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Amish Alternative Energy | Alternative Energy Systems used in the Amish Communities.

Updated on February 12, 2013
Water Well Windmills are popular alternative energy sources for the Amish.
Water Well Windmills are popular alternative energy sources for the Amish.
Amish Wind Power Air Compressor pumps air into large storage tanks.
Amish Wind Power Air Compressor pumps air into large storage tanks.
Solar panels used on an Amish Home
Solar panels used on an Amish Home
Table lamps use a 12 volt bulb and house a 12 volt sealed battery in the bottom compartment
Table lamps use a 12 volt bulb and house a 12 volt sealed battery in the bottom compartment
DC Freezers Run Completely off 24 volt Solar battery pack
DC Freezers Run Completely off 24 volt Solar battery pack
Solar Panels on an Amish Stores
Solar Panels on an Amish Stores
12 volt corn cob LED lights screw into regular light sockets wired to DC power.
12 volt corn cob LED lights screw into regular light sockets wired to DC power.
Amish Greenhouse equipped with air inflator to keep the plastic inflated.
Amish Greenhouse equipped with air inflator to keep the plastic inflated.
Air Powered Kitchen Appliances work just like electrical models.
Air Powered Kitchen Appliances work just like electrical models.
Large pulley system runs clothes lines from the house to another structure.
Large pulley system runs clothes lines from the house to another structure.
An Amish Homestead with pulley clothes line system in use.
An Amish Homestead with pulley clothes line system in use.
Air Powered Tools used in Amish shops.
Air Powered Tools used in Amish shops.

We can all learn from how the Amish harness, the sun, wind and human power to live sustainable off the grid.

More and more Amish are moving away from the oil and gas lights in favor of the safer and cooler DC lighting.

Pumping water using wind powered windmills is not new to most, but the elaborate water pumps used at the bottom of the windmills are interesting.

A force pump hooked to a windmill allows water to be pumped up to and into a gravity feed tank either located outside the house or in an upstairs tank.

Force pumps also come with diverter valves so that water can be sent into the house, to a barn and even to a remote stock tank.

Windmills are also used to generate air. Air compressor windmills harness compressed air into large storage tanks to be later use on workshop and kitchen air powered appliances.

Compressed air is also used to reverse flow water pressure out of a well and into a standard pressure tank for use just like in non-Amish homes.

Compressed air windmills are not able to completely sustain an Amish household 24/7/365 , The Amish still have rely or gas or diesel powered compressors to supplement the wind compressors.

In the spring and other windy periods the backup compressor is used very little.

Electric generating DC power wind generators charge battery packs to use in off grid lighting and appliances.

A deep well submersible pump is available in DC/AC power to pump pressurized water into the Amish home .

The Amish do not utilize modern day electronics but do use inverters to convert DC battery power over to AC for small appliances and lighting.

Most use DC power directly for 12 and 24 volt components. The use of 12 volt light bulbs is becoming more and more popular in the Amish household especially with the advance in LED lighting technology.

LED Bulbs provide brighter lights and use less battery power. The 12 volt bulbs use the same screw in socket size so normal electrical fixtures can be easily converted over to the 12 volt bulbs.

The advances in batteries to gel sealed motorcycle and ATV batteries allow the Amish to build them into lamp bases without the concern of battery acid.

Depending on how long the lights are used will dictate how often the batteries need to be charged.

With an LED bulb the batteries for a single table lamp may not need to be charged more than once per week.

Solar panels are also used to charge batteries for both the homes and shops but also to power lights on the Amish buggies.

Solar panels can be seen in the Amish communities from simple one battery charge panels to a complete rooftop network of panels feeding a complex battery storage bank.

This picture of the green house shows a wind funnel used to maintain the green houses inflated. Green houses use two layers of plastic with air blown in between to inflate.

The wind funnel is made using a large funnel that rotates with the wind direction to capture the wind.

This helps insulate the green house but also substantially stretches the plastic tight so that high winds to not destroy the outer plastic shell.

For out door clothes drying the Amish use the traditional clothes lines, but more and more Amish communities are adapting the clothes line pulley system that we first noticed being used in Pennsylvania in the mid 90s.

This is not really any new idea as before inside dryers were invented, people living in city apartments used a similar clothes line pulley system connect across to another building. You may recall seeing this in some of the old movies.

One large pulley is attached to the house just outside the laundry area door. Another pulley is attached out at the peak of the barn or a tall post. The pulleys are equipped with heavy cable to withstand the weight and wind of a full wash day clothing.

As clothes are added the cable pushes the clothes up to the outer pulley, which may be several feet up into the air.

This allows the clothes to be high enough to be clear dust that may otherwise soil the wet clothing.

The lower pulley is equipped with a brake system to prevent the wet clothes from rolling down to the house when the cable is let go.

The advantage of not having to go out in snow and wet grass makes this clothes line system pretty popular.

Pictures provided by Cottage Craft Works.com self sufficient living online store.

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    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Great hub! I live near "Amish Country" here in southeast Pennsylvania, but was totally unaware of how the Amish are using alternative energy technologies. A lot of good and surprising info in your hub.

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