Solar Lingo

Like any industry, solar has its unique lingo that can be a little confusing when you’re not used to it. We’ve put together some definitions to help you navigate the solar mumbo jumbo.

Photovoltaics (PV)

Literally translated, it means electricity from light. Albert Einstein discovered that when sunlight hits materials like silicon, electrical currents are generated. PV technology uses semiconductors to generate electricity via sunlight.

kW

A kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 watts. Watts are a measure of power.

kWh

A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measure of how much energy you’re using.

Let’s go through an example.

When the sun shines on a solar panel, it can generate 310 watts (or .31kW) of power. When the sun goes down, the panel will stop producing any power.

If we want to know how much energy the same panel will produce, we need to consider time. Let’s figure out how many kWh the panel will produce in a month. Let’s estimate 5 hours of production per day for 30 days. That means the panel will deliver 310 watts x 5 hours x 30 days = 46,500 watt-hours per month. Divide that by 1,000 and you get 46.5kWh of energy every month.

Solar Cell

Solar cells are octagonal units in a solar panel that capture light. Each solar cell has a positive layer and a negative layer to create an electric field.

Solar Module

Solar modules are individual solar panels, made of solar cells, wiring, a frame, and glass.

Array

Multiple solar panels positioned and wired together are called an array.

Silicon

Solar cells are made of silicon. The second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, silicon is a major component in items like glass, lubricants, electronic components, and medical equipment, to name just a few. 

Inverter

Inverters convert Direct Current (DC) power into Alternating Current (AC) power, the form that is usable to power your home or business.

Grid Connected

A grid-connected solar system, the kind Auric offers, generates electricity and sends its extra power into the grid to use later using a method called net metering.

Net Metering

Net metering is a billing method that credits solar panel owners for the electricity they add to the grid. The power company bills the system owner for the net electricity consumed (kWh used – kWh generated).