A solar panel functions as a device converting sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic (PV) cells, constructed from materials generating energized electrons upon light exposure. These electrons travel through a circuit, creating direct current (DC) electricity, usable to power devices or stored in batteries. Solar panels, also referred to as solar cell panels, solar electric panels, or PV modules, harness this process.
These panels typically form arrays or systems, constituting a photovoltaic system comprising one or more solar panels, along with an inverter converting DC electricity to alternating current (AC). Additional components like controllers, meters, and trackers might also be part of this setup. Such systems serve diverse purposes, supplying electricity for off-grid applications in remote areas or feeding excess electricity into the grid, allowing for credits or payments from utility companies—an arrangement termed a grid-connected photovoltaic system.
Benefits of solar panels include harnessing renewable and clean energy sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and curbing electricity bills. However, drawbacks include reliance on sunlight availability, necessitating periodic cleaning, and substantial initial costs. Widely utilized across residential, commercial, and industrial domains, solar panels are also integral in space and transportation applications.