Most modern solar panels are made up of many silicon based photovoltaic cells (PV cells) which generate direct current (DC) electricity from sunlight. The PV cells are linked together within the solar panel and connected to adjacent panels using cables. Note: It is sunlight or irradiance, not heat, which produces electricity in photovoltaic cells. Solar panels, also known as solar modules, are generally connected together in ‘strings’ to create a what is known as a solar array. The amount of solar energy generated depends on several factors including the orientation and tilt angle of the solar panels, efficiency of the solar panel, plus any losses due to shading, dirt and even ambient temperature.
Solar Panels can generate energy during cloudy and overcast weather, but the amount of energy depends on the ‘thickness’ and height of the clouds, which determines how much light can pass through. The amount of light energy is known as solar irradiation and usually averaged over the whole day using the term Peak Sun Hours (PSH). The PSH or average daily sunlight hours depends mainly on the location and time of year.