ION Solar Blog

How Rooftop Solar Came To Be

The growth and expansion of rooftop solar has been a slow but worthwhile endeavor.  Believe it or not, mankind has used the power of the sun’s energy dating all the way back to 7th century B.C. when magnifying glasses were used to make fire by concentrating the sun’s rays. Experimenting with the sun’s power carried through to the 1800’s when scientists began testing the photovoltaic effect, using the sun but never successfully producing usable energy. In 1954, after years of experimentation, scientists at Bell Laboratories created the first practical solar cell using silicon. 

Solar Energy Take Off

Bell Laboratories did not stop there; they continued to make significant strides in solar energy to create a more efficient system. These strides led to NASA taking notice, and Bell Laboratories helped produce the first solar dependant satellite that was launched into orbit in the year 1966.

Solar energy in the United States really started to take off in the 1970s. Dr. Elliot Berman teamed up with Exxon Corporation to design a solar system at a lower price than ever before. By using cheaper materials, Dr. Berman was able to drop the price of solar panels form $100 per watt to $20 per watt. This price drop coincided with the energy crisis of the 1970s. As oil prices were skyrocketing people started to look for alternative ways to provide energy. The public’s interest in solar energy was higher than it had ever been.

On November 9, 1978, President Carter passed PURPA- the nation’s most relevant renewable energy policy. This policy was the first significant opportunity for independent power providers to enter the market; it unleashed experimentation and expanded renewable energy in the U.S. 

Residential Solar

In the 1980s oil prices dropped back down and unfortunately, solar energy was more expensive than traditional energy. It wasn’t until the 1990s that manufacturing costs decreased and efficiency increased because the federal government began to get involved in the development and research of solar energy. Finally, solar energy installations started to increase exponentially across the United States. Some states even offer grants and tax reductions as incentives for people with solar systems.

Thanks to the evolution and breakthroughs in technology, solar power for homes has never been more attainable than it is today. 


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