General Solar System Glossary

If you’re looking into solar power for your home but aren’t that clued up on how it works, this glossary will explain important terms you need to know.

 

Grid-tied solar system
A system that is connected to the electrical power grid and is dependent on the grid to produce usable solar energy.

Home solar energy system
A stand-alone photovoltaic system that offers a cost-effective mode of supplying power to remote off-grid households.

Inverter
An electronic device that changes direct current/voltage to alternating current/voltage. This is more affordable as it’s easier to generate and covers more distance than direct current.

Monocrystalline panels
A type of solar panel that has a uniform look and is made from a single silicon crystal that allows it to have a higher efficiency.

Mounting hardware
Equipment used to secure solar panels to the rooftop or to each other, often made with lightweight aluminium frames and clips.

Off-grid solar system
A stand-alone system that is not connected to the electricity grid.

Photovoltaic
Photovoltaic (PV) are technologies that convert sunlight to electricity using certain types of materials called semiconductors that power up your electrical devices or send electricity to the grid.

Polycrystalline panels
A type of solar panel that consists of several silicon crystals. This solar panel has a lower efficiency rate and produces less power compared to the monocrystalline panel.

Power grid
A network of power lines and supporting equipment that transmits and distributes electricity all the way from its generation to the customer/consumer.

Rent-to-own solar
An option that allows you to buy a solar energy system over a five- to seven-year period by having it installed and then making monthly payments to a solar company.

Solar-as-a-service
A service that allows you to buy solar power that is generated on your roof by solar panels that are owned by a solar company or provider. The company would provide solar panels, installation and maintenance of all the solar panels. So, as a consumer, instead of buying energy from a local utility company (hello, Eskom), you would buy it from the solar power provider.

Solar battery
Solar power systems draw energy from the sun – so if it’s night-time, you won’t get any power. Solar batteries solve this problem by collecting and storing energy while the sun is shining, for use when it’s dark outside.

Solar generators
Portable power stations that use solar energy instead of fossil fuels to create electricity.

Solar geyser
A water-heating system that uses energy from the sun instead of electricity. Sometimes also referred to as a solar heater.

Solar panels
A device that is used to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity or heat.

Solar power
Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.

Solar power installers
Solar power installers are responsible for installing solar panels on roofs and buildings.


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