Shining a Light on Solar History: When Were Solar Panels First Invented?


Solar panels have evolved and grown over the centuries, from their conception to today’s revolutionary technology. Let’s delve deeper into history to better understand the origin of solar panels and the technology we use today.

Modern Solar Technology

This was the first time sunlight could be converted into electricity. Many solar experts believe that silicon cells were the first PV technology, and they are still in use today. This technology was the first to power an electric device for several hours, despite only having a 6% conversion efficiency.

Moving Forward

Chapin, Fuller, and Pearson’s 6% efficiency was just the beginning. Hoffman Electric reached 14% efficiency with PV cells in 1960. In the 1970s, interest in solar energy and other renewable energies increased. Researchers and local, state, and federal governments began investing in solar technology research. This led to improvements in photovoltaic technologies and manufacturing processes.

In 1992, the University of South Florida developed a thin-film alternative to traditional crystalline silica cells with efficiencies of 15.89%. It took another 20 years for another breakthrough. 

Solar panels became mainstream in the 21st century as advances in manufacturing, materials, and efficiency pushed them into the mainstream. Solar Frontier achieved 17.8% efficiency in 2012. From there, improvements happened faster in ideal environments, but the technology isn’t widely available.

Energy Future Today

Solar panels are a significant historical event, representing a story of sustainability and innovation. They were invented in response to the need for more efficient and cleaner energy sources, a demand that scientists made in the nineteenth century. Today, solar energy is widely used.

This post was written by Daniel Massaad, owner and expert solar technician at Energy Solutions Direct! ESD is the top choice for solar Tampa FL! Our licensed and certified contractors are masters of their craft; with years of experience servicing the great Tampa Bay area and beyond, the choice is simple. ESD excels at offering you the best in solar value!


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