PV panels convert sunlight directly into direct current electricity. The energy produced can be used to charge storage batteries or converted to standard household electricity. Remote locations and stand by power systems would typically use batteries to store power produced by solar panels. Battery storage systems can also be tied into the utility system to provide back up power. Photovoltaic panels can be directly connected to the public utilities through the use of synchronous inverters. This type of inverter converts the direct current produced by the PVs into alternating current, providing usable power for all standard appliances. Direct utility intertie systems are the simplest and most efficient, however, they can not provide power when the utiltiy is down.
Solar Panels come in three basic types, single crystal, multi or polycrystal and amorphous thin film. Single and polycrystal panels can provide the most output from the smallest area, and come with 20 to 25 years warranties. Thin film panels require more area for the same amount of power than single crystal panels.

Solar Panels are very reliable and durable. They have no moving parts and are essentially maintenance free. Periodic washing in some areas is recommended.

Solar Panels can be roof mounted or pole mounted, and can be made to blend in quite asthetically with the surroundings.
Mounting Solar panels on trackers can increase output from 20 to 40%. The output will depend on location and type of tracker. Passive Trackers track the sun using a refrigerant charged frame work. There are no motor drives, thus fewer mechanical parts. Active Trackers use a motor drive that runs off of the solar panels. They come in both single axis and dual axis tracking.

Please note that for any utility intertie system you must have permission from, and a contract with, your local utility. Rules and regulations vary dramatically. There is a federal law that requires all utilities to buy your excess power generated from renewable energy. It does not dictate the price or terms of sale. Often utilities will pay "avoided cost" which is either their cost to produce power or the price they pay their supplier for electricity. In Wisconsin it is required by law that the public utilities pay you the same price that you pay them for power from renewable energy systems up to 20 KW. Your meter is usually allowed to run both forwards and backwards. This is called net billing and is an ideal situation. Contact your local utility for more information on thier specific requirement.
Photovoltaic Systems - Examples

Utility Intertie