The solar panels were part of a broader energy retrofit at the White House, demonstrating it was possible to introduce renewable energy even in historic buildings, officials claimed.
Solar panels were originally installed at the White House under Jimmy Carter, but Ronald Reagan ordered them dismantled in 1986. Obama brought in the latest solar technology as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy.
The panels will repay the costs of installation within eight years, officials said.
Solar power is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America. However, it still accounts for just 1% of overall electricity generation, according to the Energy Information Administration. The White House has been working to challenge companies such as Walmart and Ikea to expand their use of solar power.
The president travelled to California on Friday to visit a Walmart store in Mountain View, where the company will commit to doubling its use of solar power.
Walmart already produces and uses more solar power than any other big-box retailer – more than twice as much as Costco, its nearest competitor. That still amounts to only about 4% of its overall energy use provided by solar power, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth said holding up Walmart as an example was misguided. “Walmart had both under-reported its greenhouse gas emissions and failed to meet its 2012 targets,” the group said.
The measures outlined on Friday add to a suite of programmes that have made it more easier and more affordable for companies and homeowners to install solar panels.
Tax credits have helped offset the costs, and the price of solar panels has fallen by half just since 2010.
On Friday, Obama will announce measures designed to make solar panels affordable even for multi-family houses, and new programmes to train solar installers at community colleges.