Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Generating Solar Electricity – Helena Montana

Beki Glyde Brandborg of Helena Montana hails from a long family history of conservation and environmentalism. The most recent step on her journey to make a difference in the world was to install a solar electric system that will produce 100% of her homes electric usage.  Through the years Brandborg has purchased Energy Star energy efficient appliances, burned firewood to heat her home (with electric backup), used the most efficient form of lighting available (currently LED) and updated the insulation on her 1970s style home.

Her newly minted 5.85 kW solar electric system sports 18 – SolarWorld 325 watt modules and a 7600 SolarEdge inverter (ready for battery).  Beki knows that the job of caring for the planet and its people is never finished, but for the time being she knows that the energy that her home consumes is generated by the sun.

Solar Pioneer Continues Roof Top Revolution

Solar Pioneer Continues Rooftop Revolution
Russ Lawrence joined the decentralized power revolution years ago with his home in the mountains outside of Hamilton. When he decided to move to town he knew he wanted to maintain his energy independent lifestyle.

Russ is an efficient user of electricity, so using average annual estimates of utility usage (he has not yet been in the home a full year) SBS Solar sized the system to provide 100% of Russ’ annual electric needs.  He is anticipating excess production and plans to convert from his efficient natural gas furnace to an air source heat pump.

One of his first FaceBook posts of his new system included his NorthWestern Energy net-meter running in reverse.

Feed energy back to the grid with NorthWestern Energy Net-Meter.

Feed energy back to the grid with NorthWestern Energy Net-Meter.

 

Solarize Missoula Update

Caroline Lauer with Climate Smart Missoula, quoted in the Missoula Independent in 2015 says Missoula is considered a pilot city for the Solarize campaign, a grassroots movement to increase home solar installations and educate interested residents across the city.

“There’s a tremendous amount of momentum behind renewable energy, particularly solar energy, and it just shows all of the dedication that community leaders have toward making Missoula a more sustainable place.”

Here are some fun installations from Solarize Missoula 2016.  Join Them!!.

Missoula’s City Life Community Center soaks up the sun

Northwestern Energy grant, local donations help youth center install 72 solar panelsNorthwestern Energy grant, local donations help youth center install 72 solar panels

City Life Community Center is getting into the energy-efficiency game after landing a $50,000 grant to install 72 solar panels atop the center’s roof.

City Life director Bob Grace was joined by 10 volunteers and a crew from SBS Solar on Saturday to install the 23,400-watt solar array. Nine tons of ballast ensures the panels won’t leave the roof. The only change to the physical roof was two small holes drilled to conduit the energy into the building.  (Read the entire article at http://missoulian.com)

IF you have 15 minutes and want to see the future, check out this video!

This article sums up where are heading with our Industry.  We are proud to say we are working with the SolarEdge inverters and have been for some time.  If you are interested in more fun information , click on the Video link to see a great 15 minute look at the future. Who of us will be driving the first Google or Apple car on your block?

 

http://blog.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc/blogs/2015/10/elon_musk_s_gigafact.html?cmpid=renewablestorage1152015

 

 

 

Ground Mounts Versus Roof Mounted Solar Electric Modules

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ground mounts versus roof mounted solar electric modules?

Roof Mounted solar photovoltaic modules have the advantages of low cost and height, generally above nearby obstacles and harms way.  This economical method utilizes the trusses of the structure to secure the modules.  However the roof is not ideal in every case.  Perhaps there are significant obstructions to sun exposure on the roof, such as nearby trees, buildings, or terrain.  Or the roof itself has obstructions that will interfere with full sun exposure, such as sky lights and chimneys.  Remember even the shadow from a deciduous tree limb in winter is substantial enough to reduce the output of a solar module.  In these cases a ground mount might be the preferred option.  Advantages here include ease of snow removal and variety in the location of the array.  We typically work with an excavator and pour concrete to secure the mount which increase the total cost of the system. Electric code also requires a fence surrounding the array to restrict access. Give Dan a call to discuss ideal installation for your solar electric system.

Economical LED lighting is finally here!

Energy efficient LED LightingWe have finally arrived at point in time when LED’s are at equal or less cost of the compact fluorescent, curly bulbs.  This is a major achievement as LED’s last much longer, are again, much more efficient than compact fluorescents and contain no mercury which requires special handling when recycling.

When we started working and living with solar systems 30 years ago we had no choice but to use incandescent bulbs.  Mr. Edison’s revolutionary bulb though was eight times better at producing heat than it is at producing light.  So if you want to keep that pump house from freezing or warm those chickens you have the right bulb.  But otherwise it’s time to cycle these antiques out of your home.

When compact fluorescents arrived on the scene, we were a
ble to order these at 12 volts DC and these bulbs lasted for decades.  Then they became available at 120 volts AC, the kind of power we all use in out US homes.  Then overseas manufactures reduced the cost and quality of some compact fluorescents.  I have had feedback from too many that CF’s only last a year or so.  Bummer, as the major manufactures such as Sylvania and GE still produce CF’s with excellent lifespans.  Our local utility was even moved to purchase a cheap brand of bulbs and send them out at no cost to the consumer. Never mind that the CF’s embedded energy to produce makes them a negative even after their increased efficiency.

So long live the LED.  Maybe these will be nick named as more true “Obama Bulb” as the times, they are a changing.

Use your Solar Electric generated electricity most efficiently.

Use your Solar Electric generated electricity most efficiently.  Begin by looking at the largest energy loads in our Western Montana area, Heating, Cooling, Hot water, Lighting, appliances, and other electronics.

 

Check out Consumer Reports latest How to Tame the Energy Hogs in Your Home.