Our Story
how haleakala solar came to be
Founder Jim Whitcomb in 1984 with early version photoboltaic array

No More Hot Water

Back in the 1970s, Haleakala Solar founder, Jim Whitcomb, working as a plumber at a golf course, came home after a hard day of work, ready for a nice shower and realized he had no hot water. He called his landlord, and told him all the water he was getting was cold. Mr. Toba, a long-time local, came over and pointed to a box on the roof and exclaimed in his broken English, “No more sun, no more hot water”.

The Light Bulb Goes Off

Mr. Toba went on to explain how the home-made device, copper tubes sandwiched between old window panes connected to a water tank sitting on a rotting wooden stand, used the sun to create hot water. Jim touched the tubes and pulled immediately back from the heat. The proverbial light bulb went off in his head. “Holy cow, this actually works”, he thought. And that was it. Jim’s solar energy journey had begun.

Mechanically inclined and good with his hands, Jim built his first solar system in 60 days. No small feat considering this was before most people owned a computer let alone heard of the internet. He spent most of his extra time in the local library doing research and experimenting with different materials and products and eventually developed an efficient working solar hot water system.

The Beginning Of A Solar Company

In 1977, Jim officially started his solar company, Haleakala Resources. During the 70’s, due to the oil embargo in the Middle East, crude prices rose dramatically. Environmental awareness also emerged at this time and the combination of the two triggered tremendous interest in alternative ways to create energy. Solar was a major recipient of this newfound interest and the whole industry took off. Due to the professionalism and integrity of Jim and his services, the now-named Haleakala Solar quickly became the largest solar company in Maui, eventually installing over 75% of all solar hot water systems on the island. He expanded to the other islands and soon they were installing systems all over the state.

In the mid 80’s, Jim started experimenting with solar cells, creating electricity. With fuel costs constantly rising, and photovoltaic technology prices dropping, he envisioned a future in which “people would set up their own small electric companies”. In observing the incredible growth of solar electric today, we can conclude he was right.

Surfer Dude To Solar Man

When Jim looks back on his life, before he was introduced to Mr. Toba’s home-made energy making contraption, he smiles. Back then he was a long-haired hippie surfer, involved in environmental causes like Save Our Surf, a group dedicated to preserving reefs and pristine shorelines from unscrupulous developers. In a weird twist of fate, here he is years later, using inspiration he got from an amateur backyard inventor, still helping the environment and along with it, thousands of other lives as well.

Ten Thousand Solar Systems Later

Haleakala Solar has been in business for over 40 years and has installed over fourteen thousand solar energy systems with satisfied customers all over the state of Hawaii. They believe servicing systems is just as important as installing them. They are a one-stop shop and service anything solar energy related. Haleakala Solar truly stands behind their work, and are one of the few solar companies in the state to have been around long enough to actually back up a 25 year warranty.

member of many solar hawaii groups