Hush Speak – Our list of common solar terms, A to K

We love helping to educate our blog readers and customers on the ins and outs of the solar industry, so after realising that sometimes, customers reading our website need to go and research a particular term, we decided to make it easy and include all the most common terms in one handy location:

A

Alternating Current (or AC) – Used for the electricity grid and in most household appliances, AC electricity is the electric current in which direction of electron flow is reversed around 50 or 60 times per second (frequency), similar to the way a Newton’s Cradle works. This makes it more efficient than DC electricity, as it doesn’t lose power as it moves through cabling.

Amorphous silicon (or Amorphous semiconductor) – is a non-crystalline, thin-film semiconductor substance that can be used to produce solar electricity via photovoltaic effect.

Ampere (A or AMP) – is a unit of electrical measurement, used to measure current (flow rate).

Ampere hour (or Ah) – refers to the unit of charge stored within a battery, so 1Ah is equal to the flow of 1A of current for one hour.

Antireflection Coating – the coating over a solar cell that reduces any reflection of light away from the cell, improving light transmission into the cell.

Array – the number and arrangement of the group of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels connected together on your roof, generally all connected into a single solar inverter.

Azimuth – a horizontal angle that’s measured in the clockwise angle from true north (180 degrees is true south).

B

Balance of System (BoS) – the combined components of a solar system, excluding solar panels themselves.

Base load – The minimum amount of energy a power generator (at a power station) must supply at all times

Battery – a chemical-based device that stores electricity in readiness for later use (discharge). When referring to solar, batteries are generally used in off-grid and standalone systems.

C

Capacity – the amount of power that something can produce. In solar terms, capacity refers to a solar system’s output (generally in peak conditions) and is usually measured in kilowatts (kW) or watts (W).

Current – measured in Amps, the current refers to the flow rate, force or intensity of electricity. Watts.

D

Direct Current (DC) – While most household appliances and the electricity grid use alternating current (AC), batteries and solar systems produce direct current (DC). DC electrons flow continuously in one direction through cabling.

E

Energy – in relation to solar, energy differs from power in that energy is the ‘amount’ of power that has been derived and stored for use. A battery stores energy, not power.

Enhanced Renewable Energy Target (eRET) – the Federal Government’s target to achieve 23.5% of Australia’s energy generation through renewable energy by 2020.

F

Feed-in Tariff (FiT) – a tariff (or rate) paid to households and businesses who own solar systems that feed electricity back into the electrical grid. The government or electricity retailers are obliged to pay the set FiT rate and these may vary from state to state.

G

Gigawatt (Gig or GW) – a gigawatt is equal to 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

H

High-efficiency – describes the energy or power converted into usable energy or power. In solar terms, efficiency refers to the rate that DC electricity made by your solar panels is converted to AC electricity and currently, the most efficient solar panels reach around 23% efficiency.

Heat coefficiency – the rate at which the power output of your solar panels is reduced by overheating. When panels each a certain high temperature (overheat), they lose a certain amount of efficiency. This is generally measured as a minus % per degree above 45 degrees Celsius.

I

Inverter – the component of our solar system that converts the solar panel derived DC electricity into AC electricity, so your electricity can then be used to power your home or be returned to the grid.

K

Kilowatt (kW) – a kilowatt is equal to 1000 watts

Kilowatt-hour (kWh) – refers to 1000 watt-hours. As an example, if you run a 1000W solar system for one hour in full sunlight, you will have produced 1kWh

Stay tuned for the L to Z portion of the list next week.

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