Solar Panel

A collector which uses a photosynthetic material, like silicon, to produce electricity from sunlight. Solar panels are made up of collections of individual solar cells packaged in a frame and protected by tempered glass.  They traditionally dark blue with silver gridlines or a white space outlining the cells, or all black to match certain types of roofs.

Monosilicon vs. Polysilicon Panels

If you look at different kinds of solar panels, you will notice that some appear to have a consistent color and texture, while others appear to have varied color and texture. This is due to differences in the way solar cells are made. Some solar cells, called monosilicon cells, are constructed from a single crystal of silicon, while others, called polysilicon panels, are made up of multiple crystals pressed together. A simple comparison would be to the difference between wood made from a single, consistent tree, and ply board which is made up of wood from multiple trees.

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A converter which takes the direct current (DC) electricity and converts it to the alternating current (AC) electricity used by homes, farms and businesses. Inverters come in many varieties to accommodate various system sizes and voltages


String Inverters vs. Microinverters vs. DC Power Optimizers

All solar electric systems start with DC power from the panels and end up with AC power after the DC power flows through the inverter. However, there are two ways to organize this process. Traditionally, panels are grouped into strings of several panels which link to a specific inverter. For example, there might be eight strings of eight in a 64 panel system, four strings of eight panels running to each of two inverters.

Microinverters are attached to the individual panels and convert the power immediately, sending only grid-compatible AC power to the electric circuit. A DC Power Optimizer has some of the characteristics of both types of system, with a DC converter attached to each panel, but also a modified type of string inverter.

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Performance Monitoring System

A performance monitoring system interacts with the inverter to monitor the productivity of the systems. Many of these systems allow for connectivity with the internet, allowing system owners to access statistics remotely. Systems using microinverters or DC power-optimizers are often

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Net Meter

A net meter is essential to solar energy, because it allows you to use the power you produce during the day, during the night. A net meter, sometimes called a bidirectional meter, is installed by your utility upon completion of the system, and allows for power to be counted in two directions. When you overproduce during the day, the meter counts how much extra you have produced and credits you later if you use that power during the night.


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