Not only do these solar panels help keep your energy bills low, they also help save our earth. While currently only a small percentage of homes in the United States utilize solar power and take advantage of this amazing technology, projections estimate that the solar industry will grow anywhere from 20-40% over the next ten years.

Below are some facts you probably didn’t know:

1. It takes ten minutes for light to reach the earth from the sun and not much longer for this sunlight to be converted into solar power that can power your home, school, or business.

2. Solar energy is an entirely clean source of energy and is entirely renewable. Unlike fossil fuels, which we are consuming at a rate faster than our supply is replenishing, we won’t ever run out of sunshine or solar power.

3. There are a number of ways that sunlight can be converted into solar power. While photovoltaic cells are the most popular, there are other modern technologies that can be used to harness solar energy. Some technologies include solar heating, artificial photosynthesis, solar architecture, and solar thermal electricity.

4. There are two categories of solar power, active and passive. Passive solar power involves reorganizing and reorienting spaces to best use natural sunlight. Active solar power uses the aforementioned modern technologies to harness the sun’s rays to produce electricity.

5. Our earth receives 174 Petawatts of solar radiation and only 70% of it is absorbed by our oceans, clouds, and land. The other 30% is reflected back into space by the upper atmosphere.

6. The water cycle actually insulates us from the sun and is essential for regulating temperatures. The ocean, atmosphere, and land masses absorb radiation from the sun and increase in temperature. Warm air rises creating clouds, also known as condensed water vapor. These clouds then produce rain, completing the water cycle and bringing water back down to Earth.

7. Plants use solar power too! While we use artificial means and modern technology to produce solar energy, plants utilize photosynthesis to convert the sun’s rays into energy. In fact, our solar cells were inspired by this process.

8. Solar panels aren’t exclusive to homes. In fact, businesses and farms are fantastic candidates for solar power. For example, greenhouses use solar energy to convert light into heat. Horticulturalists and agriculturalists use this process, the precise timing of plant cycles, and a variety of plants to cultivate special crops year round and out of season.

9. The United States is the world’s fifth largest producer in solar power. Germany comes in first, followed by Spain, Italy, and then Japan.

10. The space industry was actually one of the earliest adopters of solar energy and most space missions utilize solar energy to power their spaceships. Instead of lugging millions of tons of fuel into space, spaceships can use the abundance of sunlight found in space to keep rockets smaller and more economical.

11. In many states and areas, the costs of solar panels can be offset by rebates and solar energy credits. Some homeowners find up to 90% of costs covered.

12. In sunny areas, the average home gets 5.5 hours of sunlight each day. However, cloudy areas receive approximately 2.5 hours of sunlight a day. Thankfully, this is still enough sunshine to power your home.

13. Leonardo Da Vinci predicted the rise of solar power and solar industrialization almost 600 years ago.