Popular Search Terms: Solar PV

30 Minutes of Free Video on How to Install Solar PV Modules

Here are 4 video lessons about how to install solar PV equipment. This information will be a review to any experienced designer or installer, but if you’re new to the industry it will be helpful so you can actually visualize how to the equipment is installed on the roof and how all of the pieces fit together.

If you need to learn how to perform site visits, design, install, quote, estimate power production and everything else you need to know to install solar projects from A to Z, click here to sign up for our next NABCEP Solar Training that starts on Monday September 30th. The course will prepare you for the NABCEP Entry Level exam and the capstone project will be submitting full plans for a residential solar project. Click here to sign up the NABCEP Solar Training course.

Click here to check out Sunify. Sunify is a simple mobile tool that solar sales people use to make sure they collect all the information they need on a site visit with the least possible effort. It’s so cheap it will pay for itself in one site visit. Sunify does 4 things that will make your site visits better.

  1. Sunify will eliminate paper notes so you no longer have to copy and paste notes into emails and waste time.
  2. It will ensure that you, or the sales people that you manage, capture the information that they need to on the first visit.
  3. You’ll collect better quality information because you can collect video and audio notes in addition to photos and text answers. This will give lead to more accurate quotes, design, and an easier time for the installation team.
  4. It’s all the tools you need in one place, so you’ll never loose your notes again.

Click here to check out Sunify. 

Thank you Munro Distributing for your help putting this together.

9: 26 — How to Attach, Install and Wire Micro-Inverters on Pitched Roofs

6:06 — Basic Walkthrough of Solar PV DC Wiring

9:29 — How to Install Solar PV Modules on Pitched Roofs

6:10 — Basic Guide to Installing Solar PV Modules on Flat Roofs

Posted in Featured Designs, Products, and Suppliers, Solar Photovoltaics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Things You Should Know About the Michigan Solar Industry

The Open PV Project ranks Michigan as the 28th best state for solar PV with 7.09 MW of installed capacity.  Here are two things you might not know about the Michigan solar industry if you’re not spending a lot of time in the state:

#1 – Michigan Solar Installed capacity is going to double fast


Thousands of solar panels stacked floor-to-ceiling at McNaughton-McKay’s Ann Arbor warehouse.

Last week I saw more solar panels than I’ve ever seen in one place – surprisingly, here in Ann Arbor. In 2011 McNaughton-McKay won a solar panel contract with DTE for a series of projects totaling nearly 15MW in installed capacity. That’s a huge number, and the evidence is on display when you walk the aisles at McNaughton-McKay: thousands of panels stacked floor-to-ceiling in their Ann Arbor warehouse.

So when I say capacity is going to double fast, it’s not a hope or a dream.  DTE has committed to achieving 22 MW of installed solar PV in the state.  McNaughton-McKay is part of DTE’s team for these projects and have built a knowledgeable team to facilitate these massive installations.  Spending time in the warehouse made me feel like I was standing at the epicenter of Michigan’s solar industry.

HeatSpring is hosting a NABCEP solar installer training in Ann Arbor this Fall – click here for more details.

#2 – Community solar in Michigan is driving the residential market

Most of the DTE projects are commercial and utility scale, so what about the residential solar market?  The most promising initiative driving the adoption of residential solar in Michigan is the push toward ‘community solar’ kicked off by Cherryland Electric Coop’s Community Solar program.

Matt Roush with CBS Detroit and Dave Konkle from the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) do a great job describing community solar, how it works, and the basic financial impact in this article.  The Michigan Energy Office awarded GLREA a $33,304 grant to compile a best practices report for community solar in Michigan.  This fall we’ll be creating a free course to walk through the feasibility and economics of community solar, including all the numbers for planning community solar projects.  We’ve covered successful community solar projects in Vermont in the past, and also acknowledged that community solar can be a pain.  The new information isn’t that community solar works, it’s that it’s working in Michigan.  And the state is funding exploration so more of it can happen.

62% voted ‘no’ on last year’s ballot initiative to amend the state constitution and mandate 25% renewable energy by 2025.  Exit polls made it pretty clear that voters favor the adoption of solar, but rejected the notion that the constitution needed to be amended to make it happen.  DTE is quietly plowing forward with their solar carve-out, and GLREA is spearheading grassroots efforts on the residential side.  For contractors taking a look at solar, my advice is to stay open and vigilant for opportunities.  Licensing and certification requirements are light because the Michigan solar industry is still in it’s infancy.  As some of these projects start to flow, there will be opportunities for those who know the local market.

Michigan Solar.001

Posted in Noteworthy News, Solar Photovoltaics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Executive MBA – Learn How to Model, Price, and Find Investors for Your Commercial Solar Projects

Solar MBA BannerWho’s job is it to understand all of the numbers behind a Commercial or Utility-scale solar project?

That’s somebody else’s job!” replies 99.9% of the people in the solar industry.  We built the Solar Executive MBA for the 0.01% who want to do the hard part.


When you’re at the top of your organization, where do you learn?  Who will check your work to make sure you didn’t mess something up before you sign a contract worth millions of dollars?  In speaking to my friends at financial firms and solar companies – it became apparent that somebody had to create this course.  Modeling and financing huge solar projects requires deep expertise that not many people have.

The Solar Executive MBA is technical, rigorous, and hard. It’s the most intense six-week course you’ll ever find, but also the most valuable. We developed it for leaders who are responsible for the financial details that drive solar projects. The course is taught by two instructors: Keith Cronin, who built and sold his solar installation business to SunEdison in 2007 – and Christopher Lord, a lawyer with deep banking experience who works with solar companies to find viable projects and investors for those projects.

Graduates from the Solar MBA course will learn:

  1. How to quickly run the numbers to value a solar project
  2. How to price the deal to win, without screwing up the project economics
  3. How work with investors to build good relationships that lead to future opportunities. We’ll give you the model to price commercial solar PV projects, and all the legal documents and contracts you will need to finance a project. The Capstone Project for this course means working a deal from start to finish – financial modeling of a full commercial solar project.

About the Instructor: Christopher Lord

christopher lordChristopher J. Lord is a lawyer with deep banking experience and currently the Managing Director of CapIron, Inc., a firm he founded in late 2011, to provide advisory and consulting services to customers, owners, developers, utilities, suppliers, installers and distributors covering the full range of value-add in renewable energy and energy efficiency. CapIron has provided consulting and modeling services for waste-to-energy projects, advisory services to a large-scale distributed generation solar project, consulting and advisory services in the solar thermal industry and early-stage development of a startup wind energy company.

About the Instructor: Keith Cronin

K48-30277-keith-cronineith Cronin is the author of ‘Solar Success Principles’ and is an in-demand business consultant, speaker and founder of The Solar Business Blueprint, a life changing training program that assists business owners with the tools, resources and metrics needed to grow and manage their solar businesses. He has helped solar companies achieve their goals through his training, speeches, coaching sessions and products. Keith’s life changing message reaches people all over the US, Canada, Central and South America. Keith lives in Kailua Hawaii.

Course Outline

  • Development Plan - A Development Plan maps the strategy, budget and timetable of a project. It identifies critical path items, long lead items, and resource needs.
  • Project Economics - In this section, you’ll learn what the three types of capital are, debt, cash equity, and tax equity and their role in financing commercial solar projects. You will learn what tax equity is, how it works, and how it applies to financing projects.
  • Risk Management - Tax equity is not going to go with a project that ‘ought’ to work – this week we will make sure you understand all of the costs and contingencies that should be built into your model. Ready to roll up your sleeves and start digging into the numbers?
  • Financing Strategies - Your sales strategy must be closely linked with your financing strategy. Any lender or investor will do a thorough due diligence review of your project – we’ll cover best practices for starting your own due diligence library to streamline that process.
  • Resource Management - An outgrowth of your Development Plan must be the Resource Management Plan. An important part of the Resource Plan is recognizing what work is best done inside vs. outside.
  • CAPSTONE PROJECT – including Contracts, Legal Docs for Real Projects (You Get a Law Degree Too)

I’m proud to be on the team building this course and working with Christopher and Keith.  Lots of people can model a solar project with 80% confidence.  The Solar Executive MBA prepares you for scenarios when 80% isn’t good enough.  If you need to be 100% confident, then this course is for you.

Click below to register for the course

Solar MBA Banner

Posted in Inside the Classroom, Solar Photovoltaics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How I Convinced ISPQ Master Solar Trainer Ken Thames to Use Cammpus to Teach Online (It Only Took 3 Years)

Mt.-EvensIt’s hard not to like Ken Thames.  He’s a master electrician who’s been installing solar for 15 years in the mountains of Colorado.  He’s a great listener – when I watch him teach a class he’s meticulous about understanding each question and addressing it openly and honestly.  People love him.

Ken doesn’t use computers and he’s proud of that fact.  I’ve heard him brag about it many times and always was a little jealous that he could pull it off in this age of high-tech.  For three years I pitched Ken on the idea of teaching online because his approach is absolutely perfect for it.  He’s got so much knowledge and such a structured way of delivering it that I knew he’d be amazing at teaching online if I could convince him to do it.  But how?

Ultimately Ken had to be convinced of two things – here’s how we accomplished both:

  1. Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.17.19 PMYou can still build real-life relationships in an online training.  Ken is a reserved guy, but he feeds off the personal interaction in a training – you can’t log the hours he has unless you are energized by it.  We start every online class with a personal phone call from the instructor to introduce himself.  It sounds simple, but it’s important stuff.  We also supplemented Ken’s class with periodic conference calls where people can ask questions.  Again, it’s very basic but important.  Making these connections helped Ken get loosened up and participating on the Course Message Wall.  This variety made it feel like real relationships were possible.
  2. Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.19.25 PMOnline classes can be truly awesome.  Great learning can happen and you can have an impact on people’s careers and the industry.  This is the part that really mattered to Ken, and I give him a lot of credit for taking a leap of faith with using Cammpus.  There are two critical pieces to getting awesome results in an online class: First is lots of instructor engagement (see above).  Second is asking the students to work hard and complete assignments that measure their ability.  Whether it’s a lot of practice tests, or a Capstone Project, or other homework that showcases their new skills, it’s critical to expect mastery.  The primary advantage online classes have is the time for each student to apply what their learning.  In a classroom you don’t have time to help everyone submit assignments that demonstrate mastery.

Ken teaches the 40 Hour Advanced Solar PV Training, and the NABCEP Installer Exam Prep Course using Cammpus.  He contributes to HeatSpring Magazine – things like this free lesson on Battery PV Systems.

Watching Ken warm to the idea of teaching online was my biggest professional accomplishment in the first half of 2013 – sort of lame, I know, but it gives me hope that all of the super-experts in our industry might make a similar decision.  To use education technology to have a bigger impact and build their legacy.


Posted in elearning | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and HeatSpring Learning Institute Partner to Build Capacity in the Hottest PV Market in the Country

MRESHeatSpring Learning Institute is pleased to partner with the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) to help Minnesota’s top solar PV instructors reach a wider audience.  This training partnership will leverage Cammpus, HeatSpring’s education management software – the classes will be offered online and in a blended format so people can get their hands-on and learn tangible skills.  “We have world-class solar talent here in Minnesota – these new tools will help us showcase that talent while building the capacity needed to meet the aggressive growth targets here in Minnesota.” says Laura Cina, MRES Executive Director.

The Minnesota legislature just approved a solar carve-out in the state’s Renewable Energy Standard expected to drive at least 450 megawatts of solar growth over the next seven years.  Massachusetts has 4,500 solar jobs today and has installed more than 300 megawatts on their way to 400 megawatts by 2020.  Minnesota has just 500 solar jobs today, mostly in manufacturing, which means that installations jobs will soon be in high demand.

MRES / HeatSpring Training Schedule and Registration: 

Batteries in Solar PV Systems

Six-week intensive training with solar legend Christopher LaForge. PV systems that employ batteries require significant design considerations. Whether using batteries to “back-up” your utility grid or having them as the basis of a “stand-alone off grid system” choosing the correct battery and sizing it correctly is challenging. This workshop will be an in-depth analysis of the issues surrounding the use of batteries for PV applications. Battery design, specification, use and maintenance will be covered in this workshop. CAPSTONE PROJECT: Design a full battery-based Solar PV system.

Profitable Project Management for Successful Solar PV Installations

Four-Week, Hands-On training from MRES. This online workshop includes real project management tools and one-on-one instruction from Dustin Denison – an experienced solar project manager. This course will include fundamentals of post sales management and design to integration and field implementation. Proper planning and coordination must be exerted to prevent delay of work and maximize profitability. The project managers efficiency directly affects the financial health and future of the company. Every solar PV construction project is different, from large to small; residential or commercial installations.

About the HeatSpring/MRES Partnership

Laura Cina, MRES’s Executive Director, stated, “We have some amazingly talented members that we want to showcase as we enter a period of industry growth here in Minnesota.  Using the Cammpus software allows us reach a wider audience and expect more from the trainings than we can in traditional workshops.”  Brian Hayden, HeatSpring’s President, said, “We’re just huge fans of true expertise.  MRES has that in spades, and it’s going to be fun to hold that up and promote that more actively in the months ahead.  We couldn’t be happier about working with MRES.”

About MRES

The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) is a member-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in Minneapolis in 1978 and incorporated in Minnesota in 1979 to promote the use of, and to engage in advocacy for, renewable energies in Minnesota through education and through the demonstration of practical applications. MRES is involved in education, awareness, and advocacy efforts for all forms of renewable energy, with a particular emphasis on solar technologies.

About HeatSpring Learning Institute
HeatSpring is a national leader in industry certified training for the clean energy and high performance building industries.   Since 2007, HeatSpring trained more than 7,000 professionals.

In 2011, HeatSpring created a software product called Cammpus to deliver 100% training online and blended learning for their face-to-face courses for very advanced technical topics. Cammpus allowed HeatSpring to measurably increase the quality of their training by verifying student learning, teach more students, and decrease the cost of delivery. Download HeatSpring’s Online Education Playbook to learn how you can use these strategies in your business.

Since 2011, all of HeatSpring students have completed online training. In 2012, other organizations started using Cammpus to run their training and HeatSpring started to sell the use of Cammpus and our expertise teaching companies how to utilize online education tools in the best way.

Our goal is to work with other experts and businesses and to maximize their training results. This means, spreading the best information, the fastest, and in the cheapest and in a measurable way. Download HeatSpring’s Online Education Playbook to our lessons learned and best practices for online and blended learning.

Posted in elearning, Solar Photovoltaics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Every Renewable Energy Trainer Needs to Do to Stay Relevant

Progress can make life better!

My #1 piece of advice to all trainers for the next five years: create a digital version of your content.  Do it now.  Create it in little packets so you can deliver them in an agile way across a variety of formats, and swap them out as your expertise evolves.  Do it for no other reason than it will guarantee your job security, because you’ll have created something hugely valuable for whatever organization you work for.

This article is from HeatSpring’s Online Education Playbook. We’re expert at both clean energy AND how to utilize online tools to enhance training. If you’re business depends on training, click here to read HeatSpring’s online education playbook.

In five years we’ll talk about renewable energy training in a completely different way.  Words like ‘online’, ‘webinar’, and ‘hands-on’ will sound quaint – think ‘world wide web’ – and will recede in favor of words that more accurately describe what we’re trying to accomplish.  I want to describe where we’ll be in five years to give the amazing teachers and trainers in our industry a chance to prepare.  I don’t have the technical knowledge to be a great trainer in this industry, but I rely on great trainers and want you all to have jobs in five years!

We’ve created a series of courses for trainers interested in doing more teaching online, and started writing some straightforward articles like how to convert webinars into courses that might be useful for the trainers out there.  Specifics are better than generalities, so we’ll try to give some tangible suggestions you can actually act on.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

OK…let’s start by establishing the goal of training: to transfer skills and knowledge.  There’s tremendous value to be gained by companies, customers, and the industry if we can transfer skills and knowledge to more people.  Companies can grow, industries can thrive, and customers can be better served.  That’s why manufacturers and distributors and trade schools invest in training.  Everyone agrees it’s critical.  So we start with a list of skills and knowledge we hope to transfer.  You can call this a Job Task Analysis (NABCEP), Learning Objectives (AIA), or whatever.  [here's an example]

As any trainer knows, for true skill transfer to occur you need to do more than tell someone once.  There are really five things that need to happen before they actually get it:

  1. Tell them [lecture]
  2. Show them [pictures or site-visit]
  3. Have them read it
  4. Have them experience it [hands-om]
  5. Have them teach it to someone else

As trainers we live in an imperfect world and never have enough time to do our jobs.  It’s expensive to train somebody, and a huge pain to manage because work schedules change, there’s always turnover, plus new products and new learning is happening all the time.  The training department is rarely funded or staffed appropriately to do the job as well as it could be.

Why is creating digital content such a valuable step?

Creating digital copies of your lessons is a pressure release valve for your training program.  Now you have the flexibility to deliver learning before, during, and after the time you have to physically spend with people.  You can build this set of assets in a way that helps the student experience all five methods of knowledge transfer by making it all available digitally, all the time, and layering field exercises, conferences, meet-ups, and seminars over the top of that foundation.  Training begins to melt into the routine of everything we do, rather than being held up as a special thing that we need to set aside time away from the job for.

Education is going digital – this is not a fad.

I feel fortunate to have recently joined the IREC Standards Committee and look forward to learning from my peers through that work.  IREC provides a tremendous service to the renewable energy industry and I’m humbled by the great work of my fellow committee members.  The small contribution I hope to make on this committee is to update the way we think about delivery methods.  My audacious goal for the next five years is to eliminate the words ‘online’, ‘webinar’, and ‘hands-on’ from the training lexicon in this industry and move toward a set of terms that more accurately describe what we’re all trying to accomplish.  We all have mental models for ‘face-to-face’ and ‘online’ training that I think will melt away over the next five years.  My goal is to be a small part of helping IREC get ahead of that.

The exciting part?  It’s going to make life better!  Digital delivery of basic concepts means you’ll be able to spend more time on exciting content and advanced topics.  You’ll have better visibility of what people are learning and be able to rely more heavily on metrics that show your boss what a great job you’re doing.  We’re entering a golden age of education technology where powerful tools are cheap and easy to use.  Get on board now and you’ll be leading the pack in five years.

Posted in elearning | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Ross Beyeler’s ‘Website Optimization for Solar Companies’ is Guaranteed to Be Awesome

I’d like to introduce the renewable energy industry to my friend, Ross Beyeler.  Since you don’t know Ross, you can’t fully appreciate how awesome his upcoming course, ‘Website Optimization for Solar Companies’ is going to be.  Allow me to make the introduction:

Ross Beyeler is founder and CEO of Growth Spark, a design and development agency with a focus on conversion-optimized web and mobile properties. Since its founding in December 2008, Growth Spark has completed over 200 projects and led Ross to a 2010 nomination as one of BusinessWeek’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25. Before Growth Spark, Ross co-founded For Art’s Sake Media, Inc., a technology company servicing the art industry, which he led through its seed funding and its first product launch.

Ross is younger than I am, but he teaches me something every time we get together.  His employees are cool and I never doubt whether he has the latest information or thinking on websites or marketing.  If I had to boil it down to four things, this is why his course will be great:

  1. Ross is a singular talent.  He’d be good at anything he does – he’s just one of those guys.  It just so happens that he’s chosen to learn as much as he can about website optimization and building websites for companies.
  2. He’s used to working for clients in even more competitive industries.  Almost every great insight I’ve made to improve our business has been learned from someone outside the industry.
  3. Ross is incredibly honest and open.  To me, this is the most important thing I look for in a friend, colleague, and certainly a teacher.  He’ll give you an honest answer to your questions about your website and your marketing programs.
  4. He’ll get into the details – this isn’t a theory course.  The goal of the course is to walk away with specific things that you can do right away.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know Ross.  I hope you’ll also take the time to introduce him your business.

Posted in Inside the Classroom | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Get NABCEP Certified?

Is getting NABCEP Certified worth it?  It’s the only game in town in the solar industry, but it’s not really required – it’s not a license.  People ask me whether it’s worth it all the time and I don’t really know…is it worth it to go to college?  Peter Thiel doesn’t think so.

Since I’m not certified myself, I asked Chris to explain it to me.  Why did he go for it?

This is part of a longer interview about the NABCEP Exam and what it’s really like to take it.  Most of the interview is included with our NABCEP Prep Course, but I thought this little snippet might be interesting for anybody that’s considering the path to solar certification.

Are you planning to get NABCEP Certified?  Why or why not?

Posted in Inside the Classroom | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Your NABCEP Online or In-Person? You Don’t Have to Pick.

Solar training isn’t that complicated.  There’s a lot of information we need to transfer from the instructor’s brain into your brain – and everybody learns differently.  Some people love the flexibility and depth of an online course.  Others prefer to take a few days off work and drink from an information fire hose at an in-person workshop.  We think it’s silly to have to pick one or the other.

Starting this month, everyone who takes the online Solar Boot Camp + NABCEP Entry Level Exam or NABCEP Exam Prep Course can also attend an in-person workshop by paying the incremental difference.  So if you’re weighing online vs. in-person, there’s no risk in trying the online course.  If the online experience does the trick, great – if not, you essentially got a free trial and can now just take the class you want.

Here’s an example:

Jim needs his NABCEP Entry Level Certificate ASAP, but there’s no class in his area for three months.  Jim pays $995 for the online class, plows through the material and passes the exam.  Three months later, he pays $500 ($1495 regular price – $995) to attend the in-person workshop.  By the end, he knows this stuff cold.

Make sense?  Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be – we knew it was a good idea because it seemed sort of obvious when we thought of it.  Hopefully this is an example of making life a little simpler and it will make your solar training experience smoother and less disruptive.

Posted in Inside the Classroom | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Vermont Has the Most Progressive Solar Permitting Process in the Nation

Until recently, Rachel Tronstein served as the Deputy Director of the SunShot Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy. SunShot is a presidential level initiative focused on making R&D investments that will drive down the installed cost of solar so that it is cost competitive with traditional forms of electricity by the end of the decade.  Rachel currently works for First Energy Finance, working to transform the way that electricity is generated for homes and businesses throughout the world by providing products and services to accelerate the growth of renewable energy generating projects.

She recently spoke at Ann Arbor SPARK‘s Michigan Energy Forum about the DOE’s SunShot program and the best things happening in the U.S. solar industry.  She gave a special shout-out to the state of Vermont for their progressive, 1-page solar PV permitting process.

Here’s the full presentation

I think innovation requires a willingness to forget everything you know about something, and just focus completely on the simplest solution.  Rachel’s explanation of Vermont’s permitting process is so simple – I wanted to hold that up so we can all see it and bask in it’s simple glow for a few minutes.

Posted in Noteworthy News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment