5-Day Solar Electric (Photovoltaics) Certification Workshops


Prepares Students to Sit for the ETA Level 1 PV Certification Exam

Overall Course Rating in 2016:

3.90 (out of 4.0)

Want to learn how to install solar?  Maybe you even want to become certified to work in the solar field.  Now you can spend just five days of training (4 1/2 classroom instruction and 1/2 day taking the certification test) in a location near you - to realize your goal.  We have quite a selection of courses set for 2017 - located across the state (and even in Pennsylvania and Indiana).

A recent study shows that Solar jobs are growing at a rate 10 times the national average - and that PV installers average starting salaries are in the $20-24 per hour range (about $40,000 - $48,000 per year).  According to the 2017 US Energy and Employment Report, more people now work in the US solar industry than in oil, natural gas, and coal extraction - combined.

ETA Examination fees (normally $150) and course materials (installation toolkit and student workbook - also valued at around $150) are included as part of the course fee.

The course will consist of lectures (about 60%) as well as hands-on labs (also about 40%).  You will work with a working PV system, dismantling and reinstalling it, troubleshooting and ensuring its proper operation.  During the course you will learn to size your system according to your electrical needs, select the type of system that works best for your situation, select all the components for your system, size the wiring and overcurrent protection, price the system, size and select the battery bank (if needed) - basically, when you leave you will be able to design from start to finish a residential solar PV system and install it as well.  This is an introductory course.  We assume you have little or no background in electrical work.  And while there is some math involved, it is basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.


Ohio Architects BoardThis is an introductory but technical course on the design and installation of solar electric systems within residential and light commercial structures. Blue Rock Station has been approved as a Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System provider.   This course has been approved for 8 hours of LA CES health, safety, and welfare Professional Development Hours. It appears to comply with the AIA definition of Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) – related training.  It has been approved by the Ohio Architects Board for 8 hours of HSWrelated continuing education.

While the Engineering organizations do not pre-approve courses, this structured course also appears to meet the qualification requirements for 8 hours Continuing Professional Development Education hours as defined by the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors.

Blue Rock Station maintains records and issues certificates and course content materials that comply with most continuing education requirements for professional designations in the architecture and/or engineering fields.

This course has been approved by the Union Education Trust as eligible for tuition payment  If you are a State of Ohio bargaining unit employee, the Trust supports programs that help bargaining unit employees advance their careers, improve their quality of work life and work towards achieving employment security. Trust programs provide financial assistance (up to $1000 annually) to defray the cost of employees participating in education and training programs.  All current OCSEA state bargaining unit employees, OCSEA bargaining unit employees in the State of Ohio Treasurer's office, and CWA bargaining unit employees in the State of Ohio Secretary of State office, who are on the State of Ohio active payroll or who have recall/rehire rights are eligible to participate and receive financial assistance for Union Education Trust programs. Eligible participants must meet specific program criteria and requirements.  More information at https://www.uedtrust.org/ or call 1-866-436-7900.


Partial 2018 schedule...



Course Content Includes:

Basic Principles and Concepts of Power

  1. Potential and kinetic energy
  2. Molecular structure and covalent bonds
  3. Laws of thermodynamics
  4. Types of energy
  5. Methods of energy transfer (conduction, convection, radiation)
  6. Factors that affect the absorption of radiant energy
  7. Power equations
  8. Basic electricity
    1. Relationship of Watts, Volts and Amps
    2. Ohm's Law
    3. Electrical circuits
  9. How batteries work
  10. Direct and alternating currents
  11. Electrical safety

Basic Principles and Concepts of Photovoltaics
  1. How photovoltaic cells work
  2. Solar cell efficiency
  3. Factors affecting cell performance
  4. Types of photovoltaic cells
  5. Advantages and disadvantages of photovoltaic technology
  6. Solar panel specifications
  7. Standard Test Conditions (STC)

Photovoltaic System Components

  1. Selecting Solar Panels
  2. Inverters (square wave, modified square wave, sine-wave)
  3. Balance of system (BOS) components
    1. Junction box
    2. Combiners
    3. Battery system
    4. Controllers
    5. Maximum Power Point tracking
    6. Disconnects

Standard system configurations

  1. Stand-alone system
  2. Grid-tied systems
  3. Grid Interactive
  4. Grid Fallback
  5. Micro Inverter systems
  6. Power Optimizer systems
  7. Hybrid systems

Site assessment

  1. Locating true south (lines of declination)
  2. Shading issues
  3. Panel orientation (altitude and azimuth)
  4. Array mounting options and issues
    1. Rooftop
      1. Available area
      2. Structural integrity
      3. Stand off requirements
      4. Loading issues
      5. Inter row shading
    2. Ground mounted
    3. Top pole
      1. Side pole
      2. Tracking systems
    4. Building Integrated systems
  5. Determining available sunlight
    1. Solar insolation maps, online systems
    2. Use of a Solar Pathfinder
    3. Solar window

Designing a PV system

  1. Load requirements
  2. Calculating electrical use
    1. Assessing electric bills
    2. Load variations
    3. Cycling loads
    4. Phantom loads
    5. Induction motors
  3. Selecting a panel
    1. Panel specifications
  4. Determining system inefficiencies
    1. Inverter efficiencies
    2. BOS inefficiencies
  5. Wiring selection and voltage drop issues
  6. Temperature adjustments
  7. Estimating the size of the array
    1. Calculating number of panels given specifications and load requirements
    2. Determine maximum voltage of system and adjust for temperature variations
    3. Calculate number of panels and number of strings
  8. Determine compatibility to BOS components
  9. Grounding, bonding and over-current issues
  10. Pricing the system as designed (current costs, incentives)
  11. Connecting to the grid
  12. Troubleshooting problems

Battery Systems

  1. Types of batteries
  2. Determining nominal voltage
  3. Calculating Amp hour storage requirements
  4. Depth of discharge
  5. Temperature adjustments
  6. Battery bank sizing calculations
  7. How batteries are charged
    1. Bulk charge
    2. Absorption charge
    3. Floating charge
  8. Battery storage and maintenance issues
    1. Venting
    2. Equalization
    3. Measuring state of charge
  9. Battery safety issues

System Installation

  1. Racking Systems
  2. Loading Issues
  3. Climbing Safety
  4. Ground Mounted System issues
  5. Conduit Installation and Fill Issues


  1. Required Documentation/Application Package
    1. Interconnect Agreements
    2. Net Metering Agreements
    3. Required Permits
    4. Commissioning Forms
    5. Installation Checklists
    6. Operation and Maintenance Documentation

Testing and Commissioning the System

  1. Final Installation Checklist
  2. Visual Inspection
  3. Verification of Code Compliance
  4. Electrical System Verification Testing
  5. System Functioning Testing
  6. Verify Array Power and Energy Production against STC
  7. Derating Factor Components

System Maintenance and Troubleshooting

  1. Monitoring Performance
  2. Typical Systems Problems and how to Correct Them
  3. System Maintenance


This course has been conducted in affiliation with:

Registration is limited to 10 students.  This course is offered in partnership (as a fund raiser) with several not-for-profits.  The fee for this one-week course is $970 and includes:  Instruction, hands-on labs, textbook and lab material, installation tool kit, ETA examination, and (in most cases) lunch.  This course is also eligible for VA and Americorps funding.  Scholarships may also be available based on need.  Contact us at 740-674-4300 for further details regarding the management of fees.

About the Instructor:

Jay Warmke is the author of a number of textbooks on renewable energy, including Green Technology: Principles and Practices (Marcraft), Solar Photovoltaic Installer Certification Guide (Marcraft), Wind Turbine Installer Certification Guide (Marcraft), When the Biomass Hits the Wind Turbine (BRS Media), Understanding Photovoltaics: A Study Guide for Solar Electric Certification Programs(BRS Media), and many more. Jay also served as National Chairman: SkillsUSA Sustainable Solutions Contest, Vice President: Green Energy Ohio, Chairman and Committee Member: Electronic Technician's Association Renewable Energy Committee, as well as an ETA Board Member. He also teaches renewable energy at Zane State University, and the Train-the-Trainer program for Marcraft. Jay was also named the 2013 ETA Educator of the Year.


About the Electronics Technicians Association, International 
(ETA® International)

Founded in 1978 by electronics technicians, ETA International is a not-for-profit 501(c) 6, worldwide association whose mission is to represent and support the technical professional. ETA aligns with international standards, vocational and education curriculums, and businesses’ resource initiatives through certification programs, conferences, speaking engagements, and book and journal publications.

ETA Membership:
ETA International members are professionals in all technical fields, including fiber optics, smart home, renewable energy, customer service, biomedical, computer and computer networking, telecommunications, wireless communications, consumer electronics, video distribution, aviation, industrial electronics, radar, and satellite. Members range in occupation from college professors to beginner installers and technicians to company chairpersons. Learn more about ETA membership.

Our Certification Programs
Recognizing the need to verify that fellow electronics technicians had sufficient training in industry standards, including troubleshooting techniques, knowledge of test equipment, and installation procedures, ETA began providing third-party assessment through its own certification programs in 1978. Aligning with the ISO 17024 standards, and collaborating with education providers and industry professionals, ETA certifications test the knowledge and hands-on skills needed in today’s electronics industry. The organization currently has Stand-Alone Certifications and Journeyman Certifications for more than 80 certification programs in all electronics-related fields.

ETA tests and certifies thousands of technicians and industry specialists each year. The organization has its own Board of Directors, more than 600 subject matter experts serving on various certification advisory committees, a professional certification administration staff, training facilities, and more than 1,000 exam/certification administrators. ETA actively supports training and education through the development of study guides, technical monographs and seminars, as well as working with a large number of ETA-approved schools and courses.

This course prepares you to sit for the ETA Photovoltaic Installer (PVI) Level 1.  It is the first level of ETA's certifications designed to assess renewable energy professionals.  It is also a great first step for those seeking to enter the PV industry, and perhaps later prepare to sit for the NABCEP PV certification program.  More information available at http://eta-i.org.