Solar water heater panel used on the White House, 1979
President Jimmy Carter had solar panels, including this one, installed on the White House roof in 1979. Rather than generating electricity, water circulated through tubes in the panels and absorbed solar heat. The panel provided hot water for use by the president's staff and family. President Ronald Reagan ordered the panels removed in 1986. As energy costs fell public enthusiasm for solar power waned, only to rebound in the 21st century. Newer solar panels, installed during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, supply hot water and electricity to the White House today.
Gift of Unity College; Smithsonian photo