Solar Power Glossary
AC Power (Alternating Current)
AC Power is the form of electricity used in most businesses and residences and could be called the “standard” of electrical power. The AC current reverses direction frequently.
DC Power (Direct Current)
Solar panels produce DC current. The DC current needs to pass through an inverter, to convert it to AC Power, in order to be usable in a house. The DC current flows only in one direction.
Dual Axis Tracker
A dual axis tracker solar array follows the path of the sun from East to West and North to South as it travels through the sky in a given day.
Electrical panels, also known as a breaker panels or breaker boxes, encase electrical circuit breakers and are the main points at which electricity is distributed throughout a house.
Grid Connected System
A solar system that is connected to the electrical grid and shares electricity back and forth depending on when the solar system is producing energy.
Ground Mounted Systems
A solar system that is built on the ground and is not attached to a building.
The interconnection is the physical connection between the electrical grid and your solar system.
An inverter converts DC power that is captured by your solar system and turns it into usable AC power.
A kilowatt is one thousand watts. Most residential solar systems range from 5-9 kW and commercial/agricultural systems typically are 50kW and larger.
KWh (Kilowatt Hour)
The measurement used by the utility company to determine your electric bill. kWh is the energy consumption that a 1,000 watt item uses, running continuously for 1 hour.
Net metering is the agreement between a utility and a solar-producing consumer that allows the consumer to buy and sell electrical credits as needed. This allows the consumer to fluctuate from using “grid power” to “solar power” depending on the production of their solar system. If the solar system produces more than the house is using, the energy is sold back to the utility by means of an electrical credit.
Photovoltaics (light electricity) is the method of creating electricity from solar radiation through the use of solar panels.
Photovoltaic Solar System
A typical photovoltaic (PV) solar system consists of the following parts: solar panels connected to an inverter which feeds electricity to the house and to the electrical grid.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is an agreement between a homeowner/business and a third party who furnishes, installs, and maintains a solar system. The homeowner/business then buys electricity from the third party for a set rate. This allows the homeowner/business to install and use solar with very little upfront cost, but still benefit by having lower electric bills.
Roof Mounted Solar Array
A roof-mounted solar array is a type of solar array that is directly attached to your roof through the use of special brackets connected to your roof trusses.
Single Axis Tracker
A single axis tracker follows the path of the sun from East to West as it travels through the sky in a given day.
The term used to describe a network of solar panels that are all connected together.
Solar Module (Solar Panel)
A solar panel is made from crystalline silicon and consists of hundreds of solar cells that turn sun radiation into direct current electricity. Solar panels can be connected together to make a “solar array.”
The standard unit of measure for power is a watt. The average solar panels can produce an average of 200-300 watts of power.