Solar Electric Terms

  • PV – Photovoltaic – The system of converting the suns rays to electricity – accomplished by the solar panels mounted on your roof or ground.
  • Watt – A measure of electrical power generated at any given instant.1000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kw).
  • Watt/Hour- A measure of electrical power consumed. 100 watt bulb, on for 10 hours consumes 1000 w/h = 1 kW.
  • Grid tie system – When an individual home’s solar PV system provides electricity back to the utility via the electric utility’s grid.
  • Inverter – An electrical device that converts direct current (DC) electricity produced by the PV panels into alternating current (AC) used by your utilities to power your home.
  • Electric use meter – A device on your home that measures the electricity entering or exiting your home which has a visual reference of consumption by means of a spinning wheel or digital read-out.
  • Net Metering – The difference between what your utility’s electric grid provides for your individual use and what you add back to the grid from your PV generation.
    (Your meter-indicating wheel can spin backwards as you add power to the grid.) Colorado law requires your utility to calculate & reconcile what you consumed of their electricity verses what you provide onto their grid on an annual basis. This is an advantage for you, to minimize selling excess electricity to the utility at wholesale during periods of low personal consumption and buying back during peak periods at retail.
  • Electric pricing – Goverened by the Colorado Public Utility Commission Historically the cost of electricity has inflated average about 6% per year.
  • Xcel Rebate – Utility Rebate To stimulate renewable energy installations some utilities will give a rebate based on the installed wattage of the system, or the PV Generation of the installed system. In return you sign a contract with the utility agreeing to stay on the grid for 20 years and allow them to use your carbon credits.
  • Federal Tax Credit – For every dollar you spend on a PV system you can take 30 cents directly off your tax bill. Exp: If you spend $40,000, you take $5000 off your tax bill.
  • Usage – The average home in Colorado will consume 720 kilowatt-hours month. It’s not uncommon for large homes with many appliances, air-conditioning and a hot tub to consume 1620 kilowatt-hours/month.
  • PV Environmental Impact – By installing a PV electric generating system at your home you will yearly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the Colorado air by 3,088 pounds per kWatts installed, or 30,888lbs/yr. with a 10kW system.
  • PV breakeven point – Is number of years of savings, adjusted for electricity price increases, until your PV system has produced enough electricity to pay you back for the installation expense.
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