In residential applications, solar energy is most commonly used to:

  • Heat water for domestic use
  • Provide primary and supplemental heating of dwellings
  • Generate electricity through the use of solar photovoltaic [PV] technologies
  • Heat water for use in swimming pools and spas

Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems (SDHW)

Building permits are required for the installation of all solar domestic hot water systems.

The Ontario Building Code regulates two types of solar energy systems used for heating domestic potable water:

  • Non-packaged systems are designed as complete systems but are made up of individual components not tested or evaluated together as a proprietary system.
  • Factory packaged SDHW systems generally consist of a complete series of assembled components which provide solar pre-heated water to a domestic hot water storage tank through the use of solar thermal collectors, heat transfer exchangers (utilizing a liquid heat transfer media and potable water) and include all appropriate plumbing and electrical controls to affect the transfer. These systems must be certified by a recognized testing agency.

Building Permit Requirements Non-Packaged SDHW Systems:

These systems must be designed by a professional engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario with good engineering practice. Permit applications for non-packaged systems must include two copies each of the following:

  1. Plumbing schematic of the entire system including connection details to the potable water system.
  2. The location, size and weight of the solar collectors and the method of installing them to the building.
  3. System component specifications including any testing or evaluation data.
  4. A statement from a professional engineer certifying that the proposed system conforms to the intent of CSA International Technical Information Letter MSE-45 (as amended), the referenced standards applicable to SDHW components listed in Table 1 of the TIL and the intent of the requirements for SDHW systems in the Ontario Building Code.

    All documents must be stamped and signed according to practice standards by Professional Engineer’s Ontario.

Building Permit Requirements Packaged SDHW Systems:

Permit applications for factory packaged systems must be accompanied by the following:

  1. Drawings (schematic are acceptable) of the entire system including details of the connection to the potable water system
  2. The location, size and weight of the solar collectors and the method of installing them to the building
  3. Evidence that the system has been tested and certified by CSA

Installation Requirements for both Non-Packaged and Factory Packaged SDHW Systems:

Installation of these systems will be done by a qualified installer certified by the Canadian Solar Energy Industry Association or will be inspected and certified by a professional engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario.

Solar Photovoltaic [PV] Systems

Building permits are required for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems [arrays] except for the following:

  1. Arrays mounted independently from a building on a pole or supporting structure
  2. Arrays mounted on detached, semi-detached or townhouse dwellings, farm buildings or accessory structures that meet the following criteria:
    1. they are fixed directly to the roof so that the array does not project beyond the ridge or eaves and is not more than 400mm [16 inches] above the roof surface, and
    2. the structure of the roof has been assessed, and the array installation is carried out according to a design by a suitably qualified and experienced person, such as a professional engineer