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Top 10 Solar Terms to Know

Whether you’re installing a solar solution for your Bay Area home’s energy needs or you’re just comparing solar with a more traditional energy setups for your San Francisco business, here are ten important solar energy terms to know and understand.

1. Solar array

An array is an assemblage of modules that work together to generate electrical output for your home or business at a particular voltage. Arrays are often customized to maximize the shape of the building and the efficiency of the photovoltaic modules.

2. Solar cell

This is the simplest photovoltaic powerhouse. Much like a standard battery might contain several cells; similarly, a single module usually contains multiple cells. Multiple modules are built up into an array.

3. Photovoltaic (PV)

Much like how plants convert radiation from the sun to usable biological energy via photosynthesis, a photovoltaic cell converts solar light into usable electricity.

4. Net metering

Net metering is a pretty neat concept that demonstrates how solar can be tremendously efficient. A sophisticated meter determines how much power your home uses and then adjusts the extent to which you tap your system based on your energy needs and how much electricity your system is generating. It’s roughly analogous to a buffet restaurant rule: “have all you can eat, but eat all you take.”

5. Irradiance

This measurement of electrical power tells you how much solar energy is bombarding a particular surface, such as one of your photovoltaic modules, over a given time.

6. Peak sun hours

When the sun is bright and shiny, the irradiance can cross over a key threshold of a 1000 watts per metered squared. If the irradiance crests above this number for four hours in a day, that means you get four “peak sun hours” for that day.

7. Photovoltaic module

This is the smallest integrated grouping of parts in solar cells capable of transforming sunlight into power.

8. Energy

In the context of solar power systems, “energy” has actually a very specific definition: it’s a measurement of the ability to perform work, as measured in units called joules.

9. Efficiency of solar cells

No solar cell is 100% efficient – that is, some of the solar energy that hits the unit will be reflected or lost or converted into useless heat energy. Cell efficiency measures what percentage of the sun’s energy can be converted into usable electrical energy.

10. Annual solar savings

A fun number to find out: this is the money you will save every year by leveraging the power that your solar system generates for you or your business.

For help setting up, engineering, or troubleshooting your solar array, connect with the experienced pros here at Century Roof & Solar.

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