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Basic Solar Terms to Understand Before You Upgrade

Posted on March 21, 2013

A general understanding of basic solar terms is important to have before you decide to upgrade your home’s heating and cooling (and water heating) system to solar. Here are some of the most common solar terms:

Photovoltaic or PV cell: A photovoltaic cell produces electricity through what has been called the photovoltaic or photoelectric effect.

Solar cell: Synonymous with PV cell, this is the individual unit that produces a small electric charge.  The solar cells are combined to create a…

Photovoltaic module: The photovoltaic module is a collection of PV cells in series. Since voltages emitted by PV cells are fairly low, they are manufactured into modules that produce electrical power at levels useful to the homeowner.

Solar array: Photovoltaic modules are manufactured so that they can easily plug in one another to make the solar array. The array can take whatever shape the square dimensions of the individual modules can be combined into. Arrays can be positioned to maximize what’s called “irradiance,” too.

Irradiance: The amount of sunlight that will strike the plane of each solar module over a period of sunlight hours.

Peak sun hours: Solar irradiance is considered to have peaked when a metered square can be said to have received 1,000 watts of solar energy. A full hour at this level of solar irradiance is considered to be one Peak Sun Hour.

Efficiency of solar cells: This is a measurement of the cells’ ability to convert sunlight to electrical energy. Not all the sunlight that hits a solar cell becomes electricity; only a portion of it does.

If you would like to investigate beyond these basic solar terms, or discuss options for heating or cooling your home, please contact us at Comfort Systems. We have more than 120 years combined experience satisfying our customers in Wichita and the surrounding area.

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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