Solar PV panel systems in a field for commercial applications
Solar PV panel systems for commercial and industrial applications

Solar Energy Terminology Guide

Row of solar panels in a field

Solar energy systems are more affordable, reliable, and simple to have installed than ever before — but many prospective adopters are put off by relatively confusing terminology. To help you understand why solar may be the right move for your home or business, we’ve compiled a glossary of all the need-to-know terms that will help you make an informed decision.

Alternating current (AC)

A form of electrical current that reverses direction periodically or in cycles. The voltage can be controlled easily, which is why electricity networks use AC.

Direct current (DC)

Another type of transmission in which electricity passes through the conductor in one direction. DC is typically low-voltage and high-current.

Electrical grid

The system of electricity distribution serving a large area. Most people and businesses rely on the electrical grid for energy.

Fixed tilt array

A solar panel array that cannot be adjusted in terms of the horizontal angle.

Gigawatt (GW)

A unit of power equaling 1,000 megawatts, 1 million kilowatts, or 1 billion watts.


A solar inverter is necessary to convert the DC power panels produce into the AC power all common appliances require to run.


A unit of power equaling 1,000 watts or energy consumption of 1,000 per second.


A unit of energy of 1,000 watts in action over one hour. One kWh is equal to 3,600 kJ.

Net metering

Net metering is a process that exchanges credits for the excess solar energy your panels produce, which you can draw from to power your home when the panels are not able to produce as much energy.

Payback period

The time it takes to recoup the investment in your solar energy system.

Peak sun hours

An hour’s worth of sun exposure with irradiance of 1 kilowatt per square meter.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Referring to converting sunlight into electricity.

Power rating

The highest theoretical energy production of one solar panel in perfect conditions.

Solar cells

The smallest semiconductor component in a solar panel. Cells convert sunlight into DC energy.

Tracking array

A solar array that moves with the sun to capture both direct and diffused light. They come in single-axis tracking from east to west and two-axis versions that ensure your panels are constantly exposed to the sun’s rays.

Solar Education With Solera Energy

Where other companies may take advantage of customers that aren’t familiar with solar jargon, Solera Energy focuses on making every part of the process transparent and easy to understand. We’re with you every step of the way, from figuring out the terminology to determining what’s right for your budget and beyond.

Call Solera Energy today at (866) 346-2009 or contact us online to learn everything you’ve been curious about when it comes to going solar in Missouri and Arkansas.

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