Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside.
Solar Myth # 11 Myth: Solar panels don’t work well in cold climates.
Fact: 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. Solar panels are built to withstand varying temperatures, and they can produce electricity from indirect light.
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.
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.
“Described as the “Sistine Chapel of Small Diameter Roundwood,” the Darby Library is an inspiring example of what partners can do when they put their minds together. The Library Board worked with area architects and engineers to create a building that is not only functional, but also reflects the culture and heritage of a timber town that once employed hundreds in five sawmills, and the spirit of the many residents that contributed in ways large and small.”
Energy efficiency played a large roll in the design and construction of the Darby library. It boasts a heat pump system that keeps the 5000 square foot structure comfortable as well as good insulation and energy efficient windows. This made a net-metered solar electric system a natural. Once again the volunteers sprang into action. The Darby board contacted Dan Brandborg with SBS Solar and together they designed a system that will cover 88 % of the annual electric needs. Grants were written donations made and collected and in Feb of 2017 the system was installed and the net-meter connected.
Today the Darby Library solar electric system features 62 SolarWorld solar panels and two SolarEdge Grid tie Inverters with 10,000 watt continuous output. Using the SolarEdge Grid tie Inverter, Model SE-10,000-US the system can me monitored from anywhere.
The library continues to grow in community use, and is a beacon for energy efficiency and new technology. The library provides eleven desktop computers and five laptops for public use, a free meeting room for group use, free WiFi, and multiple book collections. Serving a population of 4,300 in a 1,376 square mile area, the library is the center for community activities. Darby public library goes solar
Solar Myth #10 Solar Panels are fragile and easily broken
Fact: Solar Panels are durable and can resist golf ball sized hail at 100 mph.. Solar Modules are made with tempered glass like the windshield of your car. Solar panels are solid state, no moving parts and have a 25 year production warrantee.
We shot these videos at the SolarWorld factory near Portland Or in 2014.
Solar Myth # 9 Manufacturing solar panels requires more energy than the solar module will produce.
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.
Solar Myth #8 Solar will get more efficient, so I should wait (I don’t want to buy the first VCR)
Fact: Solar is a mature technology, and there has never been a better time to install solar. Basic solar photovoltaic technologies have been around for more than 30 years. While efficiencies have increased and costs have decreased, the basic solar electric panel is the same solar technology used in the 1960’s and 70s. The solar industry, like other electricity-generating industries, does not evolve as rapidly as the electronics industry has. (unlike computers or cellphones which experience dramatic improvements in short periods of time). When panels become more efficient, it simply means you wouldn’t need as many, because they’re better at converting. Given stable technology profile, a 30% federal tax credit (currently sun-setting in 2019) and a 500.00 per tax payer Montana State Tax Credit, solar is more affordable than ever and makes sense right now. Once installed, the panels are solid state, with no moving parts and have a 25 year warranty.
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.