Glossary of Solar Terminology

Alternating Current (AC) – electric current which periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude continuously

Ampere (amp) – base unit of electric current

Array – an interconnected system of solar panels

Azimuth – angle that the solar panels are facing and is measured in a clockwise direction from north

Battery – an electrical device that converts the sun’s radiation into electricity

Degradation rate – the rate at which the panel begins to be less effective due to normal wear and tear

Direct Current (DC) – one-directional flow of electric charge

Electric Current – a stream of charged particles, such as electrons, moving through an electrical conductor or space

Grid – a network for delivering electricity from where it is produced to where it is used by consumers

Grid-tied – a semi-autonomous electrical generation or grid energy storage system which links to the mains to feed excess capacity back to the local mains electrical grid

Insolation – the amount of sun that can reach a particular area

Inverter – electrical device that converts DC to AC

Kilowatt hour (kWH) – a unit of energy equal to one kilowatt of power sustained for one hour

Monocrystalline – panels using single crystal of silicon, grown to the proper size for the panel, generally more efficient

Net metering – an electricity billing system allowing users who generate some or all of their own electricity to use that electricity anytime, instead of when it is generated.

Off-grid – a system of generating power that does not rely or connect to local power grids

Ohm – electrical resistance between two points of a conductor when a constant potential difference of one volt, applied to these points, produces in the conductor a current of one ampere

Output – electricity a battery can pump out either into your home or onto the grid

Photovoltaic effect – generation of voltage and electric current in a material upon exposure to light

Photovoltaics – conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials

Polycrystalline – cells using many small crystals of silicon melded together

Rectifier – electrical device that converts AC to DC

Resistance – measure of its opposition to the flow of electric current

Solar Offset – the division of the amount of energy your system produces by the amount that your home used over the same period of time

System Capacity – the amount of electricity that your system can generate

Trackers – Devices that change the orientation of the solar panels in order to maximize sun angle

Watt – a unit of power. It’s the measurement of the amount of work that a circuit can do given the voltage and current that the electricity is flowing with

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