Northern Lights, Inc. has become the premiere manufacturer of high quality marine solutions 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 revenue. They became pioneers in the snowmobile business, becoming the first company to sell these machines to Alaskans. Land-based generator sets were added to the company offerings to answer the need for prime power in remote, off-grid areas.

The first steps were taken toward establishing brand name products in the early 1960’s when the company began packaging Lister air-cooled diesels and Lima generators. Alaska Marine and Lister/Lima became the standard all over Alaska’s outback.


By the late 1960’s the company had become 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 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 (ADE). 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 high quality, small marine diesel generators was obvious. Lacking a small American-made diesel, ADE worked with Japan’s Ishikawajima-Shibaura Machinery (ISM) Company and developed an entire line of small marine diesels to power sets from 5 to 20 kW.


In the early 1980’s the company began designing and manufacturing propulsion engines and marine generator sets based on the same Komatsu industrial blocks which ADE had already used in land-based generators. Expanding into the larger engines and generator sets gave the company unlimited international market potential.

The 1990’s saw a growing market for the high quality Northern Lights products – mega yachts. The skippers and owners of these vessels would not compromise on quality. With Northern Lights’ track record of reliable, durable systems, they became the obvious choice for the large pleasure craft owner. In 1999 Valley Power Systems bought Northern Lights/ADE.


The advent of new millennium saw new technologies and greater demands on generator sets than ever before. By the year 2000, Northern Lights had become a recognized worldwide leader in power production. Environmental and space-saving considerations led to a number of innovative products and solutions, including DECS Diesel Emission Cleaning System, PTO-capability on most units and fully electronic engines.

With innovation came growth. In 2003, ADE officially became known as Northern Lights, Inc. Our generator sets achieved USEPA Tier III compliance a full year before it became required. In 2010, Northern Lights became ISO 9001 certified through Lloyd Register Quality Assurance.


In 2007 Northern Lights purchased Technicold. The Florida-based manufacturer of marine climate systems represented Northern Lights’ first venture outside of the realm of energy production or propulsion. Technicold’s reputation for outstanding design customization and service made it the ideal fit to partner with Northern Lights.

Today Northern Lights has branch offices in Seattle, South Florida, Alaska, the Gulf and New England, as well as, a global dealer servicing network over 350 strong. The name “Northern Lights” is synonymous with reliable, durable and simple to use marine products.

© Northern Lights, Inc. 2017