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Key Solar Terms and What They Mean?

Solar definition

When researching Solar there is a whole new world of terms and phrases that come up. Although it can be confusing, knowing what these terms are can help guide you to making the right choices for what best fits your needs when going solar. In addition, having this knowledge can help make the process during installation smoother when communicating with your install team or contractor before, during and after!

Here are some of the key terms and what they mean:

  • Solar Panel: A device that converts sunlight into electrical energy. Solar panels are made up of solar cells that are connected to form a module. Installing solar panels is a great way to generate clean, renewable energy while reducing your energy bills and carbon footprint.
  • Batteries and Energy Storage: There are devices that store excess energy generated by solar panels. They then release during peak demand times. These are beneficial during at night and allow homeowners to use the energy during power outages. Find out more about these here.
  • Energy or Utility Grid: The energy or utility grid refers to the network of power lines, transformers, and other equipment that delivers electricity from power plants to homes and businesses.
  • Inverter: an electronic device that is used to convert the DC electricity that is generated by solar panels into AC electricity that can be used by a home or business. There are several types of inverters, including string inverters, micro inverters, and power optimizers.
  • Micro-inverter: A micro-inverter is a type of inverter that is used in smaller solar energy systems. It is installed on each individual solar panel and converts the DC electricity generated by that panel into AC electricity. Other types of inverters are string inverters and power optimizers.
  • Ground Mount: A ground mount is a type of solar panel installation that involves mounting the solar panels on the ground, typically in a field or large open space. Ground mounts are a popular option for larger commercial solar installations.
  • Interconnection: The process by which a customer applies for and receives permission from their local utility company to connect to the utility grid. If you're working with a professional solar company like SunSolar, they will likely take care of the interconnection process on your behalf.
  • Kilowatt Hour (kWh): A unit of energy used to measure electricity consumption or production over time. A solar panel system’s output is measured in kilowatts, and a kilowatt hour is the amount of energy produced by the system in one hour.
  • Net Metering: The billing arrangement in which a solar panel system owner is credited for any excess electricity they generate and feed back into the grid. This credit can be used to offset the cost of electricity used from the grid when the solar panel system isn’t producing enough energy.
  • Watt, Kilowatt, Megawatt, Gigawatt: A watt (W) is a unit of power, and it’s commonly used to measure the output of a solar panel. Kilowatt (kW) is equal to 1,000 watts and is a common measurement for residential solar panel systems. Megawatt (MW) is equal to 1,000 kilowatts and is a common measurement for commercial and utility-scale solar panel systems. Gigawatt (GW) is equal to 1,000 megawatts and is a large-scale measurement for solar panel systems.
  • Monitoring: Solar panel monitoring involves tracking the performance of a solar panel system over time. This data can be used to optimize the performance of the system, identify issues, and ensure that the system is operating at maximum efficiency.

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