13 Surprising Facts About Solar Panels You Might Not Know

solar panels in an open field under a cloudy sky

In recent years, an increasing number of homeowners and businesses alike are turning to solar panels to power their homes and properties. However, there is still much that people may not know about solar panels and solar energy.

In this article, we explore the 13 most surprising facts about solar panels that you might not know.

If you want to get down to business and find someone who can help install solar panels on your property quickly, you can find a quote for solar panel installers near you with Compare Companies quick and easy quote finder.

1. Solar panels are not a new idea

Solar panels may seem like modern technology, but the first commercially viable photovoltaic cell was invented in 1954 by Bell Labs. It was made of silicon and had an efficiency of just 6%. However, humans have theoretically been using passive solar energy for thousands of years, with the ancient Greeks and Romans using direct heat radiating from the sun to heat their bathhouses.

2. They are commonly made from silicon

The majority of solar panels used today are made from silicon as the main component. Silicon is ideal for the manufacture of solar panels as it is a widely available material, the second most available on earth in fact as silicon is one of the primary elements in natural beach sand. Currently, around 95% of solar panels used are made from silicon.

3. Solar panels work in all types of weather

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels can actually work in any weather or climate. Although solar panels are most efficient when they are exposed to direct sunlight, they are still able to generate energy on cloudy days or during the winter season. Believe it or not, solar panels can produce up to 25% of their normal output even on cloudy days, so don’t let the weather deter you from considering solar energy for your property.

4. Solar energy is the most abundant on earth

Did you know that just one hour of solar energy that radiates to Earth is enough to power all of our energy requirements for an entire year? As solar energy uses the Sun’s heat and light radiation to generate power, we are all able to rely on this technology to power our homes indefinitely.

5. China is the current world leader in solar energy

Not what you were expecting? In 2021, China installed the most new renewable energy systems in the world, and they are expected to have the world’s largest amount of solar power systems by 2024 in an effort to commit to their carbon neutrality goals by 2060.

6. Solar energy systems can also heat water

As well as powering the electricity in your home, some solar power systems can also heat your water to temperatures reaching 140 degrees Celsius. These solar hot water systems, also known as Solar Thermal, convert light from the Sun into heat through a thermal collector and can account for 60-70% of your domestic hot water usage.

7. Solar panels don’t have to be installed on your roof

Despite what you might think, you don’t need to have solar panels installed on your roof. In fact, many people choose to have freestanding solar panels in their garden or on the side of their property. The best position for your solar panels all depends on which direction your property faces, the sunlight exposure in your area, and whether nearby trees or buildings are casting any shade on your property.

8. They require very little maintenance

Solar panels have no recurring costs once installed, and they require little to no maintenance during their lifetime. You may need to clean your solar panels on occasion to remove any dirt and debris to ensure they can work effectively. No wonder they have become so popular with homeowners!

9. Solar panels can last 25-30 years

One of the main reasons solar panels have become so popular is because they have a long lifespan. The average solar panel carries a standard warranty of at least 25 years, however with proper installation and care solar panels can last up to 30 or 40 years.

10. Solar panels are becoming more efficient every year

With solar technology advancing constantly, it’s no surprise that solar panels are becoming increasingly efficient at converting sunlight into renewable energy. Most solar panels can convert between 15% and 20% of absorbed sunlight into electricity, but this could increase even more in years to come.

11. They can be used in remote locations

Solar panels aren’t just for your home. In fact, they may an excellent source of renewable power for properties in remote locations such as farms, cabins, RVs and even boats! Because solar panels harness the sun’s light and heat to produce electricity, you can be almost anywhere on the planet and still benefit from solar energy.

12. You can recycle solar panels

The benefits of solar panels don’t stop when you choose to remove them from your property. Once they have reached the end of their lifespan, you’re able to recycle your silicon and thin-film based solar panels to remanufacture the glass elements and semiconductors of new solar panels.

13. Solar panels can power cars and planes

The development of solar technology has extended beyond simply providing electricity for your home. The first solar-powered family car was built in 2013, with many leading car manufacturers now developing their own solar cars in recent years. But it’s not just cars that are harnessing the sun’s energy. In 2016, the Solar Impulse II became the first solar-powered aircraft to make a round-trip flight using only solar energy. With the success of this trip, it wouldn’t be surprising to see


Solar panels are a sustainable and cost-effective energy source that offers numerous benefits to homeowners and businesses alike. They can power your home, reduce energy bills, and decrease your carbon footprint. While they require some initial investment, the long-term savings and environmental benefits make them a smart choice for anyone looking to switch to renewable energy.

Remember, if you decide to install solar panels on your home, obtain the necessary permits and prepare your property for installation.

Always get a solar panel quote from at least three MCS-accredited installers to ensure you get a supplier who is fully qualified to do the work and will offer the best price.

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