Thinking about investing in a solar array but concerned about the lifespan of photovoltaic cells? Consider this: the world’s oldest solar panel — a 60 year-old crystal ball-like contraption — still works. The panel was built by a British science teacher who wanted to prove the novel idea that sunlight could be converted into electricity.

Of course, the panel doesn’t produce much electricity–just 1.5 volts of electricity in direct sunlight, or enough to power a digital watch. And while today’s panels only need indirect sunlight to function, the 60 year-old version requires direct sunlight. Still, the selenium-based panel is surprisingly similar to current models.

The half century-old device is the first example of a modern solar panel, but it isn’t the first piece of solar technology. That distinction goes to Charles Fritts, who built the first solar cell in 1883. Want to check out the panel for yourself? It’s currently on display at Antiques for Everyone, a British antique event.

Via UK Daily Mail

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency