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Basic Solar Terms: A Glossary for DIYers Considering This Option

Posted on April 24, 2014

Homeowners considering solar power are bombarded with a slew of unfamiliar jargon, but knowing some of the basic solar terms can help make navigating the waters a little easier. Here are a few common terms and their meanings:

Absorber: material that readily absorbs photons (light particle that acts as an individual unit of energy) to produce charge carriers

Array: photovoltaic modules connected together to provide a single electrical output

Btu (British thermal unit): measures how much heat energy is needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit

Insolation: the measure of solar radiation energy received on a surface area in a given time

Monocrystalline solar panels: made from one large, single silicon crystal.

Net Metering: agreement between a solar system owner and a local utility company that allows the owner to buy and sell energy in the form of electric credits

Photovoltaic (PV): technology and research relating to the use of solar cells for energy

Photovoltaic system: uses solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity; consists of several components and may be one of a few types:

  • Grid Connected Systems are connected with the local electric utility grid.
  • Ground Mounted Systems are supported by a structure built close to the ground.
  • On/Off Grid Systems — a system that is interconnected with your local utility grid is an on-grid system, while one using battery storage is an off-grid or stand-alone system.
  • Roof Mounted Systems consist of solar panels mounted directly on the roof of a building.

Polycrystalline cell: made from processed liquid silicon that solidifies to form multiple silicon crystals

Tracking array: solar array that follows the path of the sun

Thin film: layer of semiconductor material deposited onto a plate of glass

Tilt angle: angle at which a solar array is tilted towards the sun

For more information about solar energy systems for your Wichita, Kansas home, please contact Comfort Systems.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about basic solar terms and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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