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Solar Power Projects

Oasis Montana Home-Office System Carries Big Part of Dealer's Load

Having sold these alternate energy goods for 10 years, Chris Daum of Oasis Montana Inc. of Stevensville finally installed a system in January. Nine years ago she 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 she didn't think the world was going to come to an end because of Y2K, she planned to have a 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," she said. Some days her 480W array put a total of 150 watts into her sixteen 6V batteries. She got 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 her Trace C40 regulator was "solid green" (indicating full charge status). But as of May, the system is running her ConServ 'fridge, a compact fluorescent light, and computer (with printer, scanner) three to six days a week. "Funny thing about this solar stuff," she said. "It seems to require relatively sunny conditions."

Daum's 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 amp hour batteries, custom cables (including inverter cables, all of which she made herself), safety disconnect, 110A class T fuse, Trace DR1524 inverter, and of course, wire runs, wire nuts and basic miscellaneous stuff. She bought a QO breaker box for my AC distribution center, with a line to her refrigerator, computers, and upstairs to the stereo/TV "entertainment center." She still needs to add a line in her garage to have a solar-powered outlet there. She also has a line on her back deck for the boom box. She built a battery box out of plywood, sealed and stained it (figuring if she had to look at it for 8 to 10 years, it may as well look nice), with a long stack that vents any battery gas.

Daum asked herself how she could sell alternative energy to someone if she couldn't sell it to herself.

"There's a great future of solar, wind and fuel cell technology fast approaching," she said. "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."

Oasis Montana Inc. photos

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