Many of the specific terms used to explain on-grid solar energy may seem complicated and confusing, so to help make solar energy a bit more understandable for everyone, we offer this brief explanation of some of the most widely used industry terminology.
An off-grid solar system is one that has no connection to a municipal or private electrical power grid or distribution system. In contrast, a grid-tied or on-grid system retains a tie to the electrical grid while still producing its own power.
A device known as an inverter is required for generating on-grid solar energy. This mechanism converts the direct current energy collected by the system into alternating current, the form needed to power a home or business and to supply power to the electrical grid.
Solar energy systems often produce more electricity than a home or business needs. When this happens in a grid-tied system, the excess is sold to the local utility company through a process known as net metering. Net metering helps many system owners achieve grid parity, the point at which the cost of using the sun’s energy is equal to or less than the cost of traditional electricity through the grid.
Understanding solar energy requires a basic knowledge of solar system components. A photovoltaic or PV system (the term literally means “electricity from light”) is comprised of a series of panels or modules. These panels are connected and assembled onto a common mount in a photovoltaic or solar panel array.
Most of the PV arrays installed for homes and small businesses are rooftop solar systems, featuring multiple individual panels, grouped and arranged at angles to maximize the capture of the sun’s energy.
Each photovoltaic system is unique in that the arrays and their placement are carefully planned to make the best use of the sun. To achieve this, the PV system must be placed using the proper orientation. In other words, the panels must face the sun directly.
A system may be fixed-tilt, set at a specific angle relative to the sun, or it may have trackers, mechanical devices that allow the PV modules to follow the sun as it moves through the sky. Many photovoltaic systems also have a concentrator, a large lens that magnifies the sun’s rays and directs them toward the panels to boost the amount of energy captured.
Now you know some of the basics of solar energy. But did you also know how financially favorable an alternative energy system can be?
If you would like to learn more about generating your own free electricity using PV solar technology, contact Intermountain Wind and Solar today. Save money and establish energy independence with your own off- or on-grid solar energy system.
"All of the photos on this website are of real projects that Intermountain Wind & Solar has designed and installed.
We are proud to show off and stand behind our work."