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What is the Difference Between Solar Cell and Solar Panel?

A photovoltaic (PV) cell, also known as a solar cell, is an electronic component that generates electricity when exposed to photons or particles of light.

Solar cell and solar panel seem to be similar terms which is why many people confuse these two and although used interchangeably, they are entirely different. In this article, we will take a closer look at the difference between solar cell and solar panel.

What Is a Solar Cell?

A photovoltaic (PV) cell, also known as a solar cell, is an electronic component that generates electricity when exposed to photons or particles of light.

The photovoltaic cells are produced from polycrystalline and monocrystalline materials. Usually, they consist of several layers with two semiconductors placed at the center. The bottom semiconductor has missing electrons making it the positive layer. The top semiconductor, however, contains extra electrons making it the negative charge.

When the top semiconductor gets hit by sunlight, the loose electrons get discharged to the bottom positive layer. There will be a barrier formed between the negative and positive plates because the semiconductors force the electrons to go around cells. An electric current is, therefore, created as the loose electrons force their way to the bottom semiconductors.

The conductors will then transmit the formed current into the electric load. The process gets repeated when the electrons re-enter the cell. It is a simple process that ensures you get sufficient electricity for your needs.

What Is a Solar Panel?

A solar panel, or photovoltaic (PV) module, is an assembly of photovoltaic cells mounted in a framework for installation. Because Individual solar cells produce limited amounts of energy, solar panels contain multiple solar cells connected in a series of parallel circuits which create a solar module. Solar modules seal the solar cells and wiring in a protective case to guard them against weather conditions. The modules are then wired together into a solar panel.

The solar panel amplifies, protects and directs the energy coming from the individual modules of solar cells. A solar panel can consist of a single module or multiple modules depending on the coverage required. The number of cells in your panel will depend on the specific brand and size you choose, although 60 and 72 cells in a single panel are common.

What Is a Solar System?

Producing electricity for your home or business is a function of solar cells and solar panels working together. The solar cells are actually contained within the solar panels with each part playing a specific role within the larger system which is called solar system or photovoltaic system. The entire solar energy system works quietly and efficiently to produce electricity.

Beginning with individual solar cells arranged to allow for the capture and conversion of sunlight into electricity. Once captured by the solar panels, the electrical output of each solar cell is sent to an inverter that converts the DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) which is the current used in your home or business. Once converted the electricity is sent through a meter into your home or business.

The Difference Between Solar Cell and Solar Panel

As mentioned above, photovoltaic cells and panels are both integral, closely connected parts of your solar PV system. Photovoltaic cells are the main component that make up a solar panel, while solar panels are a vital component that makes up a solar system.

While a single photovoltaic cell is able to convert sunlight into electricity on its own, the panel is essential to combine and direct the energy output of numerous cells to your inverter and home.