What is Solar Power and PV

Solar power is the generation of electricity from sunlight. This can be direct as with photovoltaics (PV), or indirect as with concentrating solar power (CSP), where the sun's energy is focused to boil water which is then used to provide power. Solar power has the potential to provide over 1,000 times total world energy consumption in 2008, though it provided only 0.02% of the total that year. If it continues to double in use every two to three years, or less, it would become the dominant energy source this century.

A solar cell, or photovoltaic cell (PV), is a device that converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. This is the form we are interested in.

he photovoltaic effect refers to photons of light knocking electrons into a higher state of energy to create electricity. The term photovoltaic denotes the unbiased operating mode of a photodiode in which current through the device is entirely due to the transduced light energy. Virtually all photovoltaic devices are some type of photodiode. (PVs) are arrays of cells containing a Solar photovoltaic material that converts solar radiation into direct current electricity.
Cells require protection from the environment and are usually packaged tightly behind a glass sheet. When more power is required than a single cell can deliver, cells are electrically connected together to form photovoltaic modules, or solar panels.

The 3 main modern competitive cell types are Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphus. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Listed below are the basics to help you choose.

Monocrystalline (single flat dark blue colour) has a typical efficency rating of about 15-17%. Costs are usually slghtly higher than other types due to complicated manufacturing techniques. 

Polycrystalline (lighter blue broken glass appearence) is similar to monocrystalline except the slices are made from multiple crystalls grown together. Costs are slightly lower and efficiency is around 12%. These panels suffer from efficency loss at high temperature.

Amorphous (brown gloss as seen on calculators) operates at around 6% but has the advantage of being flexible. Larger panels tend to be more expensive than crystalline versions as they are less popluar.