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Top 10 Solar Terms & Phrases That You Should Know

November 16, 2020

From the outside looking in, solar power can seem complicated and not-so-user-friendly. Here at BlueSel, we know that not to be true. While there may be many technical and scientific terms thrown around when it comes to the solar industry, understanding and unlocking the potential of solar power can be simple and straightforward with a little bit of research.

To help you increase your solar knowledge, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 solar terms that we think you should know. We hope that you’ll refer to this mini-guide whenever you come to a term, phrase, or concept that you may not understand.

Solar Power Terms Graphic

Solar Panel

Let’s start with what you can visibly see, the solar panel! Solar panels are among the most important parts of system systems (if not, the most critical part). These panels come in different shapes, sizes, and materials based on the location’s needs and work to capture the sun’s rays, becoming the starting point of all solar energy conversion. 

Photon

A photon is a particle of electromagnetic energy, which in this case would be the sun’s rays. When photons (or sunlight) hits solar panels, the panels allow the photons to generate direct-current (DC) electricity by knocking electrons free from atoms. This electricity is then collected by the solar cells within the panels, prompting energy conversion to your home.

Solar Cell

What blood cells are to our body, solar cells are to solar panels. These components are uniquely capable of converting photons into energy (or sunlight into electricity). By linking these cells together, we are able to create solar panels that are ready to be installed onto your home. SunPower solar panels utilize Maxeon Technology (more below) to create highly efficient and durable cells.

Maxeon Technology

Maxeon Technology is revolutionary solar cells utilized by SunPower panels designed to withstand severe weather, resist traditional corrosion, and to produce 55% more energy than conventional cells via their premium build and copper foundation. Maxeon cells feature sturdy connectors, capable of flexing and adapting to unpredictable temperature changes, ensuring that your panels are built to last. 

Solar Incentive

Traditionally, solar incentives are used by governments to promote residential investments in clean, sustainable solar energy, and can be financially lucrative for solar system owners. Incentives such as Massachusetts’s SMART program pays solar customers a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour over the course of 10 years, depending on the system’s size, output, and location. If you’d like to learn more about solar incentives and even tax credits, check out our detailed blog here

Net Metering

Net metering is potentially one of the most exciting parts of owning a solar panel system! Essentially, net metering allows residential owners to sell unused electricity back to the grid or their utility company for billing credits. This means that any electricity generated from solar panels not used will save you money month after month. 

Kilowatt-hour

A kilowatt-hour is the unit of measurement used to measure the energy output of your solar systems. Each kilowatt-hour is the equivalent power consumption 1,000 watts across 1 hour. Keeping a close eye on your KWh and monitoring for any changes such as spikes or drops is the best way to tell if your solar panels require maintenance work or calculate your energy output.

AC/DC

No, AC/DC isn’t just an amazing and influential rock band from the 70s. It’s also an abbreviation for alternative current/direct current. When sunlight is captured by your panel’s solar cells, it produces direct current (DC) electricity. Once this current flows into your system’s inverted, it is converted into the more commonly used alternating current (AC), supplying your home with clean energy.

Inverter

Essentially, the inverter’s job is to convert the direct current (DC) captured from sunlight into alternating current (AC) that can be used to power your home. Inverters have also gotten smarter over the years. Now, homeowners can connect their smartphones or computers to certain inverters to access crucial data, enabling them to monitor their solar panel system’s efficiency. 

Solar Battery

Solar batteries or solar storage are a viable option for most residential homes. The benefits of installing solar batteries into your home include energy security, making the most out of your stored power, reducing air or noise pollution, and the ability to seamlessly connect batteries to your panels and other solar components. These batteries are especially useful during extended blackouts and other emergency situations 

Additional Solar Educational Resources

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Want to learn even more about solar power? Of course, you do! Solar energy helps make our world a cleaner place, is technologically innovative, and, honestly, is just plain cool. Let’s quickly explore some of our favorite solar power blogs & websites, government sites, and social resources.

Greentech Media

Suppose you’re looking for the most cutting edge, up-to-date information regarding the use and innovations of green energy (especially solar power). In that case, you will definitely want to visit Greentech Media. Here, you’ll find current event news, research, and events tailored towards solar power usage in everyday life and around the globe. 

The Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Office

The Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Office features helpful resources straight from the United States government. Here, you will find solar resources for both consumers and professionals, such as the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar, Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar, the Quarterly Solar Industry Update, and much more.

Reddit’s r/Solar

Want solar tips, discussion, and news from solar enthusiasts around the world? Be sure to browse r/solar (solar news) on reddit.com. If you have a question, the chances are that someone else has already asked it. With over 55.2k members, the solar news Reddit, you’ll always find up-to-date information, tips, and stimulating discussions regarding solar power and the impact that it can have on our everyday lives. 

BlueSel’s Solar Blog & Contact

Not to toot our own horn too loudly, but we’re kind of the leading experts, especially in New England solar power. With various up-to-date articles regarding solar technology, tips, and installation information, BlueSel also functions as a go-to source for solar knowledge. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us anytime. We’ll be sure to get back to your inquiry as soon as possible to ensure that we spread information about the incredible possibilities of solar power.