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Solar Lingo

Solar Lingo

To to have an understanding of solar power and its significance to the overall energy picture in this country, it is necessary to first understand some of the terms associated with solar power. Some of the most common of these terms are defined below for your reference, many of which are likely to appear in literature on the subject of solar power, or in any discussion of it.

Terms associated with solar power

  • Solar panels – A panel which has been designed to receive sunlight for the purpose of converting its inherent energy into electricity, which may then be used as a power source.
  • Solar companies – Solar companies are those which sell the panels and other equipment necessary to install a system for the purpose of generating solar energy. Generally, these companies will also employ professionals experienced in analyzing requirements for any given scenario.
  • Home solar panels – Home solar panels are those installed for domestic use by a household. Most commonly, they are mounted on the roof of the home, because that location receives the most direct sunlight. If there is an open area or field adjacent to the house which is unobstructed, home panels could also be set up there.
  • Photovoltaic solar panels – Photovoltaics involve photons of sunlight exciting electrons into a more energetic state, which then allows them to become carriers for an electric current. Photovoltaic solar panels thus convert the sun’s energy directly into a flow of electrons, which can be made available as a source of power.
  • Solar panel installers – Installers of solar power systems are professionals knowledgeable with the setup of all the equipment necessary to configure a solar power system, either for residential or commercial use.
  • Solar power system – A solar power system includes all the equipment necessary to convert the sun’s energy into electrical energy, which may be used as a source of power. Included in this equipment are components like the solar panels, a battery where electrical energy is stored, and cabling.
  • Solar power for home – Solar power for home is a system that converts solar energy into electrical energy, which may be used around the household for lighting, appliances, and home systems like heating and cooling.
  • Solar water heater – Solar water heaters convert sunlight into energy for heating water by making use of a solar thermal collector. Generally, a solar water heater is used in tandem with a conventional water heater as a backup water heating source.
  • Annual solar savings – This is the annual energy savings, which would be realized by a household or business if it were powered by solar energy rather than some other power source.
  • Solar energy – Solar energy is radiant light from the sun being harnessed through the use of photovoltaics and converted into a usable form of electricity.
  • DIY solar panels – Do-it-yourself solar panels are installed by a homeowner rather than by a professional installer from a solar company. The do-it-yourselfer must be knowledgeable about the proper orientation of the panels as well as all the equipment necessary for the setup.
  • Concentrating solar power  — Solar technology that uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that convert solar energy to heat.
  • Grid-connected solar power — An arrangement where a home derives some of its power from solar energy. When solar is insufficient to satisfy household needs, a standard utility company provides the rest.
  • Flat-plate photovoltaics — Flat-plate photovoltaic arrays use direct sunlight. However, if the array is fixed in position, some portion of the direct sunlight is lost because of oblique sun-angles.
  • Hybrid system — A solar power system that includes other sources of electricity generation, such as wind or diesel generators.
  • Photovoltaic array — An interconnected system of photovoltaic modules that function as a single electricity-producing unit.
  • Photovoltaic effect — The action that occurs when photons knock electrons loose from the atoms they strike, thus creating the potential for electrical current.
  • Photovoltaic module — The smallest assembly of solar cells and parts like terminals and connections used to generate direct current power under sunlight.
  • Solar system availability — The percentage of time when a photovoltaic system will be able to fully meet the electricity needs of a household.
  • Tracking array — A photovoltaic array that follows the path of the sun to maximize the solar radiation received on its surface.

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