Author Archives: Becky Brandborg

36-panel Solar Array Hamilton MT

Solar Panels Hamilton Mt

We are thrilled with our new 36-panel solar array installed recently by Dan Brandborg and his great team at SBS Solar. This highly skilled and experienced group was great to work with from start to finish, and we most highly recommend this company to anyone wanting to utilize clean solar energy for their home or business. Dan and his team were always available to answer our questions, the project went smoothly, and we are now producing clean electricity for us and even others to use. Thank you SBS Solar for everything you did.

Carol and Tom Schwan
Hamilton, Montana

 

Solar Energy System Installed for Your Annual Energy Usage

Solar Myth # 7 I will have an excess of energy that will go unused and will be wasted

Fact: Nearly all modern solar panel systems are connected to the conventional electric utility grid. When this happens, your meter spins backwards and your utility company credits you for that power. This grid-tied method tends to be the most convenient for homeowners. This is ideal for us in Montana, because of our long solar days in the summer and shorter days in the winter time.  In Montana the utility company will not write you a check for excess energy that you produce.  So generally your system will be sized to accommodate your average annual usage.  (determined by your utility bill).  Each year the solar electric system generates power during peak season (summer), and you consume power during the darker, shorter days of winter.  The utility company (each one slightly different dates) resets once a year and the process begins again.

Check out the rest of our videos.

Solar-Ease Workshop – round 2!

Mark your calendars.

Wednesday February 7th from 6 pm – 8 pm

at Missoula Federal Credit Union 3600 Brooks St, Missoula MT 59801

Making solar easy in Missoula   Climate Smart MissoulaMontana Renewable Energy Association (MREA), the City of Missoula and Missoula Federal Credit Union had so much enthusiasm for the Solar-ease workshop in December, they are putting on another one.

Their aim – to make it easy! The goal is to help the consumer understand the process of installing a solar electric system and what barriers stand in the way.

Check out our resources Here.

Is Solar right for you?  Solar Energy, Missoula-Style!  Solar Process Flowchart

Navigate the flow-chart below to go step-by-step through the process of understanding the local solar landscape, and then chart your own path!

Join us in February to learn about this and much more.

Solar Installer Missoula Montana

Planning a New Garage or Carport? Great Solar Installation

Great time to incorporate solar into your construction project.  Planning ahead gives you the opportunity to get the most out of your new project.

Call for a free solar estimate today.

Solar Made Easy. Is Solar Right for You?

Making solar easy in Missoula   Climate Smart Missoula, Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA), the City of Missoula and Missoula Federal Credit Union presented an informational workshop about going solar. Their aim – to make it easy! The goal is to help the consumer understand the process of installing a solar electric system and what barriers stand in the way.   Links to all the resources are Here.

Is Solar right for you?  Solar Energy, Missoula-Style!  Solar Process Flowchart

Navigate the flow-chart below to go step-by-step through the process of understanding the local solar landscape, and then chart your own path!

Solar Installer Missoula Montana

Embedded Energy – Solar Module Manufacturing and Pay Back

Embedded Energy - Solar Module ManufacturingOne often stated myth is that manufacturing solar panels requires more energy than the solar module will produce is simply not true.

According to a 2004 National Renewable Energy Laboratory study that analyzes several different panel technologies, “Producing electricity with photovoltaics (PV) emits no pollution, produces no greenhouse gases, and uses no finite fossil fuel resources.” and it takes only 1 – 4 years for the energy savings accumulated by producing electricity from solar to equal the energy cost of producing the panel.

Solar technology has improved in the years since this study was conducted, and production efficiencies have driven the “energy payback period” down even further.  Solar modules generally have a 25 year warranty and can continue to produce long after that time frame(at a slightly reduced rate) lifetime production of a solar module exceeds far embedded costs.

Affordable Housing Valley Villas Solar Electric System Hamilton Montana

Valley Villas-Solar Electric Hamilton Montana Valley Villas is one of the largest solar electric systems in Montana.    It has many unique features, three separate buildings, 34 apartment units, with two laundry rooms.  SBS Solar used all SolarWorld 325 modules and Fronius inverters.

The developer and architect on the project kept their eye on efficiency.
Apartments feature:

  • Air source heat pumps for heating and cooling
  • All energy efficient appliances
  • High performance insulation in the ceiling and walls
  • LED lighting indoors and out
  • High-E windows and doors
  • All 17 lower level units also incorporate handicapped accessible design features
  • Energy efficient washers and dryers in each laundry room
  • And of course individually Net Metered photovoltaic systems to help with energy costs

This landmark installation offers efficient affordable housing units that are a model for the affordable housing industry.

Solar Panels on a cloudy day in Western Montana

Solar Works in Montana on Cloudy Overcast Days

Solar Panels on a cloudy day in Western MontanaSolar electric modules will produce energy even on cloudy days. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, consider that solar panels on a rooftop in foggy San Francisco produce nearly the same as the ones in nearby sunny Sacramento. Consider too that Germany (with a climate not that different from Vancouver Canada) leads the world in residential solar right now, and it is generally an overcast climate.

While the amount of sunlight your panels receive is important, a more accurate representation of the amount of energy your panels can produce is referred to as peak sun-hours or equivalent full sun. It is important, first of all, to note that “peak sun-hours” are not the same as “hours of daylight.” Peak sun-hours refers specifically to how much solar energy is available in an area during a typical day. As a comparison Phoenix Arizona has equivalent full sun value of 6.5, in Western Montana we use the equivalent full sun value of 4.5.  The same equivalent sun hour value as a good part of the continental United States.

Montana is a Great State for Solar.

Solar Installation Missoula MontanaHave you ever heard that solar doesn’t work in Montana?  Simply not true.  Montana is a great state for solar.  Dan Brandborg has been selling, installing and living with solar electricity in  Montana for 30 plus years.

That being said, the true game changer in Montana was net-metering.  This allows Montanans to harness the sunshine generated on our long solar days in the summer time, feed back into the utility grid and use the power during our shorter winter days.  Solar irradiation levels vary across the United States, but every state receives enough sunlight to make solar a good investment. Solar panels will continue to produce a significant amount of energy even on overcast days. Germany has more solar than any other country in the world (and six times the installed capacity of the U.S.), yet Germany’s solar resource is roughly equivalent to that of Alaska.  Solar can work in almost any climate, as long as panels are properly installed in an un-shaded location. Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside. In fact, solar panels perform better in cooler temperatures than very hot temperatures.

Financing Solar – Missoula Federal Credit Union

Solar Panel Financing Missoula MontanaMissoula Federal Credit Union Offers Financing For Your Solar Electric System

Planning your solar electric system?  Thinking about financing? Missoula Federal Credit Union offers two loan options:  Solar Home Equity Loan or Home Energy Loan.

The Missoula Federal Credit Union is a
not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution, serving people who live, work, worship, or belong to
an association headquartered in Missoula, Lake, and Ravalli counties.  (Not a member?  No Problem. Becoming a member is easy, and is well integrated into the loan application process and can be done via mail, and need not include any financial services beyond the loan. Membership in the Montana Renewable Energy Association would qualify a
borrower for MFCU loans, making them available to the entire state.  Check out the Missoula Federal Credit Union Home Energy Loan Brochure.  Or Call (406) 523-3300.

Don’t forget:

Federal Tax Credits
Residential 30% Renewable Energy Credit (thru 2019)This tax credit is applicable for all primary and secondary private homes.  It includes all associated costs, such as installation and electrical work.

State (Montana) Tax Credits
Montana State provides a 500.00 per tax payer tax credit, or 1000.00 per couple for your solar installation.