When you visit Amish Country for the first time, you may bring with you some preconceptions about Amish life. One misconception is that Amish shun all modern technology.
While that may be more or less true in some of the more conservative orders (for example, the Swartzentruber sect), Amish are NOT opposed to technology. They choose to use technology in ways that will not compromise their beliefs in living a simpler, slower life. One technology that the Amish accept is independent power generation via the sun.
Amish don't use electric, right?
You won't see power lines attached to an Amish house. However, as you explore the back roads of Walnut Creek, you'll notice many houses or barns with a couple solar panels on the roof. In some cases, you'll find a big solar array of panels on a workshop or other large structure.
If Amish do not believe in electric, how and why does solar fit into the their lifestyle? Dan Beachy, a local Amish man and staff member at Trail Battery and Solar gives you an expert answer below:
How Solar came to be in the Amish community
"Back in the day, the need for lighting in the average Amish home was fulfilled mainly by kerosene lamps. This type of lighting was very dim and gloomy, but it did the trick.
In about 1970, a large part of the Amish were able to take advantage of natural gas lighting. This was much more satisfactory than the previous kerosene lamps. Amish houses were plumbed with pipes to allow natural gas wall lamps and lamp fixtures throughout the house.
It was somewhere around 1980 to 1985 that solar was introduced in the Amish community. Generally, you would see one to two panels, mounted on the house or roof to charge some batteries used for a battery powered light bulb. This was quite a pleasant upgrade in lighting from both natural gas and kerosene!
Off-Grid Living - No Power Lines!
As time went by and the community here grew, more Amish bought "English" houses that were already wired for electricity and were set up to use electric power. As a result, there was a need for power to run water pumps, heating systems, lighting, etc. And, since the Amish way of life does not include receiving power via the power lines, solar was recognized as a good option for generating power independently.
This type of solar energy generation is called "off-grid," meaning that the entire system generates energy without the power grid as a backup. Everything is powered strictly by what is generated by the panels and stored in batteries for use at night or on cloudy days. Even though our Amish houses may have "electric" needs, we have no need for electric lines to our houses.
Now, you might be thinking that off-grid solar power is only for conservative people or individuals who want to live off the grid. But, a solar system may be just the ticket for anyone who is simply tired of paying a power bill every month.
You don't need to be completely "Amish" and go off-grid. Instead of having a battery bank to store power, you can install a "grid-tie" system that allows power to be fed back into the electric grid. The power company won't pay you for the power, but they will credit your bill for the power your panels produce. That's good for your pocketbook and good for our environment!
From all of us at Trail Battery and Solar, 'May your days be filled with sunshine and your roof covered with solar panels!' "