This link to CEA Solar explains lots of stuff you have been questioning and also has pics. Right now the panel is generating even though the temp is 28 degrees and the panels are covered with frozen droplets of last evenings rain. It is reported to be built to live through all types of weather including 1" hail (I don't think I'll test that capability though!). The controller should withstand a dunking (as in falling in a river) if dried out for two days as directed (another test I'll not put it through).
At this latitude the sun circles the horizon rather than bisects the sky, so I'm thinking of making a giant lazy susan so I can change the exposure to face the sun better throughout the 24 hour day...or not, depending on how I feel!
So far I'm really pleased with this thing.
130 watt folding portable RV solar battery charger - Professional Series