Important Terms Used in the Solar Industry
Alternative energy – It refers to natural resources (like Solar, Wind…) for producing power rather than using traditional sources of energy like fossil fuels to produce Energy.
Solar Cell – A solar cell is the basic component of a solar panel that does the job of converting solar energy to electricity.
Solar Array – It starts with a single solar cell that converts solar energy to power. To generate enough power many solar cells are combined to form solar panels. To generate a lot of energy many solar panels are combined to form a solar array.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels – These are the most efficient of solar panels are usually dark black in color. These panels are made of single silicon structure and uniform lattice structure. This structure makes for easy movement of electrons making them very efficient panels.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels – These panels are dark blue in color. It is created through crystal fusion and is less efficient than Monocrystalline Solar Panels. But it costs less than Monocrystalline Solar Panels.
Solar Panel Efficiency – This refers to the efficiency of the Solar panels i.e how much of solar energy gets converted to electricity. If we have 2 solar panels one solar panel having a greater efficiency compared to the other, then the solar panel with the higher efficiency generates more electricity given the same intensity of light incident on both the solar panels.(other conditions remaining ideal).
Electrical Efficiency – This refers to the maximum electrical output a device can deliver for a given input.
Junction box- Protected enclosure for electrical wiring.
Balance of Solar PV System – This refers to all components of a photovoltaic system other than the solar panels.
Direct Current – It refers to one of the forms of electric current where the direction of the electric current is unidirectional. This is the current generated from the Solar panels. It needs to be converted to usable Alternating Current(AC) to power any load.
Load – It refers to any component in an electrical circuit that consumes power.
Solar Thermal – It refers to using Solar energy to generate heat for practical applications like heating water and so on.
Transformer – A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another. It is used bring voltage up or down in an AC circuit.
Utility Grid – This refers to the network for transferring electrical power from producers and consumers. It involves electrical generating stations, high voltage transmission lines and distribution lines to transfer electric current from producers to consumers.
Ground Mounted Solar – Ground mounted solar refers to solar panels mounted on ground rather than using roof to mount solar panels. This is used when rooftop may not be feasible for mounting solar panels.
Grid Connected PV – This refers to the Solar PV system that only works when there is grid power. Here the load is supplied power from Solar panels. If the load requires more power than the solar power generated, then grid power is used. This system requires no battery backup. This system gives the option for the users to avail the Net Metering option where the users are credited for extra power supplied to the grid.
kWh – It is the measure of Energy i.e. a measure of how much fuel is contained within something or used by something over a period of time.
[So a 1000 Watt speaker needs 1000 watts(kW) of power to make it work and uses 1kWh of energy in 1 hour.]
Inverters – These are devices that convert electrical current from one form to another. It may be the conversion from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) or vice versa.
String Inverters – There devices convert the direct current generated from multiple panels or string of panels to Alternating current.
Micro Inverter – These devices are attached to individual solar panel for the DC to AC conversion.
kW – It is the measure of Power i.e. the rate at which energy is generated or used. Kilowatt (Kw) – 1000 Watts
Net Metering – This is a concept that works with Grid connected Solar PV or Hybrid Solar PV systems. Here the extra power generated by the Solar panel is supplied back to the grid and the user is credited for the same by the power companies.
Off Grid PV – This refers to the Solar PV system that works completely disconnected from grid power. These kind of systems works well for buildings in remote location completely disconnected from Grid power. It can be used along with a power backup to maintain consistent power.
Solar Batteries – These are the batteries that store the energy produced from the solar panels. This makes way for the power backup needed in case the solar panels or grid power supply is not there.
Photon and photovoltaic systems – Photon is a particle of light defined as discrete bundle of energy. When light hits the solar panels these photons are absorbed by the solar cells and when sufficient of these are captured the solar cells loose electrons from their atoms. These electrons are enabled with movement within the solar cells to create electricity. These are photovoltaic systems.
EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) – EMP interference is generally disruptive or damaging to electronic equipment, and at higher energy levels a powerful EMP event such as a lightning strike can damage physical objects such as buildings and aircraft structures.