The future is not what it used to be.
In the 1990s, the push for electric vehicles gained momentum in response to national security concerns over our reliance on imported fuels and tailpipe emissions.
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