Understanding solar energy systems: common terms

Benefits of a battery energy storage system

So, you’re looking into the possibility of solar energy for your property, but you don’t know your AC from your DC? Here are a few commonly used terms to help you talk the talk:

Alternating current (AC): an electrical current which reverses direction at regular intervals.

Battery capacity: the total energy available in watt-hours or kilowatt hours for a fully charged battery.

Battery energy storage system (BESS): an integrated system made of batteries, electronic components, and software that allows renewable energy to be captured, stored and monitored for optimal use.

Charge rate: the electrical current applied to a battery to restore its available capacity.

Converter: a unit that converts a direct current (DC) voltage to another DC voltage.

Cycle life: the number of cycles to a specified depth of discharge that a battery can undergo before failing to meet its specified capacity.

Cycle: the discharge and subsequent charge of a battery.

Direct current (DC): an electrical charge that flows in one direction through a conductor.

DoD: Depth of discharge. The ampere-hours removed from a fully charged battery, expressed as a percentage of rated capacity (eg. 100% is full discharge).

Electrical circuit: the path followed by electrons from a power source (such as a battery).

Electrical grid: an integrated electricity distribution system.

Energy: the amount of electricity generated, consumed, or stored over time. Energy is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). kWhs are equal to the number of kilowatts of power multiplied by the number of hours.

Inverter: a device that converts DC electricity to AC.

Isolator switch: ensures an electrical circuit is completely de-energised for service or maintenance.

Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery: rechargeable, long-life battery providing high energy density and low self-discharge.

Photovoltaic (PV): the direct conversion of light into electricity.

Power: the speed at which electricity is generated or consumed – how fast the electrical current is flowing. Power is measured in watts (W) and kilowatts (kW). One kilowatt is equal to 1000 watts.

Solar panel: a collection of modules converting sunlight into electricity by the photovoltaic process.

State of charge: (SoC%) the charge level of a battery.

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