The History of Solar Panels: A Story of Innovation & Progress

The rapidly growing popularity of solar energy during the last decade has given many Americans the impression solar panels are a decidedly modern invention. The reality is solar panels have a longer and more storied history than most technology we use on a daily basis.

To give you an idea of how far solar power technology has come, we have prepared some interesting historical facts about solar panels that may inspire you to trust solar panel installers to equip your property in Escondido, Oceanside, Encinitas, and other cities across San Diego and South Riverside Counties. Keep reading to learn more.

When was the first solar panel made?

When did solar panels become popular
Incredibly, the origin of solar panels date all the way back to 1839 when Edmond Becquerel, a 19-year-old French physicist, discovered an increase in voltage on exposure to light while experimenting with a cell composed of metal electrodes. He dubbed his discovery the “photovoltaic effect”.

Over 30 years later, another two major advancements were made:

Seven years later, in 1883, the inventor Charles Fritz devised the first ever selenium solar cell. Although the cost-efficiency of these early cells left much to be desired, they still served as the crucial precursor to the advanced solar panel technologies we use today.

When did solar panels become popular?

Despite solar energy’s enormous potential and increased emphasis on environmental friendliness, it took more than a hundred years before solar panels gained mainstream acceptance.

Important events that contributed to this include:

  • In 1905, Albert Einstein brought solar power into the public eye by writing a paper on the photoelectric effect that explained how it can be used to generate energy.
  • In 1954, Bell Labs scientists Gerald Pearson, Daryl Capin, and Calvin Fuller designed a solar cell based on silicon, which is significantly more efficient and readily available than selenium.
  • During the 1950s and the 1960s, famous spacecrafts such as Sputnik-3, Vanguard I and II, and Explorer III all relied on solar panels to generate power.
  • In 1964, NASA’s Nimbus satellite was launched. This was a milestone in solar energy because the satellite was fully powered by its 470-watt solar panel array.
  • In 1979, Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. This was done in response to the oil shortage of that time, and as a statement that Americans don’t have to rely on foreign energy resources.

What’s more, solar panel prices have been steadily going down every year since the 1980s. Combined with the increased emphasis on eco-friendliness and energy efficiency, solar energy has experienced a veritable boom in popularity during the 2010s. Today, in 2021, solar panels are an extremely viable and desirable way of powering your property.

Who are the leading solar panel installers in Escondido & the surrounding citiesWho are the leading solar panel installers in Escondido & the surrounding cities?

There’s no better way to ensure seamless operation and an extended service life for your solar panels than to have them installed and serviced by trained and experienced professionals at Action Solar. We are an award-winning solar and HVAC company with USA-made products, licensed teams and loyal customers contributing to our longevity over the last 46 years.

Reach out to us today and have your solar energy systems installed, maintained, and repaired by the leading team in Escondido, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Menifee, Temecula, and surrounding communities throughout San Diego and South Riverside Counties.