Solar Cells, Modules, and Arrays

What is the difference between a Solar Cell, a Solar Module, and a Solar Array?

solar cell module array


A solar cell is the basic building block of a solar module. Each cell produces approximately 1/2 a volt and a solar module can have any number of solar cells. A solar module designed for charging a 12 volt battery will typically have 36 solar cells while the typical residential grid connected system uses solar modules with 60 solar cells. For large commercial and utility scale solar systems, solar modules will have typically 72 solar cells.  By increasing the number of solar cells the module voltage and wattage increases.

Most solar cells manufactured today are approximately 6″ by 6″. Small custom solar modules will contain solar cells that are cut to smaller sizes. For example if a full size solar cell produces 10 amps and it is cut ion half it will now only produce 5 amps. As the solar cell is cut in half, its typical voltage remains unchanged at 1/2 a volt.