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How It All Began

Solar Barn Raising (SBR) started with a presentation by John Lyle, a registered electrical engineer, on how to design and install a solar system. John was invited by Diane Higgins, facilitator of Transition Town in Bayfield, Colorado, to make the presentation to her organization in 2012. The core idea was to install photovoltaic solar on homes with do-it-yourselfers because the cost of hiring turnkey contractors to install solar was too pricey for most homeowners. The model was based on the Amish community barn raising example of volunteers coming together to raise a barn for a homeowner in a day or two with neighbors, friends, and family members.


In SBR’s model, homeowners take turns installing solar on each others’ homes. The first installation was in early 2013. The concept was an instant success. Word spread and the number of installations grew rapidly. The volunteers called the installations “solar barn raising” and the name stuck. Because of the rapid growth of PV installations, SBR hired Fort Lewis Engineering student interns in 2017 to help with designs and to lead installations. In 2019 SBR began hiring full-time staff to handle the large volume of requests for installing PV solar. SBR still relies on community volunteers, however, for the actual installations to keep the cost low for customers.

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