40-hour Introductory Photovoltaic Design and Installation


Prerequisite: 36-hour Math/Electricity Basics for Photovoltaics class

This is the industry-wide accepted introductory class designed for individuals interested in entering the solar field, and is based on the NABCEP Task Analysis. At the conclusion of the class, CSE offers students the opportunity to take the NABCEP Entry Level Exam for $120. This entry level exam certifies that the individual has achieved basic comprehension and application of key terms and concepts of photovoltaic (solar electric) system operations, knowledge that prepares him/her for an entry level job in the industry. (This differs from the Solar Installer Certification Exam.)

40 AIA credits/40 PDH credits

Through the Center for Sustainable Energy, GET@ CUNY offers this Introductory 40-hour Photovoltaic Design and Installation Class based on the NABCEP Task Analysis. This class is the first step toward becoming a certified solar installer. 

Upon completion, the student will be able to recognize and identify all components of the stand-alone and net-metered grid inter-tied PV system, and understand the interlink between design criteria and the economic impact of various options. Hands-on skills will be taught.

NABCEP review is done in each class before the entry level exam is given. (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). This voluntary exam, with multiple choice questions and problems, tells a potential employer that the holder of this certification has mastered an important body of knowledge and would make a good entry level employee in a solar installation company. This certification is recognized across the country.


36-hour Math/Electricity Basics for Photovoltaics

* Not required for electricians and electrical engineers.

All Introductory PV Courses cover the following topics: 

Introduction- Tour of CSE Solar Lab; overview of  PV module types, systems and applications; PV resources (organizations, publications, websites)

Our Solar Resource- Sun path, irradiance, insolation, wavelength spectrum, true south and orientation and tilt angle analysis, azimuth and compass angles, magnetic declination and NREL Solar Radiation Data Sheets

PV Principle- Understanding photovoltaic effect and inherent nature of PV cells/modules and comparison of flat plate, thin film, collectors and thermal solar

Solar Pathfinder Calculator and Pyranometer – Hands on instruction and use of Pathfinder shading analysis tool and software and basic pyranometer use

Safety Concerns – Basic safety codes for PV components and PV installations

Grid Tied PV System and Standalone PV System Component Fundamentals- Hands on examination of PV Array, Inverters, Charge Controllers, Battery Banks, AC/DC Disconnects, Combiner Boxes; understanding PV systems components specifications and ratings

Energy Efficiency – Understanding energy efficiency and conservation as preliminary step in PV consultation

Electrical On Grid System Design – Intro to sizing PV Array and designing PV arrays based on component specs and ratings

Off Grid System Component Fundaments- Intro to sizing loads to standalone components (inverters, charge controllers, battery bank)

Mechanical Integration - Intro to different types of mounting systems, design considerations for mounting systems, Building Codes

Digital multimeters and ammeters – how to properly use meters and take and understand module readings under changing operating/climatic conditions

Electrical Integration – Intro to sizing components based on voltage and current; sizing conductors and OCPD’s; equipment and system grounding, location and labeling requirements for PV systems components

PV Design Tools – Intro to calculating software and resources; intro to certifications, rebates, incentive; intro to paperwork for various steps for PV installation (Dept of Building Permits, Con Edison, NYSERDA)

Installation- Installation of 1.5 kW PV onto asphalt shingle roof including overview of planning a system installs, good workmanship, inspections, common mistakes to avoid, wiring PV modules in series and parallel to an inverter

Maintenance of PV Systems- Intro to trouble shooting and maintenance requirements

Instructors have the option of organizing solar site visits based on availability /weather permitting

In-class review


All Students are required to purchase their text book before the start of the class. 

Photovoltaic Systems, 3rd Edition by Jim Dunlop (available at CSE)