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

Winter/Spring 2003
newsletter from the Oasis

You are viewing an archived newsletter. 
Call 877-627-4778 or email us for the current pricing an any featured items listed within.


Winter/Spring 2003 2002 was a busy year for the Oasis. We had to expand our office — and consequently built an addition to make our lives and our business more efficient. We thank all of our customers for your patience in this time of growth—the sound of hammers, compressors and saws is ALMOST over at this writing. What chaos! Also, we’ve added to the Oasis staff with Dan Healy, our systems engineer. Do not hesitate to contact us with information about your project, phone 877-627-4768 or 4778 e-mail, info@oasismontana.com THANK YOU for your interest in renewable energy and Oasis Montana Inc! We are here to help power your remote home, provide back-up electricity for emergencies, provide utility-tie power equipment, UPS systems, remote water pumping, or just keep your RV’s battery fully charged. We also offer a line of efficient electric and gas appliances to help keep a lid on your electric bill. We offer complete systems to fit your project’s needs.

For those of you who aren’t "on line" or are beginning your project, we have an extremely informative 40 page Design Guide and 141 page Product Catalog for ten dollars ($18 out of country)—essential for your energy library! Products, system sizing, pricing, components, energy efficient and LP appliances, battery care, gas generators and wind turbines are just some of the topics covered. For example systems see http://www.oasismontana.com/systems.html

We have several new web sites for you to peruse at your convenience. For efficient appliances (including portable coolers, freezers and DC ‘fridges), see www.eco-fridge.com; for solar modules, www.PVsolarmodules.com; for our gas appliance offerings, check out www.LPappliances.com. Our main index page is www.oasismontana.com/PV_index.html — which offers information on inverters, batteries, wind generators, and pretty much all of the goods we offer. And our latest development is www.grid-tie.com for information about batteryless power systems suited for homes on utility power — for folks who want to ‘think

OutBack Power Systems

Someone in the renewable energy industry has finally "built the better mouse trap". The folks at Outback Power Systems have come up with a line of combiner boxes, a maximum power point tracking charge controller, AC & DC system disconnects, battery enclosures and sine wave inverters that make system installation, operation and maintenance a breeze. Gone are the days of wishing that your combiner box had more knockouts, your disconnect had more room or that your inverter was more user-friendly. Let’s start with a quick look at their line of combiner boxes.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that each series string of solar modules has its own overcurrent protection before it is interconnected/paralleled with other series strings in the array. The Outback PSPV combiner box satisfies this requirement as well as providing a disconnect means for up to 12 subarrays by using DIN rail-mounted hydraulic-magnetic breakers. These 12 circuits can all be paralleled together with a single output or you can split the incoming subarrays into two groups for a dual output. Their PSSB segmenting breaker assembly is designed specifically for use with an SMA Sunny Boy grid-tie inverter. The PSSB also provides the NEC compliant overcurrent protection and disconnect means for up to six separate low voltage (48 VDC nominal) PV subarrays combining them into a single high voltage PV array for connection to a grid-tie Sunny Boy inverter. The PSSB even has room for an optional 15A 240 VAC breaker to provide a local means of AC disconnection at the inverter. Both the PSPV and PSSB are ETL listed, outdoor rated and have more than enough knockouts on the bottom, sides and back to handle a very large solar array.

The Outback MX60 maximum power point tracking (MPPT) charge controller will handle up to 60A of PV current at 12, 24, 32, 36, 48, 54 or 60 VDC. It can even charge a low voltage battery bank from a high voltage array. Maximum power point tracking is the newest charging technology available and given the right conditions (bright sun & cool temperatures) it can boost your solar array’s charging current considerably. Since the MX60 is current limited at 60 amps it would be wise to size your array short circuit current (Isc) to about 48 amps so the increase in charging current achieved by the MPPT circuitry won’t be negated by the 60A ceiling. Its four line, 80 character LCD display shows the operational status of your solar array and it allows you to easily change the charging parameters to fit your particular type of battery. There are four "soft keys" located just below the MX60’s LCD display whose functions change depending on the screen being displayed at the time. Multiple MX60’s can be connected to a single battery bank and to the Outback MATE system monitor which in turn can be connected to a personal computer (via its RS232 port) for data logging and remote system monitoring. On top of all that, the MX60 has a 200mA auxiliary output terminal block that can be used to sound a buzzer, light an LED or power the coil of an external relay whenever a user-programmable set point has been reached; quite an amazing and useful variety of options are available!

The Outback PSDC and PSAC disconnects offer more room and user friendly features than any other system disconnects on the market. The PSDC can house up to four 175-250A or six 60-100A breakers (sizes can be mixed; one 175 or 250A breaker is included when you order a PSDC) as well as ten 15 to 60A DC input/load breakers. It also comes standard with a 500A/50mV shunt, battery positive bus bar and battery negative/ground bus bar installed inside. You can also house Outback’s 60A 2-pole DC ground fault protection system (GFP/2) inside the PSDC (takes up 3 of the small breaker spaces). The PSDC has knockouts for up to three MX60 , two Solar Boast or three C-series charge controllers.

The PSAC was designed to be a single box solution for all of your AC wiring needs. Dual snap-in DIN rail-type mounting brackets will hold up to eight 15-60A breakers each and a 30 or 60A input/output/bypass breaker assembly (takes up 3 breaker spaces) can be installed for each inverter in your system. Each PSAC comes with hot, neutral and ground bus bars. For 120 VAC single inverter systems, there is room to install Outback’s optional 4 kW X-240 transformer inside the PSAC along with a fan which increases the transformer rating to 6 kW. Depending on how you set up the PSAC, there might even be enough room to house all of your AC load breakers which would save you the cost and hassle of buying and wiring another AC breaker panel. Both the PSDC and PSAC disconnects are indoor rated, ETL listed and are designed to mount directly to the end of one or two Xantrex/Trace DR or SW series inverters without needing additional conduit boxes or fittings.

The Outback FX2024 and FX2048 sine wave inverters are 2 kW continuous rated module "building blocks" which can be used for small or large systems. These inverters are sealed to survive harsh environments and multiple units can be configured in parallel (120 VAC), series (120/240 VAC) or even for 3-phase power (120Y208 VAC). You can connect up to eight FX2000s together to provide up to 16 kW of continuous power output (assuming that you have a battery bank that can handle it). Four of the FX2000 inverters interface nicely with the Outback PSDC and PSAC disconnect all mounted on Outback’s PSMP mounting plate to make a complete wall mounted conversion system. Currently the FX2000 inverter is only available for 24 VDC off-grid applications, but they are working on the 48 VDC unit as well as the software necessary to enable the FX2000 inverters to sell any excess power back to the utility grid; they should both be ready sometime in the first quarter of ’03. These inverters do not have a built-in display so it is highly recommended that you purchase the Outback MATE and HUB which will allow you to monitor and control the operation of up to ten FX2000 inverters or MX60 charge controllers. An optional DC cover and AC/DC conduit adapters are available for the FX2000 inverters.

For more information and pricing on these exciting products offered by Outback Power Systems, give us a call or e-mail me, Dan Healy, at dan@oasismontana.com





Winter/Spring 03 newsletter pages:

Other related links of interest

efficient AC appliances gas stoves gas refrigerators grid-tie inverters
renewable energy products site map solar modules this newsletter

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.

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.


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!


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


Height of Cabinet

66.63" (169 cm)

Height to Hinge Cap

67.13" (171 cm)


21.25" (54 cm)

Width with Door Open

22.0" (56 cm)


23.25" (59 cm)

Depth with door at 90°

43.0" (109 cm)


8.9 cu.ft. (252 L)

Defrost Type



Stainless Steel



US Electrical Safety


Canadian Electrical Safety


Energy Usage/Year





115 V AC/60 Hz


110.0 lbs. (50 kg)

Shipping Weight

115.0 lbs. (52 kg)

Parts & Labor Warranty

1 Year

Compressor Warranty

5 Years

Price (before shipping)


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


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.” 

“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.” 

“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