Solar Modules 101

What is a Solar Photovoltaic Module?
Solar photovoltaic modules, often referred to as solar panels, convert light energy into a direct electrical current (DC). As solid-state devices, solar modules have no moving parts and are extremely reliable and durable compared to any other generator technology. While solar modules have become somewhat commoditized in recent years, there are important differences in form, footprint, quality, and performance that can impact both installation time and long-term system performance. This section of our catalog presents a selection of high-quality crystalline modules with a variety of features and price-points to suit virtually any project.

Output Characteristics
The output power, voltage, and current profile of the solar module will dictate the number of modules needed and what inverters, optimizers, or charge controllers can be used. Some small off-grid applications may require 12 VDC (nominal) modules to directly charge batteries or operate DC loads. Larger modules with output voltages ranging from 24 to 50 VDC are now standard in grid-tie or grid-interactive applications where a high DC voltage is required to operate the inverter.

Mechanical Characteristics
Basic mechanical characteristics, such as dimensions, frame profile, static load rating, as well as grounding and mounting locations, will need to be understood when designing your system. Frame and back sheet color may also come into play for residential customers, particularly when specified by a homeowners’ association. Also be sure you know what type of connector the module comes with, since this can impact the selection of optimizers, microinverters, and cabling.

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