As solar energy has become more assessable, affordable, and easy-to-use over the years, the technology has been embraced by Amish communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Southern Maryland, and other states.
In the early 20th century, the Amish rejected the use of the public power grid, deciding not to be directly connected to, or dependent on, the outside world. However, they never dismissed electricity entirely.
Since connecting the public power grid is considered as an unhealthy intrusion on their modest lifestyle, the Amish have used alternative energy sources, such as gasoline and diesel engines, to meet their simple electrical needs. But in the past five years, the application of solar energy has increased immensely in the Amish community.
While not all Amish people approve of solar technology, many find it useful for the home and business, as long as it is kept to a minimum. Solar panels are a convenient and safe energy source, without the cost of fuels, as well as the noxious fumes and loud noises.
“There’s so much free sun and free air,” said Andrew Hertzler (Amish farmer) in the Baltimore Sun. “And if we could harness it, we wouldn’t need any more power plants.”
“They say it works well,” stated Larry Jarboe, a St. Mary’s County commissioner who used to sell solar energy equipment to Amish families. “There’s no maintenance. No muss. As long as the sun is out, it’s producing electricity.”
Most Amish people only use one or two panels – or 10 at most – compared to 40 or 60 needed to keep an average American house running. The often use solar energy for the following:
- Medical equipment
- Cordless tools
- Well pumps
- Air purifiers
- Water filtration systems
- Electric fences
- Cash registers
- Burglar alarms