When you have been involved in this industry for five decades, it’s hard to look at where solar energy is today -- compared to where it was in the 1970s -- and not be thankful.
AZ Dept. of Commerce Report - Glossary
Glossary of Terms
Alternating Current: Electric Current in which the direction of flow is reversed at frequent intervals, 60 cycles per second. The type of electrical supplied by utility companies.
Ampere: A measure of electric current; the flow of electrons.
Amorphous: The condition of a solid in which the atoms are not arranged in an orderly pattern.
Atoms: The smallest particle of an element that can exist either alone or in combination.
Battery: Rechargeable electric storage unit that operates on the principle of changing electrical energy into chemical energy by means of a reversible chemical reaction.
Break-even: The cost of a photovoltaic system at which the cost of the electricity it produces exactly equals the price of electricity from a competing source.
Concentrators: A photovoltaic module that includes an optical component such as a lens or focusing mirror to direct incident sunlight onto a solar cell or panel.
Direct current: Electric current that always flows in the same direction: positive to negative. Batteries and photovoltaic cells are all DC devices.
Efficiency: The percentage of available sunlight converted to electricity by a module or cell.
Electric current: The volume of electricity propelled by the voltage; a flow of electrons.
Electrons: An elementary particle consisting of a charge of negative electricity.
Grid-connected: A house or device that receives power from a utility company.
Inverter: This appliance converts independent DC-power into AC power, or regular household current.
Load: The lights or appliances run by your electrical system. The amount of electrical power being consumed at any given moment.
Kilowatt: A thousand watts
Megawatt: One million watts, 1,000 kilowatts
Off-grid: See stand-alone.
Peak watts: The amount of power a photovoltaic device will produce at noon on a clear day with sun approximately overhead when the cell is faced directly toward the sun.
Photovoltaic: Capable of producing a voltage when exposed to radiant energy, especially light.
Photovoltaic array: A group of solar electric panels connected together.
Photovoltaic cell: The basic building block in photovoltaic systems. Sometimes called “Solar Cells.”
Photovoltaic effect: The conversion of sunlight absorbed by a solar cell directly into electricity.
Photovoltaic module: A solar electric panel
Semiconductor: Any material that has limited capacity for conducting an electric curre.
Stand-alone: An isolated photovoltaic system not connected to a grid.
Voltage: A measure of the force or “push” given the electrons in an electric circuit, a measure of electric potential.
Voltage regulator: An electrical device used to keep voltage at predetermined levels.
Watt-hours: Sometimes called watt. The amount of watts used by an appliance is an hour.
Glossary of Terms