Whether you are just beginning to investigate electric solar energy systems, or already have a system in place, there are many terms commonly used throughout the solar industry which you may be unfamiliar with. To ease confusion and understand important features and elements of electric solar energy systems, familiarize yourself with some industry lingo. Knowing the meaning behind these terms and phrases will help you better understand the valuable information you read, or what your electric solar energy contractor is saying so you can make informed decisions.
Balance of system: This phrase refers to the solar panel racking, wiring, conduit, and roof integration components necessary to install an electric solar energy system.
Interconnection: Interconnection refers to your electric solar energy system’s connection with the electric utility grid. In order to tie your system to the utility grid, therefore interconnecting it, you’ll need permission from the utility provider; Smith Sustainable Design can guide you through this process.
Kilowatt hour: A kilowatt-hour, often abbreviated as kWh, is equal to 1000 watt-hours. Electric companies bill in kilowatt-hours and you may measure your home’s electric solar energy use in this unit as well.
The grid: The grid refers to the network used deliver electricity from the utility company to the end user. When you install a “grid-tied” electric solar energy system, your system is connected to the utility grid, where you can access electricity from the utility if your system hasn’t produced enough for use, and deposit any additional electricity created by your system. “Off-grid” systems are not connected to the electric utility grid.
Net metering: With an electric solar energy system that is tied to the electricity grid, the utility company uses net metering to measure the amount of energy your system produces along with the amount of energy you are producing.
Solar inverter: A solar inverter is a necessary component of an electric solar energy system. This piece of equipment converts the direct current (DC) produced by the solar panels to create alternating current (AC) electricity for use in your home or business. If you have a grid-tied electric solar energy system, the solar inverter also works to deliver excess electricity to the grid.
If you have questions about any electric solar energy terminology you come across in your research or conversations, feel free to contact us for further explanation and advice. Smith Sustainable Design educates our customers on electric solar energy in order to help them make informed choices.