The electricity producing solar panels are often mistaken for solar collectors, which provide hot water by absorbing sunlight. Electricity generation is a little more involved process.
How do solar panels work? A crystalline solar panel consists of serially connected silicon solar cells laminated watertight between a glass top and a plastic back layer. Photons of the sunlight are abrosbed by the cells. Energy of the photons move the electrons, generating direct current. The brighter the sunlight the more electricity is produced.
The current generated by the panel flows through various safety devices and the power inverter. The inverter changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). This step is important, as most home appliances work with alternating current.
With grid-tied systems it is possible to sell the electricity to the service provider. The provider installs a meter measuring the solar panel generated electricity. With this meter the owner and the provider can keep track of the energy generated by the solar panels.