Adrian Cruce

Study the Sun: Seven Interesting Solar Panel Facts

solar panels

The sun revolves around the United States. American shipments of solar panel systems equaled 21.8 million peak kilowatts in 2020. That’s up 33% from 2019. 

It’s a fact that solar panels are becoming more popular in America. But that’s one of many solar panel facts you should know. 

Can solar panels produce power when the sun is not out? What can you use solar panels for? Where did solar panels come from? 

Answer these questions and you can take advantage of this rising energy source. Here are seven facts you should know about solar panels.

1. Solar Panels Are Also Moon Panels

You may assume that when the sun is set, you should set your panels off. But you don’t have to. 

The moon faces toward the sun. When you look at the moon, you are looking at the part of the moon that reflects sunlight. Though this light seems murky, your panels can convert this reflected sunlight into electricity. 

You can help your panels by trimming nearby tree branches. The more exposure your panels have to the moon, the more electricity they can produce. 

Your panels can also convert a small amount of starlight into electricity. You may not be able to run all the appliances in your house off of moonlight and starlight. But your panels may send some excess electricity out across the grid.

2. Solar Panels Work When It’s Cloudy

Clouds are white and gray because they reflect sunlight. Solar rays can also pass through the clouds and reach the ground, especially if there are gaps between the clouds.

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As with moonlight, your solar panels can convert these reflections and rays into electricity. They will not produce a large amount of power. But you may have enough power to charge your phone or maintain your home’s security system.

You may want to have two sets of panels facing in opposite directions. When it is cloudy in one part of the sky, you will have some panels working at maximum capacity. 

3. You Can Set Your Panels and Forget Them

Solar panels contain many pieces of glass. This leads people to believe that they are fragile. 

In reality, manufacturers design their solar energy panels to withstand all elements. They can take direct hits from tree branches and fence posts without breaking. They can continue to produce electricity during windy and rainy days. 

Snow can build up on panels and prevent them from receiving sunlight. But panels can be very hot, so the snow will melt quickly. 

4. You Can Use Solar Panels for Your Car

When you buy panels, you are probably thinking about a solar home. You can use the electricity from your panels inside your house in a variety of ways. 

Yet you should be thinking about a solar car as well. You can buy an electric vehicle and connect it to your solar panels. You just need to plug your car in while it is off to charge its batteries. 

If you only use your car on occasion, you may be able to avoid using gas entirely. Even if you go on long road trips, you will use less gas and save more money. 

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Cars do not have solar panels on them yet. They need a lot of fuel in order to run, so small panels will not provide power. But car manufacturers like Hyundai are experimenting with models that have panels.

5. Even Planes Have Solar Panels

Plane manufacturers are also experimenting with solar panels. The Solar Impulse is a single-seated plane that has solar cells on its wings.

While it is flying, the panels produce electricity. The system is so efficient that the plane can remain in the air for more than 30 hours without landing. 

The plane moves at the speed of a passenger car. It can only a few tons of weight, as the solar cells are extremely heavy.

Yet the Solar Impulse flew around the world, and companies were impressed by its design. They may create new designs that would accommodate more passengers.

6. A Teenager Made the First Panels

Edmond Becquerel was born in Paris in 1820. His father ran the French Museum of Natural History, so he developed a love of science at an early age.

When he was a teenager, Becquerel would go to his father’s laboratory to experiment. When he was 19, he took platinum electrodes and covered them with silver. He illuminated the electrodes and noticed that electricity began to emanate from them. 

Becquerel’s silver-coated electrodes were the first PV cells. The photovoltaic effect, which describes how metal generates electric current through light exposure, is sometimes called “the Becquerel effect.”

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7. Solar Panels Pay For Themselves

Installing solar panels does not require a lot of money. Some solar panel installation companies charge less than $15,000 for the installation and the panels themselves. You can view this pricing page for a more exact installation figure.

Once the panels are installed, they can start making electricity. The more electricity you draw from your solar system, the less power you will purchase from the grid. You can also sell the power you don’t use back to the grid and receive cash credits. 

If you don’t use a high amount of power, you may be able to eliminate your electricity bills entirely. Within a decade, you will have saved more money than you spent. After that point, you will start earning money from the power you produce.

The Most Important Solar Panel Facts

Solar panel facts may surprise you. Despite their name, solar panels can produce electricity during the nighttime and on cloudy days. 

You need to spend little time on maintenance. You can use electricity for your house and your electric car. Planes can even use solar electricity. 

Panels date back to the 19th century, with Edmond Becquerel’s experiments. Panels used to be expensive, but they now cost less than $20,000. You can make your money back within years. 

Once you know the essentials, you can go in-depth on solar panels. Read more solar energy guides by following our coverage.