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 electricity 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 outside of the array and 80V at the solar module.

“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.

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.”

In a recent survey, 91% of White’s HeatSpring students passed the NABCEP PV Installation Professional (PVIP) Certification exam after taking his course, which is known in the industry as a very challenging exam to pass. Of the students who took the PVIP exam, 86% say that the 40-Hour NABCEP Advanced PV Certification and CEUs helped improve their score on the exam.

So far in 2020, 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.

New Energy Storage Boot Camp

It’s likely that White’s newest course, Energy Storage Associate Boot Camp will also draw praise. While NABCEP doesn’t yet have an energy storage exam, this course will prepare students for an exam when it’s released. Energy storage is included in the solar exams and this course is approved for NABCEP continuing education credits.

“There have been rumors over the years that NABCEP will have energy storage certificates and we want to be prepared for that,” says White.

In the course, students learn about different battery chemistries, as well as commercial, industrial and residential storage applications. They also study energy storage in the context of net metering, and learn about the various players in the storage industry.

Energy storage is an important issue because it’s growing quickly. “With the crazy growth in solar, we’re expecting a crazy growth in storage,” says White.

White encourages people in the industry who may have time on their hands to take advantage of that time and learn about the fast growing storage industry.

Taking HeatSpring Courses to Boost Job Security and Earning Potential

“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.”

In a recent survey to NABCEP Certified Professionals conducted by HeatSpring, 70% say that having NABCEP Certification has increased their salary or income. NABCEP’s own research has shown that NABCEP Certified Professionals earn on average $11,000 more per year than their non-certified counterparts.

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