15 Solar Panel Facts: That Might Surprise You!

15 solar panel facts

The last few years were really progressive in the field of solar energy and it is undeniably the future of the planet.

In fact, with all the growing concerns about sustainable development all across the globe, the solar energy industry is becoming a fast-growing industry in a few years’ time. 

Many people are aware of the technology. Still, many aren’t.

So, here we are with 15 solar panel facts that might surprize you.

1. How solar panels came into existence?

During 700 BC, humans used sunlight to light fires. They use magnifying glass materials to light fires.

And, today, we have grown up to the era when the world had solar-powered buildings and vehicles. 

In the year 1839, a French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect during one of his experiments.

Then, in 1905, Albert Einstein published his paper on the Photoelectric effect, which brought widespread attention to solar power technology.

In 1953, Dr. Dayn Trivich of Waye University first made the theoretical calcu­lations on the efficiencies of different materials.

Further, in the next year, that is, in 1954, Photovoltaic technology was born in the United States at Bell Labs. This was the first solar cell capable of converting sunlight into electricity.

Above all, the advancements in the technology kept going on.

Know Solar panel journey from 700 BC-Today

2. What are solar panels made of?

Semiconductor materials like silicon is used in the manufacturing of solar panels. 

The silicon is in the form of solid rocks; then it is melted at high temperature to form ingots in the shape of a cylinder.

Then, the silicon ingot is sliced into thin disks, also called wafers.

After that, a wafer is converted into a solar cell which is capable of converting solar power into electricity.

Below is the structural representation of a solar cell:

Solar Panel Structure

The solar cells are assembled together using metal connectors to link the cells. 

Solar panels are made of solar cells integrated together in a matrix-like structure.

Read the complete manufacturing process of solar panels and know their structural composition & how they are made.

3. The US is 2 million solar strong!

Do you know?

Over 2 million solar panel systems have been installed in the U. S. alone and it can now power 11.3 million homes.

Just California has enough solar energy systems installed to power 3.7 million homes.

The rapid growth in the solar industry has completely reshaped energy conservation in this country.

This $17 billion industry is on track to double in 5 years and believes that it will be the decade that solar becomes the dominant new form of energy generation.

4. Solar panels can generate power without direct sunlight.

Yes! You read it right…

You might have heard about the common misconception that solar panels work best during hot summer days. 

But, the truth is that extreme heat can reduce the efficiency of PV panels up to 30%.

The perfect temperature for PV panels ranges from 15°C to 35°C.

You can read our previous post for a detailed review of how weather conditions affect solar panels.

5. You can earn by Going Solar.

We all know that adopting clean energy is one of the solutions for a better future.

And here comes the Net Metering!

Net Metering is providing a budget-friendly way to switch to renewable energy resources.

It is a kind of billing mechanism that allows you to transfer your excess electricity to the grid. 

However, the solar installation either on your rooftop or land produces more electricity at day time, sometimes it is even greater than your daily usage.

Furthermore, in the case of off-grid systems, this excess of energy is used to charge batteries. 

Still, if any energy is left, then it gets wasted.

But, when your house is net-metered, then the extra electricity will be transferred to the grid.

Thus, a net meter is used to measure the total usage and you will be billed only for the net electricity usage.

Net usage = Total electricity generated  − Total electricity supplied  

Net-Meter

A net meter is a bi-directional meter, having one way to measure power purchased and the other way to measure power returned to the grid.

Read our previous blog on Net-Metering and learn how you can earn from it.

6. Solar panels can be used in airplanes and satellites

The use of solar panels started in spacecraft started in the late 1950s and 1960s.

In the year 1958, The Vanguard I space satellite used a small (less than one watt) array to power its radios.

Later in the same year, Explorer III, Vanguard II, and Sputnik-3 were launched with the technology of photovoltaic powered systems.

Below is an image from NASA of Vanguard I Satellite:

Historical solar panel factss

Later, in 1964, NASA launched the Nimbus satellite, which ran entirely on its photovoltaic solar panel array of 470-watt.

In 1973, Skylab, the first solar-powered U.S space station was launched.

Also, NASA has developed four solar-powered aircraft:  the Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus, Centurion, and lastly, the Helios.

Solar panels are also used in airplanes. Solar-powered aircraft capable of continuous flight was a dream some years ago. But, this great challenge has become feasible today. 

A few manned and unmanned solar-powered aircraft have been developed and flown in the last 30 years.

7. Community solar panel systems

Have you heard about it before?

According to EnergySage,

A community solar project is a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one property.

Moreover, the primary purpose of community solar is to allow members of a community the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power even if they cannot or prefer not to install solar panels on their property. 

Above all, community solar is making it possible for people to invest in solar together.

Below is an illustration of community solar by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:

Shared-solar

8. Latest Solar panel Technologies

The three main types of solar panels are:

  1. Monocrystalline solar panels
  2. Polycrystalline solar panels &
  3. Thin-film solar panels

There are also some latest types of solar panel technology available.

Types of Solar Panels

We have already discussed the types of solar panel technologies in our previous post. So, let’s summarize it briefly here:

9. How efficient are your solar panels?

Monocrystalline Solar Panels are considered as the most efficient solar panels having 18-20% efficiency, that is, these solar panels are able to convert 20% of the total sunlight falling on their surface into electricity.

Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient in comparison to monocrystalline solar panels. These can absorb 15% of the sunlight available.

Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient ones as they are made-of substrate material like Gallium Arsenide, Amorphous Silicon, etc.

Furthermore, Bifacial solar panels have efficiency up to 30% more than mono facial solar panels but these solar panels are expensive as compared to them.

There are many other latest solar panel technologies in the market that claim to be more efficient than monocrystalline solar panels.

10. 115625 square miles of solar panels to power the world

A solar power plant that covers 115,625 square miles.

Moreover, it would need 51.4 billion 350W solar panels to power the world.

However, these numbers are so big. We can consider 115625 square miles equal to 3.27% of the US covered with solar power plants.

11. How long does a solar panel last?

Meanwhile, solar panels can last anywhere between 25 to 30 years. After this time duration, the energy production of the solar panel will decrease. 

Also, over a time period, solar panels lose their ability to absorb sunlight due to natural chemical reduction in the panel this is known as solar panel degradation.

12. Most parts of a solar module can be recycled

Generally, solar panels are recycled when they are reached at the end of their lifetime.

As solar panels are primarily made-of of glass, plastic, and aluminum, and all these are recyclable.

However, the recycling process needs advanced machinery. 

A few organizations which are working on solar panel recycling are Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Recycle PV, Veolia, etc.

13. Who is the world leader in solar power?

Germany has successfully met over 50% of the nation’s daily energy demand from solar power.  

Further, at the end of May 2019, the cumulative solar power capacity of Germany reached 47.72 GW.

The top 5 countries in the Global Solar Power Generation are:

  1. Germany
  2. China
  3. Japan
  4. Italy
  5. U.S

14. Surprising Solar Applications

We all know about the most common use of solar panels for generating electricity.

However, there are many applications of solar panels that you might not know before. Some solar-powered devices are:

15. Limitations of solar panels 

Usually, we all have heard about the benefits of solar power, but we didn’t pay much attention to the challenges of adopting it.

Knowing your challenges from the start makes your journey easier.

Below are some disadvantages of solar panels:

You can read in detail about the disadvantages of solar panels in our previous post.

Conclusion

Solar energy is one of the trending technologies in the world. Also, the solar photovoltaic market is estimated at the US $60 billion in the year 2020.

The rapid growth in the solar industry has completely reshaped energy conservation in the countries.

In this post, I have discussed 15 solar panel facts that you might not know before.

Hope you like it!

You can follow us on Instagram @solar.funda and keep yourself updated about the latest solar news and technologies.

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Keerti Bhatnagar

Keerti is a tech geek with a vision to save the environment. She is from Uttarakhand, India. And, She is currently pursuing her MCA from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.

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23 Responses

  1. Renee says:

    I found this so interesting. Especially the part about how long solar panels last. I had no idea

  2. absolutely a suprise with your 15 facts shared here, learnt a lot more about solar panel 😀 Thanks for this informative sharing. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  3. hi
    love the facts that you have shared. It is interesting to know that one can earn with solar as well as the fact that direct sunlight is not needed. I am also happy to realise that most components can be recycled. Indeed useful

    • Keerti Bhatnagar says:

      Yeah! By adopting solar technology, you not only can save your money on electricity bills, but can also earn..
      To know more about net metering you can read our blog on the same.

  4. There’s a lot of things on those solar panels that I did not know 🙂

  5. Kenneth says:

    solar power can be more useful if your place get enough sunlight the whole day…if not it cant be more productive…sunlight need to fully charge the battery so it will be more efficient

    • Keerti Bhatnagar says:

      It is true that solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity.
      But, solar panels don’t need direct sunlight.
      It works good at just 15°C.
      The perfect temperature ranges from 15-35°C.

  6. Marjie Mare says:

    We are really thinking about getting solar panels. Thanks for sharing this informative post.

    • Keerti Bhatnagar says:

      Oh that’s really nice Marjie!
      You should do prior analysis of how many solar panels you will need..

      You can also checkout our blog for the same and calculate the exact number of solar panels.

  7. Rochelle says:

    I never jnew reading about solar panel history could be so interesting, lol. I remee=mber those cave men cartoon and movies where they used rocks and glasses to make fire, now it all makes sense

    • Keerti Bhatnagar says:

      Yeah! It starts from 700 BC and now we have come so far.
      But still in an embryonic state. Many more to do yet!

  8. Lyosha says:

    wow! that is super interesting. I think solar panels are a great investment

  9. Interesting post, I didn’t realise there was a lifespan to solar panels. I should have realised but now I know how long they should last.

  10. Barbie says:

    Speaking of Solar energy trending technologies, there is a new neighborhood near me being built and all of the homes will have solar energy, it is pretty cool. We did a walk through one of the homes!

  11. Ting says:

    And I thought solar panel is a lasting solution for power efficiency. thanks for the post

  12. Monidipa says:

    I really had no idea about it. They are really good.

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