We made a huge infrastructure change to the farm last week! After a lot of planning and saving we were finally able to achieve our goal of adding solar panels. We are members of an electric co-op which is actually pretty cool; all users are owners so we usually receive a little dividend at the end of the year if the co-op makes money. But the biggest benefit is that the rates are much lower than what they are from the publicly traded company that provides the electricity for the town of Superior and most of Montana.
The hubby had long wanted to add solar but it was finally the time. He got in contact with the company, SBS Link Solar and had them come out to plan for the installation.
Adding Solar Panels
I am going to be the first to admit that I have no clue about this whole process. The husband did the research and the hard work. I just get to take advantage of having the solar panels out there making electricity and thereby just about eliminating our electric bill.
He contacted SBS Solar in Missoula and they took care of everything. The company first came out to scout the property to determine where would be the best place to install the panels. They were looking for a good, south facing location.
About SBS Solar
SBS Solar has been in business in Western Montana for over 30 years offering varying levels of solar services. They are NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) Certified and have two NABCEP certified installers on staff.
The hubby was very pleased with the process from start to finish.
Our neighbor kindly allowed us to use their lot next door for access which made the whole process a lot easier. The installers took down the fencing and and put up the support poles for the panels. Then in came the cement truck. It was quickly poured and soon the supports were set. When they were done they put the fencing back up and you never would have known they were here.
Once that was done the panels could go up. This was done quickly, efficiently and professionally. In conversations with people from the company the husband determined how many panels were needed so that assuming sun (which one cannot always assume here – especially in the winter as it is very cloudy and overcast most of that season) we won’t have an electric bill when there is full sun.
The other times of year it will be reduced. Any excess that is generated will go back into the grid, at least until battery technology catches up and we can purchase a system for in home storage. The workers were fully supervised the whole time they were here.
When we first built the yurt we put in a wood stove supplemented by a gas heating system. The hot water heater is also gas as well as the dryer. I have long written about my love of my range which is a dual fuel – electric burners with a gas oven. The plan is to replace everything with electric appliances as they need it, but it’s going to take some real convincing for me to give up that range!
Adding solar panels is just another step in our efforts to try and do what we can to mitigate our impacts on this Earth. The yurt already has some passive solar due to the bank of windows on the river side. This addition just makes things a little more “active.”
The set of panels we installed will generate approximately 11,500 kilowatt hours of electricity in a year. Panel bank size is determined by past electricity use.
Other Earth Friendly Additions
Two years ago we put in the heat pump which has been wonderful – we are toasty warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer. This unit uses the surrounding air to generate our heat. Don’t ask me, I don’t completely understand it. I just know that it works.