I noticed a recent question (How can I connect mismatched solar panels in parallel?) with three tags relating to solar power/photovoltaics. Each of these is an existing tag:

There don't appear to be any other such tags (e.g., "solar-power" or the like) currently in use. Only a few questions come up in a search of the site for "solar" that are not already tagged with at least one of the above, and for the most part they only mention solar power incidentally.

What should we do with these tags? I don't see much benefit from using all three (or any two) on the same question.


There are at least three different kinds of solar, and the kinds of engineering questions, and the pool of experts, would differ considerably between them:

  1. - covers modules, cells, films that convert light directly into electricity using semi-conductors. both and are subsets of this, and should be synonyms of it. Yes, I know some people refer to solar thermal panels as solar panels, but in almost all cases, when someone mentions solar panels, they mean PV.

  2. converts the light into heat, for use as low- or medium-grade heat.

  3. concentrates light, using mirrors, onto a point or a tube, and the heat drives a turbine to generate electricity; or the high-grade heat could be used as such (I haven't heard of this being done yet, but I wouldn't rule it out as an application that's done within the next few years). As far as I know, we don't have any questions about concentrating-solar yet, so there's no reason to create that tag yet.

is so unspecific as to be next-to-useless as a tag.

  • $\begingroup$ This is now implemented, with "photovoltaics" serving most of the existing questions and "solar-energy" serving everything that's not PV. $\endgroup$ – Air Aug 10 '15 at 16:24

I think that this is a good place for some tag synonyms. seems to be the most general, so that should be the end tag. i.e. solar-panel --> photovoltaic-cell

could just get removed. I'm not sure that it is doing anything useful. We don't have "electrical" or "mechanical" as a tag. is similar.

  • $\begingroup$ To be my own nay-sayer: How would a tag about solar water heaters be tagged? Would that question still need a solar-panel or solar ? $\endgroup$ – hazzey Jul 3 '15 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ I'd have to agree with hazzey's naysayer. Solar thermal generators are entirely different than photovoltaic cells. In case someone on the trip back from Vegas asks about the Ivanpah power plant. $\endgroup$ – Mark Jul 4 '15 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ We could retag this question to use a new solar-energy tag while burninating solar. That would work for things not related to power or PV. The other solar questions are really solar panel questions. Make sense? cc: @Mark $\endgroup$ – Air Jul 6 '15 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Makes sense. Can you prevent someone from remaking the solar tag? $\endgroup$ – Mark Jul 6 '15 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark We could request that it be blacklisted, but that takes developer intervention and is considered the "nuclear option" for tags that are a significant and recurring problem. $\endgroup$ – Air Jul 7 '15 at 18:08

Looks like we ought to consolidate those down and get them to a point where they don't significantly overlap with each other.

Tags are meant to represent broad-brush concepts. For the most part, the three you point out all clearly refer to the same concept. Future visitors don't benefit from finely tuned differences within tags at this point in the site's growth.

Given the site's nascent status, it might make sense to create and merge the three tags you pointed out into the new tag.

If there are some questions (like this one that you pointed out) that don't fit within solar-energy, I would be fine with consolidating to two tags and making sure they represent two separate question spaces.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hmm. I'm not sure this question, for example, is best served by replacing the more precise PV tag with a more general solar tag. $\endgroup$ – Air Jul 3 '15 at 1:07

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