Solar Power Dictionary

Common Terms You Should Know


A group of interconnected solar panels that are wired together to take advantage of the energy produced by each panel. An array can range in size from a few solar panels on a residential home up to large fields with thousands of solar panels.

Battery Bank

A group of batteries used to store energy from solar panels or other renewable sources. Batteries are important components in off-grid and backup power systems, allowing homeowners to use the electricity generated by their solar system even when the sun is not shining.

Battery Storage

A system that stores excess electricity generated by a photovoltaic system for later use. Battery storage systems are often paired with off-grid solar installations and can help to ensure that the energy needs of a home or business are met even when the sun is not shining.

Charge Controller

A device used to regulate the voltage and current output of a photovoltaic system, ensuring that batteries are charged efficiently and safely.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

A type of solar technology that uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, which then converts it into heat energy. CSP systems are often used in larger scale applications such as power plants, but they can also be used in residential settings.

Excess Energy Generated

The amount of energy produced by a photovoltaic system that is not used immediately. Depending on where the homeowner lives, they may be able to sell any excess energy back to their utility provider for a profit.

Feed-in Tariff

A type of policy that requires utilities to pay homeowners for the excess electricity produced by their photovoltaic systems. Feed-in Tariffs can help reduce the cost of installing a solar system, making it easier for homeowners to go solar and save money.

Grid-Tied System

A photovoltaic system that is connected to the electrical grid. In a grid-tied system, excess electricity produced by the solar panels is fed back into the grid and homeowners receive credits on their electric bill for this energy.

Net Metering

A policy that allows homeowners with solar systems to sell excess electricity produced by their system back to their utility provider at a reduced rate. Net metering helps offset the cost of installing and maintaining a photovoltaic system.

Off-Grid System

A photovoltaic system not connected to the electrical grid. Off-grid systems are used in areas where there is no access to the electrical grid, or when homeowners choose to be completely independent of it.

Photovoltaics (PV)

A technology that converts sunlight directly into electricity using special materials called semiconductors. Photovoltaic systems, also known as PV systems, are the most common type of solar energy system.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A type of agreement between a homeowner and their utility provider that allows them to purchase solar energy at a fixed rate over a period of time. PPAs provide homeowners with an affordable way to get started with solar energy, as they typically require no up-front costs or long-term commitments.

PV System Monitoring

A tool that allows homeowners to track the performance of their photovoltaic system in real time. This can be especially useful for off-grid systems, as it helps ensure that batteries are charged efficiently and safely. PV System Monitoring also allows homeowners to identify any potential problems with their system before they become serious concerns.

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

A state-level policy that requires utilities to produce a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar energy. The RPS helps promote the adoption of solar technology by providing financial incentives for homeowners who install photovoltaic systems.

Solar Panel

A device made of semiconductors, such as silicon, used to convert solar energy into electricity. Solar panels are the primary component of a photovoltaic (PV) system.

Solar Capacity

A measure of the total electricity output of a solar energy system. It is usually expressed in kilowatts (kW).

Solar Inverter

An electrical device that converts the direct current (DC) electricity produced by a solar panel into alternating current (AC) electricity suitable for use in homes and businesses.

Solar Energy Tax Credit

A federal incentive that provides homeowners with a tax credit for up to 30% of the cost of installing a photovoltaic system. The Solar Tax Credit can help to offset the upfront costs of solar energy and make it more affordable for homeowners.

Solar Thermal

A technology that uses sunlight to heat water or air instead of generating electricity. Solar thermal systems are often used to provide hot water in homes and businesses, as well as for space heating.

Solar Rights Law

A law that protects homeowners’ right to install solar panels on their property without additional restrictions or fees imposed by their local government or utility provider. Solar Rights Laws vary from state to state, but they are becoming increasingly important as solar becomes more popular.

Solar Leasing

A type of agreement between a homeowner and a third-party solar leasing company. Under this agreement, the homeowner “leases” the solar system from the leasing company, who is responsible for installation, maintenance, and repairs. This can be an attractive option for homeowners looking to go solar without a large up-front investment.

Solar Water Heating

A technology that uses sunlight to heat water for use in a home or business. Solar water heating systems are often used in combination with other energy sources, such as natural gas or electricity, and can provide hot water while reducing the amount of energy used from the grid.

Solar Power Company

A company that specializes in the installation, maintenance, and repair of photovoltaic systems. Solar Power Companies can provide homeowners with a reliable source for solar energy advice, as well as connect them to available incentives or financing options.

State Solar Incentives

Government-backed incentives that encourage homeowners and businesses to adopt solar technology. State Solar Incentives vary widely, but they can include rebates, tax credits, or other forms of financial assistance for installing a photovoltaic system.

Solar Power System

A system that uses photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar Power Systems are becoming increasingly popular, as they can provide clean, renewable energy while reducing electricity costs.

Solar Panel Financing

A type of loan or financing option specifically for photovoltaic systems. Solar panel financing can make it easier for homeowners to get started with solar energy, as it often requires little or no up-front costs.

Solar System Installation

The process of installing a photovoltaic system into a home or business. Solar System Installations typically require the expertise of a professional installer, as they can be complex and time-consuming.

Utility Company

A company that supplies electricity to consumers. Utility companies typically purchase electricity from solar power plants, which in turn generate electricity from solar panels.


These are just some of the terms associated with photovoltaic systems and solar energy. Understanding these terms is essential for anyone considering investing in a solar system, as it helps them better understand the technology behind it and make informed decisions about their energy usage. By understanding how each component of a photovoltaic system works, homeowners can make sure they are getting the most out of their solar energy investment. With the right knowledge and a good understanding of these terms, anyone can become an expert in photovoltaic systems and solar energy.


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