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  • A Historical Evolution of Solar Electricity for Homes

    Posted by Todd Filbrun on Tue, Jan 01, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

    Solar electricity for homes is becoming very popular, especially as the price of solar panels is decreasing. However, residential solar has a long history that is sometimes forgotten, or not even known. Passive solar has been used for centuries all across the world in Greece, Rome, China, and even by the Anasazi tribe in North America to warm inside spaces, light fires, and cook. Ancient civilizations understood the power of the sun, and modern technology started to harness that power in the 19th century.


    Some of the key points in the evolution of solar electricity for homes include:

    • Discovery of the photovoltaic effect - In 1839 Edmond Becquerel, a scientist in France, created electricity when two metal electrodes in an electrolytic solution were exposed to light.
    • Use of selenium as a photoconductor - In 1873 Willoughby Smith realized that selenium has photoconductive characteristics. This material is used in solar cells to this day.
    • Discovery of the photoelectric effect - In 1887 Heinrich Hertz determines that ultraviolet light can cause electrons to be emitted from metal electrodes, discovering the photoelectric effect.
    • The photoelectric effect is explained - Although scientists could observe the photoelectric effect, they were not able to explain it until Albert Einstein published a paper in 1905 describing discrete particles of light, which are now called photons. He later won a Nobel prize in 1920 for this discovery.
    • The first photovoltaic cell is invented - Additional scientific developments throughout the 1900s resulted in the 1954 invention of the first silicon photovoltaic cell at Bell Labs. This first PV cell had an efficiency of only 4%, but it was capable of converting solar energy to electricity.
    • Solar cells are critical in the space race - Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, solar technology is developed for commercial applications and space exploration.
    • Solar cells become less expensive - Because not everybody has NASA's budget, Exxon Corporation invested resources into developing a more cost-effective solution, significantly reducing the cost from $100/Watt to $20/Watt, opening the door to solar electricity for homes.
    • The first solar house is built - In 1973 the University of Delaware built a solar-powered residence that connected to the local utility grid. Later, the first off-grid home was built in 1983 as efficiency and capacity levels were improved.
    • Solar power becomes affordable - Technological developments have significantly decreased the cost of solar panels while simultaneously increasing their efficiency. This means that solar electricity for homes is now an attainable goal for many homeowners. In fact, solar panels have become so affordable that you can see a return on your investment and even make money with solar.

    Ancient wisdom has shown that harnessing the free energy of the sun is an effective way to generate heat and electricity. Modern wisdom demonstrates that solar electricity for homes is a smart investment for homeowners who want to reduce utility costs and increase the value of their homes. If you are interested in learning more about solar power for your home, contact Kurios Energy to get your free solar evaluation today.

    How has solar electricity for homes had an impact in your life?

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