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10 Beautiful Residential Solar Installations

Avatar for Ben Zientara
Published on 11/11/2014 in
Updated 03/20/2017

Who says solar panels can’t be aesthetically pleasing? (We’re looking at you, HOAs). These energy-efficient homes, which perfectly integrate design and functionality, show just how wrong those naysayers are. While California homes and apartments dominate the list, these solar installations from around the world prove that solar can be beautifully and intelligently applied to a variety of architectural styles.

1. San Francisco, California.

Believe it or not, this modern San Francisco home is over 100 years old. Thanks to a recent overhaul intended to update and reinforce the structure, the home now sports a more open layout, roof landscaping, a glass penthouse, and bi-facial solar panels. Looking good for a centenarian!

Photos courtesy of Waterseal Waterproofing, Perth WA – Phone 08 9309 6376

2. Bessancourt, France.

When most people think France, they don’t think bamboo. But the experimental brainchild of architects Milena Karanesheva and Mischa Witzmann disrupts this notion with a bamboo-clad and energy-efficient farmhouse outside of Paris. The family home was one of the first Passive Houses in France, meaning the building is ultra-low energy – in fact, it only uses about a tenth of the energy that conventional French homes use!

Photos courtesy of

3. Italy.

This Italian take on a modular getaway is intended to seamlessly integrate the surrounding environment – whether in the woods or on the beach – with the nature of the home, both in style and in purpose. Called the “Green Zero” home, the building aims for zero environmental impact, a goal facilitated by the thin-film solar panels which decorate the wraparound roof.

Photo courtesy of

4. Los Angeles, California.

When architects at KoningEizenberg took on the task of restoring an 80-year-old historic building in South L.A. to include a residential wing and be more sustainable, they faced a big challenge for solar: a lack of roof space. Forced to look elsewhere, they decided to attach a solar facade to the sun-rich south side of the building. The panels now generate energy and provide an insulating layer to the building. We happen to think they look pretty cool, too.

Photos courtesy of

5. Barcelona, Spain.

This beautiful building is called Endesa Pavilion and updates the principal of “form follows function” with the concept of “form follows energy.” In keeping with this saying, the south-facing areas open to the solar path based on angles of optimization, while the north-facing walls serve as insulation and protection. Over the course of a year, it will serve as a monitoring station for all aspects of intelligent power management.

Photos courtesy of

6. Venice, California.

Dubbed the Solar Umbrella House, this renovated home boasts a collection of environmentally smart upgrades: solar water heating panels, a storm-water recycling system, ethically-sourced materials, and of course, a solar panel array that produces 100% of the home’s power needs. The building’s design provides a modern (and virtually off-grid) take on Paul Richard’s 1953 Umbrella House.

Photos courtesy of

7. Tofo, Mozambique.

The combination of this traditional Makuti thatch roof with an off-grid solar panel array may be the first of its kind, carefully blending the old with the new and showcasing a wide variety of solar application. Despite the warm tropical climate, the functional architecture and solar integration makes this home cool and comfortable year-round.

Photo courtesy of

8. Denver, Colorado.

John and Paige Damiano have learned to work with the elements, both professionally and domestically. As a territory manager for Burton Snowboards, John relies on the area’s snowfall, but as homeowners, the Damiano’s put their faith in the sun with solar water heating and rooftop solar panels. It seems that their commitment is going to pay off too, since Denver actually has more sunny days per year than San Diego!

Photos courtesy of

9. Team Germany’s surPLUShome.

This 2009 Solar Decathlon entry from Team Germany takes full advantage of available solar space by using rooftop solar panels as well as 250 thin-film solar panels on the exterior walls. The facade is visually striking as well as functional, providing 11.1kW of clean energy – that’s enough to double the home’s power needs!

Photos courtesy of

10. San Diego, California.

Paying respect to San Diego’s historic textile industry, the architects at Jonathan Segal FAIA updated what was previously the textile manufacturers’ union hall. The old block building was transformed into affordable housing and architectural office space, with each unit generating its own power from rooftop solar arrays.

Photos courtesy of

Last modified: March 20, 2017

2 thoughts on “10 Beautiful Residential Solar Installations

  1. Avatar for says:

    Would you be interested in adding these locations to with a link back to this article?

  2. Avatar for Brenda Cooke Brenda Cooke says:

    Building soon and would lve to incorporate solar, just not sure if I might have to wait until later

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