We know learning about solar power and how it all works can be confusing, so we’ve put together a breakdown of the most common solar power jargon. If you still need some help figuring out your solar power system, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Ampere (Amp): Unit of measurement for an electric current. Metaphorically, it’s the volume of water flowing through a pipe.
Amp-hour: amount of energy charge in a battery that will give you one ampere for one hour. As an example, one AA battery has a capacity of two to three amp hours, and our batteries have 200 amp hours.
Battery Bank: a group of batteries wired together to store more power than a single battery would hold. These battery banks store electricity created by solar panels. After the battery stores the energy, it is then used at any point.
Battery Charger: this component works similarly to a charge controller by controlling the charge going into the batteries. This is typically used to allow a generator to charge the batteries in a solar power system.
Charge Controller: this component monitors how much energy a system stores into a battery. It also controls how fast that energy gets stored or removed. Monitoring these levels is important because if the energy enters the battery too quickly, it will lower the system’s lifespan.
Deep Cycle Battery: most common battery used for solar power storage. Unlike most batteries, deep cycle batteries are designed for constant heavy depletion and recharging. They can withstand thousands of these cycles without negatively affecting the battery.
Depth of Discharge: Level that a battery is run-down, which gets measured by how much energy is removed. For example, if 50 percent of the energy in a battery is used, then the depth of discharge would be 50 percent. Depth of discharge is an important statistic to monitor when using batteries as discharging past 50% may have negative long-term effects on the battery’s lifespan.
Evacuated Tube Solar: a system of glass tubes filled with that absorb the sun’s rays as heat for water heating systems. Many spas, pools, and water heaters use this process, as it is more efficient that heating water with solar electricity.
Grid: Distribution network consisting of towers and wires that power companies use to direct and deliver energy.
Grid-tied: A power system connected to the grid. In solar, this is a system that can feed power back into the grid, or use energy from the grid as needed.
Off-grid: A power system with no connection to the grid, such as a generator or a solar power system.
Hybrid Inverter: combines aspects of a charge controller, inverter, and battery charger. Allows for alternate energy production, such as a generator, to easily be part of your solar system.
Inverter: equipment that converts DC power into AC power, and low voltage into high voltage. This allows you to use the power stored in the batteries (12/24/48V DC) for all your standard household appliances (240V AC).
Kilowatt: measurement of power that is equal to 1000 watts of power.
Panel: Group of laminated solar cells, which usually consists of 60 cells. Panels collect the sun’s rays to convert them into energy.
Peak Power Point: The point at which the voltage curve for a solar cell’s current value is at its maximum capacity, used by smart charge controllers to improve charging efficiency.
Solar Power System: the collection of components used to collect, store, and use solar power. Consists of solar panels; a hybrid inverter, or charge controller and inverter; and deep cycle batteries.
Sunlight Hours: The time at which the sun is in the sky, spanning from sunrise to sunset.
Voltage: Unit of measurement for electrical potential. Metaphorically, it’s the pressure of water in a pipe.
Watt: unit of measurement for power, equivalent to Voltage multiplied by Amperage. Often used when describing the potential power consumption of an appliance, eg a 100W television.
Watt-hour: This specific terms relates to the measurement of energy, or watts, that is used over a given period of time. This is also how companies measure home electricity bills to determine the consumed energy during the billing period. For example, a 50W fan that is on for four hours is equal to 200Wh.