Our History

Terry Hufft started Top Hat Chimney Sweep in 1978 after getting laid off from his position as a millwright at Publisher’s/Times Mirror mill, now Sierra Pacific, in Burney, CA. He began by servicing stoves and cleaning chimneys. In 1988 he gained a CA contractor license to do installation work. Over time, Terry became a dealer of wood, gas, and pellet stoves. Around 1993, he began to work with alternative energy systems before utility-tie solar systems were an option or law. He had focused on electronics and radio in college, and had always found the systems fascinating and intriguing. Back then, even though there was a lot of good quality equipment that would last for decades, most systems that were built were kind of pieced together (a lot of off-grid systems still are), instead of in the solid, clean built-to-last manner that we see in most systems today. 

In 2002, the name Top Hat Energy officially was born as a division of Top Hat Chimney Sweep, and TopHatEnergy.com went online. The website began to grow significantly in 2007 in the area of education and resources, significantly increasing in 2009, and again in 2012. Utility inter-tied systems were uncommon in 2002, having not been in effect for very long. Top Hat Energy is listed with the CEC as a dealer and installer. Top Hat Energy is also licensed with the state of CA as a C-10 electrical contractor, necessary for installing solar, wind, and hydro. Top Hat Energy became a privately held corporation in early 2011. Over the years, Terry’s 4 sons, Jeremy, David, Jon, and Ben, gained experience working with him, and at present, all 4 of them work with the company. Top Hat Energy installs off-grid and utility tied solar, wind, and hydro systems. They also still have roots in their beginnings – they service and install wood and pellet stoves, and have a showroom in Redding, CA. (See services section) Terry’s wife, Kathy, has served as the office manager from the beginning. Top Hat Energy has been steadily working to gain a good reputation with the public, installing solar in northern California, and international sales in solar equipment and kits. They believe in taking prompt care of the customer and educating themselves and the public in the advancing world of alternative energy, primarily solar.