Category Archives: 2015 GEO Events

5-Day PV Certification Workshop – Westerville

Group Shot PV InstallPrepares Students to Sit for the ETA Level 1 PV Certification Exam

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, a 1/2 day taking the certification test, and the option to attend the 2016 Ohio Green Energy Policy Conference on April 7th) in a relaxed setting – to realize your goal.

  • April 3rd – 8th:  at the City of Westerville Electric Division, 139 East Broadway Avenue, Westerville, OH
  • April 7th: GEO Policy Conference, Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2210 Fred Taylor Drive, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Non Member Early Registration :  $970 (includes ETA examination fee, course materials and solar installation tool kit)*  [join GEO]

GEO Member Early Registration :  $930 (SOLD OUT)

After March 28th, price increases to $1,070

(*by registering, you agree to the terms outlined in the Waiver of Liability)

This is a comprehensive course on the design and installation of solar electric systems within residential and light commercial structures. It appears to comply with the AIA definition of Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) – related training.  While the organizations do not pre-approve courses, this structured course appears to meet the qualification requirements for 35 hours Continuing Professional Development Education hours as defined by the Ohio Architects Board and the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors. Professional Continuing Education FAQs

ETA Examination fees (normally $150) and course materials (also around $150) are included as part of the course fee. VETERANS:  The Examination Fee is eligible for VA reimbursement. The course may also be eligible for VA or Americorps reimbursement (check with your contact at these agencies if you think you may qualify).

Logo on 4-H PhotoSo much is going on at GEO that we decided to double up this week.  The PV certification class will be held Sunday, April 3rd, through Friday, April 8th (six days rather than the usual 5 days).  On Thursday, April 7th, students will be provided with a free registration to the GEO Policy Conference (find out more about the conference).  Basically you will get a two-for-one, the entire certification workshop as well as a registration (a $150 value) at the GEO policy conference.  If this is a bit confusing, or this arrangement messes with your schedule a bit – give us a call at 740-674-4300 and we will let you know the details and options.

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).

The course will consist of lectures (about 50%) as well as hands-on labs (also about 50%).  You will work with a working PV system, dismantling and re-installing it, troubleshooting and ensuring its proper operation.  You will also learn how to design and build your own solar generator – to get you through those irritating power outages.


While we can’t guarantee that you will pass the ETA exam, we can do what we can do.  First, ETA will allow you to re-take the exam one time for free during the year after your first attempt, should you prove unsuccessful during your first examination.  On top of that, we at Blue Rock Station will allow you to sit through the course a second time (space available) for FREE to prepare for that second attempt.  Such a deal…


Many students attend this course because they intend to install a PV system at their home.  They hope that this course will give them the tools they need to design and then install their residential system and save thousands of dollars (and it will).  As part of the course curriculum, we will design a residential PV project from start-to-finish.  This means that the students will interview the owner, determine load requirements, design the array, determine all the components (picking real-world options from the Internet), price the system, size the conductors, estimate voltage drop due to resistance, determine the battery bank requirements (if it is a stand-alone system), design the grounding and bonding system, and put together a cost estimate for the materials.

As a special offer to those registering for the class, on a first-come-first-served basis, we can use your project at this course project.  This means that if you register early (and ask), we will take the specifications for your home and project and use this for our case study.  You will then leave the class with a completely designed PV system (saving you perhaps thousands of dollars and feeling confident that you have a well-designed plan in hand).  So call today to see if the class you want to attend still has the project open – and reserve it for yourself.


The learning doesn’t stop just because the workshop is over.  We will add you to our growing database of students, and be in contact periodically with you regarding installations going on around the state that are looking for volunteers.  Gain valuable “real world” experience.  Also, many employers contact us from time-to-time for recommendations of students who they may wish to employ.

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


Registration is limited to 10 students.  This course is offered in partnership with several not-for-profits.  The fee for this one-week course is $970 and includes:  Instruction, hands-on labs, textbook and lab material, 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.

Early Registration Fee:  $970 (includes ETA examination fee, course materials and solar installation tool kit)*

GEO Member Early Registration Fee:  $930 (SOLD OUT)

After March 28th, price increases to $1,070

(*by registering, you agree to the terms outlined in the Waiver of Liability)

*Give us a call regarding multi-registration discounts

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

About the Instructor:

Jay Warmke is the author of a number of textbooks on renewable energy, including ASSEMBLING A SOLAR GENERATOR,WHEN THE BIOMASS HITS THE WIND TURBINE, UNDERSTANDING PHOTO VOLTAIC: A STUDY GUIDE FOR SOLAR ELECTRIC CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS, and more. He has received several awards including Educator of the Year (ETA),  Volunteer of the Year, and Pioneer of the Year from Green Energy Ohio.
Jay also serves as Vice President: Green Energy Ohio, Chair Person: ETA’s Renewable Energy Committee and board member: Electronic Technician’s Association (ETA) . He also teaches renewable energy at Zane State College, and various workshops on sustainable construction and renewable energy at Blue Rock Station, which he co-owns with his wife Annie Warmke.  Blue Rock Station is the premier sustainable living center in Ohio and draws visitors from around the world.

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, smarthome, 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.

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.

Over 120 Sites Across Ohio Showcased Oct. 2, 3 & 4 for 2015 GEO Tour!


A BIG THANKS TO OUR 20 GEO TOUR SPONSORS & OVER 100 TOUR VOLUNTEERS ACROSS OHIO!!!  We are now collecting reports of visitors at each Tour Site and will be sending an on-line survey to all those who provided their emails on the site sign-up sheets.  We are hearing that tour visitors this year were more serious than ever about installing renewable energy.  If you would like to share your thoughts or receive the tour survey contact GEO at   Take the 2015 GEO Tour On-Line Survey – Tell us about your Tour Site visits on October 2, 3 & 4. If You Missed the GEO Tour on October 2, 3 & 4, Check Out our On-Line Sites & Materials:
See the GEO Tour Hand-outs On-line: 
2 GEO News Magazines – GEO Tour & Buyers Guide

Enter the 2015 GEO Tour Portal to see Tour Sites with solar, wind, energy efficiency and 7 other green technologies in your area!  You can search sites in a selected region or county. Sites are listed alphabetically and may also be searched by types of technology (solar, wind, etc.) and types of site (businesses, homes, etc.). Each tour site gives a description by the site owner, directions and up to four photos. The web site will create a Google Map of your personalized tour with directions between sites.

2015 Ohio Energy Market Update Conference

On September 18, 2015, GEO staff member Emily Sautter participated as a speaker at the SW Ohio Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineer’s (AEE) 2015 Ohio Energy Market Update Conference. The AEE is a professional organization for energy engineers, managers, technicians & consultants who design & operate power facilities, develop & implement energy efficiency & renewable energy programs & technologies, educate & assist customers, employers or employees to better manage & reduce energy use, costs & pollution.  The conference, hosted by AEE & ASHRAE, helped attendees learn about Duke Energy of Ohio’s new rate designs, the PJM electric grid, renewable energy markets, natural gas and electric commodity markets, plus how to reduce energy costs.

GEO’s Bill Spratley on Community Solar in Ohio – Sept 15 Alliance Forum

Tuesday, September 15 – 4:00 – 7:00 pm
Courtney’s Banquet Center, 981 East State St., Alliance, Ohio
> Bill Spratley, GEO Executive Director on Community Solar in Ohio
Download Spratley Presentation   Download Reference Jack Barnett Paper
> Tim Ryan, US Congressional Representative on Direction of Alternative Energy
> Randy Monhemius, USDA on Rural Energy for American Grants
> Greg Courtney, Wind Turbines of Ohio on Solar for Businesses and Non-Profits
                       Meet the Green Alliance Sponsors and Supporters:Green Alliance Sept 15 2015
Right to Left in Photo Above:
Mark Locke – Director of Chamber of Commerce
Tiffany Gravlee – Green Alliance
Bill Spratley – GEO
Martha McClaugherty – Green Alliance
Dr. Chuck McClaugherty – Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center – Univ. of Mount Union
Dr. Lori Kumler – Professor at University of Mount Union
Dr. Steve Kramer – Professor Univ. Mount Union
Andrea Lee – Keep Alliance Beautiful
Greg Courtney – Wind Turbines of Ohio

See Updates on GEO Bibliography on Community Solar 

See Event Poster

Thursday, September 10 Hear Architect & Solar Homeowner Jack Hedge on Paybacks

GEO Central Ohio Clean Energy Network Meeting
Architect & Solar Homeowner Jack Hedge on…
Use of an Electric Vehicle Greatly Reduces the Return on Investment Period for a Solar Array
Thursday, September 10, 2015 9:00 – 11:00 am
Worthington Hills Country Club, 920 Clubview Blvd. South, Columbus, Ohio 43235
See Jack Hedge’s Slides and his ASES Paper

Jack HedgeIn the Midwest where electricity is relatively inexpensive, charging an electric vehicle from a PV solar array can greatly reduce the return on investment period for the cost of the solar array. Using the cost of gasoline saved over driving a comparable combustion engine vehicle and the cost of a PV solar array sized to charge the EV for a year the return on investment can be calculated.

In Ohio using a cost of $3.50/ watt for a PV solar array and $2.50 per gallon of gasoline the return on investment for a Nissan Leaf vs a Nissan Versa is 8.4 years, a Chevy Volt vs a Chevy Malibu is 7.53 years and a Tesla vs a Jaguar is 5.5 years. If the cost of gasoline goes up the ROI reduces. On average these 3 vehicles will divert an average of 5 tons of carbon per 12,000 miles driven.
From Jack Hedge’s technical paper presented at SOLAR 2015 at the National Solar Conference of the American Solar Energy Society at Penn State University on July 28, 2015.