In 1447, Leonardo Da Vinci predicted that there would be a solar industrialization—and he wasn’t wrong. More and more homeowners are turning to solar energy to power their homes, heat their water, and keep their energy bills low. There are solar panel options for everyone, whether you live in a tiny house or a large one. As one of the most popular renewable resources, solar energy—and the technology used to harness it—is here to stay, just as Leonardo Da Vinci predicted.
Below are some facts you may not know about solar panels. Use them to win your next trivia night, or start a conversation with your family about installing solar panels for your home.
Basic Solar Panel Facts
- The first solar panels appeared in 1956.
- Two years later, space programs started utilizing solar powered systems. And they’re still in use today!
- The Mojave Desert in California is home to the largest solar power plant in the world—over 1,000 acres of the desert are covered with solar panels, and they produced over 500,000 megawatts per hour in 2015.
- Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells—PV cells for short. Think of them as the building blocks to the solar panels.
- There are three types of solar panels: monocrystalline solar panels are considered slightly more expensive yet more space efficient; polycrystalline solar panels are simpler to create and thus slightly less expensive; and thin-film solar panels are more flexible than their counterparts but do require more space.
- Solar panels come in a wide variety of sizes: small enough to power a calculator or large enough to keep the Mars Observer functioning in space.
- Solar panels store up energy from the sunlight to use at night.
- Solar panels are capable of working on cloudy days. Just be aware that they are not as efficient as when the sun is shining directly on them.
- There are incentives to installing solar panels—federal tax rebates. Your local solar contractor will know what incentives are available in your area.
- Solar panels are expected to last between 20 and 30 years.
- Solar energy greatly reduces your energy bill each month.
- Solar technology is improving rapidly, making solar panels less expensive for homeowners all over the country.
Solar Panel Facts for Your Home
- Solar panels generate electricity for more than just your home. Solar panels can be used for anything from footpath lighting to bird bath fountains.
- An inverter converts energy collected from your solar panels into energy your home uses to run. In other words, it converts DC output into AC current.
- Solar panels are used to heat water for your home as well.
- Solar energy is also good for treating wastewater on a large scale.
Solar Panel Installation & Maintenance Facts
- More than one way to mount solar panels to your roof: fixed—where they stay in one position, or tracking—where they follow the sun’s path across the sky.
- To find the best tilt for your solar panels, use your location’s latitude as a starting point.
- Solar panels are one of the easiest energy systems to maintain: They are easy to clean—you just wipe them with a soft rag and rinse off with a garden hose.
- Solar panels require very little maintenance because there are no moving parts, especially if you use a fixed mount.
If these exciting solar facts have you eager to learn more, read here for more on everything you could possibly want to know about solar, the energy of the future.