Amish communities are adapting a surprising new technology in their homes and farms: ‘It’s really taken off’

Amish barns and solar panels are probably not two things most people think of as going together, but times are changing. Anabaptist World recently reported that Amish communities are starting to adopt solar as their source of power.

It’s a long-held misconception that the Amish use no electricity at all. Instead, most of them simply believe that relying heavily on electricity or access to public power grids will tie them too closely to the rest of the world.

Some Amish people have used gas and diesel generators to produce electricity and candles or kerosene lamps to light their homes. However, as solar panel technology improves and prices drop, these generators and lamps are becoming less attractive.

For the Amish, solar power allows access to clean, renewable energy while remaining off-grid. The shift benefits the environment as well.

Burning kerosene, like burning all dirty energy, releases carbon dioxide. Kerosene lamps also produce black carbon, which absorbs light and heat from its surroundings.

According to the Climate & Clean Air Coalition, mass black carbon has a per-unit warming impact on climate that can be up to 1,500 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Burning kerosene also comes with severe health risks and can damage the lungs and increase asthma and cancer risks. Exposure to diesel exhaust can also cause serious health conditions such as asthma and respiratory illnesses and can worsen existing heart and lung disease.

Switching to solar eliminates all of this, although the trend is still fairly recent in Amish communities.

“We really didn’t see a lot of adoption until 2015 or maybe even later… In the last four years, it’s really taken off,” Mark Horst, the owner of King Solar in Kansas, told Anabaptist World.

But many believe the technology will continue to gain popularity.

“For a commercial scale — say a chicken house with feed lines or power tools in a shop — 15 years ago, technology wasn’t there to power that … It’s changing faster than ever now,” James Mast, founder of ARK Battery in Ohio, told Anabaptist World.

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