Reading about solar can involve reading through a hefty amount of industry terminology and technical information. We know that not every one knows exactly what an Inverter does, or how Net Metering works, so we have begun compiling an ever-expanding encyclopedia of solar industry vocabulary to help ensure that any materials you come across in your research will be easily understandable!
Data Monitoring: Data monitoring is the real-time digital tracking of your solar system’s production. Through sensors that provide information about your solar system to a web-based monitoring server, your energy generation is easily trackable via the internet, allowing both the client and solar installer to view and ensure consistent production results. To see examples of some of our systems in action, click here.
Grid-Tie: Grid-tie solar systems generate electricity for your home while supplying excess energy back to the utility grid for later accreditation, allowing you to receive power from the grid during the night, as well as any necessary supplemental energy needed in addition to your own generation. These systems generally do not operate during a grid outage.
Inverter: An inverter is the piece of hardware that allows your solar panels to communicate with your electrical box. Solar panels produce DC (Direct Current) energy, which the inverter converts to AC (Alternating Current), allowing it to be utilized by the electrical systems within the home. Some inverters are also built with small battery packs, allowing for a small reservoir of energy storage in the event of a power outage.
ITC: Investment Tax Credits are in place by the federal and state government to assist in the subsidization of solar energy, making the alternative energy source a more affordable option for the consumer. These tax credits are put into place in order to promote growth of forward thinking and necessary technical innovations or resources.
Net Metering: Net metering is a practice allowing for unused solar generated energy to be provided to the grid, then counted as a ‘credited’ amount towards the owner’s usage at a later time when solar generation is not sufficient. For example, peak generation hours for solar tend to align with the time of day that most homeowners are at work. Generation is high, but consumption is low, so the excess energy is credited to the producer and sent back to the utility grid. Later, as the day turns to night and energy usage is at its peak while solar generation has dwindled, production credits are redeemed and the customer is able to consume an amount of grid produced energy equal to that of the generation sent back earlier in the day free of charge.
Off the Grid: Going off the grid refers to being disconnected from the centralized energy utility. Through the usage of battery storage and 100% or higher solar energy generation, it is possible to become independent of the utility grid while fulfilling full, round-the-clock consumption needs.
Photovoltaics (PV): Photovoltaic is the method of converting light to usable DC energy.
Racking: Racking mounts are the metal structures used to safely mount solar modules to a rooftop or surface. Mounted above the surface itself, racking allows for solar modules to be placed in their most effective position, free from limitation of the structure upon which they are being placed.
Solar Array: A solar array is an interconnected series of solar modules, combined to capture and produce a large amount of energy.
Solar Cell: A solar cell is the device that captures sunlight, converting it to DC energy through the photovoltaic process. A common solar module is made up of around 60 solar cells, connected to form a larger whole.
Solar Cell Efficiency: Solar cell efficiency is the ratio of energy being effectively converted from sunlight to usable energy by a solar cell.
Solar Panel vs Solar Module: A solar panel is a row of connected solar modules, frequently arranged into ‘arrays’ on rooftops and structures. It is a common confusion that ‘solar panel’ refers to each individual module.