Category Archives: Hamilton Montna

Solar Myth #1 – Busted

 

Solar Myth#1: Solar panels are too expensive.

Fact: Solar energy pricing is at an all time low according to reports released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Installing a solar electric system on your home increases resale value.  A U.S. Department of Energy study  showed that buyers will pay up to $15,000 more for a home equipped with solar panels. Adding even more saving potential, government tax credits can offset the cost of a solar energy system with a  30 percent federal tax credit (currently through 2019) and in Montana a 500.00 per tax payer tax credit.

Snowed in modules?  Net Metering = No Problem

Montana solar, solar Montana,  Missoula Solar, Missoula renewable energy, solar, photovoltaics, solar installations, energy consultation, solar power, energy, energy electric contractor, energy generation, grid-tie solar, grid tie solar, grid tie photovoltaics, clean electricity, energy audit, pv, energy conservation, Tax incentives, small scale solar, tax credits, grants, solar panels, solar modules, solar electric systems, solar energy products, solar power installation, off grid solar, on grid solar, solar energy consulting, solar water pumping, solar equipment, commercial, industrial, It was -13 this morning.  We have snow on our solar modules.  What do we do?  Snuggle in, rent a movie, put on some hot cocoa.

Not to worry.  In Western Montana, grid-tie, net-metered homes make a majority of their solar power in the summer months.  Winter power generation is a bonus, rather than a necessity.  The days are shorter, the sun is lower and the sky is often overcast.  This does not mean that we don’t generate any power, it just means that we generate significantly less in the months around winter solstice. Our sizing programs illustrate this well.  December sunlight in Missoula Montana is summarized as 1.7 equivalent average sun hours while July data shows 7.5 average hours.  So relax.  Modules are generally set at an angle that enough snow will begin to shed, temperatures permitting.  The cells are of dark colors that promote melting and with enough consecutive sunny days your modules will be generating power once again.

Fun Facts:  Net-metered homes in Montana, energy production and usage are reset annually April 1st.  So your solar electric photovoltaic system generates power in July (running your meter backwards) and you can use that generated credit now when your modules and you are snowed in.

 

solar installation, solar electric system

ABC Acres 27 kW solar array – Sustainable Farm Bitterroot Valley Montana

ABC Acres is a permaculture farm in the Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana. Sustainable food production, healthy living systems, and ecological design is what they are all about.  

Their Solar PV system utilizes two banks of sealed batteries  of 48 volts and 2,400 amp hour rating. Resulting in total capacity of 4,800 amp hours. This equates to 230,400 watt hours of storage.  The main solar array of  the ABC  Acres farm is comprised of 60 each, 250 watt modules for a 15,000 watt array. Another 30 modules are located on the processing building to the West. The arrays are wired through six controllers and all feed the central battery bank.  

On Thursday (December 8 2016) morning the modules were covered in snow.  But with a little sunshine, by the end of the day the snow had sloughed off.

You can check out their wide variety of organic meats at ABC Acres.  They even offer Farm Stays.

Solar Electric System Missoula Montana

Solar Electric (Photovoltaic) Modules and Snow in Montana

It is December in Montana.  We received our first snowfall that stayed with us.  Temperatures have dipped.  We received a call:  “Help.  It is a beautiful day outside and my inverter is in nighttime mode.”  We asked if there was snow on the modules.  Sure enough, they were covered and the modules were shut down.

Not to worry.  In Western Montana, grid-tie, net-metered homes make a majority of their solar power in the summer months.  Winter power generation is a bonus, rather than a necessity.  The days are shorter, the sun is lower and the sky is often overcast.  This does not mean that we don’t generate any power, it just means that we generate significantly less in the months around solstice. Our sizing programs illustrate this well.  December sunlight is summarized as 1.7 equivalent average sun hours while July data shows 7.5 average hours.  So relax.  Modules are generally set at an angle that enough snow will begin to shed, temperatures permitting.  The cells are of dark colors that increases melting and with enough consecutive sunny days your modules will be generating power once again.

Fun Facts:  Net-metered homes in Montana, energy production and usage are reset annually April 1st.  So your solar electric photovoltaic system generates power in July (running your meter backwards) and you can use that generated credit now when your modules and you are snowed in.

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.