Solar Panels 102: What Does It Mean?

Photovoltaic. Inverter. Capacity. What you need to understand about solar terminology.

The solar panel is becoming an increasingly popular form of alternative energy around the world, using photovoltaic solar cells to convert radiation into power. While the basic concept may seem easy to understand, there is a lot of solar terminology in the solar panel industry. Here’s the most common solar energy terms to help you decode solar jargon and better understand your options.

Alternating Current, or AC current:  Electric current in which the direction of electron flow is reversed at intervals (frequency). AC electricity is used in most household appliances and the electricity grid.

Direct Current (DC): The type of electricity produced by solar panels and which comes out of batteries. The electricity grid and most household appliances use Alternating Current (AC).

MicroInverter: This is the brain behind your solar panel. An inverter transforms DC electricity into AC electricity, which is what the electricity grid and most household appliances use.

Photovoltaic: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of your solar panel, this technology converts light, especially sunlight, into usable electricity.

Capacity: The measure of a solar power system’s output.

Array: Any number of photovoltaic modules connected together to provide a single electrical output at a specified voltage.

Efficiency: This is the ratio of output energy to input energy and it is usually expressed as a percentage.

Grid: A distribution network, including towers, poles, and wires that a utility uses to deliver electricity.

Net metering: Net metering is a  practice used in conjunction with a solar electric system where your electric meter tracks your net power usage, spinning forward when you use electricity from the utility, and spinning backward when your system is generating more electricity than you need.

Watt: A watt is the unit of electric power, which is the rate of energy production, or the amount of energy consumed per time.

A solar array, panel, or module can be judged on several different factors. The most important step in selecting a solar panel vendor is using the same terminology to better understand your investment.

New York solar service areas: Albany County, Columbia County, Dutchess County, Putnam County, Westchester County, and more!

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