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Residential Solar History

Residential Solar History since the 1960s

The ideas of the 1960s regarding conservation and preserving the environment may have been the basis upon which solar energy became a household word for homeowners today. The world of the 1960s was one of radical changes for individuals whose focus was saving the environment through recycling and seeking newer methods of heating and cooling homes with renewable energy sources. The accent was on solar energy conversions to reduce pollution of air, water and soil and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. One popular example of the 1960s was "Sun Tea," produced by storing water with a tea-filled infuser in direct sunlight. Another example is a sun reflector that aided tanning for sunbathers. Gradually, it was realized solar power had great potential for a host of other uses indoors and out.

Historically, solar energy was widely practiced as far back as the 7th Century BC. Using glass created from ordinary silica, it was possible to collect the sun's rays. Later, the Romans advanced the idea of solar collection using reflective glass mirrors. Once the early scientific minds realized reflectivity was of great use for collecting sunlight, solar energy was on its way to its present day significance.

Most of the ancient civilizations understood that a sufficient amount of sunlight could be collected through glass panes. It was also clear construction designs provided maximum sunlight to warm rooms in homes and buildings.

Man's innovative senses led to the first 17th century collection of solar energy by a Swiss scientist, Horace de Saussure. His idea of collecting sunlight in a small box was sufficient for cooking purposes while on his South African expeditions.

Solar Theories Advance

Frenchman Edmund Becquerel discovered the first photovoltaic result by experimenting with his electrolytic cell. Using two metal plates in an electrically conducted solution, he found that electricity could be generated by exposure to light. Thus, the theory that energy could be produced using sunlight propelled inventors and scientists to research and develop chemical processes that advanced the use of solar energy. Over time, an American inventor, Charles Fritt, provided the original idea of solar energy cells.

In 1974, Gerald Pearson, along with researchers Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin, developed the photovoltaic cell using silicon. This was the first, actual process that relied on sunlight as a source of energy that would power electrical equipment. A new world of solar power emerged that radically changed the lives of millions of people.

By this time, new home construction designs featured roofs and wall built to conserve energy. Solar panels emerged by 1974 when the first solar and wind powered building was constructed in New Mexico. This news sparked greater interest among architects and structural designers, as well as home buyers interested in reducing dependency on fossil fuels for daily living.

Residential Solar - Historically Speaking

Solar living has a bounty of ripple effects. For example, in 1984, Luz International, based in Israel installed a solar electric generating system in Daggett, CA. This was one of the first successful utility-scale concentrated solar power projects in the USA. Today, it's considered by solar power enthusiasts to be an "historic site."

The world's largest parabolic trough solar collector was also built by 3M and Gossamer Space Frames in Daggett. This is a clear indication of the historic growth of solar technology and solar utilities. By creating solar farms from former "brown" fields, the cost to provide solar energy for residential use has been greatly reduced. Today, solar farms produce more than 50% of the energy for residential and commercial use in Germany.

Published in Solar Power World Magazine's Sept. 2013, Solar Energy Industries Association reported that solar energy companies installed more than 700 MW of photovoltaic capacity in the first quarter of 2013. This represents a 33% increase over the prior year, mainly attributed to an increase in solar leasing programs. The increase was also aided by federal financial incentives to homeowners and changes in their states' energy policies.

CA ranks number one in the most residential rooftop solar conversions. Other states in the 2013 forecast for top solar markets for residential conversions are Hawaii, Arizona, New Jersey and New York State. In terms of the top ten solar markets globally, Germany captures 24%, China 13% and the USA 11%.

More Options Increase Residential Solar Energy Conversions

Originally, the cost to install rooftop solar panels on residences was prohibitive. This was due to the fact that these panels were imported into US mainly from China. As solar energy demands increased, it became clear that in order to increase market share, panels needed to be manufactured in the US. Today, solar energy panel manufacturers have contributed to the increase in jobs in the US, while lowering the cost to manufacturers to produce solar panels efficiently, timely and cost-effectively. In addition to adding more purchasing options, solar energy companies have also added a wider variety of panel designs to make solar panels more aesthetically pleasing to homeowners.

Understanding Your Residential Solar Needs

Most homeowners who have hesitated to convert to solar do so due to lack of an understanding of the ease with which solar energy conversions are done. For many homeowners desiring to learn more, there is an online site that provides full information to enlighten homeowners new to solar conversions. This site covers the broadest range of information online today. At, those interested in residential solar can learn about solar power and its benefits to residential users. A full range of data is also featured on the actual installation process, as well as the value of converting to clean, renewable solar energy.

The most convenient feature of is the availability of a solar calculator to help determine actual solar needs based on individual residential size and needs. At, homeowners learn about the type of racking and panel arrays that will be installed and how they can reduce energy costs for heating, cooling and hot water in their homes. In addition, provides innovative ways to use solar for backyard pools, hot tubs, sheds and outdoor lighting.

Then and Now Residential Solar History

The earliest civilizations understood the most basic concepts of using the sun for warmth and cooking. Today, home construction places heavy emphasis on durable racking systems for solar panels that withstand high tornado winds. In some states like NJ, solar homes built in 1974 have upgraded solar panels to today's more efficient, powerful photovoltaic cells. Contemporary homes are specially designed and built to capture maximum sunlight in solar cells on rooftops and in siding. Discover solar history. Visit and find answers to your questions.