Ten years ago, solar PV cost 10 times more than what it does now. That means solar installers can now embrace three strategies that were once considered solar sins.

That’s the word from Sean White, instructor of HeatSpring’s 40-Hour Solar Advanced PV Installer Training course.

“Cheap PV is letting people do things with solar they otherwise wouldn’t dream of,”  says White, the 2014 Interstate Renewable Energy Council Trainer of the Year.  He also helped develop the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Job Task Analysis and has served on the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Technical Committee.

Putting Solar on a North-Facing Roof

White has experience committing the solar sins. When he installed solar PV on his own home in California five years ago, he put it on a south-facing roof. A year ago, he added more–on the north side. It cost half as much as the PV he installed five years ago.

“The PV that I installed a year ago produces two-thirds of the amount of electricity because it’s on the north-facing roof, but because it cost half as much, it was a better investment,” says White. “Ten years ago, installing solar on a north-facing roof would have been a solar sin,” he says.

Installing Solar on a Partially Shaded Roof

Inexpensive PV also allows installers to consider partially shaded roofs for PV.

“Let’s say you have a south-facing roof with 30 percent shading. Five years ago, you would never have made the money back by installing PV, but now it’s cheaper,” White says. “You can put extra PV on to make up for that shading.”

Allowing Modules to Collect Some Dirt

With less expensive PV, you can also delay cleaning your modules, and add a few extra modules to make up for the loss of efficiency, says White.

“You might be able to afford to have dirty ones, and you could add extra PV to compensate for that. With cheap solar PV, maintenance is a lot less important,” says White. A number of system owners haven’t cleaned their systems for 10 years, and still find their PV produces well, he added.

It’s not a good idea to use all these strategies at once because they might not pencil out, says White. However, dirty, shaded, north-facing PV might pencil out in another decade.

Learning how to make the most of inexpensive PV is just one topic the 40-Hour Solar Advanced PV Installer Training course covers. In the course, White explains the evolution of NABCEP’s adoption of the NEC code, and covers the NEC 2017 code. Knowledge of that code is important to passing the exam.

This course includes two 70-question practice exams plus a 30 question bonus practice exam, which are very helpful when studying for the exam.

The NABCEP PV Installation Professional certification exam is always changing, so you can’t rely on experiences taking previous exams, says White. With his course, students gain access to information about the latest NEC and to White’s entertaining teaching style. They also benefit from his commitment to responding to students’ questions as quickly as possible.