One of the projects we’ve been prioritizing for our Montana homestead is installing a solar array and a battery back up system. Having secondary power systems in case of an emergency seems sensible. As electricity and gas prices rise, and power grids look less stable, solar becomes less of a nice-to-have and more of a must-have for a resilient home.
I will admit I’ve got little technical talent and even less enthusiasm for gadgets and tinkering, so this project has been entirely directed by my husband Alex. But I thought it was worth documenting here even if I can take little credit for the project beyond insisting it get done immediately.
We had considered panels for our roof but we have a front pasture with more sunlight year round so Alex opted for a 13.92 Kw ground mount array made of 32 panels. They are bifacial panels so they pick up the solar radiation that bounces off the ground (eg from snow) on a tiltable grid so we can optimize the angle based on time of year – from 20 degrees in the summer to 60-70 in the winter.
The array is expected to generate about 21 Mwh/year and fully offset our electricity usage. We will also be adding 20-30kwh of battery storage soon since you can’t expect it to be sunny every day.
Putting in wires and protecting bits & bobs
We’ve got a ways to go but I will say I have been extremely impressed with how quickly we were able to find a solar vendor and get the process going. We’ve got advantages in that we don’t need any permitting as we are in the country. We’ve got to think of the aesthetics for our neighbors (we will be hiding the array from road view with an aspen copse) but in general we can do what we like within reason. If you’ve been considering solar for environmental or preparedness reasons I’d get on it as soon as is feasible.