Amish builders in Maine have teamed with a non-Amish business to create a “solar shed”.
They use them to power batteries, lights, or electric fences, for instance. As Maine Amishman Joas Hochstetler explains:
“Solar is pretty passive, there’s no moving parts, you don’t have to feed it, it doesn’t take gas,” Hochstetler said. “We’ve already made the decision to not be on the grid […] so the benefits of solar for us are just endless.”
Combining solar with Amish craftsmanship also turns out to be a business opportunity.
The company Hochstetler manages, a Unity, Maine Amish outfit called Backyard Builders, have partnered with a non-Amish company to create a shed with a roof covered in solar paneling.
The article in the Bangor Daily News reads a bit like an advertisement, but it’s a nice example of how Amish businesses evolve and incorporate new ideas to serve an often non-Amish market.
The impression you get is that this is a new concept, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there are others doing it. In any case, here the idea came from the non-Amish side:
So when Matt Wagner of Insource Renewables approached him in January about teaming up to produce a shed that was equipped with the same solar technology found on traditional roof-mounted systems, Hochstetler was sold.
“We’ve talked about it before but didn’t have a reputable company to collaborate with, or the solar expertise,” Hochstetler said. “I like the principle of solar, so I would gladly do work in a field that will generate more solar power for the state.”
So if you’re into solar, might be a nice thing to have in your backyard. Apparently the panels on the shed can scoop enough solar energy to provide power for your entire home.
I’m still not a fan of how solar panels look on a roof (ugly!) so maybe sticking them on a shed in the backyard and a little more out-of-view is the way to go.
Also, thanks to companies like Tesla, we’re now seeing more aesthetic solutions like solar tiles that look just like regular roof material. Maybe that’s the next evolution of this idea for the Amish.
UPDATE: And yes, it is true that these Maine Amish are not the only ones in this business. A reader shares a solar shed built recently by the northern Indiana company he works for: