PEI

What you should know before installing solar panels

An electrician is encouraging consumers to do their research before hiring a company to install solar panels.

'Worst case, solar panels could end up in your living room'

Matt Eye, an electrician and solar-panel installer, says in a worst case scenario, solar panels could end up in your living room if not put in properly. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

An electrician is encouraging consumers to do their research before installing solar panels.

Matt Eye, owner of M.B. Eye Electrical, said many clients aren't aware of the difference between a good install and a bad install.

"Homeowners should do a background check on the contractor to make sure they have certifications in place," he said.

Eye is a certified electrical contractor who is also certified in solar installations. He said he gets a couple of calls per year on installations that are not done properly.

"Worst case, solar panels could end up in your living room. … You're adding a lot of weight to the roof of the home and you need to ensure that it can handle that weight with the snow loads we get in P.E.I."

Matt Eye, of M.B Eye Electrical, says he thinks the province should have stricter regulations on solar panel installations. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Eye said that's why it's important to have a structural engineer look at a property before installation. 

Susan Whitaker recently had solar panels installed on her home and said she and her husband took their time before hiring someone to put them in.

"I think you want to investigate the product, look at the people providing it and do your math."

Susan Whitaker recently had solar panels installed on her home. She and her husband did their research before purchasing the panels. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Eye said he thinks the province should have stricter regulations on the trade. 

Due diligence

Ted Kitson, chief electrical inspector with the province, said it's not up to the province to ensure companies or individuals are solar certified.

"I can't disagree on stricter regulations, but that falls on the company to request this."

Kitson said installers need to be registered electrical contractors on the Island, but that the responsibility for ensuring that falls on the consumer.

"If you're a licensed electrical contractor, we assume you're going to follow the Canadian Electrical Code. If you're going to do it for a particular manufacturer, they may require some training ... I hope that they would."

'If you're a licensed electrical contractor, we assume you're going to follow the Canadian Electrical Code,' says Ted Kitson, the chief electrical inspector with the province. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

He encourages consumers to call his office and ask about a company's work history and experience. If there are issues, the province can follow up with them.

"There may be fly by nighters that come to P.E.I. and install systems which is an issue."

Kitson said instructors from The Canadian Standards Association have not yet come to provide training to inspectors on the Island, but said they will in the near future. 

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Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that solar is a certified electrical trade.
    Jul 18, 2018 3:41 PM AT

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