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About Solar Panels: History and Advancements

There are many historical aspects about solar panels that many people are unaware of. While technology continues to advance and the popularity of such green energy increases today, scientists were exploring the power of solar electricity as early as the 1800’s. This form of energy has many uses, as well as benefits to consider. Homeowners in particular are becoming more educated about solar panels, and how to incorporate them into their own households.

In 1838, Edmund Becquerel was at the forefront of experimenting with the idea of utilizing light to create energy, also called the photovoltaic effect. Despite his exploration of this concept there was very little interest in his findings. The use of the sun as a power source continued to be applied and experimented with over time. In 1860, it was used to run a motor and a steam engine. It was not until 1883 that Charles Fritz created the initial solar piece that would use selenium lined with gold. Although it was costly and inefficient, it was a launching pad for further investigation into such technology. In 1921, Albert Einstein was recognized for his study regarding the photovoltaic process by receiving the Nobel Prize.

As scientists learned more about solar panels and their power possibilities, many tried their hand at creating a successful prototype. Russell Ohl was the first to patent the silicon cell equipment, which then gave Americans Gerald Pearson, Darryl Chapin, and Calvin Fuller the groundwork to create the first sunlight converting pane to produce electricity. Despite further funding by their employer, Bell Laboratories, the power source was too expensive to create and utilize. Interest accelerated as the1970’s approached. With environmental concerns a key focus of many, research was encouraged to find a more efficient and affordable means of converting sun’s light. While the power of earlier cells cost upwards of $300 per watt, prices were down to approximately $20 per watt at that time. This decrease in price did not make the equipment quite accessible for the average homeowner at that time yet the military, lighthouses, and off-shore rigs began to install them to aid in their energy needs.

Further advancements, more affordable materials, and increased popularity have lent a hand in decreasing the overall cost of this green energy source. In doing so, home and business owners have sought to learn more about buying solar panels and the benefits they have to offer. They are finding that they are a cost effective way to utilize renewable energy and help the environment. This equipment consists of silicon semiconductors that are mounted in their frame to an unobstructed location on the roof.  They will then trap the incoming sunlight, and convert it into electrical power for use inside and outside the home. They can produce power that will run everything from the refrigerator to the heater in the backyard swimming pool. This equipment is built to withstand the elements and provide energy for many years. By making the initial investment, homeowners can substantially lower their own utility bills. With minimal maintenance required, consumers can see their monthly power bills decrease 70-90%. In many cases, the summertime sunshine can produce electricity above and beyond a single home’s needs. This allows power to be stored for future use or sold back to the utility company. In becoming more educated about solar panels, homeowners can benefit from the hard work of the many determined inventors over the years.

Related Topics:
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  • Solar Panel Installation

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