefer not to use your cash, there are many options available for financing your solar project. For example, you can use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or any other secured loan as unsecured loans have high-interest rates and likely make a solar energy project in Canada non-economic.

What Constitutes Your Solar System?

solar inverter image

A sine wave. This graph's vertical axis denotes voltage, and the horizontal axis represents time.


Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity, but our appliances are designed to use alternating current (AC) electricity. Thus, we need an electric converter to transform DC into AC to use solar panels. Grid (mains) electricity or utility power exhibits a sinusoidal form if you consider changes in voltage vs. time.

Connection to the grid gives extra power to the grid at peak production (typically afternoon), and you get power from the grid when you don’t produce enough electricity. Thus a complicated grid-interactive or synchronous inverter is necessary.

This grid-tie inverter is required to match the voltage, frequency, and phase of your solar-produced electricity with that of the utility grid. Also, your inverter must shut down automatically in case of a blackout. Currently, there are few inverter technologies commercially available.

Solar Panel

Solar panels are made of solar cells, which are themselves made of the semiconducting element silicon. The silicon element is the second most abundant element on the planet earth. It is found as silicon dioxide in the sand. Unfortunately, reducing silicon dioxide to elemental silicon and, more importantly, purifying the resulting silicon is both energy-intensive and costly.

The larger the silicon crystals, the higher their efficiency in capturing the light photons. Solar cells, made of enormous silicon crystals, are called single crystals. Single crystals offer higher efficiency and are more expensive.

Solar panels don’t have wear and tear because they do not have moving parts. You will get a 25-year guarantee on many solar panel brands. If the manufacturer guarantee their product for 25 years, they probably work for 50 years, and you will have many years of free electricity after your payback period.

solar inverter image

A solar inverter is being tested.

Sources of Energy

It is interesting to consider the energy sources used to power human activities in 2020 in the table below:

Share of different energy sources in some economies (in % of the total energy used)

United States37.
Data from “Our World In Data” project.
EntityHydroWindGasOther renewables
United States2.93.434.10.8
Data from “Our World In Data” project.
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The lion's share of the energy satisfying human needs is sourced from fossil fuels, namely, Oil, Coal, and Natural gas. Fossil fuels were created millions of years ago by living organisms. Plants, algae, and many bacteria engage in the process of photosynthesis.

Photosynthesizers use the energy from sunlight to combine carbon dioxide and water. This result in the production of organic matter for the organism’s growth and reproduction and the release of oxygen by-products into the atmosphere. Photosynthesizer corpses buried deep underground have transformed into fossil fuels.

Over the past few hundred million years living organisms engaged in photosynthesis have gradually changed the earth's atmosphere. Initially, most of the oxygen they produced oxidized the methane in the atmosphere. Depleting the atmosphere from methane caused the haze to clear and blue skies to appear.

Photosynthesis continued to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and put oxygen into the atmosphere. This gradual reduction in greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) slowly cooled the atmosphere. This effect was partly countered by the rise in the sun's temperature and shine. The final result is that the present climate of the planet earth is suitable for human habitation.

Still, the environment is very complex, and variations in it occur. The earth's tilt toward the sun might change, the ocean current might change, or a massive volcanic eruption or enormous meteorite impact can start the process of significant changes in the climate. Indeed over the last two million years, there have been several glacial and interglacial periods.

The transition between a glacial period and an interglacial period entails a 4 to 7 degrees Celsius, or a 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit, change in the earth's average temperature. Such a change has occurred over about 5000 years. Such a rate of change allowed many organisms to adapt to the changing conditions and avoid extinction.

Climate models predict a change in the earth's average temperature between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius over 300 years. This change is far faster than past global warmings and coolings. Likely many living organisms would not be able to adapt to the changing climate, and mass extinction would occur.

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.