The most common type of solar photovoltaic panel (often called a module in the industry) is constructed from thin wafers of crystalline silicon, 150mm by 150mm on each side and between 180 and 360 microns thick (0.18mm to 0.36mm).
Cells are connected electrically from the top (sun facing) side of one cell to the rear side of the next with strips of copper. These are soldered to electrode strips on the top face of the cell and tucked underneath the next cell to be soldered to the rear. Rows of connected cells are then laid out together and connections are made between rows by soldering the same type of copper strip to connect between rows.
Cells are electrically connected in rows
Electrically connected cells are laminated between plastic sheets
The silicon cells are fragile and brittle, so they are built into a sandwich construction behind a glass cover sheet to provide protection from mechanical damage. The cells are encapsulated between films of polymer protecting the cells from the effect of moisture which would corrode the electrical connections.
To complete the PV panel or module, a frame of extruded aluminium is fitted around the edges of the glass sheet to protect and stiffen the panel and provide a means to fix it down.
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