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Solar Power Definitions/ Glossary

 

Solar Power Glossary

Active Solar Energy: using mechanical devices to collect, store, and distribute solar energy.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): a type of solar thermal energy used to create solar thermal energy (heat) on a large scale using series of mirrors in order to concentrate a large amount of solar energy. Read more...

Feed-In Tariff (FiT): the ability to sell unused solar electricity (or that from other renewable sources such as wind) back to your local utility. Many states require FiTs. You will sign a contract with your utility for a set rate over a certain time period (usually 20 years).

Green Tag: see “Solar Renewable Energy Credit.”

Grid: the connection of cables in a region that distributes electricity to homes, businesses, and other buildings. Residential solar systems are often connected to the local “grid,” and in some states are required to connect.

Ground Mount: PV solar panels which are mounted to the ground instead of rooftop.

Inverter Box: the electrical device that converts collected electricity into useable electicity.

Kilowatt (kW): one thousand watts. PV solar systems are measured in terms of the size in kilowatts. The average residential system will range from 2-5kW in size.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh): a unit of energy produced per /hour; 1,000 thousand watts per one hour. Energy productions (such as seen on your energy bill) will be discussed in terms of kilowatt-hours.

NABCEP Certified Installer: solar installers who have completed coursework and taken a rigorous exam on the practice of solar installation. The process is overseen by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Read more...

Net-Metering: a process of measuring electricity production and use (required in some states) in which the producer receives credits for energy produced but not used which can be used toward future energy bills. Read more...

Passive Solar Energy: capturing of the sun's energy without the use of mechanical devices.

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Cells: the use of semiconductors to capture light, which then moves along a circuit in order to create electric voltage.

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Energy: solar energy which is converted into electricity (as opposed to heat) using photovoltaic solar cells. Read more...

Property Tax Exemptions: states which mandate the exclusion of the value of your solar system in calculating property taxes.

Rebate: a cash back incentive offered in several states in which you receive a set cash amount per watt of installed PV solar paneling. See what your state offers...

Renewable Energy Certificate: see “Solar Renewable Energy Credit.”

Semi-conductor: an energy conductor which only moves energy when exposed to light or heat (as opposed to general conductors, which always conduct electricity and insulators which never conduct electricity).

Solar Energy: converting the sun's energy into useful energy. Read more...

Solar Loan: special loans offered by some governments and local utilities which provide no- or low-interest rates for solar installation.

Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC): a system of open market where small-medium scale individual solar producers can sell the rights to the energy they produce. Read more...

Solar Roof Shingles (BIPV panels): a type of solar panel that uses silicon as a semiconductor and acts like a part of your roof.

Solar Thermal Energy: conversion of the sun's energy into heat. This is much less device-intensive than producing electricity. The most common use of solar thermal energy is for solar thermal water heaters. Read more...

Tax Credit: a monetary incentive for installation of solar technologies (photovoltaic or solar thermal) in which you receive a percentage of the total cost of solar installation as a credit on your personal income taxes. The federal government offers a 30% tax credit in addition to programs offered by many states.

Watt: a unit of power.

 

 

 

 

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