The History of Solar Power

While it might seem like it, solar power isn’t new technology. The use of solar power has a long history, spanning from the 7th Century B.C. to today. The Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all started out harnessing the sun’s heat with glass and mirrors to light fires.

The history of photovoltaic energy (aka. solar cells) started back in 1876.

William Adams discovered that selenium, a chemical element, produced electricity when it was exposed to light. The selenium cells were not efficient, but they proved that light, without heat or moving parts, can be converted into electricity.

In 1953, the first silicon solar cell was discovered.

This cell actually produced enough electricity and was efficient enough to run small electrical devices! The New York Times stated that this discovery was “The beginning of a new era.”

The problem was that nobody in that era could afford solar – the cost of solar was too high.

The first solar cells were made available commercially in 1956, but were way too expensive! A one watt solar cell, was far beyond anyone’s means, and cost up to $300!

In the early 1970’s a way to lower the cost of solar cells was finally discovered.

This research was led by Exxon and helped bring the price down from $100 per watt to around $20 per watt. And the prices continued to drop…

A generation ago, the cost of solar panels was so great that it cost roughly 100 times more to produce one kilowatt of energy from solar power than it does today.

Question: If the cost of solar is dropping, shouldn’t we wait to install?

While equipment costs and soft costs (installation, permitting, operations, maintenance) will continue to fall, favorable rebates and tax incentives are set to expire soon. This means today may be your chance to get the best deal on solar panels for your home.

Other notable solar milestones…

  • 1977 – President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House.
  • 1983 – World PV production reaches 21.3 megawatts.
  • 1994 – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory creates a solar cell that was more than 30% efficient.
  • 1999 – World PV production reaches 1000 megawatts.
  • 2004 – New Jersey adopts a program promoting the use of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC).
  • 2005 – The Energy Policy Act is passed, including the 30% investment tax credit for installing new solar systems.
  • 2016 – The U.S. solar market is on pace to nearly double in size in 2016.

Update: August 29th, 2016

The U.S. installed 1,665 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in Q1 2016 to reach 29.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes.

There are now more than 1 million operating solar PV installations in the U.S. (90% of these projects came on-line during this decade alone). Source: SEIA

Stop searching for solar companies in NJ. Let us do the hard work for you.

We work as your solar and green energy advocate to determine if your home qualifies for solar and find the absolute best program and technology for MAXIMUM savings. To see if your home qualifies for solar, call 856-809-2744.

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How Solar Attic Fans Work (And Why You Need One)

This article will take approximately 4 minutes to read. By the end of this article, you will learn how to improve the comfort of your home, save money, protect your home, reduce your carbon footprint, and make your home safer.

 

All year long in the Delaware Valley, your roof is absorbing heat from the sun. That energy can do a lot more for your home than heat up your shingles — if you know how to use it.

With the right tools, homeowners can create cost savings and a comfier home. One of the best tools to implement is a solar attic fan. Solar attic fans revamp your attic’s temperature control and ventilation processes, saving energy and ultimately costs down the road.

You may think your attic’s insulation is enough to keep the heat out of your home, but the insulation only slows the process down rather than stopping it completely. According to HGTV, your attic’s temperature could rise up to 150°F if not properly ventilated. That heat works its way into your home where it forces the air conditioner to work harder, and as a result, your energy bills will go through the roof (no pun intended). Here’s where the solar attic fan comes into play.

So a solar attic fan helps make a home energy efficient, healthier, and stronger. That sounds great on paper — but how does it actually work?

At Attics And More, we know homeowners want the hard facts. So we’re here to give it to you.

Solar attic fan basics

How attic ventilation works

The Building Science Corporation explains the importance of year-round ventilation. In cool climates, ventilation allows the moisture from the living space to escape through the attic. In warm climates, ventilation is necessary to push out the hot air that becomes trapped in the attic. It is imperative for homeowners in the Delaware Valley to reap the benefits of ventilation throughout the year, especially with the common occurrence of experiencing all four seasons in the course of a week.

Ventilation allows a home to breathe and improves the quality of life of your loved ones inside the home. Along with controlling heating and cooling costs, proper ventilation also ensures homeowners get the maximum amount of life out of their roofing materials.

The importance of attic ventilation has been studied since the 1930s, and research architect William B. Rose quickly discovered that an attic with proper ventilation has little to no ‘trouble’ compared to an attic that is not ventilated.

Why your attic needs ventilation

What happens to an attic that is not properly ventilated? William B. Rose lists potential problems in his research ranging from failure of roofing, buckling of roofing, rotting of wood materials, and moisture accumulation in insulation.

A poorly ventilated attic could also allow for the growth of mildew and rot. Mildew and rot not only impact the air quality in the attic but could also decrease the air quality of the home’s living spaces.

The benefit of having a well-ventilated attic is further proven by research from the University of Florida where it was found that “conditions in a ventilated attic are stable through seasonal changes and promotes cost-effective, energy efficient climate control of unconditioned spaces in hot, humid regions.”

How to properly ventilate your attic

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. A solar attic fan works to lower the temperature of your home, keeps your attic dry and ventilated, and helps to maintain the structure of your roof. The main function of a solar attic fan, explained by Energy Star, is to cool down a hot attic by pushing hot air from the attic outside and drawing in cooler air from outside. By providing steady and constant airflow into the attic, a solar attic fan causes warm and moist air to be vented out.

One of our solar attic fan installations on a home in southern New Jersey.

Why you should choose a solar attic fan

Solar attic fans improve the comfort of your home

By moving hot, stuffy air out of the attic and improving ventilation, solar attic fans work to decrease the attic’s temperature. Regulating the temperature of the attic helps the lower level rooms and occupants in your home feel cooler and more comfortable.

Solar attic fans help you save money

After installation, solar attic fans are free to operate since they use the power of the sun for efficient operation. Homeowners in New Jersey are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit through December 31, 2019, for solar attic fan installation. A solar attic fan also eliminates the need for your air conditioner to overcompensate for heat entering the home — leading to lower energy bills.

Solar attic fans protect your home

Solar attic fans prevent moisture-related damage from damaging the roof. Having a solar attic fan expels moist, warm air from the attic year-round and prevents the growth of mold and mildew, and significantly reduces the chance of rotting roofing materials.

Solar attic fans help you save energy

Solar fans reduce your carbon footprint as well as your consumption of fossil fuel. Energy Star acknowledges that installing an attic fan helps to save energy by preventing your air conditioner from working overtime — as previously mentioned, this saves you money on your energy bills, but it also makes a big difference in your energy use.

Solar attic fans are safe

It is important to note that a conventional electric fan has the potential to pull carbon monoxide and dangerous fumes from the basement or ground-level gas appliances through your home. Solar attic fans move air gently, keep your attic pressure at a safe level, and provide effective airflow without endangering your loved ones.

Feeling intrigued?

We offer a free in-home attic inspection and assessment.

To find out if a solar attic fan is right for your home, contact Michele DuCoin at 856-809-2744 or send an email directly to Michele by clicking here. We like saving homeowners in the Delaware Valley a pretty penny without sales gimmicks or pressure.

 

Written by Samantha Brumbaugh and Michele DuCoin