Alaska Diesel Electric
Northern Lights Inc. has become the premiere manufacturer of high quality marine generator sets and propulsion engines while remaining true to its pioneering heritage.
In 1958, Harold Johnson established Alaska Marine Sales and Service in Anchorage, Alaska, selling boats and marine related products. The short boating season in Alaska led the company to look for additional sources of income. Pioneering the snowmobile business, the company was the first to sell the machines to Alaskans. Land-based generator sets were added to the business to answer the need for prime power in remote areas.
The first steps were taken toward establishing brand name products when, in the early '60s, the company began packaging Lister air-cooled diesels and Lima generators. Alaska Marine and Lister/Lima became a standard all over Alaska's outback.
In the late '60s, the company became well known for its ability to customize land-based generator sets. The trade name Northern Lights was coined and the company name was changed to Alaska Marine & Equipment to emphasize the equipment side of the business.
Contracts with the State of Alaska for electrification of rural schools and villages, as well as the development of advanced unattended power systems for microwave stations, strengthened the company. Contracts with ALASCOM and EXXON for powering communication sites along the Alaska Pipeline came as a result of the reputation the company had gained for specializing in self-contained, unattended cold weather power systems.
Johnson moved his company headquarters to Seattle, Washington in 1970. In the mid-'70s, he began to develop his own brand name marine products. A new company was formed under the name Alaska Diesel Electric, Inc. The new company was responsible for production of the land-based Northern Lights generator sets which were being sold in Alaska and on the West Coast.
In 1975, development of the first Lugger propulsion engines began, based on a John Deere block. Although the primary objective was to develop propulsion engines, the company soon found growth in the marine generator set market. The need for a high quality small marine diesel generator was obvious. Lacking a small American-made diesel to choose from, ADE worked with Japan's Ishikawajima-Shibaura Machinery Company, and developed an entire line of small marine diesels to power sets from 5 to 20 kW.
In the early '80s, the company began designing and manufacturing propulsion engines and marine generator sets based on the Komatsu industrial blocks which it had already used in land-based generators. Expanding into the larger engines and generator sets gave the company unlimited international market potential.
The 1990s saw a growing market for the high quality Northern Lights and Lugger products -- megayachts. The skippers and owners of these vessels would not compromise on quality so Northern Lights gensets and Lugger diesels were the obvious choices. Worldwide environmental concerns led the company to pioneer yet again, this time with the STARS (Soot Trap And Regeneration) system. This unique technology cleans the exhaust while enhancing generator life.
By the 2000, Northern Lights had become a recognized worldwide leader in power production. The company continues to grow and innovate.
The advent of a new millennium saw new technologies and greater demands on generator sets and propulsion engines than ever before. Northern Lights’ line of 6-30kW generator sets feature auxiliary winding (“W” Series) for increased short circuit protection. Many Luggers feature electronic engine controls. Many Northern Lights and Lugger products feature High Pressure Common Rail fuel systems and exclusive ESP engine monitoring.
In 2007, Northern lights purchased Technicold. The Florida-based manufacturer of marine climate systems represents Northern Lights' first venture outside of the realm of energey production or propulsion. Technicold's reputation for outstanding design, customization and service made it the ideal fit to partner with Northern Lights.
Today, we have branch offices in South Florida and New England, as well as a dealer servicing network over 300 strong. The names “Northern Lights” and “Lugger” are synonymous with reliable, durable and simple to use power production. Not bad for a little company founded half a century ago, on one man’s vision in rustic Alaska...
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