FREQUENTLY USED SOLAR TERMINOLOGY


AC POWER
This term refers to an alternating electrical current that changes between positive and negative directions. Our utilities use AC power.


DC POWER
DC power is electrical current that flows in one direction, either positive or negative. PV modules produce DC power. However, our utilities use AC power, so DC power has to be converted to AC power in order to be useful. An inverter makes this conversion.


EXPECTED PERFORMANCE BASED BUY DOWN (EPBB)
EPBB is a type of incentive structure offered as part of the California Solar Initiative (CSI). The EPBB is used for systems smaller than 50 kWh, which are usually installed on homes and small commercial applications. This structure offers an up-front incentive based on the system’s expected usage. Incentives decline as more solar reservations are made, so time is of the essence. To calculate your potential EPBB incentive, use the on-line calculator at www.csi-epbb.com.


GRID CONNECTED
Grid-connected systems operate in parallel with and are connected to the electric utility grid. All of Northern Pacific Power Systems are grid-connected, which allows you to reduce or even eliminate your monthly electricity bills without having to change your lifestyle.


GROUND MOUNT
There are various methods of installing a solar system of which ground mounted systems is one. Ground mounted systems are not attached to a home or building, but rather installed using a solar specific structure that supports the solar panels. Ground mounts are ideal for customers with inadequate roof space.


HEAT EXCHANGER
A component of a Solar Hot Water installation used to transfer heat from the solar fluid to the home or building’s water supply. Heat exchangers are double walled and can be built into or be separate from the existing hot water heating tank.


INVERTER
An inverter is a device that converts power from the sun, DC power, to power that can be used in your home and business, AC power. An inverter is used in every solar PV installation.


KILOWATT (kW)
A measure of power equivalent to 1,000 watts or the power required to run ten 100 watt light bulbs in any instant.


KILOWATT HOUR (kWh)
A common unit of electrical consumption measured by the total energy created by one kilowatt in one hour. A 100 watt light bulb burning for 10 hours uses one kilowatt hour. To determine the size of the solar system you’ll need, we’ll look at your electricity bills to see how many kWhs you typically use and will need in the future.


LEED
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. It is the nationally accepted benchmark that provides building owners and operators with the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their building’s green performance.


MEGAWATT
A measure of power equivalent to one million watts.


NABCEP
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is a national program that awards professional certification to photovoltaic installers. NABCEP’s high standards are designed to protect customers and enhance the profession. In choosing Northern Pacific Power Systems, you’re choosing a solar installer that is NABCEP certified.


NET METERING
A policy under which a solar system owner can buy and sell electricity to the utility company through credits. When the electricity generated by a solar system exceeds the energy consumed, the consumer not only eliminates their electricity bill, but can also sell the power back to utility company in the form of credits.


PERFORMANCE BASED INCENTIVES (PBI)
PBI is a type of incentive structure offered as part of the California Solar Initiative (CSI). The PBI structure is used for systems greater than 50 kWh and offers a flat rate per kWh. Incentives decline as more solar reservations are made, so now is the time to go solar.


PHOTOVOLTAIC
Photovoltaics, or PV as you’ll often see it, is a solar energy technology that uses unique properties of semiconductors to directly convert solar radiation into energy. When PV cells, or solar cells, are combined into larger systems called modules, they produce energy with no moving parts, noise, or pollution.


POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS (PPAs)
PPAs are long-term contracts between the customer and the developer where the developer retains ownership of the system and sells the kWhs to the customer at a specified rate for a specified amount of time. Essentially, the customer leases the solar system from the developer. PPAs have been standard throughout the power industry but are relatively new to the solar industry.


ROOF MOUNT
The most common installation technique for solar, in which the solar system is attached to the roof of your home or building.


SOLAR COLLECTORS
The key component of Solar Hot Water systems that collect the sun’s energy, transform its radiation into heat, then transfer that heat to the solar fluid. The heat is then transferred from the collectors to the heat exchanger, located near the hot water heater. Solar Collectors are made of a weatherproofed box comprised of a glass cover and an aluminum frame.


SOLAR HOT WATER
A technology that uses solar collectors containing solar fluid to transfer the warmth from the sun to heat water for your home, commercial or municipal building. A Solar Hot Water system can provide your home or business with up to 60% of its hot water needs. Solar Hot Water systems can be roof or ground mounted depending on the customer’s needs.


SOLAR FLUID
Solar Hot Water collectors are filled with solar fluid; the fluid is pumped from the collector to the heat exchanger. The fluid passes through the exchanger to heat the water in your water heater and then is pumped back up to the collector to be re-heated.


SOLAR PANEL
A group of solar PV cells combined into a larger system to produce electrical power.


UTILITY GRID
Your utility’s network that delivers electricity to your home and business.