Gary Weiner first considered solar for his Bozeman home about a decade ago. He liked the idea of getting his energy from a renewable source, not to mention the idea of increasing his property value with solar. But at the time, he decided it didn’t pencil out. “It was more expensive back then,” he recalls. His decision was partly based on the partial shading of his roof, which he believed would make rooftop solar impossible and require a costlier freestanding solar array.
News about falling solar prices prompted him to take another look earlier this year.
This time, Gary got in touch with Bozeman-based Harvest Solar. According to Kyle MacVean of Harvest Solar, “The site presented a few challenges, as there were two sources of shading. There was hard shade created late in the day by a dormer high on the roof as well as soft shade from the aspen trees in the winter months.” Nevertheless, a rooftop solar array turned out to be feasible.
“Gary is very thorough with his research, and we worked with him to explore the options and choose the best system for the site,” recalls Kyle. Gary ultimately chose power optimizers. This increasingly popular technology optimizes production at each individual solar panel, making it well-suited for maximizing production on partially shaded rooftops.
The power optimizers also allow Gary to track his solar production panel-by-panel from his personal computer. That has led to some surprises.
“I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect,” says Gary, “and it’s interesting to watch the fluctuations on sunny days versus cloudy and rainy days. Perfectly clear and sunny days aren’t necessarily the best for solar production, since there’s more reflective light on days with some haze and clouds.”