Whether you’re just beginning your foray into residential solar power research, or you’re on the verge of purchasing a solution (and finally getting that solar energy rebate!), you’re probably confused about how photovoltaic solar panel systems operate and what they can do for your home and energy bill.
Photovoltaic Solar Technology Has Been Around for Almost Two Centuries
Alexandre Becquerel observed the photovoltaic phenomenon back in 1839. But it wasn’t until the mid-50s, when Bell Labs in the United States developed the first effective PV device, that solar energy could be turned into usable electricity. At first, solar technology was used in a few choice scientific applications. In the 1970s – spurred in part by the Gulf oil crisis – some businesses and residences began using solar panels to generate energy. But these apparati were very expensive. The cost and other factors prevented the “solar revolution” from liberating the United States and other countries from dependency on fossil fuels.
March of Solar Progress
Solar technology advances, improvements in material sciences, and a collective frustration with the fossil fuel system sparked big leaps in solar and PV tech. In fact, since 2011, PV systems have on average dropped in price by 33%! Japan, Spain, Germany and the United States have all created big markets for PV technology. Today’s PV systems are used in diverse residential, business, machining and industrial applications. Most solar cells use either thin film semiconductor materials or crystalline silicon. The thinner materials are not as efficient, but they are cheaper and easier to make.
Is a Photovoltaic Solar Panel System Right for You?
Whether you’re desperate to get “off the grid” or you just want to improve the long term value of your Bay Area home, you need to consider a variety of factors before committing to solar, including:
- Do you have a southwest-facing roof that gets clear sunlight during the daytime hours?
- Can your current roofing structure support a PV system? Can it be adapted to support one?
- How long do you plan to stay in your Bay Area home?
- How much energy does your family typically consume?
- Can you find a reputable, experienced Bay Area solar company to help with your solar solution, management, and troubleshooting?