Glossary

Key Term 

Possible alternative language

Definition

3 - phase

 Three phase

A three-phase supply uses 5 wires (3 phases plus neutral and earth) and can provide more electricity to run more or larger appliances.

AC

Alternating current, AC electricity, AC power

Electricity that flows in a way where it switches direction back and forth at regular intervals or cycles. This is the type of electricity that households, businesses and the electricity grid use.

Battery / batteries

Battery storage, Battery system, Battery storage system, Energy Storage System, Solar battery

An energy storage device that can be charged from solar generation or grid electricity and discharged at a later time. 

Battery capacity (kWh )

 

The amount of energy that can be stored in a battery, measured in kWh.

Battery inverter-charger

Battery inverter

A device which converts DC power discharged from a battery to AC, and converts AC to DC to charge the battery. May be combined with the battery management system (BMS).

Battery management system

 BMS

System to regulate the charging and discharging operation of a battery to protect the battery from overcharging and over-discharging. May be combined with the battery inverter.

Block Tariff

 

A tariff with different rates for different quantities of energy you use.

Body corporate

Owners corporation

A legal entity responsible for maintaining and managing the common property of a residential, commercial, retail, industrial or mixed-use strata-titled property, such as an apartment or office building.

Circuit Breaker

Switch

An electrical safety device that interrupts the flow of electricity, and can be reset after activation.

Consumer mains

Service main, Mains, Service cable

The wire (cable) which runs from your switchboard to the point of connection to the grid.

Controlled loads

 

Specific electrical appliances, such as hot water systems which have electricity supplied to them during off-peak hours via a dedicated circuit, at a lower cost. The operation of these circuits are normally controlled via the meter by Distributed Network Service Providers.

Current (A)

 

The flow of electrons in a conductor. Measured in amps (amperes) (A).

Curtailment

 

Reducing the output from a solar inverter. This means generation from solar panels is effectively wasted.

DC

Direct current, DC electricity, DC power

Electricity that flows constantly in one direction. This type of electricity is generated by solar panels, provided by batteries and used to charge batteries.

Demand tariff

Demand charge

A charge based on your maximum usage (demand) at peak time periods.

Distribution network

Grid, Electrical grid, Power grid

The poles and wires which transport electricity to your home or business from the transmission network

Distribution network service provider (DNSP)

Electricity network provider, Network operator

The company that owns and operates the distribution network (poles and wires) that supplies electricity to your home.

Electricity

Electrical energy

The term ‘electricity’ is used to refer to electrical energy throughout the solar consumer guide. Measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Electricity pricing plan

Tariff, Pricing plan, Retail rates, electricity rates, electricity deal, electricity plan

The combination of charges you pay your electricity retailer for supply and usage, as defined in your electricity retail contract.

Electricity retailer

Electricity company, Energy company, Energy retailer

The company which sells electricity to your home or business.

Electricity usage

Usage, Consumption, Load, Energy usage

The amount of electricity used by appliances, devices and equipment, measured in kWh.

Embedded network

 

A private distribution network that serves multiple premises and facilitates bulk purchasing of electricity that can be on-sold to customers within the network.  Typically, apartment blocks, retirement villages, caravan parks, shopping centres and villages.

Energy

We use the term ‘electricity’ to refer to electrical energy throughout the solar consumer guide.

The ability to do work. Energy can exist in many different forms, including Electricity, Heat, Light, Chemical, Motion, Gravitational and can be stored. The units used for electrical energy are typically Wh (or kWh or MWh for larger quantities).

Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUA)

EUA

A financing mechanism which allows building owners to repay a loan for upgrades through the local council rates system.

Export limit

Connection limit

The maximum amount your solar or battery system can export to the grid. This is set by your Distribution Network Service Provider.

Feed-in tariff (FiT)

Feed-in rate, Feed-in-credit, Export tariff

The rate that your electricity retailer pays you for exported solar generation, measured in c/kWh.

Fixed charge

Supply charge, Service charge, Service to property charge

Charges in your electricity bill that are fixed, regardless of how you use electricity. Usually charged at a daily rate defined in c/day.

Flat rate tariff

General usage tariff, Fixed rate tariff, Single rate tariff

A tariff that includes a constant rate (c/kWh) paid for electricity used, regardless of time or day.

Fuse

 

An electrical safety device that interrupts the flow of electricity and must be replaced after activation.

Grid

Electrical Grid, Power grid

The distribution and transmission network

Gross metering

 

An electricity metering arrangement that exports all electricity generated by the solar panels to the grid, with no self-consumption.

Hybrid inverter

 

Combines the operation of a solar inverter and a battery inverter-charger.

Interval meter

 

A device that records how much electricity you use at interval periods (typically 15 or 30 minutes).

Inverter

 

A device which converts DC electricity to AC electricity.

Islanding

 

When a system disconnects from the grid and is able to operate independently.

Kilowatt (kW)

 

Unit of measurement used to quantify an amount of power.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

 

Unit of measurement used to quantify an amount of energy.

Megawatt (MW)

 

Unit of measurement used to quantify larger amounts of power. There are 1000 kilowatts (kW) in a megawatt (MW).

Megawatt hour (MWh)

 

Unit of measurement used to quantify larger amounts of energy. There are 1000 Kilowatt-hours (kW) in a Megawatt (MWh).

Microinverter

 

An inverter which is installed on each individual panel in a solar system.

Monitoring device

 

A device which is used to record solar and/or battery performance and/or electricity usage.

Net metering

 

An electricity metering arrangement that results in exporting only the excess electricity generated by a rooftop solar system that is not first self-consumed.

Off grid

 

Not connected to the electricity grid.

Off-peak rate

 

A lower rate paid for your electricity during specific (off-peak) times.

Optimiser

DC Optimiser, Power optimiser

A power electronics device which is installed on each individual panel in a solar system to independently optimise each panel's output.

Payback period

 

The length of time required for an investment to recover its costs.  The length of time it takes your solar system to recover its cost through reducing your electricity bill.

Peak rate

 

A higher rate you pay for your electricity during specific (peak) times.

Photovoltaic (PV)

 

Involving conversion of light into electricity.

Power

 

A measure of the rate at which energy is transferred. Measured in W, kW, MW.

Power outage

Black out, Power cut, Grid outage, Power outage

Interruption to the supply of electricity from the grid or alternative source.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

 PPA

A long-term arrangement between a generator and consumer of electricity for supply of electricity.

Rated capacity (solar panel)

Rated power output

The power (in kW) a solar panel will produce under standard test conditions.

Rated energy capacity (battery)

Rated capacity

The total amount of energy that can be stored in a battery (in kWh).

Rated power capacity (battery)

Rated power output, Maximum discharge rate

The maximum power (in kW) that can be supplied from a battery.

Rated power output

Rated capacity (solar panel), Rated power capacity (battery), Maximum discharge rate (battery)

The amount of power (in kW) at which a device such as a solar panel or battery can supply energy.

Rooftop solar system

 

A system composed of solar panels installed on the roof of a home or business to generate electricity, and an inverter to covert electricity from DC to AC.

Self-sufficiency

 

The proportion of your home or business electricity usage supplied by your solar and battery system. For example, if your self-sufficiency is 45%, your solar system supplies 45% of your electricity usage.

Shoulder rate

 

A rate between the off-peak and peak rate you pay for your electricity during specific (shoulder) times.

Single phase

 

A single-phase supply provides mains electricity to your property through 3 wires (active, neutral and earth).  

Small-scale technology certificates

 STCs

Australian Government solar rebate for households and small businesses.

Smart meter

Advanced meter, Type 4 meter

A device that digitally measures your electricity use, typically every 15 or 30 minutes, and remotely sends this information to your electricity retailer.

Solar export

Export, Feed-in, Excess Solar

Excess solar generation above electricity consumption which is exported to the grid.

Solar generation

Solar production, Electricity generation

The electricity produced by a rooftop solar system.

Solar installer

Accredited installer

An individual or company that installs a solar system.

Solar inverter 

 

A device which converts DC power generated from solar panels to AC power.

Solar panel

Panel, Solar module, PV module

A device that converts solar radiation into electricity, which can be installed on your roof. Multiple solar panels make up a solar system.

Solar retailer

Solar sales company, Solar company, Solar supplier

A company which manages the supply and installation of a solar system

Solar self-consumption

Self-consumption

Solar electricity used within your property.

Standalone power system

 SAPS

An independent and off-grid electricity supply system which can include a variety of electrical generation and storage components.

String

 

A group of series-connected solar panels.

String inverter

 

An inverter which is connected to one or more strings of solar panels.

Tilt

 Angle

The slope of the panel, typically the same as the slope of the roof face or racking system.

Time of use tariff

 

A tariff which has different rates for electricity usage at different times of the day.

Transmission network

Grid, Electrical Grid, Power Grid

The towers, wires, cables, and other infrastructure which connects large electricity generators to each other and the distribution network

Virtual power plant (VPP)

VPP

A network of batteries (or sometimes customer loads or EVs), controlled to operate in a coordinated way.

Voltage (V)

 

The potential that drives electrical current through an electrical circuit. Analogous to pressure pushing water through a pipe. Measured in volts (V).

Warranty

 

An extra guarantee that a business makes about the quality of a product or service.