Harvest Solar – Bozeman, MT
Klamert Multi-Pole Project written by Kyle
The owners of these systems contacted me over a year ago looking for a small off-grid system for their geodesic green house. After meeting with the prospective clients, we started talking about net metering and how it could benefit them and eliminate the need for an off-grid system. Upon further discussion we determined that one of the sites would qualify for a rural energy development grant through the USDA.
After receiving the customer’s energy historic usage data we designed a system specific to their needs. Taking in the local utility requirements and system caps, we decided on a 24,960-watt system for their home and a 15,600-watt system for the owner’s feedlot.
The 25kw 96-panel system was far too large to fit on the house, and the barn roof space had an east and west orientation. The home site had a large empty field with easy access to the tie-in location, so we decided to go with a ground mount installation. Rather than installing multiple pole mounts on the property, we decided that a single ground mount structure was the best option.
The 15.6kw 60-panel system needed to be located near the meter we were trying to offset. Given that there was no structure in that area, because the majority of the usage was gobbled up from watering, we decided on a ground mount there as well. By cutting down a few cottonwoods…. wallah we had 100% access to the sun in an ideal location.
We decided to go with MT Solar for a multiple number of reasons, listed below:
- Least amount of poles of any other racking I have discovered for the distance needed. This meant less digging, less site work, less concrete and less labor.
- A single row of mounting poles made it easier for layout.
- We could build and wire the rack from the ground and hoist it into position.
- The structure looked good and it simplified the stringing and electrical work.
- Montana made is very important to us!
- The previous discussions I had with the sales woman, Janelle, were very positive and I knew MT Solar was a company I wanted to work with.
- MT Solar had the faster turnaround time than most of the other racks we were looking at. The rack was ready to be shipped in two weeks!
Our observations of our first time use:
Once the rack was purchased, we received an email with the structure layout. We found it easy to use, and it was clear on what we needed to do for layout, hole size, steel needed, etc…
We were very impressed with the packaging of the racking. Every box was labeled with the number of bolts, nuts, washers, etc. for each rack. The majority of the steel was shrink-wrapped for protection and ease of moving around.
We cannot comment on the installation manual because it was not developed yet. Because of this, Travis, the owner of MT Solar, drove 5 hours to deliver the rack to us. He spent the majority of the day building the system with us and explaining how everything went together.
Since it was our first MT Solar rack install, it took us a while to figure out the best way to lift the 130’ of solar panels. Once we got into a rhythm of moving from host to host, the rack came to life as it took shape on its final resting position.
We found that wiring the array was a huge time saver. The need for ladders was very minimal.
Over all impressions:
With every new racking system there is a learning curve, and they all have their pluses and minuses. I would say our overall experience was very positive and we will definitely use them again. Now having installed two MT Solar racks I can see how much of a time saver they are, and I look forward to streamlining our installs with them.
Being able to have a direct line-to-tech support and sales is very important to us. With a simple question, not getting tossed into a phone tree with shovel in hand is huge.
It’s obvious that MT Solar cares about their consumer, and they are constantly working to better their product for the end user.