by Amy Pearson

Warren Louis has enjoyed several careers over the span of his eighty- three years on Earth. After retiring as an electrical engineer in Billings, Louis received word that City College at MSU-B was aiming to start a program in Sustainable Energy. He developed a program, and as part of a class project, students were tasked with setting up a solar stock watering system for a rancher. The project was a success and when Louis finished teaching, he created American Power Unit, LLC in 2011.

Louis grew up in rural Nebraska, attending a one room schoolhouse in his youth. He joined the Marine Corps when he was seventeen and eventually used the GI Bill to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at the University of New Mexico in1970.

Louis worked for Sandia National Laboratories based out of Albuquerque where he traveled the world in search of alternative energy sites for the military.

He also worked for a company based out of California that made jet engines. Eventually, Border States Electric Supply brought Louis to Montana where he worked with co-ops across the state to provide energy to remote areas.

American Power Unit, LLC provides ranchers with successful, high-quality solar powered livestock water systems combined with outstanding customer service. The benefits of using solar power instead of generators are clear; the starting and stopping common to generators is absent, little to no maintenance is required with solar powered units, and the system overall is extremely reliable. Some ranchers note that they don’t even check their units anymore because they have been so dependable.

The American Power Unit systems use the best submersible water pumps identified through extensive research and experience which pump water up from the ground through a pipeline to water tanks at any location on a ranch. Two wires connect the pump head to the solar panels, and when the sun shines on the panels, the system pumps water. Louis notes that even in a cloudy atmosphere there is enough scattered light so that the pumps are still able to function effectively.

Additional benefits of these solar powered livestock water systems are that they are easily movable, there is a very long life expectancy – up to twenty-five years warranty on the solar panels, and they are easy to install. In fact, users can install units with basic hand tools and instructions, or Louis is known to have made long commutes out to ranches around Montana and surrounding states to assist with installation. APU is also able to meet someone halfway with parts.

“It is professionally satisfying to go out to a remote site and remove an old generator that ranchers have been fighting with, and have water running in three to four hours,” Louis says. The process is simple. Determine your water source first and then fill out the online form relating to site data on American Power Unit’s website or give them a call. When a quote has been established and agreed on, delivery and payment details will be discussed. No matter how far away you’re located, APU will work with you.

For Louis, who spent thirty-seven years in the Marine Corps and traveled all over the world for his work as an electrical engineer in alternative energy, it is “satisfying to bring state of the art technology to the grassroots of farms and ranches in Montana and beyond.”

To date, there are approximately 550 systems in the field all the way from Ekalaka to Eureka in Montana, and in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Idaho. To order your solar powered water system today or for more information, visit or call 406-661-6600 with questions.

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