Image of Carlisle Solar House Carlisle Solar House
National Solar Photovoltaics Laboratory, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 1970s

In 1976, at the request of the Energy Research and Development Administration, MIT Lincoln Laboratory initiated a six-year program to design and test solar-photovoltaic systems for residential applications. This was an unusual project for Lincoln because it did not involve the development of new technology. Nonetheless, the Lab’s engineers produced significant innovations. In 1979, Lincoln commissioned Solar Design Associates to design and build a 3,200 square foot energy-efficient, passive solar residence powered by photovoltaics. The Carlisle Solar House was the first inhabited energy-independent house ever built. During the design and construction process, it became clear that the project’s success also would require developing unique arrangements with utility companies and with the state regulatory agencies. “Net Metering” is a fundamental legal innovation that allows the homeowner and the utility to “sell” electricity back and forth, and it has proven as crucial to the success of solar photovoltaics as any technological invention.

The model of the Carlisle Solar House is on loan from Solar Design Associates.

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  • Where can i find detailed information on the houses solar power system?
    I need info on the solar panels.


    bob ellison
    25 Apr 12 at 7:11 pm
  • How do the efficiencies and costs of today’s panels compare to the Carlisle solar photovoltaic panels ?

    Ernest Huber
    7 Jul 12 at 6:29 pm