Breaking Down Common Solar Terms

As with anything technical, you might at first be intimidated by the language that installers and industry professionals use to talk about solar. You may have heard Las Vegas solar installers use words like “interconnection,” “inverter,” “ITC,” and “net metering,” but what do they all mean? If you haven't yet mastered solar vocabulary, don't worry! Learning Las Vegas solar power lingo is actually quite simple. Here are some of the most common solar terms and their meaning.Array

A term that describes the composition of a system. An array is formed by stringing solar panels together. The larger the array, the more power the system will produce.

Balance Of System

The physical components that comprise a system except for the panels. This includes the wiring, hardware, inverters, and monitoring system.

Capacity Factor

A ratio that determines the average power output of a Las Vegas solar power system compared to its total capacity rating over a specific period of time.

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A written agreement between a solar customer and his or her utility provider that lets the solar energy system be connected to the grid. The utility provider may have an arrangement where any excess electricity that the system will be credited back to the customer's account.


An inverter turns the energy that comes into the system, called direct current, or "DC", into alternating current "AC" electricity, which is safe for you to use. The inverter also has an important safety function by providing ground fault protection and displaying system performance information.


Also called the “federal tax credit,” the ITC is a popular federal incentive that reimburses commercial and residential solar customers up to 30% of their system expenses. The credit applies to the cost of the system installation and the equipment.

Net Metering

Net metering policies vary depending on the utility company. Net metering allows a customer to send surplus electricity back to the grid. This is also called “back feeding.” Net metering lets customers store energy for times when their system doesn't receive sunlight, such as during nighttime and on cloudy days. In turn, customers can still use solar to power their homes without resorting to traditional electricity.

Operations And Maintenance

Sometimes called O&M for short, operations and maintenance is a term used to describe the ongoing care of a solar energy system. This includes cleaning, bill management, parts replacement, and repairs.


One of the most common types of solar energy technologies that Las Vegas solar installers use is called photovoltaics. This technology uses panels to convert the sun's rays into electricity using a special material called semiconductors.

Solar Power Plant

A large-scale solar energy system, generally measured in megawatts (MW), that is made for commercial or utility use.

Zero Net Energy

A term used to describe a home or building that breaks even on its energy production, meaning it generates as much or more solar energy than it consumes.

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