Oasis Montana Inc.
Renewable Energy Supply and Design
406-777-4321or 4309
e-mail: info@oasismontana.com
Home Page: www.oasismontana.com

Visit us on the web for product and project information!
For grid-tied power systems, www.grid-tie.com
Solar water pumping:  www.PVsolarpumps.com
Non-electric gas appliances, www.LPappliances.com
Efficient and DC appliances, www.eco-fridge.com
And our main page at www.oasismontana.com


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Call 877-627-4778 or email us for the current pricing an any featured items listed within.

 

OASIS MONTANA HOME-OFFICE SYSTEM
Having sold these alternate energy goods for 10 years, I finally installed my system in January!  Nine years ago I'd purchased eight MSX60s (Solarex 60W modules) and had slowly been acquiring the other basic components.  They sure looked fine in a pile in the garage….  And while I didn't think the world was going to come to an end because of Y2K, I planned to have my back-up system in place by Jan. 1, 2000, "just in case"; however, a very bad bout of the flu put the actual installation off until late January.  Let me tell you--the sun (here in January on the western side of the divide) sure didn't put much power in my battery bank--some days my 480W array put a total of 150 watts into my sixteen 6V batteries.  UGH!  I'd gotten the batteries in mid-December, and wanted  to bring them up to a full state of charge as soon as possible.

     It took 2 1/2 weeks until the LED on my Trace C40 regulator was "solid green" (indicating full charge status).  But now, at this writing (in May), the system is running my ConServ 'fridge, a compact fluorescent light, and computer (with printer, scanner) three to six days a week.  Funny thing about this solar stuff, it seems to require relatively sunny conditions….
SYSTEM COMPONENTS:  Eight MSX 60 watt modules, two 4X mount structures, 70A breaker box with breaker and SOV (surge protector), ground rod, class R Fuses and holder, Trace C40 Regulator with digital volt meter, 16 Surrette (Rolls) 6V, 438 amphour batteries, custom cables (including inverter cables, all made by yours truly), safety disconnect, 110A class T fuse, Trace DR1524 inverter, and of course, wire runs, wire nuts and basic miscellaneous stuff..  I bought a QO breaker box for my AC distribution center, with a line to my refrigerator, computers, and upstairs to the stereo/TV "entertainment center"; I still need to add a line in my garage so I have a solar-powered outlet there.  We also have a line on our back deck for the boom box.
     I built a battery box out of plywood, sealed and stained it (figuring if I have to look at it for 8 to 10 years, it may as well look nice), with a long stack that very successfully vents any battery gas.  The top of the stack is painted black and is in full sun, so if it's charging, it's also venting.  I mounted (to the wall of my shop) the inverter, fuses, disconnects and AC distribution center on a stained 3/4" piece of plywood.
    Module mounting:  the staff and I bolted four modules to the 4X mount structures, and we hung them off the front of the office.  But I must digress!  First, we bolted two rows of 2"x 8"s where the top and bottom feet of the mounts rested--we knew they weren't going to be able to land on any studs or joists, and we have high winds here on the foothills of the Sapphire Mountains--usually in excess of 80 mph every year--so we took special care to lag them in very securely (see above right photo).  You can hang off the mount structures and you can't even wiggle them, so we feel we did a good job.  I had the "feet" for the mount structures custom made at a local metal fabricators; the rest of the mounts were anodized aluminum that had been pre-drilled for these modules.  The basic wiring went easy--though I am still intimidated by the battery bank.  Whew!  One dropped wrench and it could give you a whole new perspective!  With sixteen of the Surrette CH375 batteries, at the 100 hour rate I have about 1700 amphours of battery capacity--or, in more simple terms, about 4000 watt-hours per day of usage for five days, to 50% depth of discharge.  So if my batteries are fat and the power goes out, I can run my efficient refrigerator for maybe 10 days--plus a couple of small lights and my computer (or stereo, or TV) for a few hours a day.  As an engineer friend of mine put it--"a big UPS system!".
     WHY DO THIS WHEN I'M ON THE GRID?   I oppose the promotion of nuclear and coal-based utility power as a fix for meeting future projected energy demands.  I believe there are other alternatives that will be cost-effective if and when many people (and industries and politicians) "buy" into it; we still worship the great god of oil interests in this country.  We are not paying for the real cost of utility power at this time.  Who's paying for acid rain?  Nuclear waste disposal (a very bad game of hot potato)?  Ruined salmon runs?  Strip mining?  Lifestyle choices DO make a difference--simple things like using compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescents, recycling, utilizing low flow shower heads, energy efficient refrigerators and freezers, better mileage or alternative vehicles….so, to wrap this up, making part of my power requirements for my home and office is at least a contribution to the cause.  How can I sell alternative energy to someone if I can't sell it to myself?
     There's a great future of solar, wind and fuel cell technology fast approaching.  I am glad to be a part of it, and will do my best to promote the cause.  And I encourage YOU, the "end user" to see what options exist in your part of the world, whether it be financing options, efficient electrical devices, or by purchasing green power.  One thing I've learned about life in general is "there are ALWAYS more options than you think"--you just need to explore the possibilities!   Okay, I'm rambling--but thanks for listening, I'll get off the soapbox now.  --Chris Daum of Oasis Montana


"We Had To Have A Seminar On How To Use A Screwdriver…."
The Guatemalan Project By YONOSE Foundation  (pronounced YOH-NOH-SAY)
--says Bob Watters, director and co-founder of the YONOSE Foundation.  The project:  to install a solar-powered system to support lights and a refrigerator for the health clinic in the remote village of El Tesoro, located in the mountains of Guatemala. 
     The project began in a 1989 Nissan 4 wheel drive pickup, with the project's solar modules (three Kyocera 120W modules) mounted to the roof, and the batteries (four 6V Surrette CH375s) and other gear crammed into the camper.  They drove six days, through New Mexico, to McAllen, Texas, and through Mexico, along the Caribbean coast.  On the fifth day, the travelers crossed into Guatemala.  They went to the city of Coban, and from there took a small Cessna plane to the remote village.  El Tesoro is 20 miles from the nearest road, and thus is accessible only by foot, horseback or airplane.
     El Tesoro is home to about 450 Quiche' speaking Mayan families.  They're now rebuilding their lives, recovering from the "scorched-earth" campaigns of the Guatemalan military in the early 1980s.  These massacres left half of their population murdered or victim to disease and hunger.
     These people have no amenities that we are familiar with--no electricity, no indoor plambing; they raise what they eat, mostly maize, black beans, and occasionally eggs.  Despite being shy, the people are extremely friendly.  "They are the most cheerful people I have ever met", says Watters.  "I am convinced that it is because they don't know what they don't have.  And what they do have now is the best they ever had."
     The villagers were very willing to help and eager to learn--though they had never seen a screwdriver, wrench or even a screw!  The YONOSE team stayed two nights and a day at the village to complete the project; the installation went well and according to schedule.  The modules and four batteries were wired to provide constant DC power for lights and a small refrigerator.  The team educated one lone electrician for any troubleshooting that might be needed.
     Bob Watters said the project was such a success that the founders of the project are considering another for the same village.  But Watters commented that he'd be bringing his own food and water next time; "They barely have enough for themselves; I don't want to take from them."

   
 
The YONOSE Foundation was formed as a non-profit organization to conduct research on the practical application of existing technologies to the solution of problems faced by geographically isolated or technologically challenged communities. These would include ecology, energy, health and education concerns. It is our wish to be instrumental in the expanded use of renewable resources and inexpensive technologies to foster independence and raise the quality of life of disadvantaged persons.  For more information about the YONOSE Foundation, see their web site at   www.yonose.org

Setting the modules on a pole mount in El Tesoro.     Modules, batteries and regulator supplied by Oasis Montana Inc.

 
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Toll-Free:  877-OASISMT (877-627-4768) or 877-OASISPV (877-627-4778);; e-mail:  info@oasismontana.com

 
 

Solar Array Flag
Independent power is as American as apple pie!

There’s never been a better time to go solar!

This is the last year for the 30% federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for a solar power system. Then it will drop 4% and be at 26% for 2020; this includes installations on both residential and business properties – and may even include your RV, if you can call that a second home. The federal tax credit for all installations will end by the end of 2022.mounted solar array

You can also find out what state incentives are available for you at www.dsireusa.org. In some states, their incentives, combined with the ITC, can negate up to 80% of the system’s total cost. And all costs are deserving of the credit with the ITC, including permitting, installation and shipping (and perhaps even a new roof if it is needed).

If you use some tax software, it should ask you if you’ve installed a solar power system in the past year, but if not, and you do your own taxes, be sure to fill out IRS form 5695 – and keep all of your receipts related to your system purchase. IF you need a link to that residential tax form, here it is: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5695.pdf

Reducing or negating your utility bills, and gaining energy independence (an American value!) through solar power has never been a better deal!


The Importance of WATER...

You can live without a lot of things in the world, but water isn’t one of them; clean potable water is running low or just becoming unavailable in many parts of the world, including the U.S. We’ve been engaged in solar water pumping for two decades, and there’s been many changing technologies to address water needs for residential use, and commercial endeavors such as irrigation, livestock, fish farms and wildlife management. One of the latest is to run a 240VAC pump array direct – that is, it will run when the sun is shining, and requires a solar array but no batteries. These will run a variety of pumps, 120/240V, three-phase, and change a 1 or 2 speed motor pump to a soft start. You can view information about this new technology at http://www.pvsolarpumps.com/PDFs/PicoCell Spec Sheet_Oasis Montana.pdf

Now there are even more options; if you have the need for higher amperage and horsepower, the Picocell will now handle up to 3 HP and 12 amps. These solar-powered pumps will allow your home or business to qualify for a variety of tax credits, grants, and incentive programs. If you are looking for something to power your large AC pump, We Have It!  Check out our new Picocell controllers.  Give us a call for more information, 406-777-4321.

And if you’ve been thinking of an off-grid water pumping project, you are likely to enjoy this short video from one of our pump suppliers, Lorentz.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vbONlDqmZQ


If you are a Montanan: Northwestern Energy is proposing some bad news for its net-metered customers; more information at http://montanarenewables.org/programs/general-electric-rate-case/

And if you really want to help support renewable energy in MT, please consider joining the Montana Renewable Energy Association (http://montanarenewables.org/about-us/join-mrea/). They’ll keep you informed as to legislative issues, promote our annual energy fair and offer an informative web site to help promote the advantages of renewables (www.montanarenewables.org). Please consider joining today! Your membership will make a difference.

Why energy efficiency is SO important.

http://files.constantcontact.com/0cef2499301/ac396408-0aa7-45c8-81b7-c3905aebed37.jpg

The cheapest power is that which we do not use.   https://nwenergy.org/ for more information!


Is this proper grounding?
Power line down at river crossing

Power line down at river crossing, often local power production is more dependable

Sometimes utility power is at the mercy of the elements,
as shown by these downed power lines in a flooding Montana river.

We caught these picture canoeing the Bitterroot River last June.


 

Is small wind right for you? Here’s your opportunity to find out!
For a limited time only, we are offering the Chinook wind turbine for half-price, at $495 plus shipping. You won’t find a better deal for a quality, American-made wind generator! With a top end of 250W output, this can be a valuable addition to your battery charging set-up if you regularly have winds of 10-12 mph or greater. These mount on 1.5” schedule 40 steel pipe and come with their own dump load controller. They are available as a 12, 24 or 48V charging unit, and were originally designed and built in Montana (so you know they are tough).

We’ve had one of these here at Oasis Montana for about five years now, and it still works great. Every spring and summer, we have winds in excess of 80 mph but it keeps quietly making power for our 48V battery bank. These are also suitable for marine use, to help keep your navigation equipment charged and working (as the wind on the water generally seems to be blowing most of the time). We have installation manuals and other information we can send you on these; call if you are interested, 406-777-4309, e-mail us at Oasis or visit our web page at http://www.air403windgenerators.com/chinook-wind-generator.html.

 


System Spotlight

We assisted Bryan & Shannon Tarter of southeastern Montana in their system upgrade, adding more solar modules
and going from a 12V system to replacing with a new 48V inverter for their remote home. Nice going!


STAINLESS DOOR REFRIGERATOR FOR SMALL KITCHENS

If you have a space-challenged kitchen (or a small cabin needing a fridge), we have an efficient, beautiful AC refrigerator option for you.
MODEL FF923PL (uses only 865 watt-hours per day, or .865KWH).

.attractive ff923 refrigerator with door open

 

Attractive FF923pl Stainless refrigerator

FF923pl SPECIFICATIONS:

Height of Cabinet

66.63" (169 cm)

Height to Hinge Cap

67.13" (171 cm)

Width

21.25" (54 cm)

Width with Door Open

22.0" (56 cm)

Depth

23.25" (59 cm)

Depth with door at 90°

43.0" (109 cm)

Capacity

8.9 cu.ft. (252 L)

Defrost Type

Frost-Free

Door

Stainless Steel

Cabinet

Black

US Electrical Safety

CSA

Canadian Electrical Safety

CSA-C

Energy Usage/Year

316.0kWh/year

Amps

0.9

Voltage/Frequency

115 V AC/60 Hz

Weight

110.0 lbs. (50 kg)

Shipping Weight

115.0 lbs. (52 kg)

Parts & Labor Warranty

1 Year

Compressor Warranty

5 Years

Price (before shipping)

$585

We have other efficient refrigeration options available; visit www.eco-fridge.com for AC & DC offerings, and www.LPappliances.com, for refrigerators, freezers and gas ranges that operate off of NG or LP gas with NO electrical requirements.


Solar electric power from the sunInverters, solar modules, tariffs & trade deals

The import tariffs put on many incoming products hasn’t terribly hurt the renewable energy sector. True, employment in the solar power field has dropped a couple of percentage points in the past 18 months, and some utility-size projects were put on hold, but in general renewable energy jobs are still a very a bright spot in the U.S. economy. Renewable technologies are a global industry; many solar modules considered ‘made in the USA’ still have cells made in other countries; likewise inverters and inverter parts are often made abroad. If you are looking to buy American, Mission Solar, Panasonic and SolarWorld are cranking out high-quality modules in our fair country, and we also have access to Longi, Seraphim, Canadian Solar, Trina, Jinko, LG, Silfab, CSun, Yingli and more. We can also get ahold of some of the smaller, 12V nominal modules that are sometimes difficult to find. Let us know what you need for your power project, and we shall find what you seek!


 


 

Batteries for back-up power: what are your critical loads?

6v batteries wired in series for 48 voltsThe least costly way to get into solar power (if you are hooked up to a utility) is to have a batteryless, grid-tied power system; when the sun shines, the solar modules on your roof or mounting rack make power that goes into an inverter, which converts the electricity into grid-palatable AC power and makes your meter spin slower – or makes your meter spin backwards, if you are making more power than you use. It’s a simple and direct method of reducing or negating your utility bill. However, without batteries, if the power goes out, these systems shut down (to keep the power lines from being live to protect any line workers). It can be frustrating to have a solar power system but not be able to use it if the power goes down!

There are now ways to add battery back-up to these kinds of power systems. The number of batteries needed will depend on the loads you want to power. It may be very costly to, say, power your entire home or business but if you have any important loads (like a refrigerator, or keeping necessary computers on line) – that’s how we design the size of the battery back-up needed. If your power outages are brief and rare, then you won’t need the number of batteries that someone might need if the power tends to go out for days at a time! Like any other system design, the electrical load information is most important.

We have a lot of basic battery information at www.oasismontana.com/batteries.html; most of the information is about FLA (flooded lead-acid) batteries, but we offer a lot of other options for battery back-up. Call us if you are interested in back-up power in the event of a utility outage!

 


Renewable Energy News Bites


WINTERING CHICKENS AT THE OASIS IN WESTERN MONTANA

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a chicken fancier and raise batches of chickens from time to time. Some of my friends even refer to me as the ‘chicken whisperer’.

Organic Chickens at Oasis Montana

 I’ve been keeping chickens for nearly forty years, and was raised around them as a kid, and I’ve learned some tricks about helping them to survive winter in good health. One of them is to keep clean water in front of them at all times. I have one of those heated dog waterers; it holds about a gallon; I put fresh water out every morning then top it off later in the day, and that provides enough water for my 14 chickens. The waterer itself uses about 40 watts, and when it gets above freezing it shuts off as it is thermostatically controlled. So it is not a large electrical load on my solar power system (still, that’s almost a kilowatt-hour a day when it’s cold). There are companies that sell heated chicken waterers, but they tend to use substantially more power.

I have a small chicken house that is only 6 x 8 on the floor area, but with the nests and built-in roosts, it’s pretty easy to keep clean, and its smaller size enables the chickens to stay warmer in winter than they would in a larger shed. I use a good grass hay for bedding, and rake it out when it getsOrganic eggs grown at Oasis Montana Inc. soiled (and have enough from ‘the girls’ to side dress all of my fruit trees with the manure and hay at least once a year). I have to clean their house more in winter, as the days are shorter and they spend more time indoors. But I do have a 10W LED light and timer that comes on in the chicken house about 3 a.m. – and that increases the photoperiod enough that my hens lay very well through the darkest time of the year. I used to think that hens needed some ‘time off’ in the winter – but I no longer believe that is true; when a hen chick is hatched, she contains all the embryonic eggs she will ever lay, so it’s up to us to provide the nutrition and environment to maximize their egg-laying capabilities.

There are breeds that are certainly more suitable for colder climates (and I won’t go into that in great detail, as there’s lots of information about that available), but the breeds I favor are for hardiness and egg-laying ability. The Plymouth Rocks and Ameraucanas are high on my list (and I love the colored eggs), although I presently have some crossbreeds that are prolific layers of large eggs. I feed my chickens organic grains; it’s considerably more costly but – when you consider what goes into chicken feed (mostly corn and soy) – I’d rather not have any transgenic pesticides in their feed. I eat (and sell) their eggs and sometimes I eat my chickens too, so I want all to be of the highest quality and free of chemicals.

We have designed systems for barns and sheds to provide lighting; like all systems it all depends on how much power you need and the loads you desire to run. We don’t get a lot of sun in the winter, here on the western side of the continental divide, and I don’t have a separate system just for the chicken house; we run an electrical line out there from my inverter system that powers my home/office. And the results are gorgeous, tasty eggs and healthy chickens.
 


Quotable quotes

"One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”
-Charles M. Blow

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer if they’re happy.” 
–Anton Chekhov

 “Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” 
–Sinclair Lewis

 “Optimize the way we use the world’s resources.  Do more with less.  Don’t wait for the politicians.  See what needs to be done and do it.” 
–R. Buckminster Fuller                                              

 “Ah, the Summer Solstice, all is green and growing, potential coming into being, the miracle of manifestation painted large on the canvas of awareness.  At the Winter Solstice, the wind is cold, the trees are bare, and all lies in stillness beneath the blanket of snow.” 
–Gary Zukav

“Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods.” 
–Diogenes

“Bad days happen to everyone, but when one happens to you, just keep doing your best and never let a bad day make you feel bad about yourself.”
-Big Bird

“People of North America, may the example of all those nations that have preceded you, and especially that of your motherland, instruct you. Beware of the affluence of gold that brings with it the corruption of morals and the scorn of laws; beware of an unbalanced distribution of wealth that will give rise to a small number of opulent citizens and a horde of citizens in poverty, a situation that will engender the insolence of some and the deprivation of others.” 
-Diderot

“I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.”
- George Washington

 
 

 

Please feel free to share this newsletter – knowledge is power!

Visit us on the web for product and project information!
For grid-tied power systems, www.grid-tie.com
Solar water pumping:  www.PVsolarpumps.com
Non-electric gas appliances, www.LPappliances.com
Efficient and DC appliances, www.eco-fridge.com
And our main page at www.oasismontana.com