Have you found that as you research and talk with people about solar energy that they use words you aren’t quite sure about? A solar energy system has a lot of parts to it, and while the technology behind it is pretty straightforward, some of the terminology can be confusing for those not in the industry. Let’s dissect some of the more common terms you’ll hear:
- Grid – you probably hear this word a lot, in the context of “living off the grid”. A grid is simply the connection of electrical power lines in your neighborhood.
- Array – the array is a group of panels wired together. The larger your array, the more panels you have, and thus the more energy you will produce.
- Alternating current (AC) – this is a type of electricity that is most common in households. AC energy reverses its direction every so often throughout the day.
- Direct current (DC) – unlike AC, DC energy flows in one direction only. When you utilize solar panels, the energy they collect is in the form of direct current electricity.
- Inverter – this is an essential part of your entire solar energy system. The inverter works to convert your DC energy into AC electricity so that your home can use it more effectively.
- Photovoltaic (PV) – when researching types of solar panels, you’ll see this word come up a lot. It’s a crucial design element that allows the panels to actually do their job of collecting light and converting it into energy.
- Watt (W) – electricity is measured in units called watts. You might have seen on light bulb packages that they use between 30 and 100 watts of power.
We’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vocabulary used within the solar energy industry. As you become more familiar with the terms, you’ll be able to make better educated decisions about what kind of system you want for your home or business.