FAQ’s

If you have questions, we have answers! Below you’ll find the answers to common questions about Solar Photovoltaics and Solar Training. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, please visit the Contact Us page of this site and we will be happy to research your question and get back to you with an answer.

Q1. Why is it important to take a class that offers a “Certification” to enter the solar industry?

A1. The solar industry is still young and there are very few “experienced” solar installers, site foremen, project managers, salesman, electricians experienced in solar installations, etc. When a person calls a solar company today inquiring about a job or chance to begin working in the renewable energy fields, the FIRST thing that is asked (100% of the time) is “Do you have experience in Solar?” If the answer is “No” then you will very likely not even get an interview. HOWEVER, if you are able to state that you have one of the following: the nationally recognized ETA Entry Level Solar PV Installer Certification, or the nationally recognized NABCEP Entry Level Certificate of Knowledge (COK), either of which provides a very IN DEPTH, but basic, understanding of Solar technology, Solar systems, system component parts and the manner in which these systems are installed, THEN you will have doors opened to Solar employment opportunities and a much better chance of being hired.

Q2. What would be the FIRST step a person should take if they have no prior solar or wind energy experience, but wish to enter into the Solar, Wind, Geo Thermal or other Renewable Energy fields?

A2. The FIRST thing ANY person should do if they are interested in entering Solar or any field of endeavor, is to get trained and obtain either a Certification, or a Certificate of Knowledge. This demonstrates that the person has taken the initiative and has gained specialized knowledge in that specific field BEFORE they start working. This person becomes much more employable and more “productive” from the first day of hiring because they have earned either a “Certification” or a “Certificate of knowledge” that acknowledges they understand the basics of that technology. A company is much more likely to hire a trained person with a “Certification” or a “Certificate of Knowledge” but with no prior experience in a field, as compared to hiring a person with no training and no prior experience! The TWO nationally recognized Associations are ETA (Electronics Technicians Association and NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners).

Q3. For what job roles in the solar industry does the training prepare students?

A3. The entry level or level I solar training classes are vital to teach the person the basics of the overall solar technology. This includes, first and foremost, the safety considerations and requirements relating to this field. We also review the various types of equipment used in Solar installation, various installation methods, and variations of the systems themselves. We then discuss methods for how to design solar systems and how to properly size them to determine if the system will meet the customer’s needs and space restrictions. We include in this solar training an orientation of different solar modules (arrays) available, the component parts of a solar system (BOS), the electrical wiring methods used, and an overall understanding of the steps and procedures of Solar systems.

With this knowledge and understanding of Solar PV systems and how they are installed, you are prepared to handle most any entry-level job within the solar industry that includes supervision. With supervised on-the-job training you will learn how to perform site evaluations, how to help electricians perform their work processes and procedures, and in general, how to work as an installer. In some cases, our Solar PV training will help you perform administrative duties inside the office where you will need a good understanding of the entire installation process. You may even end up helping to design systems for building permits or for other Solar salesperson or engineering needs; duties you will understand and be able to perform because of the knowledge you gained from your Solar training at Ameri-Skills.

Q4. How secure is my future in the Solar Industry or Renewable Energy Industry?

A4. Today it is safe to say that there are no guarantees in any professional field of work. However, there are MANY reasons why Solar PV, as well as every other renewable energy field, will be growing for many years to come. Included in these reasons is the fact that there are several State and Federal “Green” or Renewable Energy” programs, Grants, Federal income Tax incentives and State Rebate programs that are scheduled to last for at least seven more years. Recent legislation, as well as pending legislation, exists in every one of our 50 United States governments that includes mandatory minimum thresholds that must be achieved for generating electrical power by use of “Renewable Energy” technologies. This includes special financing programs for homeowners through State approved financing methods such as California’s AB811 passed in 2008. Every other state is looking to follow California’s lead by considering the same type of financing. Therefore, in the future, every city in the United States could have some form of special financing assistance for homeowners as an incentive to install solar or wind generating systems!! Many cities are already in the process of implementing solar financing programs for their residents including San Diego, Palm Desert, Berkeley, Solana Beach, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Q5. What is the present and future demand for solar installations?

A5. In a recent Newsweek Web Exclusive article, (August 25, 2009), Matthew Phillips states that “Despite the bad economy, or maybe even because of it, the rooftop-solar industry is booming. Americans are increasingly becoming intrigued by the idea of turning their roofs into mini power plants and cutting their electric bills. In 2008, 33,500 rooftop solar systems were installed in the United States. This is a 63 percent increase over the amount of capacity installed in 2007. In California, the solar capital of the country, the increase was 95 percent.

In addition, in an article published in late September ’09 in New Energy News, Solar Feeds and other media, Pike Research indicates that even in this slow economy there is still substantial growth expected in the Solar PV industry for many years to come with an increase in growth rate as the economy begins to improve. The article states: “Distributed Solar PV growth has been spearheaded in recent years by markets such as Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United States. [Distributed Solar Energy Generation] forecasts that the U.S. will become the largest market for small solar energy installations by 2011; surpassing Germany.”

Many other State and Federal programs are in the works to be passed in Solar and “Renewable Energy” fields that will likely pass for the next 4-5 years and covering more than 15 years into the future.

YES, THE FUTURE OF SOLAR ENERGY IS VERY BRIGHT! 8-)

Q6. I’m not a Licensed Electrical, General Contractor or engineer. Will this Solar Training class allow me to install my own Solar systems?

A6. No. This Solar Training class does not remove or replace any State Contractor Licensing requirement and does NOT give you sufficient training to install a solar system by yourself. The entry level and level I “Certificate or Certification” prepares you to begin work in the industry under direct experienced supervision.

Q7. Will this Solar Training class help me learn the basics of Electricity and teach me the basic skills for Solar Installations even though I do not know anything about electricity?

A7. YES! We will teach you the KNOWLEDGE of all the steps necessary to properly install a solar system, determine proper layout and design, and perform the electrical calculations required for the proper sizing of the Solar system. We are able to take a person with NO knowledge or understanding of electricity and teach them the basic electricity theories, calculations, and factors of KNOWLEDGE in this field. However, what we teach you are the basic electrical safety requirements and the basic processes for calculating voltages and currents in a circuit when working with Solar systems and electricity. We do NOT teach ALL that is required for you to know as an electrician qualified and licensed to install Solar PV systems without such qualified supervision. This is an Entry Level course and you MUST not attempt wiring a Solar system by yourself. This course does not give you sufficient knowledge or training to wire or install a Solar system without supervision from a licensed and experienced electrician or licensed Solar Installer. You will gain a very large amount of ENTRY LEVEL KNOWLEDGE and skill sets with this one course but you will need to get practical, supervised experience s you grow in the industry.

Q8. Does the school teach only the products of one supplier or manufacturer?

A8. Our course is taught with ALL modules in mind; we are not vendor specific. There are no special associations with any manufacturer and we play no favoritism to one product over another. We do discuss various types of systems, modules, inverters, racking systems, tools and equipment in the Solar industry.

Q9. Do you have “Hands-On” training in this one week class?

A9. YES! It is our philosophy that a person MUST demonstrate the basic knowledge they have gained through our class. In fact, besides passing a written exam, the ETA “Certification” REQUIRES you to demonstrate to the instructor that you know and understand the technical competencies we teach in Solar PV in order to receive your Entry Level Installer “Certification”.

Q10. Do I need to bring special clothing or shoes to the class or buy anything additional for your class?

A10. No. We recommend comfortable clothing that will allow you to be in a classroom for 8 hours and a basic calculator. There is a need for closed end toe shoes (boots not required) for the “hands-On” training. Do not wear steel toe boots.

Q11. Will this course help a person with sales experience, a consultant or business professional gain the opportunity for entry into the Solar “Green” fields?

A11. YES! As explained above, this course will give a person the basics of the Solar industry, the equipment needed for a Solar PV installation, The tools needed, the time requirements involved with installing a Solar system, and the steps and procedures required for a Solar system to be installed. You will get to KNOW the Solar systems at an Entry Level. THEREFORE, you will have a MUCH better understanding of what it takes and how a system is installed when discussing a Solar Sale transaction. You will gain a comprehensive, but basic, understanding of Solar PV design and installation requirements that will help you understand your customer’s needs. This places you several steps ahead of any sales person who has not installed a Solar PV system or that has not had this specialized training that includes design and efficiencies criteria. If you know about something and really believe in the product, you will be able to sale it much better than the other person!

Q12. What is Photovoltaic (s) PV?

A12. Photovoltaics pertains to the direct conversion of solar radiation (light) into usable D.C. electricity, that is then converted to A.C.

Q13. What is a photovoltaic cell?

A13. The smallest semiconductor elements contained within a PV module that perform the immediate conversion of light into electrical energy. It is also called a Solar cell.

Q14. What is a PV device or Module?

A14. These are called Solar Panels or Solar Modules. They are the solid-state electrical devices that convert light into direct current electricity. Several modules wired together and placed on a roof or in a ground mounted system are called an “ARRAY”.

Q15. What is an Inverter?

A15. A device required in a Solar system that converts the direct current electricity from the solar modules into alternating current used inside most homes and business’ in America.

Q16. What does BOS mean?

A16. Balance of System. This means the rest of the component parts and equipment used in a Solar system that is NOT the solar modules. The remaining portion of the PV system, inverters, disconnects, wiring, conduits, NOT including the PV Modules.