Glossary

  • AC Power

    Electric current in which the direction of flow is reversed at frequent intervals--usually 100 or 120 times per second. AC is the "standard" form of energy that is delivered to homes and businesses.
  • Amp

    A unit of measure that indicates how much electrical current is flowing through your wires.
  • Alternative Energy

    Renewable energy sources, such as wind, flowing water, solar energy and biomass, which create less environmental damage and pollution than fossil fuels.
  • Array

    An interconnected system of PV modules that function as a single electricity producing unit.
  • BIPV (Building integrated photovoltaics)

    PV technologies that have been integrated into the design of the building or structure; typically replacing conventional building materials.
  • Cell

    Individual unit of a photovoltaic panel or module.
  • DC Power

    Electric current in which electrons flow in one direction only, such as current from solar panels. Must be converted to AC current in order to be used by typical household appliances.
  • Electrical Current

    The flow of electrons through a circuit.
  • Electrical Grid

    The integrated infrastructure of power lines, transformers and substations that deliver electricity to homes and businesses.
  • Electrical Panel

    An electrical distribution box that holds electrical circuits. Often referred to as a "breaker box".
  • Grid Connected System

    A solar PV system that is connected in parallel to the utility grid and uses the grid as a backup source of power.
  • Insolation

    Sunlight, direct or diffuse; from 'incident solar radiation.' Not to be confused with 'insulation.' Equal to about 1000 watts per square meter at high noon.
  • Inverter

    A device that converts DC power captured by the PV panels into grid compatible AC power.
  • kW (Kilowatt)

    A standard unit of electrical power equal to 1000 watts.
  • kWh (Kilowatt Hour)

    Energy consumption of 1000 watts over 1 hour. This is the measurement your utility company uses to calculate your electric bill.
  • Net Metering

    An agreement between a solar system owner and the local electric utility that allows the customer to be credited for electricity that they generate on site in excess of their purchased electricity consumption.
  • Ohm

    The unit of resistance to the flow of an electric current.
  • On/Off Grid Systems

    A solar system that is connected to the utility grid is said to be an on-grid or grid-tied system, while a solar system that is not tied to utility lines and relies on battery storage is known as an off-grid system.
  • PV (Photovoltaic)

    Abbreviation for photovoltaic. It pertains to the conversion of sunlight into electricity.
  • PV System

    A complete set of components for converting sunlight into electricity by the photovoltaic process, including the array and balance of system components.
  • PV Module

    Also known as solar panels, these are groups of solar cells arranged into a panel that can be installed onto a flat surface. The panel captures sunlight and converts it into DC power.
  • Roof Mounted System

    A solar system in which the solar panels are attached directly on the roof of a building. This is the most common method for installing solar systems.
  • Solar Energy

    Electromagnetic electricity derived from the sun. This is the energy that solar panels capture and create DC power.
  • Tilt Angle

    The angle at which a PV array is tilted towards to sun.
  • Volt (V)

    The unit of measurement of force required to drive a steady current. One volt is the force required to send one ampere of electrical current through a resistance of one ohm
  • Watt (W)

    The standard unit of measure for power, equal to amps times volts.

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