Five fun facts about solar!
Fancy super-charging your solar knowledge? If you want a break from dry facts and figures, here are our five favourite facts about solar to brighten up your day!
1. The concept of harnessing energy from the sun is far from new
In the 15th century, Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to predict that we might be able to harvest energy from the sun. The first solar cell was developed in the 19th century, but its solar efficiency was only 1%. The majority of solar panels on domestic systems in the UK nowadays average around 17-19% efficient. (And not to brag, but at Sunsave our solar panel efficiency is 20.7%!)
2. Solar panels can produce power without direct sunlight
The sun is super powerful. Everyone who’s been subject to a “first BBQ of the year sunburn” knows that! But did you know that solar panels don’t need to be in direct sunlight to absorb and convert energy?
Not to get too technical, but we call this "solar irradiance”. Solar irradiance refers to the amount of solar energy that reaches a specific area per unit of time. Solar panels are designed to harness this irradiance and convert it into usable electricity. What makes solar panels truly remarkable is their ability to capture different parts of the sun's light spectrum.
This means that even if the sun isn't shining directly on the panels, they can still generate significant amounts of solar power for your home. As the Earth rotates, sunlight strikes the surface at varying angles, with the most intense radiation occurring when the sun is directly overhead. Although solar panels receive more sunlight and heat at midday, they continue to generate energy throughout the day, even on cloudy days.
So, even on dreary days, solar panels can up your energy production and contribute to a greener future; making those cloudy days that bit brighter.
3. Solar panels can power your home at night!
OK, so obviously the sun isn’t shining at night, so you’re not generating power. But with your solar battery installed, you can harness the sun during the day, store that energy, and use it to power your home at night!
Sunsave solar panel systems use smart batteries, which keep powering your home, even when the sun is down. Without a smart battery, you’d switch back to using power from the Grid at night – which costs you money. With a smart battery installed, you can use all the extra solar energy captured during the day that you didn’t use. So you can sleep easy knowing your home is being powered by the sun, even at night.
4. One hour of sunlight is equivalent to one year’s worth of energy for the planet
This little nugget of solar knowledge might make you consider solar power a little differently...? The thing is, what those of us who aren't solar nerds might not realise is that solar power is all about daylight rather than hours of sunshine or temperature. So even though the UK might seem a bit dull and grey at times, it's not as bleak as you might think, because that sun is still shining through the clouds to power your panels.
And did you know - the amount of sunlight that hits the earth's surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world's energy consumption for a full year! With that in mind, just think how much energy we could produce - and the good we could do for the planet - if more of us installed solar panels…
5. Scientists are exploring the option of building solar power stations in space
In 2020, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a campaign to collect innovative new ideas for technologies to develop the ability to create a space-based power station, and is now looking to fund some of these projects.
This means, unlike solar panels on our home planet, sunlight can be captured 24/7 as they would be continuously exposed to direct sunlight! Imagine that – clean, infinitely available energy... now that's what I call the ultimate energy hack!
But until we figure out how to conquer space, let’s focus on what we can do for our homes. Find out how much you could save with your very own solar system (not that one) by taking our short quiz.