A solar panel is usually made of pure silicon and is manufactured and sold as a whole. A solar panel system needs solar panels, an inverter, and a charge controller and battery, or a tie-in into the grid. A solar panel system may also need a roof or ground mount.
Pure silicon is purified from either quartzite gravel or crushed quartz and then doped, usually with boron or phosphorous. The pure silicon makes up cells, which makes up a panel. An anti-reflective coating is placed over the panel and the whole thing is encapsulated in rubber or ethylene vinyl acetate.
A solar power system generally contains a series of solar panels. In a standalone system, or a system that is not connected to the grid, the power generated from solar panels is sent to a charge controller, which regulates the power output to a consistent voltage and current. Once power passes through the charge controller, it goes to a battery, which stores power during the day, and discharges power after the sun sets or when the solar panels are not able to produce enough energy to power the home. If the solar panel system is tied into the grid, a charge controller and battery are optional.
All solar panels need an inverter, which converts the direct current produced by the solar panels to alternating current, which is what homes, appliances and the grid runs on.