Do Solar Panels Go Out Of Date?

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We often get asked “do solar panels go out of date?” The answer is… not as quickly as you’d think! Solar technology has been consistent for many years, unlike computers and smartphones that are constantly undergoing rapid advancement. Here’s some light reading on the speed of technological advancement of solar panels!

Most People Don’t Worry About How Technology Works

Most people are aware that renewable energy sources are practical and responsible options for the future. In fact, more people and businesses are actively making the switch to renewable energy every day. However, the mass adoption of solar is still in its infancy because many people don’t realize how readily available it is. The early adopters of solar are already enjoying the benefits of renewable energy, but just like with all new products and trends, most people would rather wait for others to adopt and test out the technology before committing to it themselves.
Many home and property owners are unfamiliar in the mechanics of solar energy production. For example, there are many car owners that have little understanding of how their vehicles actually work. Most people just appreciate the function of their vehicles and don’t give it a second thought. It’s the same concept with energy production methods. As long as you can turn on the lights and charge your smartphone, most people don’t care too much about how it happens. Because of this, people prematurely dismiss solar energy production as a viable option due to this indifference.

Technology Changes Rapidly

With the radical advances we’ve seen in technological expansion in recent years it’s easy to think that a newer, better product will be on the shelves tomorrow. According to Moore’s Law, “the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, though the cost of computers is halved”. This is why technology has been advancing so rapidly in recent decades. Buy a new computer or television and it’s outdated within the year. It feels like a new ‘groundbreaking’ cell phone is introduced almost every month. This might lead you to think that it is worth waiting until next month or next year for better solar panels to be available at cheaper prices – however, this is not the case with solar.

Solar Panels Are Not Cell Phones

The study of photovoltaic effects began as early as 1839 with the first solar cell being produced in 1883. The first solar cells developed could only produce an energy conversion rate of between 1% and 2%. Since the 1980s, solar cells have produced anywhere between 20% and 40% efficiency. This variance depends more on the materials used to build the solar cells, and the conditions of the use of the cells, rather than on when the solar cells were manufactured. We have significantly increased the technology’s efficiency since its discovery.
The framework for today’s photovoltaic energy conversion was pioneered more than a century ago, and to this day remains relatively similar. A variety of new advancements in solar cells have been made in the last 30 years and are being made every day. In other words, the most exciting and practical advancements in solar energy is not that they are becoming more efficient, it is that they are more widely available to consumers for more diverse uses.

Will Solar Panels Go Out Of Date?

Consider the crystal ball solar cell developed by the retired British science teacher Fred Nickson. His solar cell was produced more than 60 years ago as a means to show his students that sunlight could be harnessed for energy production. The cell only produces about 1.5 volts but still functions today at the same efficiency as when it was built, the technology remained unchanged. If a solar cell is able to maintain efficiency after half a century, it is safe to say that professionally manufactured solar panels are will not go out of date any time soon. In fact, solar panels are as efficient and available as we can expect them to be for the foreseeable future. 

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