A Brief History of Solar Panels

The residential solar system is definitely not what it used to be. In addition to the technical advancements and increased efficiencies of solar panels, systems are more affordable and more accessible than ever before.


We know converting from utility to solar has not always been a viable opportunity for the average home owner – in the not-so-distant past solar energy was only available to those who could afford tremendous and precarious investments.


But, as they say, the past is behind us and the future – fortunately – is reliable, affordable residential solar. And it has been a long time coming.

Scroll to review a (very) brief history of solar in the United States and to appreciate how far we’ve come since the discovery of the solar cell.


1953: The Discovery of the Solar Cell

The Discovery of the Solar Cell - History of Solar

The discovery of photovoltaic energy dates back to 1876. William Grylls and his student, Richard Day, discovered a powerful flow of energy generated by the combination of selenium and light. The selenium cell, however, was not efficient enough to act as a long-term energy solution.


Seventy-seven years later, in 1953, a group of scientists (Calvin Fuller, Daryl Chapin and Gerald Pearson) discovered the silicon solar cell and was able to produce enough energy to power small electrical devices.

1960s: Toys, Radios and Spacecraft

Toys, Radios, and Spacecraft - History of Solar

By 1956, only three years after the discovery of the silicon cell, toy and radio manufacturers were utilizing solar energy to power their products. Beyond small electrical devices, solar energy was being considered and implemented by NASA and the Soviet Union’s space programs.


During this time, however, a 1-watt solar cell cost over $300, and was perceived as an otherwise unsustainable alternative to commercial/residential electricity.

1970s: Mass Production

Mass Production - History of Solar

The 1970s ushered in a new era of solar panel production – Exxon discovered alternative production practices that drastically decreased the price of solar cells to about $20/watt.


Solar quickly transition to a feasible energy source for all sorts of industries: railroad crossings, microwave towers and – in some cases – homes.


In the decades that followed residential solar energy became a focal point of the industry and time proved an incredibly valuable resource. The maturation of the residential solar system over the next 40 years delivered the most reliable and affordable system since the inception of photovoltaics.


Since then, and especially since 2010, residential solar has gained incredible traction. The popularity of this alternative, renewable energy source has only contributed to its availability.


Production and installation mechanics continue to evolve to deliver a product that is more and more accessible by the consumers who benefit from it most: homeowners.

Get Solar for Your Home


We’ve said it before and we are sure to say it again: the time to go solar is now.


Never before in the history of photovoltaics have entire solar systems been readily available to the average homeowner. It is simply unprecedented, and we want you to take advantage of the opportunity.


Contact us today, and receive a free quote tailored to your property and energy consumption!

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