20 Terms That Will Make You a Solar Energy Production Master

Annual Production Amount of total kWh produced in a single calendar year.

Azimuth or Orientation Azimuth is the direction the roof plane faces, measured in degrees. Orientation is the cardinal direction of the roof plane – north, east, west, or south.

Capacity Factor The ratio of actual energy generated by a power plant over a time period (usually a year) and the total energy that power plant could have generated over the same time period.

CEC-AC Rating Rating system used to qualify for the California Solar Initiative; the rating system multiplies the PTC-DC rating of a solar panel by the number of panels and the inefficiency from the DC to AC inverter.

DC to AC Size Ratio – The ratio of the inverter’s maximum AC wattage output to the size of the solar array, measured in DC watts; the closer the ratio is 1:1, the more efficient the system functions.

Design Factor The ratio of the proposed and optimal system summer output.

Light-Induced Degradation Refers to the reduction in efficiency of PV cells over time due to exposure to UV light.

Mismatch The production losses resulting from the interconnection of PV modules that do not have identical properties or experience different conditions from one another (shading, multiple arrays).

Monthly Production Amount of kWh produced in one month; varies seasonally with monthly production higher in the summer than during the winter (in the northern hemisphere).

Pitch – Pitch is the numerical measure of the steepness of a roof. 

Production Simulation The estimated energy production for the first year based off of computer modeling software.

PV Watts A calculator, created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that estimates the production and cost of energy of a grid tied photovoltaic system.

Reverse Bias Situation when a PV cell’s capability to produce power is greatly diminished compared to other PV cells in the same string; this occurs during inadequate conditions, such as a damaged cell or shading.

Shading When an obstruction, such as a tree or a chimney, blocks sunlight to a panel, limiting energy production.

Short-Circuit Current The current through the solar cell when the voltage across the solar cell is zero.

Soiling Accumulation of dust and other particulate matter on a solar panel that negatively affects energy production.

System Loss – The combination of factors, due to real life conditions, that reduce the performance of a PV system from it’s STC rating (Standard Testing Conditions).

System Production Estimated amount of energy that a solar system will create during the lifetime of the system.

Tilt – Also know as the angle, tilt is the numerical degree of the panel in relation to the horizon (180°).

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