In switching to solar, you may come across technical terms you haven’t heard before. Hopefully the vocabulary list below can offer some clarity in the installation process.

Common Rooftop Solar Terms

All equipment required to operate a grid-tied solar project. BOS encompasses all parts of the PV system besides the solar panels themselves.


The amount of solar energy that is converted into electricity by a PV cell.

Federal Investment Tax Credit (FITC)

A dollar-for-dollar tax credit that reduces the income taxes you owe. This FITC covers 30% of the total solar project cost.

ExampleIf your solar project amounts to $25,000, your FITC will take $7,500 (30% of $25,000) off of the income taxes you owe for the year of your installation. 

Grid-Tied System

A solar panel system that is connected to a location’s main energy grid. In New York, all solar panel systems are grid-tied.

Inflation Reduction Act

A new climate bill signed into law by President Biden in 2022 that extends the timeline of the 30% FITC for solar installations.

Originally, the FITC was scheduled to lose value starting in 2022, and be obsolete by 2024. Due to the Inflation Reduction Act, the FITC’s 30% value for will remain valid for all projects installed from 2022-2032.


The process of connecting a solar project to the main electrical grid.


Devices that convert the electricity from your solar panels into usable electricity. After the panels have converted the sun’s energy into direct current (DC) electricity, inverters convert that energy into alternate current (AC) electricity, making it ready to use in your building.

Kilowatt-Hour (KWh)

A measure of electricity. 1 KWh is equal to 1 kilowatt (or 1,000 watts) used in 1 hour.

KWhs are a common measurement used by energy companies.


A device that makes the electricity made by your solar panels usable.

Micro-inverters are connected to single solar panels, and convert direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity. When the electricity is AC, it becomes usable.

New York City Property Tax Abatement (NYC PTA)

A four-year tax abatement offered to solar project users in NYC. It adds up to 20% of your cost, over 4 years (5% per year)

New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)

New York State’s official energy agency. They are governed by a 13-member board and seek to provide objective information and support for energy efficiency in NYS.

Net Metering

A system that transfers surplus solar power collected from solar panels into the main power grid, then credits the solar panel user for the surplus power on their bill.

Example: All solar panel systems in NYC are attached to the main power grid. When their panels collect more solar energy than they use for electricity, that power is input into the main grid and distributed to utility users. The cost of said energy is credited back to the panel owner from the utility.


Photovoltaic (PV)

A term referring to the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials.

Solar panels are made up of many different photovoltaic cells – small semiconducting pieces of metal that collectively collect and convert sun energy into electricity.


Renewable Energy Certificate (REC)

Certificates you may buy to receive grid-based renewable energy. They are worth one megawatt-hour (MWh).

Note: “Renewable energy” in this case can mean solar or wind energy.

Solar Panels

Panels that absorbs and converts the sun’s energy into electricity for you to use at your home or business.

Solar Panel Product/Equipment Warranty

Money-back guarantee on the hardware of a solar project (e.g. inverters).

Solar Panel Power/Performance Warranty

A complete money-back guarantee if your solar panels degrade below an expected amount of efficiency within 25-30 years.

Successor Solar Incentive Program (SuSI)

A New Jersey-based incentive program that awards certificates called SREC 2s to solar users per every 1,000 KWh of solar production for 15 years. Each SREC 2 is worth $85.

Example: A homeowner with a solar system producing 10,000 KWh/year would earn $850. If that amount stayed consistent, they could earn over $12,000 in the span of 15 years.

Watt (W) And Kilowatt (KW)

A watt is a measure of electricity used. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts.


Don’t let another day go by without tapping into the immense potential of commercial solar. Take control of your energy costs, boost your profitability, and show your commitment to sustainability. Join countless businesses across New York that have already made the smart choice.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.