In closing a recent post on Amish use of solar and wind power, I joked:
Maybe one day we’ll observe Amish buggies rolling down the road, plastered with solar panels, or with whirling wind turbines planted on their roofs.
The first part of that tongue-in-cheek prediction is actually closer to reality than one might think, at least for some Amish.
A reader shares a photo of a solar panel which some Amish mount on the buggy roof. The panel charges the battery used to power the buggy lights.
The readers adds:
When we lived in Arthur I asked one of my neighbors if he thought we could market a solar panel that would mount on the top of a buggy to recharge the battery. He told me he didn’t think it would be allowed. So when we moved to northern Indiana I was surprised they were already using that “technology”.
I’m not sure if it has been adopted in Arthur or not. Wellspring Components has a demo model in their shop that consists of a wheel mounted alternator that recharges your battery while you drive. Most people still remove their battery from their buggy when it needs to be recharged.
I’d guess the fact that it is roof-mounted and of a darkish color might make this an easier addition to accept.
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This post certainly causes me to wonder if we may see the first Horseless electric Amish buggy in the near future.
Tom, the future is now! Just saw this post today–look at the last photo. http://pinecraft-sarasota.blogspot.com/2013/01/pinecraft-surry-daze.html
Thanks for sharing the that link.
Yesterday I had a ride in just such a buggy, made in Arthur and brought down to Pinecraft. I posted about it on my Pinecraft/Sarasota blog.
Nice post Katie–how is it powered exactly? Some kind of battery-powered motor? I noticed there was no horse at all, so I guess a great fit for Pinecraft 🙂
Well, I see now I’m too late. Haha!
I hope they don’t give up horses—you still can’t get “free fertilizer” from a solar powered battery! However, I’m thrilled to see any new “solar-powered” devicethat could help get us off the grid.
Are there solar powered wheelchairs? Lawn mowers? It’s a sunny day here today (though bitterly cold & windy) and I’m looking out the window at my 5 ft. high fence, drenched in sunlight. Hmmm…think of all the electricity you could generate if al fences had solar panels?
Great post. Stephanie, Katie,thanks for the info as well!
Alice Mary if the Amish gave up horses I would probably have to change the name of this site 🙂
Alice Mary, I like the way you think. But I could only use a solar powered wheelchair for about 5 months out of the year. The rest of the time I’m so cold I’m hiding out at home with the furnace blazing.
Solar panel on buggy roof
I asked Mark about this. He said that there is one boy in the community who has a buggy with a solar panel in the roof to charge the buggy battery. He had it made in Holmes County rather by the local buggy maker in Belle Center. Mark charges his buggy batteries with a solar panel as well. But Mark’s solar panel is mounted on wooden skids and is located outside of the barn. He also has two solar panels wired in-line to charge his c-pap machine battery.
I would assume that if they went to electric buggies the government is going to want the drivers to be licensed just like all of us English folks. Then they will have to have auto insurance, vehicle registration, seat belts and fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. =)
These ‘simple people’ won’t be simple any longer.
Actually, this brings up some interesting questions.
1. Have some Amish already “given up” on horses? For example, those who work in RV factories in Indiana. Are they commuting to work via horse and buggy from rural homes? Or do some live closer to town and walk to work, or ride a company-provided shuttle bus, or some other method?
2. I’m aware that some “lower” Amish (Andy Weaver, Swarzenruber) forbid riding in cars save for emergencies. Do higher orders have such bans, or is it simply the tradition to use horses? If there was a technology that power relatively slow moving transportation device with solar or wind energy or other off the grid means, could Amish adopt it? The Segway comes to mind — at 12mph slow, but extends the range which one can walk. No driver’s license required and capable of being powered by solar.
1. There is less use in some communities, to the point that travel to church becomes the primary use of the buggy. This is probably most prominent in those few settlements that permit use of tractors on the road. Kevin Williams of the Amish Cook recently had a nice post on such a settlement in Kansas: http://www.oasisnewsfeatures.com/amish-on-the-plains-part-i/
Amish at Guthrie, KY would probably fit this description as well. Another category would be businesspeople such as builders who do a lot of travel with a driver.
2. I think the horse is so tied into tradition and Amish identity that it will remain the primary means of road transport. There may be other vehicles that “make sense” that become permitted around the edges (in the most progressive settlements or limited use situations) but the horse is so ingrained that I don’t expect it will go anywhere as long as the Amish remain “Amish”…historically abandoning the horse has correlated to leaving the Amish for higher churches so there is a lot of symbolic weight in the decision to put aside horse travel.