5-Day Solar Electric PV Certification Workshop – Westerville (April 2-8)

GEO 5-Day Solar Electric PV Certification Workshop at the Westerville Electric Offices
Sunday, April 2 through Friday, April 8th (8 am – 5 pm)

Registration includes attendance at GEO’s Policy Conference, Thursday, April 7th

Featuring Solar Educator Jay Warmke
City of Westerville Electric Offices, 139 East Broadway Avenue, Westerville, Ohio 43081-2119

(SOLD OUT) GEO Member Workshop Registration – $930 registration fee (includes instructional materials, textbook, tool kit, lunches, ETA certification examination, registration at GEO Policy Conference)

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

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

GEO thanks the City of Westerville Electric for hosting this event.

This 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.  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.

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).


So 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


This course has been conducted in affiliation with:

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.

(SOLD OUT) GEO Member Workshop Registration – $930 registration fee (includes instructional materials, textbook, tool kit, lunches, ETA certification examination, registration at GEO Policy Conference)

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

GEO thanks the City of Westerville Electric for hosting this event.

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

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 theNABCEP PV certification program. More information available at http://eta-i.org.

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.