Solar Facts You Need to Know

June 14, 2023

Solar power is great, but it’s an often misunderstood power source. Whether it’s because solar panel technology evolves at such a fast pace or information is muddled by competitor energy sources, it’s important to know the facts. They can help inform your decision on whether solar panels are right for your home, or simply impress your friends with your extensive solar smarts.

Solar Power Isn’t New

While the technology to harness the power of the sun is constantly evolving and changing, solar power itself isn’t a recent discovery. Solar energy has been used since at least 700 BC, when glass lenses were used to magnify the sun’s rays to start fires. In 1839 the PV (photovoltaic) effect was first discovered by a French scientist named Edmond Becquerel. He noticed electricity generation from an electrolytic cell increased after exposure to light. This was key to harnessing solar energy to create the solar panels we know today.

Speaking of, many attempted to harness the PV effect and patent their own solar panel designs in the century since its discovery. However, it was Russel Ohl who is often seen as the inventor of today’s solar panels in 1941. Working off of his research, the first commercial solar panel was released by Bell Laboratories in 1954.

Massachusetts is One of the Top 5 Best States for Solar

Despite not being especially well-known for sunshine, Massachusetts is ranked #5 of all the 50 states by the likes of Forbes.com in regards to which states are best for solar power. This is due to great solar tax incentives and a high amount of jobs in the solar industry. 

Solar Panels are 99% Cheaper Than In 1977 

People think solar panels are expensive, and while they are an investment, they are actually far more affordable than they were over forty years ago. Back in 1977, it cost $77 per watt for a simple solar cell. Keep in mind a single solar panel is made of dozens of cells. Compare that to today’s price, where the cost of a solar cell now is $0.21 per watt. Meanwhile, an entire assembled module is $0.39 per watt. That’s quite the price drop!

Solar Powers More than Houses

Your home isn’t the only thing that can be powered by solar. In fact, solar panels are everywhere you look! Does your child use a calculator for school? Take a closer look at it; you’ll notice it has a small solar panel. That’s because most calculators today use mini solar panels along with a battery for power storage.

items that have solar panels

Drive down the highway and you may find yourself noticing street lights and road signs with solar panels, too. As these lights are often key to keeping drivers safe at night on long, remote stretches of road, the highway departments of several states have begun turning to solar power. Solar not only saves them money and promotes cleaner living, but also doesn’t need to be hooked up to the grid, which makes installing lights in more remote areas easier.

Finally, look up at the sky. Among the stars, you’ll see satellites and many of them use solar panels. In 1958, the United States introduced the first solar-powered satellite, the Vanguard 1, and it remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit. 

Solar power is not only renewable but fascinating, so be sure to do as much research as you can about it. But the best way to learn is to talk to the experts, so contact SunPower by BlueSel Home Solar today for a consultation.