A glossary of commonly used solar terms to avoid the confusion.

Alternating current (AC) - The type of electricity that flows through the electricity network and powers the appliances in your home

Array – a group of solar modules connected together. There may be one or more arrays in a solar power system

Amorphous solar panel – a solar panel that is not comprised of crystalline silicon.

Azimuth- The horizontal angle between true north and the horizontal projection of a line between the observer and a point of interest eg. the sun

Balance of Systems – all of the other components in a solar power system besides the solar modules and the inverter

Base load- The amount of energy the grid must supply at all times to meet consumer demand

Battery- a back up device to store excess solar electricity that can be used out of daylight production hours

CCEW – certificate of compliance for electrical work. Must be supplied to the owner of a solar power system by the installation electrician to say the work meets Australian and network regulations

Cell- The basic photovoltaic unit that produces electricity from light

Direct current DC- a type of electrical current. It must be converted to AC current before it is useable

Diode- helps electricity move around shaded areas of a solar module

Grid – The network of cables and equipment that moves electricity to homes and businesses.

Grid connected – a solar power system that is able to send power to the grid

Gross meter- an electricity meter that measures all the generation from a solar power system.

Gross FiT – a gross feed in tariff is where a price is paid by the network for every bit of power generated by a solar power system

Ground mount – a solar power system that is installed on framing on the ground, as opposed to a roof.

Inverter – An electrical component that converts DC electricity into AC electricity

Isolator – a switch that allows us to remove the flow of electricity to components in the solar power system

Kilowatt – one thousand watts

Kilowatt hour – is a unit of energy and relates to 1000 Watts acting over a period of one hour

Mega watt- one million watts

Meridian – An imaginary line encircling a globular body at right angles to its equator and passing through its poles.

Module – a collection of solar cells electrically connected together and packaged within a frame. Also called a solar panel

Mono-crystalline – a semi conductor consisting of a single crystal

Multi-crystalline – a semi conductor made from many small crystals

Net FiT – a payment made for only for excess solar power that is sent to the grid, after being available for use at the premises

Net meter – an electricity meter that spins forwards and backwards and can register the generation of a solar power system and the electrical consumption of a property

Panel - a collection of solar cells electrically connected together and packaged within a frame. Also called a module

Photon – a packet of light energy

Poly-crystalline – see multi-crystalline

PV- Photovoltaic . The word comes from “photo”, meaning light, and “voltaic”,  that refers to volts or electricity. So photovoltaic, is something that makes electricity from light.

Semiconductor – a special class of materials that have electrical properties and conduct some electrical current

Silicon – a semi conductor that is the most common material used to make solar cells

Smart meter – an electricity meter, that is able to perform functions, besides measuring an accumulating total. Can measure TOU data, consumption and production data, and be remotely read.

Solar noon – The time in the day when the sun reaches its highest point

Stand alone solar system – a solar power system that is not connected to the grid and may use batteries to store electricity that is excess to requirements

String – A group of solar modules connected in series

Thin film panel – a solar panel that uses a very thin layer of a semi conductor, deposited on a backing material.

Tilt – The angle between a solar panel and a horizontal plane such as the horizon. The best tilt angle allows the panel to absorb the most sunlight with between 10 and 40 giving good year-round performance

Time of use metering (TOU) – Where the day is divided up into three different time bands, peak, off peak and shoulder, and different rates are charged for power purchased during the different times.

Tracking system – a system that can be adjusted either manually or mechanically to follow the sun and increase the solar panels exposure to the light.

Watt- a unit of power equal to amps x volts