When possible it’s optimum to size a system for growth. SBS solar typically installs an inverter that can easily handle additional models. Examples of expansion are electric vehicles and air source heat pump‘s.
We are picky when it comes to who’s modules we use. After three decades of working with a good number of manufacturers we developed two main criteria which dominate our selection process. Number one is a company which has staying power. We have seen too many companies come and go, leaving us with a long-term warranty with no one to support the product. A 25-year module warranty is standard in the industry. You cannot operate as a module manufacture without it, whether or not the company will be there. Bankruptcy clears long term commitments unless the company takes actions to cover their warranties.
Number two qualification is a track record of standing behind their product and the companies brand. The two companies we work with are just plain proud of their product. It helps when you talk to workers on the factory Floor who when queried tell me this is the best job they have ever had and you can feel this is more than just a job.
This is why we work with SolarWorld of Hillsboro, Oregon and L.G. from South Korea. Both companies have been around the solar block, have a high-quality product which they are committed to support for the long run.
What module wattage is best and why we work with high power 355 watt or higher modules.
It’s simple really, the more power per module the less space it requires on your roof or mount structure. Lower wattages, especially below 295 watts, cost less yet this cost savings is lost as we need to install more modules to achieve the same total array output. More individual modules increase the number of mounting structure material, optimizers and installation time and costs.
Companies leading the industry put much energy into maximizing cell efficiencies. There are hundreds of solar module manufactures around the world. Like many products today, it is a buyer beware world.
Do you own a small business in Montana (outside the city limits of Missoula)? The USDA Rural Development, REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) offers up to 25% grants for total eligible project costs, as well as loan guarantees. Partnered with the 30% federal tax credit your savings really add up.
This program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower the cost of energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.
- Grants of $20,000 or less: October 31, 2017 and March 31, 2018;
- Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2017;
- Loan Guarantees are competed continuously throughout the year.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to invest in the long term health of your business with an investment in solar energy and energy savings.
Call Dan for a free solar consultation today 406-541-8410.
One of the best ways to size a solar electric system is to look at your utility power bill. On the NorthWestern Energy bill* in the upper left hand corner there is a graph that tells you how much energy your home consumes on a monthly basis. This information and a Google view of your site for orientation and shading, enable the SBS Solar team to design a system with your needs in mind. A site visit is then scheduled to verify information .We then follow-up with a detailed proposal that will quantify your total costs and savings.
*Electric Coop power users will need to contact their co-op offices to request the last years worth of power usage.
Council Groves 48kW Solar Electric System Received USB (Universal Service Benefit) Grant
The SBS Solar team recently installed a 48kW solar electric system for Council Groves Apartments in Missoula MT. Currently Council Groves Apartments maintains 72 units of low-income Housing for approximately two hundred residents, close to half of which are children under the age of 18.
A portion of the funds for this project were provided by USB (Universal Service Benefits) funding in Montana. In 1997 the Montana legislature passed an electric deregulation law that included language establishing a Universal Systems Benefits (USB) fund.
- Low Income (energy assistance and weatherization)
- Cost-Effective Conservation + R & D
- Market Transformation
- Renewables + R & D
Under this program (with these guidelines the E+ Renewable Energy Program (NorthWestern Energy) provides custom incentives for projects that benefit organizations and communities for non-profit or government facilities. Projects receiving these funds often provide civic value including education and visible representation of renewable energy technologies to a broad audience. Broad Benefit Commercial solar PV incentives are awarded twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
If your non-profit is interested in assistance with the grant application call Dan today. 406-541-8410.
The 5 criteria used to rank proposals are as follows:
- Non Profit
- Geographic Location
- Participant Match ( at least 10%)
- Educational Value
- System Maintenance
Fact: Though tracking mechanisms can provide efficiency gains for your solar electric system, they typically do not increase efficiency enough to justify the additional expense and maintenance of moving parts in residential situations. Generally a shade free, fixed roof mount system is he cost most effective installation.
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.
Solar Myth #6 Solar panels require maintenance
Fact: Solar panels are solid state, have no moving parts, do not require regular maintenance and come with a 25 year warranty. Dust and debris can collect on solar modules, but most panel owners never clean the panels and instead rely on the rain to do the job for them. Generally when it comes to snow our recommended action is wait for the sunshine. 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. 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.
Solar Myth #5 When the utility grid goes down I will have back up power.
Fact: When the power goes out, grid-tied systems go out too. That’s because it’s not safe to be pushing electricity back out onto the utility wires while workers may be trying to fix the problem. Your inverter (the big box near your meter that converts DC electricity created by the panels into usable AC current) recognizes that the grid is out and shuts your system off. A possible solution is to add batteries into your solar electric system for short term back up
Myth #2 Solar doesn’t work in Montana
Fact: Montana is a great state for Solar. Solar electric systems have been installed and working in Montana for over thirty-plus years. Our first company Sunelco helped to make many of these systems possible. We lived off grid and used the products that we sell every day. That being said, the true game changer in Montana was net-metering system. 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.