In the near future, almost every home in America will have a panel on the roof that generates electricity and provides heating during the winter months. While this may seem like a futuristic idea, it’s been around for quite some time. In fact, the U.S. government funded research into installing solar panels on the roofs of homes more than 50 years ago. In those days, the main source of energy was often expensive and difficult to come by, which is why so many people didn’t have access to it. However, with the development of modern-day solar panel technology and the falling costs of solar energy, more and more people are enjoying the benefits of this free and sustainable energy source.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
To understand how solar energy works, it’s important to understand the basics of solar power generation. When sunlight hits the earth, it is converted into usable energy through a process called photosynthesis. When sunlight shines on the surface of a solar panel, it is absorbed and converted directly into electrical energy without any other forms of energy loss.
This absorbed light triggers chemical reactions in the cells of the solar panel, which in turn generate electricity. Since there are no external fuels or any form of combustion involved in the process, solar energy is considered to be 100% green and sustainable.
The Residential Solar Market
Just like any other industry, the residential solar market is characterized by exponential growth. According to the Solar Industry Association (SIA), the residential solar market in the U.S. increased by 63% between 2014 and 2018. In 2018, 1.3 million residential solar systems were installed across the U.S., and the industry is expected to grow to 4.3 million systems by next year.
This rapid growth is largely a result of solar energy’s rising popularity coupled with the declining cost of solar technology and panels. The price of solar energy has decreased by 77% over the past five years alone and is projected to decline by an additional 20% over the next five years.
Why Is Solar Energy Popular?
There are several reasons why solar energy is seeing such rapid growth across the country. First, the cost of solar energy has decreased significantly in the past several years. In 2014, the cost of solar energy was over $20/watt, and that price increased to over $30/watt in 2016. By 2018, that number had declined to $16/watt, an incredible reduction in just five years.
Second, the development of new solar energy technologies has also played a big role in the recent popularity of solar energy. The SIA reports that there has been a 38% increase in the use of solar energy between 2016 and 2018 alone, which is mainly due to the fact that these systems are more efficient and reliable than ever before. In fact, over 90% of solar panels currently installed in the U.S. are categorized as being “crystalline”, which is the most efficient type of solar panel technology.
Where Do Solar Panels Go?
Solar panels don’t need to be installed on the roof of a home to be effective, so this opens up a large amount of potential opportunity in terms of where and how these systems can be used. In fact, there are already a number of solar-powered devices available for purchase from a variety of online stores, allowing homeowners to generate their own energy regardless of whether they have a plentiful amount of sunny weather or not.
For example, U.S. residential customers can purchase a Vivint Solar Roof Tracker, which is a complete solar-powered system that automatically adjusts the output of a solar panel based on the amount of sunlight that it receives. This product is a commercial version of the solar ovens developed in the 1960s to provide daytime heating for homes and businesses. These ovens were first manufactured by the Hamilton Beach company and are still among the best known commercial products in the country. Vivint Solar Roof Trackers provide various levels of control that allow customers to easily operate the device regardless of whether they’re technical experts or simply want the convenience of automatic energy production.
The Future Of Solar Energy
The development of more efficient solar energy technologies is important, but so is being able to find long-term solutions to the problems that countries, cities, and homes face as a result of energy dependence. As the cost of solar energy continues to decline, we will begin to see an increase in the number of homes that are powered by the sun, helping to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improving air quality across the country. In addition, a significant number of jobs are also expected to become available in the coming years as a result of the growing residential solar market.