you one in a million?
Earlier this year, towards the end of February, the number of solar
power installations (commercial and residential) in the United
States passed the one million mark! This total includes systems of
all sizes, as well as pumping and telecommunication systems--and
while rooftop residential solar power continues to make up the
majority of installations, utility-owned projects make up the
greater share of the capacity. The industry will continue to see
strong growth in all areas.
take nearly forty years to achieve a million solar power systems,
but the second million is expected to occur
by 2018 -- within just two years. Late in 2015, the
U.S. solar market generated a total capacity of 27 gigawatts or just
1% of the total energy mix, but it is expected to go to three
percent by 2020. Most new generated electrical capacity at present
is coming from solar, wind and other renewable sources of power.
be delivered at reasonable, competitive costs with little or no
pollution, creating good paying jobs (more now employed by solar
installations than the coal or steel industries).
Lizard just loves this solar
photovoltaic industry has benefited from federal tax credits and
policies such as RPF (renewable portfolio standards) at the state
level, and that will keep industry growth good through 2020. As
well, new technologies continue to keep costs low; and as natural
gas prices rise (which are at historic lows), solar power will
continue to be attractive to utilities, shareholders and
homeowners. For gas refineries, you need to pipe or transport gas;
with coal, its transportation costs (and its mining) are
cost-prohibitive--but with solar, once you build the facility, the
answer comes up every morning -- and free is always cheapest.
to the great number of home installations, it's quite possible the
millionth system was installed on a residence. We at Oasis Montana
have been enjoying the benefits of reliable solar power and low
utility bills for several years with our home office system. It's
not just a good idea for the environment, climate and future
generations: it's just plain cool to obtain your power from the sun
-- and makes a statement to try and be a steward for cleaner
energy. And, it's also a hedge again utility inflation. Solar
power is frequently contagious; many times a homeowner will see a
neighboring installation and decide they want a solar power system
too, to enjoy the benefits and 'cool factor' of solar power.
power is just getting out of the starting gate, and has a long way
Oasis without water?
Chris Daum, owner of Oasis Montana)
spring and summer at Oasis Montana we had major
water issues. Our well was slowly in the process of going dry, and
had been going downhill in output and pressure. I noticed last year
that my (3500 ft.) drip system didn't seem to be getting much water
towards the end of the lines -- and when filling a bucket of water,
there were a lot more particulates in it, even metal. I thought our
pump was failing (even though our first pump lasted 23 years and
only got replaced about 12 years ago). My pump guy comes out and
runs a few tests and gives me the bad news, those words no one wants
to hear: "It's not your pump, it's your well that's going bad".
our well was initially drilled in 1981, the static water level was
at ~160 feet, and the pump hung at 180 feet in a 186 ft. deep well.
Now the static water level had dropped almost 20 feet.... So my
pump was sucking up a bunch of sand and even metal filings from the
inside of the well casing at the bottom of the well. I have several
neighbors who've had similar problems in the past few years-- their
well filled with sand and they eventually had to drill another. The
water table and the aquifers are dropping in our valley, according
to the well drillers and pump setters. And mine was another
casualty. There are thousands more wells in this area that have
been drilled in the past 35 years, many more than existed in 1981.
And we now have longer, warmer summers and less snowpack in the
winter; it all adds up. Like many other parts of the country, the
water table is dropping, and there continue to be more and more
people, each with their own well, pumping out of the aquifers.
my well was going dry, we still had 10 to 15 minutes a day of water
at the frost-free spigot (outside line) until the pump would start
sucking up air, then it would shut down. We had to prevent the
water from coming into the house as the particulates were actually
clogging the plumbing (we eventually had to re-plumb the toilets and
faucets because those tiny supply lines were clogged). So every
day, I would fill up buckets for dishes and bathing, and then let
the water run for a few minutes each on my fruit trees; it was
enough to keep them alive, fortunately.
had to have another well drilled, and this time we took it down
another 100 feet, to 289 feet (@ $32/foot). I have a three
horsepower variable speed pump in it now, that has a 'soft start'
capacity, and it runs off my Outback Power Radian inverter. It took
a while to get things figured out (initially, the first pump
controller proved to be faulty), but finally by mid-August
everything was back in excellent working order (except for my
wallet!). And my hand-watering techniques kept all of my trees
going -- we even ended up with bumper crops of apricots, peaches and
certainly did learn that it's just not an oasis if you don't have
water! If you need to look at different pumping options, call us or
www.PVsolarpumps.com for more information.
nicely - two pump companies become one.
has been an interesting and exciting merging of surface and well
Dankoff Solar Pumps (surface pumps) was acquired by Solar
Power and Pump Company, located in Elk City, OK, in January of
What’s the big deal? Here is what makes this a
big deal: these pumps are all repairable. When purchasing one of
these pumps, either surface or down-hole, you have the ability to
repair them as opposed to the usual “planned obsolescence” or “throw
away” premise from some other pump manufacturers. SunRotor
pumps have been extremely robust. We have had one call for
troubleshooting their units and that problem was resolved within 24
hours. Pretty impressive; we work with a host of pump manufacturers
and these pumps have by far the least number of calls from my
customers needing some help. A robust pump that is repairable
at reasonable cost? We are pleased to be able offer SunRotor
and Dankoff Solar Pump products to our customers as a viable
solution to remote living, be it livestock watering, irrigation,
wildlife management or domestic use.
Don’t let lightning cause you to lose your water
One of the major problems involved with remote
livestock watering is long control wiring runs to a storage tank
located away from the well head. A lightning strike within 100 yards
of the systems has been dangerous and caused consternation on the
“why” from our friends. The long wire run can act as a conductor for
lightning strikes and fry the controller. Of critical importance is
locating a “surge suppressor” into the design of the system. By
partnering with our pump suppliers we have come up with a solution
that eliminates the long wire runs.
Using a manifold with a pressure switch in parallel
with the water supply line has proven to be an excellent solution.
These pressure switch systems can be yours for around $285 (pricing
subject to change). A small price when considering the value of a
$2000 pump! By keeping the sensors within a short distance of the
well head and controls we can minimize the problem of a lighting
strike near the well head. These manifold systems can operate on
almost any pump system and from any depth. Typically there will be
more than one solution for any given problem. Call your friends at
Oasis Montana and let us help you with yours, 406-777-4321.
a new pressure boosting pump that provides constant water pressure
for your home. The SCALA 2 pressure pump is capable of producing
from 22 to 80psi, to 8 taps and up to three floors worth of home --
several people operating taps, sinks or showers are not a problem.
This little brute can boost your water pressure, provide “city”
water pressure to your cabin while flowing at up to 16gpm.
Additionally this pump can draw water from up to 26 ft at sea level
while being one of the quietest booster pumps on the market. With a
built-in sensor that constantly measures discharge pressure, it
stands ready to meet your domestic water needs. For less than $1200
we can bring all the comforts of a home shower to you in your
far-flung wilderness retreat, taking some of the rough out of
roughing it. People can live without a lot of things, but water's
not one of them!
Call us for more information, 406-777-4321.
The future in
batteries is here right now!
The SimpliPhi Smart-tech Phi 3.4
is a deep-cycle, Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP) battery, optomized
with proprietary cell architecture. It is modular, lightweight, and
can be used for a variety of applications from kWh to mWh, for all applications
from remote homes, back-up to grid-tie, UPS, mobile and more. With a
lifespan of 10,000 cycles to 80% depth of discharge, these just may
be the last batteries you purchase! They are maintenance-free, do
not suffer thermal runaway like some lithium-ion types, and do not
outgas, so they do not require any special ventiltion. Manuals,
warranty and specification information -- call or e-mail us for the
click here for more information on this exciting battery line.
Appliance efficiency: AC versus DC
on in the pioneer days of solar power, most systems were based on
12V battery charging; the inverters were 12V, and many of the
appliances for off-grid homes
were specialty 12V appliances. Those
first inverters were terribly inefficient, and might lose as much as
50% of its power (or more), converting DC to AC. The DC appliances
then might include blenders, answering machines,
refrigerators/freezers, lighting, fans, vacuum cleaners and water
pumps -- and they were pricey. Fast forward to 2016. Now, the
inverters for remote homes are usually based on 24V or even 48V, and
the inverters themselves are
much more efficient that purchasing expensive DC appliances is no
longer the norm or even necessary, as there are many efficient
(think Energy Star) appliances available. But there are still some
loads that lend themselves to greater efficiency when they are DC,
namely certain refrigerators, freezers and water pumps. We offer
the SunDanzer line of chest models of DC fridges and freezers, and
they also offer a small fridge-freezer and larger (390L
or 14.7 cu.ft.) freezer.
Their units will operate off of a 12V or 24V battery system, and if
necessary, can be built at the factory to run off of your 48V
battery bank. If you look at the numbers on these at
http://www.eco-fridge.com/sundanzer390Lchstfrzr.html, these are
amazingly efficient. If saving watts for your remote home is
essential, check out these DC appliances for the utmost in
efficiency and reliability.
Non-electric Propane Freezer from Diamond.
The Amish folks in Ohio have added another LP appliance to their
offerings, a 15 cu.ft. upright gas freezer; $2429 plus shipping,
five year manufacturer's warranty.
Click here for more information.
In February we paid for some electricity, the first time in a couple
of years. Raising chicks last spring meant we didn't build up so
much 'credit' (in terms of kilowatthours accrued) with Northwestern
Energy and needed to purchase some electricity from them in late
winter to make up the shortfall. We usually just have to pay for the
hook-up charge of $5.25 per month. As you can see, it pays to be
efficient to keep your bills low!
INTEREST TO MONTANANS: If you have a renewable power project that
you are considering (solar, wind, biomass, hydro, ground source heat
pump, etc.) and you are looking for a low-interest loan, visit the
DEQ's site at
more information. They are offering loans of up to $40K at a fixed
rate of 3.25%; all loans must be paid within 10 years. Combined
with the 30% federal tax credit, it certainly makes a renewable
project very affordable! There's also a state tax credit of $500
per person (so, $1000 if you are married). If you are outside the
state of MT, you can find information on what incentives may be
available for your solar project at
Renewable Energy News Bites:
is the lifeblood of the world. What's YOUR water footprint?
coal plants are uneconomical:
power is getting cheaper as wind turbines get bigger:
you purchased certain BP solar modules between 1999 and 2007, you
may be due for some recompense:
war on solar power -- and not just in Florida:
natural gas really better than coal?
Letterman's love affair with solar power:
most -- and least -- energy efficient states:
Thinking to add wind to your power system? Make sure your wind
turbine is eligible for the federal tax credit:
Fossil fuel subsidies still get 5X that of renewables:
Better than lithium-ion? https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-redflows-home-flow-battery-really-beat-lithium-ion?utm_source=Storage&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=GTMStorage
parties should embrace renewable power:
powered electricity makes its debut in Hawaii:
Church claims 'freedom of religion' to have solar power system
"Society speaks and all men listen; mountains
speak and wise men listen" — John Muir
"We must encourage all people of good will to join the work of
abolishing war and weapons -- not out of fear of dying, but out of
the joy of living." --- Mairead Maguire
"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live
in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
"People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians
as a joke." —Will Rogers
"The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It
may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food,
territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens
to destroy us all.” -- Stephen Hawking.
We cling to our own point of view, as though
everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like
autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. Zhuangzi
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious
as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house." --Nathaniel
"Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's
power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country."
"I don't want to be invited to the family
hunting party." —President Barack Obama, on revelations that he and
Dick Cheney are eighth cousins
When I was a boy I
was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to
believe it. -- Clarence Darrow
"It isn't pollution that is hurting the
environment; it's the impurities in our air and water that are doing
it." -- Dan Quayle
"Anyone who thinks that fallen leaves are dead
has never watched them dancing on a windy day." --Shira Tamir
free to share this information with others. Knowledge is power!