Solar Glossary

It’s time for a crash course in solar industry lingo—the more information you have, the easier it’ll be to find the right system. With these terms in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to talk about your solar system needs like a pro with your contractor.

Balance of system: You’ll likely hear your solar installer mention the Balance of System, or BoS. This refers to all the parts and components of a solar panel system—other than the solar panels themselves. A BoS may include design cost, system installation, support structures, and maintenance costs, among other things.

Electrical grid: You may hear your installer refer to this simply as “the grid”. This is the system that delivers electricity from utility companies to consumers. Electrical grids are composed of generating locations, transmission lines, and distribution lines.

Energy payback: This is the amount of time a solar panel needs to generate the same amount of energy it took to actually manufacture it. According to recent solar power information, modern photovoltaic (PV) panels have an energy payback period of one to four years.

Insolation: This measures the amount of solar radiation energy in an area, and plays a major role in how much energy your solar panels can create.

Net-metering: Net-metering is a billing system that lets homeowners with solar arrays send their unused solar energy back to the utility grid. This excess may turn into bill credit—hello energy savings!

Storage battery: A storage battery is usually only used in off-grid solar power systems. It stores electricity during the day for later discharge and use.