The output of a solar panel is usually stated in watts, and the wattage is determined by multiplying the rated voltage by the rated amperage. The formula for wattage is VOLTS times AMPS equals WATTS. So for example, a 12 volt 60 watt solar panel measuring about 20 X 44 inches has a rated voltage of 17.1 and a rated 3.5 amperage.
V x A = W
17.1 volts times 3.5 amps equals 60 watts
     If an average of 6 hours of peak sun per day is available in an area, then the above solar panel can produce an average 360 watt hours of power per day; 60w times 6 hrs. = 360 watt-hours. Since the intensity of sunlight contacting the solar panel varies throughout the day, we use the term "peak sun hours" as a method to smooth out the variations into a daily average. Early morning and late-in-the-day sunlight produces less power than the mid-day sun. Naturally, cloudy days will produce less power than bright sunny days as well. When planning a system your geographical area is rated in average peak sun hours per day based on yearly sun data. Average peak sun hours for various geographical areas is listed in the above section.
    Solar panels can be wired in series or in parallel to increase voltage or amperage respectively, and they can be wired both in series and in parallel to increase both volts and amps. Series wiring refers to connecting the positive terminal of one panel to the negative terminal of another. The resulting outer positive and negative terminals will produce voltage the sum of the two panels, but the amperage stays the same as one panel. So two 12 volt/3.5 amp panels wired in series produces 24 volts at 3.5 amps. Four of these wired in series would produce 48 volts at 3.5 amps. Parallel wiring refers to connecting positive terminals to positive terminals and negative to negative. The result is that voltage stays the same, but amperage becomes the sum of the number of panels. So two 12 volt/3.5 amp panels wired in parallel would produce 12 volts at 7 amps. Four panels would produce 12 volts at 14 amps.

    Series/parallel wiring refers to doing both of the above - increasing volts and amps to achieve the desired voltage as in 24 or 48 volt systems. The following diagram reflects this. In addition, the four panels below can then be wired in parallel to another four and so on to make a larger array.