Tag Archives: solar training

Top 5 Videos on How to Install Home Solar Power

Interested in solar power but unsure where to start? Check out our top 5 videos that cover the basics of designing a home system. Watch professional engineers and home enthusiasts explain how solar works and show you around their own home systems. Enjoy!


1. How to Solar Power Your Home – mjlorton

What’s the difference between on grid and off grid? Do I need batteries? What are micro inverters? In this extremely thorough introduction, South African solar enthusiast Martin Lorton uses his whiteboard and real life examples to cover it all. If you want a complete run down of the basics, this is a great place to start!
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2. How Many Solar Panels Do I Need? – Solar Quotes

Want to save the technical details for later and just start researching what’s on the market? Finn Peacock of Solar Quotes explains how to start your solar planning by deciding what size home system you need. (Hint: don’t start with an arbitrary number of panels, start with your estimated power output. I’ll let Finn explain how and why.) Make sure to check out the many other videos from this channel covering all aspects of how to install home solar. While these are mainly aimed at solar users in Australia, much of the information is still valuable wherever you are in the world.

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3. Solar System Sizing? – GreenwaySolarTV

Ready for a deeper explanation of the mathematics involved in choosing a solar system? Struggling to get to grips with kilowatts and kilowatt hours? In this video Mike Militello from Greenway Solar breaks down the numbers involved in how to correct size and install home solar power systems. He explains the concepts and runs through some examples on his whiteboard. Perfect if you want to double check your figures before you start your project.

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4. Episode 484: Home Solar Power System Installation – EEVblog

David L Jones’ excitement is infectious as he talks you through his 12 panel 3kW on grid system. Being a self confessed geek he is happy to dive deep into the full specifications of his LG panels, SMA inverter and other pv components. He walks you round his whole system and even shows you what’s inside his toolbox! If you like this, be sure to check out the time lapse video of the whole system being built.

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5. Final Solar System Installation Part I – Off Grid Build

Interested in going completely off the grid? In this video, sustainable living enthusiast Dan Richfield talks you through his solar plus battery system explaining all of the choices he made from component selection and sizing to wiring and installation. If you share Dan’s passion for sustainable living you will love the rest of his channel which is full of useful videos on how to build self sufficient off grid homes.

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Solar Leading Youtube Channel

We couldn’t let you go without mentioning our own youtube channel! If you are interested in finding out more about what we do, feel free to check it out. You can take a look around our factory, see our solar products in action and let us know your ideas for solar videos you would like to see in the future.

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Seen another video you think belongs on our list? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

The Difference Between Off Grid and On Grid Solar Power Systems

Solar Leading design and supply wholesale off the shelf and custom made On Grid solar power systems. But what is this “grid” anyway? and how do you (or your customers) decide what sort of system is right for you? Read on to find out.


Guide to choosing off or on grid solar power systems from Solar Leading

Solar Leading guide to choosing off or on grid solar power system

On Grid Systems

On Grid Solar Power Systems (also known as ‘grid tie systems’ or ‘integrated systems’) are connected to the mains power supply just like a regular home. This means that mains power can still be used any time your solar panels generate less electricity than is needed, e.g. at night. In many countries, solar homes can also capitalize on times when the panels generate more electricity than is needed by selling the surplus back to the electricity company -usually at a nice profit.

On Grid Systems usually require:

  • Solar panels and an appropriate mounting system,
  • Grid tied solar inverter(s) and monitor(s),
  • Solar cables and MC4 connectors,
  • AC and DC safety isolator switches, and
  • Grounding earth cables and clamps.


Off Grid Systems

The problem is that in many countries it is either not permitted or not practical to connect on grid solar power systems to the mains utility grid.

Off Grid Solar Systems do not need to be connected to mains power. As there is no ready source of reserve power, they rely on generators or storage batteries to provide electricity on days when the solar panels generate less electricity than is required, e.g. on cloudy days or at night time. The idea is that at times when the system provides more electricity than required the surplus can be used to recharge the batteries.

Off Grid Systems normally require:

  • Solar panels and a suitable solar mounting system,
  • Off grid solar inverter(s),
  • Solar power controller and batteries,
  • Solar cables and MC4 connectors,
  • AC and DC safety isolator switches, and
  • Grounding earth cables and clamps.


Which do I need?

In many cases this decision will be made for you. If you are unable or not permitted to connect to your local mains electricity supply, you only choice is an off grid system.

If you are in the lucky position of choosing, we would advise that, in most cases, an on grid solar power system will be the most reliable and cost effective choice.

On grid systems do not require batteries, which can be expensive and require frequent replacement, and require fewer panels, as you don’t need to generate extra power for cloudy days. This cuts down the initial cost and reduces the payback time considerably. When coupled with payments from the utility company for surplus generation, these systems can often pay for themselves in seven years or less.

If you have the opportunity to install an on-grid system, you owe it to yourself to research your options. Get in touch with your local grid operator or your current electricity provider to find out if you could be saving money with solar.

If you have any questions related to designing and installing on grid solar power systems, we would love to help. Feel free to leave your question or comment below.

What is the Difference Between Mono and Poly Solar Panels?

The two big technologies in silicon-based solar are still MONO and POLY solar panels. Here at Solar Leading we stock both.

But what is the difference? and how do you know which one is best for you and your solar project?


Mono Crystalline Panels

A grade mono solar cells from solar leading

The difference between mono and poly solar panels comes down to the cells that they are made from. The silicon in mono and poly cells undergo different manufacturing processes, making panels with slightly different performance characteristics. Understanding these differences will help you to choose the right panel for your project.

Mono crystalline panels (mono-si, mono) are made from silicon that has been ‘grown’ in a single crystal through the Czochralski process’. The crystal is then trimmed, sliced into wafers and treated to form solar cells. Because of the shape of the crystal, mono cells tend to have distinctive ‘cut off corners’.

Mono cells are easy to identify by these cut off corners and a smooth even black color.

The Mono panels that they make tend to be more efficient than poly panels but also more expensive. This means that if you take a mono panel and a poly panel of the same size and leave them in exactly the same light conditions, the mono panel will generate more power. However, that power will have cost you more per watt because the panel that generated it was more expensive.

This trade off in output and cost is often worth it in projects where space is restricted. For example, a home owner with a small roof might choose to use more expensive mono panels in order to squeeze the maximum power from his system in the long run.


Poly Crystalline Panels

A grade poly solar cells from solar leading

Poly crystalline panels (poly-Si, poly) do not use silicon from a single crystal. Instead, silicon is taken from multiple sources, and subjected to intense heat and pressure to ‘cast’ a silicon ‘ingot’. This ingot can then be sliced into wafers and treated to make poly cells.

Poly cells used to be quite easy to recognize by their reflective ‘flaky’ blue surface but newer manufacturing processes are making them look more and more like mono panels every year.

The Poly solar panels they make have tended to be less efficient and less expensive than the same sized mono panels. This makes them better suited to installations where the most important consideration is not overall output but reduced cost per unit or accelerated return on investment. For example, many larger commercial and utility scale solar power plants use poly panels to produce electricity at a lower cost per watt in order to shorten the payback period of their system.

Poly panels have also tended to have slightly higher failure rates and slightly shorter life spans than mono panels, their output slowly degrading over a period of twenty-five to thirty years. This has generally been seen as an acceptable maintenance cost for larger installations. Solar investors realize that after twenty five years, their panels will have paid for themselves many times over in electricity generated and sold. Also, that far in the future, solar technology may well have advanced to the point where the replaced panels will be many times more efficient and less expensive than the originals.

We have put together this infographic to help you remember the difference:

INFOGRAPHIC: What's the difference between mono and poly crystalline pv solar panels

Mono v.s. Poly 2014

Non Crystalline Panels

As well as mono and poly, there are many other emerging pv technologies that are not made from silicon at all. These are often grouped together as non-crystalline or ‘thin film’ solar.

The technologies receiving the most attention at the moment are:

  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  • Copper induim gallium selenide (CIGS)
  • emerging ‘organic’ and ‘quantum’ technologies

These technologies hold great promise for the future. Some of them have proved more versatile and more tolerant to partial shading than either mono or poly in the lab. However, they are not yet able to compete with the availability, price or reliability of good old mono and poly solar panels. For this reason they have yet to be widely adopted in home, business or utility solar power systems.

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So, are you using mono or poly panels? What was the deciding factor in your choice? Please let us know in the comments…