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SEI Alumnus Shares Hands-on Solar Training Experience with Installation in Tucson

Posted by: april
May 27, 2011

By Paul Avallone
Solar Energy International Alumnus

Solar Training in Tucson with Habitat for HumaityThis spring, I attended Solar Energy International's PV101: Solar Electric Design and Installation (Grid-Direct) hands-on solar training workshop with installation in Tucson, Arizona. The class discussion portion of the traning was held at a golf course clubhouse.

Our co-instructor Ed Eaton led us through the history of photovoltaics (PV) technology, reinforcing the learning we achieved in PV101 PREP with discussion and a slide presentation. The lecture, exercises and quizzes carried the class through solar site analysis, household load analysis, system sizing, module selection, inverter selection and mounting options for on-grid systems. Kevin Lundy joined Ed and instructed us in setting up a lab on a nearby putting green. We measured voltage of panels. Ed demonstrated the Solar Pathfinder, showing the class how to optimize the location and angle of tilt of a module to avoid shading and capture the most sunshine.

Solar Training in Tucson with Habitat for Humanity

The in-class text book learning was supported with an extensive tour of PV installations in Tucson. The City of Tucson's Solar Coordinator led a tour of the city installations. He was very informative on the projects the city has installed. We reviewed installations at city buildings, an off-grid and an on-grid home, and a pizza restaurant. We were able to get up close to the modules, inverters, shutoffs and meters, and ask questions.

We assisted with the installation of a grid-tied 3.2KW array for a Tucson Habitat for Humanity Home. This was an excellent opportunity for everyone attending to experience assembling the panels with rails, grounding the array, roof mounting, and assisting with wiring of the inverter to the main.

Solar training in Tucson

This workshop was a complete educational experience; blending text book learning, lecture, and lab work with analysis of installed systems and an opportunity to assist in an installation.




Paul has been involved with supporting renewable energy since his days at the University of South Carolina where he attained a degree in marketing. He blogs about solar on his Facebook page. He has taken RE100 and PV101 through Solar Energy International. He is pursuing North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV installer certification.


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