When Sean White meets firefighters, he often asks what they do if they encounter solar homes during wildfires. Do they rush to protect the homes?

In the past, the answer was no, says White, instructor of HeatSpring’s 40-Hour NABCEP Advanced PV Certification and CEUs course. He’s the author of numerous books about solar and was the 2014 Interstate Renewable Energy Council Trainer of the Year. 

“The firefighters used to say, ‘Let it burn,’” says White. 

But that’s changing as firefighters become more educated about rapid shutdown, which protects firefighters from the possibility of getting injured by the current running through panels.

How Rapid Shutdown Protects Firefighters

Rapid shutdown is a term coined by solar legend Bill Brooks, who lends his expertise to White’s course, with video content about the National Electrical Code (NEC). 

The goal of the NEC rapid shutdown requirements, first added to the 2014 NEC, are to make it easier and quicker for first responders to control the PV system circuits associated with roof-mounted solar arrays. Rapid shutdown gives first responders a way to reduce the output of PV systems to 30 volts within 30 seconds.

“Now more firefighters are getting educated about solar and see that there’s a rapid shutdown switch. They’ll save a solar house,” he says.

The 2020 version of the NEC includes changes to rapid shutdown, which are addressed in section 690.12 and will be covered by White in the class.

NEC’s Rapid Shutdown Details Have Changed

While rapid shutdown requirements are still located in the same section of the NEC, those taking the NABCEP exam should be aware that a number of details have changed, says White. For example, the red labels mentioned in section 690.56, which says that conductors within the array remain energized in sunlight, are no longer an option in the 2020 NEC. 

“The red label told us it was dangerous inside the array, but now it’s safer inside the array because we’re doing module-level rapid shutdown instead of array-level rapid shutdown,” he explains.

NABCEP certification test takers don’t necessarily have to memorize all these details, but should be aware of the changes, says White.

Increase in Number of People Taking HeatSpring Courses Due to COVID Crisis

With the COVID-19 crisis, White has seen an uptick in the number of people taking his courses to obtain NABCEP credentials, and the 40-hour NABCEP Advanced PV certification course is the most popular.

In fact, White has already received 10/10 ratings from more than 36 of his students, which is more 10/10 ratings than he’s received any other year.

High Praise from White’s Students

Said one student in a review, “I would recommend this course for anyone looking to obtain certification. I have taken other courses and they do not have the detailed explanations that this course covers. Also Sean’s knowledge as an electrician speaks volumes.”

White says the course is popular in part due to all the time he puts into preparing the lessons. He works a full day to create every 15 minutes of video, which he’s had the time to do during the COVID-19 crisis.

Taking HeatSpring Courses to Boost Job Security

But he’s not the only one who has had time on his hands due to the health crisis. It’s also true of his students, who are taking courses to stay employed.

“People have more time and they want to have more job security or invest their time wisely,” he says. “Also with all the unemployment, people want to keep their jobs.”

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