What’s the Difference Between Solar Cells and Solar Panels?

Difference between solar cell and solar panel
by Gray Watson User:E090 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular since it can be used for alternative conventional electricity supply.

It was first invented by French physicist Antoine Cesar Becquerel in 1839.

His invention was based on the photovoltaic effect, which involves the generation of electricity when a material is exposed to light.

Solar technology is relatively cheaper and safe and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and the dependence of humanity on fossil fuels.

This is why solar technologists are working towards a solar economy so that all of humanity’s energy requirements will be from cheap renewable sunlight.

For homes that need to keep the extra cash, solar energy helps cut down on electricity bills.

Solar energy is the saving grace for areas off the grid or that do not have access to a conventional power supply.

So what is the difference between solar cells and solar panels? We will be discussing in full detail solar cells and solar panels.

They are all about their benefits, modes of operation, and more. Let’s discuss each one elaborately before we talk about their differences.

What Are Solar Cells?

A Solar cell converts solar radiation into electricity. You can also think of it as a device that converts light energy to electrical energy through the photovoltaic effect.

Solar cells are made majorly of silicon which increases efficiency and reduces cost since it also involves using other amorphous forms of silicon in its production.

Solar cells are a form of photoelectrical or photovoltaic cell that can produce electricity irrespective of sunlight or artificial light.

Single junction silicon solar cells can produce a current of 0.5v to 0.6v.

Solar cells do not require chemical reactions of any kind, and they operate solely on the process called the photovoltaic effect.

Solar cells are arranged into groups or arrays which contain thousands of individual cells.

Since one solar cell cannot produce enough electricity needed, you’ll need to join more together in a grid-like pattern and mount them onto a panel framework.

A solar cell generates 2 watts of electrical power and is joined in series to increase voltage and in parallel to increase current.

You should also note that some of the processing and manufacturing methods used in making semiconductor devices are also used in solar cells.

They are used in children’s toys, calculators, lamps, and other consumer products.
Now let’s talk about how a solar cell works.

How Does a Solar Cell Work?

Solar cells have the same work structure for all devices. When light rays fall on solar cells, electrons present in the absorber layer become excited, electrons flow out from the junction between cell layers, and electricity is produced.

There has to be an absorption of light energy first, and then there is a separation of charge carriers of opposite types.

Then a separate extraction of those carriers to an external circuit.

In simplified terms, light enters the device through an optical coating to reduce light reflection.

This coating is usually made of silicon and titanium, and light energy is carried to the energy conversion layers below when this process is finished.

This electricity production process by solar cells is called the photovoltaic effect. Let’s move on to solar panels, what they are, and how they work.

What Are Solar Panels?

A solar panel is an arrangement of solar or photovoltaic cells mounted on a framework for installation.

They make use of sunlight as a source of energy to generate electricity. The solar panel design is usually a few square centimeters.

The solar cells arranged in a grid-like pattern are usually coated with thin glass or transparent plastic, serving as protection for the cells.

They are used in households, remote power systems, and the telecommunications industry.

Most solar panels are made of silicon, and silicon is an abundantly available element in the Earth’s crust.

They are usually tough and do not wear out quickly, and they wear out extremely slowly and can last over a long period, even after long-term use.

Solar panels have proven helpful to people who have installed them in their homes.

The panels generate power during the day, and then they are used at night. Usually helping such homes cut down costs on electricity bills.

It’s also a significant asset to people who live off the grid or for people who live in areas that do not have an electricity supply.

Roofs of households have enough space to accommodate solar panels that will generate enough electricity needed in that household since solar panels made for home use are relatively common.

How Does a Solar Panel Work?

The process starts with the solar cells, the individual components that make up the solar panel. Like solar cells, it also utilizes the photovoltaic effect.

The generation of voltage and electric current when a material is exposed to light is called the photovoltaic effect.

As long as the light falls on the material, voltage and current are produced. Once the sunlight hits the solar cells, electrons become excited and are set in motion.

Then there is an outflow of electrons from the junction between each cell’s layers that create an electric current.

Metal plates capture electrons to produce electricity. On each solar cell side, metal plates collect electrons pushed by the electric field and carriers them to connecting wires.

Then there is a flow of electrons as electricity to the solar inverter, which supplies the electricity.

Solar panels are available, and after the cost of installation, you’re good to go.

Here are a few recommended places to get your solar panels MrSolar.com, Bp Solar, and Sharp.

The list is endless. Just ensure you get your solar panels from an excellent solar company and get reliable and skilled hands to handle the installation.

Now that you know what solar cells and solar panels are and how they operate, let’s take a quick look at the difference between solar cells and solar panels.

Difference Between Solar Cells and Solar Panels

We’ve established that solar cells and solar panels are different. So what makes them different? Let’s take a look at these differences together.

Solar cells are the building blocks of solar panels, and they make up the individual component of a solar panel.

One solar cell cannot generate the required electricity, so a combination of thousands of solar cells joined and mounted onto a panel is needed to generate more electricity.

The solar cell does the work of electricity generation, and the solar panel directs electricity to where it is needed.

It also serves as a protection for the solar cells. That explains the thin glass or transparent plastic coatings you see on the surface of solar panels.

Importance of Both Solar Cells and Solar Panels

Regardless of the difference between solar cells and Solar Panels, they both serve as Solar Technology.

It would be difficult to ignore their impacts and benefits to its users.

Solar technology is providing humanity with the environment-friendly energy generation source it needs.

Using solar technologies reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and has also reduced our dependence on fossil fuels.

If you decide to take a break from it all by going off the grid or taking some time for an extended vacation, a stable electricity supply would be the least of your problems if you have solar panels installed.

Aside from the initial installation cost, you have nothing more to pay and no more substantial electrical bills to worry about.

It’s an excellent way to save extra cash. Solar technologies are a clean, pollution-free renewable energy source that is environment-friendly and doesn’t wear out quickly.

They can last for 15 to 20 years and still be efficient. You should use solar technologies more often for a safe, clean, and pollution-free environment.


I am sure with this article, you have been able to see the difference between solar cells and solar panels. As well as how they work to be able to make a great choice.

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