I just want to tell you up front that I like to keep things simple. I do a fair amount of research regarding solar panels, solar energy, solar inverters, etc... The one thing that drive me crazy is all the sites out there that take these subjects and make them as convoluted (just like this word) as possible!
Do you remember trying to learn about something that just seemed to be way too overwhelming to ever be figured out? For me it was cars. I remember driving around in my first car with a bunch of my buddies, we were getting low on gas (as usual) and decided to pull over and stop across from the neighborhood park. I don't even remember why we decided to open the hood, but there we were looking down at everything that made the car mobile.
Today I can look back at that same picture in my mind and identify 95% of what was under the hood, but back then I couldn't even tell you where the air cleaner was! (it's the first thing you see right on top of the engine)
Over the years I was taught to take any large task, project or piece of equipment and break it down into small more manageable pieces or systems. Don't look at the whole, look at it as several smaller pieces or systems.
That's what I like to do with solar power systems. So let's take one part at a time.
The solar panel is the first and most important part of the solar power system. (without the solar panel it's just a "power system") The solar panel is a system unto itself, so let's look into this system.
The solar panel in simple terms is basically a weatherproof box with a clear top that houses any number of solar cells electrically connected together in a way to produce a usable voltage with a positive and a negative wire coming from the ends of the solar cells out of the box to be connected to the rest of the power system or directly to an appliance.
This is an obviously simplified explanation of a solar panel although accurate. Not extremely helpful if your trying to build your first solar panel. I apologize for that, but this really isn't the best place to post step by step instructions.