Solar Panels are parts that can be extended and retracted when attached to a controllable vehicle. They can exist in small or large variants. Before the 1.5 update, solar panels used to generate 1 or 2 units of electricity per second. The feature was removed due to the electricity rework.
Prior to version 1.35, solar panels were indestructible. This may be a design feature as it was not fully implemented at that version yet.
Collision with other parts
Similar to other extendable parts, such as landing legs, solar panels somehow function properly when extended into other parts in the same spacecraft. Solar panels overlapping with each other can create special graphic glitches/effects.
- The large solar panel was released in 1.35 update.
- Back when 1.35 was being developed, Stef Moroyna uploaded a YouTube video called Solarpanelharmonica. The content is a large solar panel continuously extended and retracted in space, alongside with music made with a harmonica. The video is unlisted in YouTube as of now.
- Solar panels work when the energy from the sun is absorbed by the cells inside it. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow. Content copied from https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/how-does-solar-work
- Before version 1.35, they can only be used for decorative purposes, or as a low-fuel method to land on a planet as they were indestructible.
- As of 1.4.06, they are not indestructible, but are still unrealistically durable.
- After version 1.5, they are destructible when closed and extended.
- A solar panel this large in real life could produce about 3 kiloWatts of electricity on a clear sunny day on Earth, enough to fully charge the highest-battery-capacity Tesla Model S in about 33 hours.
- Small parts can be placed under the panel.
- If you had a large solar panel this big on Earth in real life, it would produce 10 KiloWatts during a clear sunny day.
- When blueprint editing the skin of a fuel tank, nose cone or possibly fairing, there is an skin titled
Arraywhich can only be accessed via bp editing. This skin makes the part look like it is covered by solar panels, which can be useful in building, for example, the trunk of Dragon 2.
- The total length of the large solar panel was increased in the 1.5 update.
- The code name of the small variant is called
Solar Array 2, while the larger one is called
Solar Array 3.
- Solar panels can be used as air brakes when descending down the atmosphere.
- In real life, power generated from solar panels vary according to the distance of the spacecraft from the sun. When it's close to the sun, it will generate more power; when it's away from the sun, it will generate less power.
- Solar panels cannot generate enough power when beyond the orbit of Saturn; try to use RTGs to supply power instead, as they will last longer.