Photovoltaic (Solar Electric) (PV)

Solar Options

Smart Energy Solution Diagram

Beginning with Phase II, Blacktail Solar Homes PV installations provide the opportunity to do more than generate electricity. The base installation includes a module called Backup Interface, which includes a place to connect one or more home batteries, a car charging station, or a generator.

Home backup solution automatically provides full or partial home backup power day or night, when the grid goes down. Unused solar power is stored in a high voltage battery, for use during grid failures. This creates increased homeowner energy independence, in addition to its on-grid capabilities for maximizing self-consumption and electricity savings.

The Backup Interface is included but the battery or generator or charging station are optional. The system will be ready to receive them if you choose to add them. We have obtained a price quote for the optional battery and it would be approximately $9,500 installed, either as part of the initial purchase or whenever you might choose to make the investment. One battery is probably enough to power one of these small houses in case grid power goes down, but you could have more than one.

Solar Monitoring

The basic idea is to maximize your use of electricity when the solar system is producing more than your home would normally use at that time of day. Of course, this is only possible when you know what the system is producing hour by hour through the day. With a Smart Meter that information can be at your fingertips no matter where you are.

Energy Monitoring Diagram


Integrated Home Monitor Platforms allows users to track solar production and maximize benefits. Understanding your system production and home energy demand allows users to match consumption profiles with available solar power. When the sun is shining, use it!

Each of the Phase II solar panels comes with an integrated device known as an optimizer. The main purpose of an optimizer is to synchronize the voltage, and thereby the electrical production, of the string of panels that feed into the inverter. Without optimizers a string of panels can experience production degraded by something as simple as the shadow from an electric pole falling on one of the panels. Additionally, each panel is constantly monitored and individually reported on the Solaredge monitoring site.

Self Consumption – use the power you are creating to power your home or charge you vehicle. However, we are not always able to consume all of the power we are creating.

Net-Metering – if you are not around to use the power you are creating, send it to the grid for others to use and get credited for the energy you produce.

PV Planning

Photovoltaic (PV) devices generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material, called semiconductors. Electrons in these materials are freed by solar energy and can be induced to travel through an electrical circuit, powering electrical devices or sending electricity to the grid.
Credit and additional information can be found at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) website.

PV installation is usually sub-contracted out to a local electrical contractor who specializes in such installations. Blacktail Solar Homes has selected Harvest Solar MT for the installation and for owner support during the life of the system.


Harvest Solar is committed to providing customers with the highest quality solar electric systems while creating an experience that educates and empowers them to take ownership of their energy needs.

How much PV?

The most appropriate amount of PV to install on any given home is the amount that will exactly offset the cost of the utility electricity used. Typically the utility will pay for electricity in excess of their bill, but the rate of such payments is well below what would provide a reasonable return on the investment of the additional PV. Blacktail Solar Homes are equipped with solar systems sized to match the homes.

Tax Credits

Tax Credits for PV installations are available under certain conditions. The IRS published 2017 Instructions for Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits with the various rules set forth. Apparently the 2018 instructions have not yet been published. IRS rules are complex and can be confusing, if you are considering purchasing a Blacktail Solar Home please consult with your tax advisor to determine if you will be eligible for any available tax benefits.

Grid-tied PV (or Net Metering)

Harvest solar has a short discussion of NET METERING IN MONTANA

Additional Montana Solar Information

Not directly related to Blacktail Solar Homes, but useful information for those interested in renewal energy are the following links from Montana Solar Community Project:

Montana Solar Community Project

Montana Solar Community Project Menu of Options

Montana Solar Community Project Report