Solar Panels

Solar PV Training- by US Department of Energy’s Solar Training Network Trainer Ruth Page-Nelson and Jim Dunlop of Jim Dunlop Solar/NABCEP Founding Board Member

Smart North America provides PV Solar Training, Solar Thermal Training, installer training, and solar education that is the best in North America. Our training program includes engineers, Department of Energy Solar Training Network Trainers, NABCEP Board member,  Electrical Contractors and seasoned solar installers.

Our courses range from entry level Solar PV preparatory training to  more advanced courses that prepare students for entry into the  solar industry and obtain accreditation and certification.  We offer training to the general public,  instructors,  architects & engineers in solar fundamentals and design, SNA provides business basics for solar salespersons,  dealers and installers.  We also design solar labs for residential and commercial solar installation, testing and training.

If you are looking to build your solar business, our  solar training will help you  acquire the professional skills that you need today to develop your business for tomorrow.

Smart Solar Training Offers:

  • Entry level PV solar training with real-world hands-on labs
  • Advanced training for experienced solar professionals
  • Specialized training for electricians, architects and engineers
  • Training is led by Dept. of Energy Solar Instructor Training Network trainers and  NABCEP Board member and seasoned  PV Installers
  • Courses that fulfill the education requirements for NABCEP entry level exam

Training:  Summer/Fall 2012  will be held in:   ST. PHILLIPS, BARBADOS – SOLAR PV



Course Description – Nov. 12-16, Auburn AL

This training program  will cover the fundamentals of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The purpose of this course is to orient electrical contractors with the specification, design and code-compliant installation of PV systems, and intended to develop knowledgeable professionals in the electrical industry to promote the safety, quality and consumer acceptance of PV installations.

Course Objectives

The specific objectives of this training program are to develop the participant’s ability to:

  • Conduct site assessments, determine the available solar resource and estimate the performance of PV systems
  • Specify components and prepare PV system designs based on customer and site requirements
  • Specify appropriate support structure and implement mechanical designs for PV arrays that meet the performance, architectural and structural requirements for given applications
  • Implement electrical designs for PV systems that meet the safety, code compliance and functional requirements for given applications
  • Conduct acceptance tests and inspections and commissioning for PV system installations
  • Evaluate, troubleshoot, and maintain PV systems

Course Format

This training program includes a textbook, a combination of self-study and assignments prior to the course, followed by 4 days of classroom instruction and hands-on exercises during on-site training. The curriculum and exercises will cover NABCEP Entry level exam objectives along with the deep expert knowledge of seasoned installers. The course will focus on developing the participant’s working knowledge of PV systems and equipment preparing them for entry into the field and/or delviery of the NABCEP entry level training for instructors where instructor training is provided.

Course Materials and Registration

The Photovoltaic Systems textbook and an electronic version of the Photovoltaic Systems Study Guide will be provided to each participant subsequent to registration. Participants should bring their copy of the 2011 National Electrical Code and a calculator for exercises. Participants are encouraged to complete the following advance reading assignments, exercises and self-study prior to the course.  This applies where registrants complete registration at least two weeks in advance of the course date.

Questions related to registration should be directed to .

Course Agenda and Schedule

The course time and delivery schedule will vary for the level of each participant.  In the case of the NABCEP Entry Level preparation, participants will receive 40 hours of training and when applicable have the opportunity to take the NABCEP Entry level exam.

Following are the primary topics covered in this course and correspond with chapter in the Photovoltaic Systems textbook:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems
    Solar Technologies – History and Development – Markets and Applications – Industry Sectors
  • Chapter 2: Solar Radiation
    Terminology & Definitions – Geometric & Atmospheric Effects – Solar Power & Energy – Measurements & Data
  • Chapter 3: Site Surveys and Preplanning
    Customer Development – Site Assessment – Locating PV Arrays – Shading Analysis – Project Planning and Preparation
  • Chapter 4: System Components and Configurations
    Major Components – Balance-of-System – System Classifications and Designs
  • Chapter 5: Cells, Modules and Arrays
    Principles of Operation – I-V Characteristics – Response to Irradiance and Temperature – Series/Parallel Connections – Specifications and Ratings
  • Chapter 6: Batteries
    Types and Characteristics – Functions and Features – Specifications and Ratings
  • Chapter 7: Charge Controllers
    Types and Characteristics – Functions and Features – Specifications and Ratings – Sizing
  • Chapter 8: Inverters
    Definitions and Terminology – Types and Applications – Functions and Features – Selection and Sizing – Monitoring and Communications
  • Chapter 9: System Sizing
    Sizing Principles – Interactive vs. Stand-Alone Systems – Calculations and Software Tools
  • Chapter 10: Mechanical Integration
    Design Considerations – Array Mounting Configurations – Structural Loads – Installation
  • Chapter 11: Electrical Integration
    Terminology and Definitions – Circuit Design Requirements – Specifying Electrical Components – Code-Compliant Installation Practices
  • Chapter 12: Utility Interconnection
    Codes and Standards – Utility Considerations – Supply and Load Side Connections – Interconnection Agreements
  • Chapter 13: Permitting and Inspection
    Permit Submittal Guidelines – Plan Review – System Labels – Inspection Checklists
  • Chapter 14: Commissioning, Maintenance and Troubleshooting
    System Commissioning – Maintenance Plans – Diagnostics
  • Chapter 15: Economic Analysis
    Incentives – Value Assessment – Life Cycle Costs Analysis – Financial Tools
  • Chapter 16: PV System Safety
    Hazards and Avoidance – Personal Protective Equipment – Fall Protection – Electrical Safety

Relationship to Certification Programs

This course and associated self-study program are intended to help prepare participants to pursue and attain the PV entry-level certificate and ultimately the advanced PV installer certification credentials offered by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), UL University and others. This training does not result in any certification from NABCEP. Participants will receive a course completion certificate, documenting the course content and hours of training.

Instructor Bios

James Dunlop, PE is the principal instructor. Mr. Dunlop worked at the Florida Solar Energy Center for 21 years supporting all aspects of its programs in photovoltaic systems and engineering, having evaluated and tested numerous PV systems and components, and delivered hundreds of training programs to contractors, installers, designers and code officials. From 2006-2008, he worked for the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), authoring the textbook Photovoltaic Systems and other curriculum and instructor resources in support of some 300 local electrical apprenticeship schools across North America. He holds a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Florida, is a licensed professional engineer in Florida, and serves on the board of directors and chairs the technical committee for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV installer certification program.




Ruth Page-Nelson, President/CEO, Smart North America, Inc., is a licensed master electrician and solar photovoltaic and solar thermal installer.   She is Dept. of Energy Solar Instructor Train-The-Trainer through the DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network/IREC, Florida Solar Energy Center/DOE, 2010 Solar PV Installer, Train-The-Trainer, Florida Solar Energy Center/DOE, 2006 Solar PV Installer, Solar Sales and Business Operations Trainer DOE/SITN, Unisolar, San Diego, CA, 2008, Rheem Solahart, authorized Solar Dealer/Installer, Montgomery, AL, 2003 Licensed, Unrestricted Electrical Contractor, State of Georgia. B.S.  Unviersity of Florida.

Experience : Ruth Page-Nelson directs the activities of Smart North America; a training and consulting firm specializing in new energy markets training and project development.  Smart North America provides consultant services in multiple areas within the new energy markets.    Having more than 25 years of field, planning, supervisory and training experience in the construction industry, at the helm of Smart North America, Ms. Page-Nelson provides development, design and implementation of New Markets Energy needs from Training to implementation. Ms. Page-Nelson, a Train-The-Trainer for the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network in Solar Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal and Solar Sales and Business Operation keeps on the cutting edge and offers a depth of knowledge unmatched in the industry. Smart North America strives to lead the industry with training that  leads to actual jobs creation through targeting of contractors and professionals who are able to  increase their product offerings in a short period of time. Smart North America provides solutions using energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart technology, building automation, energy policy, energy management and low/no-cost energy measures along with traditional capital improvements.