A to Z of solar power: Part 1

Posted on 01 May, 2017 in Energy Storage, Solar Power

What do you know about solar power?

Understanding new technology, such as solar power, can be tricky thanks in part to all the extra terminology to wrap your head around.

Thankfully, if you're consulting the solar power experts, you have a friendly hand to help you understand the ins and outs of solar technology. For those who wish to do their own research on the topic, here's a handy list with some of the common phrases you might encounter and what they mean:

What are some common solar power terms?
What are some common solar power terms?

AC/DC current

Alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), relates to the energy, or current, produced by solar panels and the type of current your house uses. Energy produced by solar panels is DC (think of a river flowing in one direction), while houses use AC (now think of that river switching directions multiple times per second). Before the solar power can be used by your home, the DC current needs to be converted into AC, which is carried out by an inverter

Feed-in tariff

A solar energy feed-in tariff refers to the payment residents receive for feeding solar power their systems produce back into the electricity grid. For residents in NSW, you may have heard of the Solar Bonus Scheme, which came to an end December 2016, offering subsidised payments for the excess energy produced. Now that the scheme has ended, the tariff has reverted to an unsubsidised feed-in tariff from retailers, according to the NSW Government.

Drawing less energy from the grid also contributes to greater sustainability for the wider community,


The energy grid is the term used to describe connecting facilities and utilities that homes and businesses in turn pay for. If someone is going 'off the grid', then they are adopting systems that let them be self-sustaining, not relying on (or paying for), the energy produced by third parties.

Beyond saving money, drawing less energy from the grid also contributes to greater sustainability for the wider community, as electricity companies don't have to produce as much energy from non-renewable resources such as coal or other fossil fuels. 

Micro inverter system

Mentioned above, an inverter system converts electricity produced by solar panels into something that can be used by houses, something we've described in more detail previously. The process of conversion can happen at two points in a solar system: where the energy feeds into the house (string inverter), or at the base of each solar panel in your system (micro inverter).

The main benefit of a micro inverter system is that you can draw maximum efficiency from your solar panel system, even if some panels are shaded or performing poorly.

Net meter

A net meter is the device that records both the amount of energy a home draws, and the amount of energy exported to the grid. It's used by many retailers to determine how much energy is saved and produced, which translates to how much customers save on their energy bill, according to the NSW Government.

Photovoltaic (PV) 

The process of converting sunlight into electricity is also known as the photovoltaic (PV) effect (photo, meaning light, and voltaic relating to electricity). A solar power system uses this PV tech, with PV cells making up the components of solar panels.

Solar power is just one form of renewable energy.
Solar power is just one form of renewable energy.

String system

Like a micro inverter system, string inverters are important in turning solar energy into electricity your home can use. String inverters are generally cheaper than micro inverters, but are less versatile.

Renewable energy

Energy that is produced from resources that can be easily replenished. Common examples are wind and solar, but can also include tidal, rain and geothermal energy, according to Penn State University.

There's much more to know about solar energy, including how it can be a great way to save your home and business money. To find out all about this and more, get in touch with the team at RK solar & Consulting today.

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