20 Solar Energy Terms One Should Know Before Starting a PV Business

Home 20 Solar Energy Terms One Should Know Before Starting a PV Business

The global solar energy market is ever-expanding, accounting for almost 3.6% of electricity generation worldwide. Solar photovoltaic storage remains the third largest renewable technology apart from hydropower, which is vastly attributed to their comprehensive segmentation based on technology, market channel, component, and region. Statistics show a market valuation of $184.03 billion, growing at a CAGR of 6.9% for the next 7 years. The market was classified under photovoltaic and concentrated power systems, parabolic troughs, Fresnel reflections, and dish stirling. Solar modules segregate the classification into monocrystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous silicon, and cadmium telluride solar cells

Overwhelmed by solar jargon? Installing the panels and calling it a day would not suffice. In the solar industry, dealing with sustainable electricity is the life force; thus, it is important for solar professionals to have a strong understanding of solar energy fundamentals. Solar energy is the most abundant resource, with an overall capacity of producing 173,000 terawatts of energy and covering almost 80% of the electricity needs in first-world affluent countries. In this article, we have put together a simple guide to all the solar energy terms along with their comprehensive definitions:

1. Solar Export Diversion  

Solar panels export diversion
Source: Pixabay

Solar export diversion operates through Huygens’ principle, and it refers to the charging features automated into solar energy systems. These diverters’ role is to catch hold of excess energy from private local generation systems and prevent it from exporting to the grid. Solar diverters are used to direct and channel excess imported electricity to use locally. These local energy generation systems include photovoltaic solar energy, wind, or hydroelectricity. Solar export diversion optimizes electricity costs for grid power and provides a clean system for water heating, space, and charging applications.

While EV chargers extract electricity out of solar grids and outlet systems and delivers it to vehicles through a hardwire, storage cells regulate the amount of solar energy exported to the domestic panels during a specified period; if the extracted power exports have crossed the grid threshold, solar export diversion will divert the power back to the charging system, dynamically varying the speed for momentum. As such, it promotes the self-consuming of energy and reduces costs by a substantial level.

2. Alternating Current

EV Chargers
Source: BENY Electric

Solar AC refers to alternating current, contradictory to direct current, which is explained later in the section. Alternating current is concerned with the direction of the current, or rather the rate of flow of electrons and charges. Alternating current, as can be implied from the name, changes the direction of the current flow through alternating motions. Household items use AC (plug-in appliances like toasters, ovens, refrigerators, water heaters, etc.) and DC (battery-based systems where electrons flow in the same direction as laptops). 

Solar panels utilize direct current, as the solar rays absorbed through the panel stimulate a flow of electrons in a single direction. As such, solar inverters convert direct current to alternating forms to cater to home applications. Alternating current solar panels have microinverters combined into the cells, thereby converting DC into AC as soon as the rays enter them. A reputable PV products design and development service provider creates quality microinverters that are consistent with isolated inverters, the only difference being the lack of additional investments in installers.

3. Direct Current

DC Molded Case Circuit Breaker
Source: BENY Electric

Traditional solar panels are operated on direct current and are converted to alternating current with a solar inverter. The photovoltaic system may include a string inverter that converts solar rays from multiple solar panel strings. The flow of electric charge is unidirectional and does not periodically alternate directions. DC is typically in charge of low-voltage applications like aircraft, automotive applications, laptop batteries, and so on. The photovoltaic industry utilizes DC in multiple solar applications. For example, DC circuit breakers are used for covering photovoltaic DC power generation systems.

4. Solar Array

Solar Array
Source: Pexels

A solar array is the most crucial element in the solar panel system, and its role lies in integrating the panels into the system for photovoltaic operations. Simply put, solar arrays are essentially a combination of a number of solar panels which together generate electricity through the solar system. Solar arrays are typically faced south for maximum energy output, while it is also dependent on the number of panels, location, direction, and consumption demands. This term also refers to identifying solar farms established on a broad scale.

5. Backtracking Program

Backtracking Programme
Source: Pexels

In the solar energy world, solar backtracking is an astronomical investment for large-scale solar panel operations. Solar backtracking is essentially a program that provides an accessible tracking system. These tracking programs prevent panel-on-panel shading, which is the cause of 48% of the production losses. The automatic transfer switch (ATS) transfers loan connections through the grid systems established. In fact, ATS is a common appliance used in data centers and medical industries for an undisturbed uptime of electricity. The angles of panels are driven to optimize losses from off-positions. Shading cells contribute to extreme levels of power wastage than one can imagine. While shading the panels in a crystalline module can result in systemic power production failure on a whole scale, shading half a cell can substantially decrease the power output by half. 

The cost of backtracking systems is negligible compared to the colossal cost reduction from unplanned shading. It is also important to remember the type of PV protection devices, as certain panels are not sensitive to shading. For instance, single-cell shading does not entirely affect thin-film module systems. A durable modular PC enclosure ensures pre-assembled DC components to minimize work time and susceptibility to error, thereby enhancing system operations for end-users.

6. Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF)

Capacity Utilization Factor
Source: BENY Electric

Another important term to remember is the capacity utilization factor, a calculative mathematical term that denotes the performance optimization of a photovoltaic power plant. It denominates the actual output derived from a solar plant’s operation over a year under ideal circumstances. It is a percentage amount similar to another popular denomination called the plant load factor due to their similarity in parameters. 

Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) = Energy (kWh) / (365*24*plant capacity)

CUF is concerned with plant utilization capacity and is crucial to determining the value extraction for prospective and current investors. PV plants are assets with an intermittent source of energy. CUF is a parameter typically used to compare the effectiveness of power output in plants using different energy sources. In that regard, the CUF is a disadvantageous calculation because it overlooks localized radioactivity and the nighttime hours when the plant is essentially impotent. To address this, a more pertinent metric known as the Performance Ratio (PR) is used to evaluate PV plants globally as it directly represents the caliber of design and upkeep.

7. Solar Micro Inversion

Single-In Microinverter
Source: BENY Electric

Solar micro-inverters are conversion devices that convert solar energy into a usable form. As mentioned in the previous section, solar microinverters are imperative for converting DC to AC. It is a tiny electronic device that integrates the collective AC output into the primary electrical unit. The inverter, which connects the solar farm to the utility, can be a sizable independent machine or an AC module made up of several smaller inverters connected to a single solar panel. The inverter must monitor voltage, waveform, and frequency on the network. When the grid supply fails, the inverter must recognize it and stop supplying electricity to the grid. According to local safety regulations, an inverter attached to a damaged electrical line will instantly disengage.

8. Insolation

Solar insolation from space
Source: Pixabay

Solar insolation is known as the volume of electrical radiation (ultraviolet irradiance) that strikes the earth’s crust. This refers to the quantity of sunshine beaming on the subject area. The values are typically represented in kWh/m2/day. To take into account variations in day duration, this number is averaged.

9. Grid PV System

Solar Grid System
Source: Unsplash

A grid photovoltaic system is electricity produced through the grid-connected solar PV system. This includes solar modules or panels, micro inverters, a power conditioning unit, and grid-connecting equipment. Grid PV systems and solar research and development have enabled a range of residential to commercial rooftops to large-scale industrial-use PV products. Electricity is transported from generators to clients via an electric grid or utility network, often known as a power grid. It connects the allocation, transportation, and generation systems.

10. On-Grid Solar System

On Grid Solar Panels
Source: Pinterest

On-grid systems are solar utility systems directly connected to the private center. It operates like a typical grid PV system by transferring excessive electricity to the main grid. As such, they are essential for compensating consumers for power. A net meter is installed to track the power exports and imports. A professional EV protective device manufacturer provides ample protection for these components.

11. Off-Grid Solar System

Grid Solar Panel Systems
Source: Pinterest

Contrary to the on-grid system, the off-grid utilizes batteries for storing energy. The electricity stemming from the solar structure is stored in a storage battery. Off-grid systems typically consist of solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, inverters, mounting structures, and system balances. Off-grid systems are recommended for locations with unstable or no network connectivity.

In addition to the grids mentioned above, there is also a hybrid system that integrates both systems’ characteristics. The inverters in the photovoltaic cells are hybrid, which utilizes batteries for storage. Storing electricity enables hybrid machines to function as backup electricity delivery even through an electricity outage.

12. AC And DC Distribution Boxes

AC Distribution Box
Source: BENY Electric

Among the primary components are the AC and DC distribution boxes. They are key protectors of the solar plant and serve as insurance against failing load sides. They are essentially panel boards that regulate AC electricity through surge arrestors. They provide safety measures for overload and short-circuiting. DC combiner boxes connect PV inverters to PV arrays to combine the output of a multitude of strings to enhance PV performance. Designs from a reliable solar PV and EV manufacturer enable easy integration of additional functions, such as the inclusion of switches and an additional MPPT.

13. Net Meter & Gross Meter

Net Meters
Source: Unsplash

The net meter makes it simpler to keep track of the net energy or electricity used, that is, the discrepancy between the energy generated and used. In net metering, the amount of electricity used is compared to the amount exported, and the user benefits from a corresponding drop in their electricity cost. The consumer receives a fixed tariff for the units produced under gross metering.

14. Balance Of System (BoS)

Balance Of System

Source: BENY Electric

BoS is the cluster of solar system components required to install the plant, excluding photovoltaic panels. DC isolator boxes are integrated with a number of DC isolator switches for a more balanced system. It includes the following:

  • Microinverter
  • Cables/wires
  • Switches
  • Fuses
  • Ground fault detectors

Solar batteries used in the storage structures provide a high degree of rechargeability, providing an energy storage solution for excess energy during sundowns or emergency battery banks. Depending on the battery storage supplier, the banks are either made of radioactive lithium ions or lead acids. 

15. Thin-Film Solar

Thin Film Solar Strips
Source: Pinterest

PV solar technology is constructed with veritably thin layers of PV material to produce featherlight, frequently flexible wastes of solar energy-producing modules. Thin-film solar is generally cheaper and more flexible than conventional solar panels, but it’s also less effective and degrades more quickly over time. Thin-film solar is extensively used in the chemical and apparel industries.

16. Solar Rapid Shutdown

Solar Rapid Shutdown Device
Source: BENY Electric

Rapid shutdown is a systemic regulation that automates solar power systems to shut off and de-energize during emergencies. It is an integrated feature implemented in the National Electrical Code to stop the flow of electricity when situations demand. Implemented in 2014, the rapid solar shutdown devices were intended to provide a methodology for firefighters to shut power valve systems for safety reasons. In the later years, the definition saw a wide expansion with various requirements and the closeness of PV system conductors to the PV array boundary. 

17. DC Isolators

DC Isolator Switches
Source: BENY Electric

DC isolating switches are placed and mounted between DC photovoltaic arrays and grid-based inverters with substantial voltage. These isolators manually isolate photovoltaic arrays for easy installation and maintenance. One can easily find this mounted adjacent to the inverter. 

18. AC Isolators

AC Isolating Switches
Source: BENY Electric

AC isolators provide a mechanism by which the AC supply is isolated from the grid-connected inverter. They are installed in a pair, where AC isolation switches are mounted between the inverter and the intersection with the supply connection. 

19. Solar SPD

DC SPD Devices
Source: BENY Electric

SPD is the expanded form for surge protection devices, which aims to minimize damage from electrical spikes and surges due to lighting. Solar surge protection devices are isolated or combined within the equipment. Lighting creates a colossal impact on the size of the PV system, especially in locations where frequent lightning is experienced. As such, PV and EV protective product suppliers reduce the chances of mishaps during stormy nights by providing safe and effective protection. Such devices will decrease the need for system downtime, heavy replacement investments, and potential loss of revenue. 

PV systems and devices like AC/DC inverters, photovoltaic arrays, and other monitoring devices are susceptible to lightning damage. As such, they must be protected by SPDs at all times. 

20. Interconnection Linkages

Interconnection Linkages
Source: Unsplash

The transmission linkages between two utilities and end-users are often referred to as the interconnections in the solar world. These linkages are essential to transfer power in a bi-directional format. Interconnection solar systems apply only when solar panels are connected to the private electric grid.


And that marks the end to all the fundamental terminologies to get businesses started on their sustainable energy journey. 2028 has forecasted to see a $293.18 billion growth valuation, especially in demand for monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon. The last solar energy term that start-ups must keep their eyes peeled upon is a reliable EV protective device manufacturer; this is where we come into play.

Beny is the most trusted supplier of SPDs and other protection devices for photovoltaic systems, with a substantial global standpoint gathering reputation for over 30 years. We are always compliant and up-to-date with contemporary DC standards and deliver nothing less than quality design and production to the table. Our specialties also lie in EV charging fields manufactured with consistent adherence to UL, SAA, CB, CE, TUV, ISO, and RoHS standards. Contact us and request a quote today!

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