What is Solar Energy? A Glossary of Common Solar Terms
Solar energy doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. If you’ve been looking at solar systems for your home, business or school, you’ve probably heard some unfamiliar industry jargon. We’re here to simplify your solar experience with this simple explanation of the key terms.
MySolar is always available to help with any questions you may have and help you learn more about this source of clean renewable power.
Here are brief definitions for some key terms related to solar power:
- Solar Panel: A device that converts sunlight into electricity.
- Photovoltaic (PV) Cell: A component of a solar panel that converts sunlight into electricity.
- Inverter: A device that converts the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in homes and businesses.
- Solar Array: A group of interconnected solar panels.
- Solar Farm: A large-scale solar power generation facility, typically covering many acres of land.
- Solar Energy System: A complete setup that includes solar panels, an inverter, and other components necessary to generate electricity from sunlight.
- Solar Irradiance: The amount of sunlight that reaches a particular location on Earth.
- Peak Sun Hours: The amount of time each day during which the sun is at its maximum intensity, typically between 10am and 2pm.
- Solar Thermal Energy: Energy from sunlight that is converted into heat, typically used for heating water or air.
- Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): A technology that uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto a small area to generate high-temperature heat, which is then used to generate electricity.
- Net Metering: A billing arrangement where excess electricity generated by a solar energy system is sent back to the electrical grid, and the customer is credited for the electricity generated.
- Solar Energy Storage: A system that stores excess solar energy for later use, typically in batteries.
- Solar Efficiency: The percentage of sunlight that a solar panel can convert into usable electricity.
- Off-Grid Solar Power: A solar energy system that is not connected to the electrical grid, typically used in remote locations where traditional power sources are not available.
- What does 1 kW of solar mean? Sometimes called ‘rated capacity’ or ‘rated output’, this is taken to be 1,000 watts (or 1 kW) of sunlight for every square metre of panel. Most domestic solar panel systems have a capacity of between 1 kW and 4 kW.