Whenever you’re looking to buy something, it’s always a good idea to do your research. This is true of solar power—the most abundant resource for energy. If you’re thinking about a solar system for your home, start at the beginning with solar energy terms. Then, when you are doing further research, you won’t be confused by solar energy terms and unfamiliar vocabulary.

  • Photovoltaic – Shortened to PV, photovoltaics is the process of converting the radiation of the sun into electricity. Solar systems utilize the photovoltaic effect to create electricity for your home.
  • Solar cell – A solar cell is the basic piece that makes up a solar panel. A single solar cell can create electricity from the sun, but not a lot. Most solar panels are made up of many solar cells.
  • Photovoltaic module – This is just a fancy way of referring to a single solar panel. Many photovoltaic modules—or solar panels—are used to create a solar array.
  • Solar array – A solar array is a grouping of many PV modules, or solar panels, used to generate enough electricity for a home or building.
  • Irradiance – In terms of solar energy, irradiance is the measurement of how much solar energy is reaching a given surface at any given time. The measurement is in watts per square meter.
  • Peak sun hours – Any hour when the irradiance is 1,000 watts per square meter or higher.
  • Efficiency of solar cells – The efficiency of the cells is a percentage of how much of the sun’s energy reaching the cell is converted into electricity. Some percentage is always lost through reflection or heat conversion.
  • Net metering – If your solar power system generates more energy than you can use, the extra electricity can be sent to the electric company if your home is still connected to the grid, and you receive a credit. U.S. law mandates that all public electric utilities are required to offer a credit with net metering.

Continue your research once you have the solar energy terms down. For more information about solar systems and whether one is right for your home, contact the experts at Stack Heating & Cooling. We proudly serve homeowners throughout the greater Cleveland area and northeast Ohio.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about solar energy and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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