Does Solar REALLY Make Sense in Montana?

Solar Energy in MontanaYES!  We have plenty of sun!  In fact, we have more solar irradiation (a fancy way of saying sun) than Germany, which is the leading country in the solar market.

What Can I Do With Solar?

You can do many things with solar energy, but Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic are the two most common applications.

What is Photovoltaic?

Photovoltaic makes electricity from the sun.  Efficiencies for 1,000 watts per square meter of sunlight are about 13% to 16% for average crystalline panels.  A 2kw PV array will take up around 200 square feet on a pole or roof.

What is Solar Thermal?

Solar Thermal takes sunlight and turns it into heat.  We are mostly interested in heating a glycol (non-toxic antifreeze) and heating water in a tank inside the home for domestic hot water or space heating if the site permits.  Solar thermal is about 85% to 90% efficient with 1,000 watts per square meter of sunlight and is less costly to install - so it has a better economic analysis than PV.  If all energies are equal, you get more for less with Solar Thermal.

How Many Systems Has Axmen Installed?

A LOT!  The people of Montana are hungry for ways to save energy and are constantly searching for the best solutions.  We've done about 1,000 Photovoltaic systems over the past 20 years, and about 110 Solar Thermal systems over the past 4 years.

How Much is This Going to Cost Me?

Typically, these systems don't cost as much as you would imagine.  A solar thermal system averages between $7,000 to $12,000, and will eliminate at least 80% of your hot water heating costs.  A Photovoltaic system is much more variable, between $15,000 to $30,000, depending on what you are looking for.

What Are the Tax Incentives?

For any solar energy system installed you can receive 30% of the total cost of the system back in the form of a federal tax credit!  If you are a Montana resident, you can also receive $500 ($1,000 if you are married) back in the form of a State tax credit.  Remember, these are credits, not deductions, which means they are a dollar-for-dollar reduction on your tax liability.  Always remember to talk with your tax advisor about your individual situation.