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PV101: Solar Training - Solar Electric Design and Installation (Grid-Direct)

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may affect your travel plans, please click here to read SEI’s response plan and current information regarding registrations and cancellations.


PV101 is your gateway to a career in the solar industry.  It all starts with the fundamentals, and a solid understanding of various components, system architectures, and applications for PV systems.  Other topics include site analysis, system sizing, array configuration, and performance estimation; electrical design characteristics such as wiring, overcurrent protection, and grounding; a detailed look at module and inverter specifications and characteristics; mounting methods for various roof structures and ground-mounts; and an introduction to safely and effectively commissioning grid-direct PV systems.  This course focuses on grid-direct PV systems, but covers material critical to understanding all types of PV systems.  These core concepts are expanded on in SEI’s upper ­level PV courses.

what you will learn

Students who complete PV101 will be able to:

  • Describe global and regional PV demand and growth trends
  • Examine solar industry employment trends and options
  • Identify and describe basic functions of different components of PV systems
  • Introduce the features and applications of the following PV system configurations: PV-direct, stand-alone, grid-direct, multimode
  • Diagram systems to understand component interaction and power flow
  • Define the two types of electrical current (AC and DC) and explain their differences
  • Explain the relationship between: volts, amps, amp-hours, watts, watt-hours, and kilowatt-hours; perform power and energy calculations
  • Describe typical electrical service voltages and equipment
  • Examine power, energy, and demand / production curves
  • Define utility bill terminology
  • Describe PV metering options
  • Compare incentive mechanisms for renewable energy installations
  • Describe the differences among various PV cell technologies
  • Identify key components of a PV module and choose important criteria from module specification sheets
  • Locate important points on the I-V curve
  • Apply different temperature and irradiance measurements to voltage and current values
  • Explain the purpose and basic functioning of bypass diodes
  • Identify meters used with PV systems and key points of meter use and safety
  • List common functions of digital multimeters (DMM) and clamp-on ammeters
  • Describe basic procedures for testing an operating PV system
  • Define and list characteristics of series and parallel circuits, and review the application of these connections to ensure system compatibility
  • Determine azimuth and altitude angle of the sun using a sun chart
  • Define factors that impact the amount of peak sun hours reaching the array
  • Apply shading losses to estimated AC energy production
  • Identify tilt angle and orientation that provides maximum energy production
  • Pre-qualify a customer
  • Explain how remote site assessment tools are used
  • Identify factors limiting system size
  • Identify data required to size and design a grid-direct PV system
  • Identify common PV mounting options; list advantages and disadvantages of different mounting options
  • Assess PV array layout options
  • Identify and define the function of the following on a three-line diagram of a grid-direct PV system: equipment grounding & conductors, ungrounded conductors, functionally grounded conductors, grounding electrode, grounding electrode conductor, electrical system grounding
  • Define the primary function of an inverter, and identify the important information used to specify a grid-direct inverter
  • Identify the different types of inverter technologies and list their advantages and disadvantages
  • Describe some installation tips and techniques for the different types of power electronics
  • Calculate PV array size using the online PVWatts tool
  • Apply appropriate system loss factors
  • Create charts for your location to aid in sizing estimates
  • Describe why temperature is an important system design consideration
  • Describe DC-to-AC power ratio and how it applies to system design; when to use a higher or lower power ratio
  • Describe criteria for different power electronics options in PV systems
  • Determine the correct wiring configuration of PV modules and power electronics for a given application
  • Identify and describe characteristics of conductor materials and insulations
  • Determine color coding of conductors based on wire type and circuit characteristics
  • Identify terminology for the various circuits in PV systems
  • Determine maximum current for PV system circuits
  • Identify and describe considerations for selecting conductors to meet ampacity and voltage drop requirements
  • Explain the purpose and correct placement of disconnects and overcurrent protection
  • Perform basic overcurrent device sizing for DC and AC PV system circuits
  • Identify potential jobsite hazards and opportunities for additional safety training
  • Determine proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for PV installation and commissioning tasks
  • Describe lockout / tagout procedures
  • List 5 basic commissioning tests to be completed after a system is installed
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helpful information

Prerequisites: Completion of our free online RE100 Introduction to Renewable Energy, is highly recommended.

To view online sessions of PV101, click PVOL101.

This workshop includes 5 days of classroom lecture with tours, in addition to approximately a 1/2 day of labs.

For information on SEI’s workshop and training program policies please click here.

nabcep certification information

SEI Contact Training Hours: 5 days in person = 40 hours

This course provides approved credit hours towards the following NABCEP Certifications and Recertifications:

  • PV Associate
  • PV Technical Sales Professional
  • SH Associate (Renewal only)
  • Solar Heating Installer (Recertification only)

Please visit NABCEP’S online course catalog for credit hours breakdown.

After successfully completing this course and PV203/PVOL203, you are eligible to sit for the NABCEP PV Associate Exam (PVA).  The PVA Exam includes questions on grid-direct and battery-based PV systems.  For information on NABCEP and signing up for the PV Associate Exam please click here.

For information on SEI’s Solar Professionals Certificate Program please click here



more on nabcep certification > sei's solar professionals certificate program info >

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course materials

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