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SPARE - Solar Power As Renewable EnergyPhotovoltaic Installer and Maintenance Training

Our courses can be applied towards the educational requirements to become a NABCEP certified installer.

SUNY SPARE is hosted by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in collaboration with SUNY Delhi and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

4-day course

Our 4-day Basic Photovoltaic Installer Course is board-recognized by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). In this course participants will learn the basics of how to site, design, and install photovoltaic (PV) systems. The course includes sizing systems for both grid-connected and off-grid PV systems. Also, the solar resources and the problems associated with shading, orientation and tilt will be reviewed. Basic sizing and system design in relation to electrical load will be discussed. Safety practices for installers and the study of the electrical code for PV systems will be covered in some detail. Participants will learn about various mounting systems for PV arrays and how they affect roofs. As part of the class, participants will build a working PV system.

Basic SPARE Prerequisites

The successful SPARE participant should have completed at least a high school diploma or a GED. Men and women in the HVAC, electrical and ironworker trades are particularly encouraged to explore this value-added training.

Course Hours

The 4-day course has been approved for 21 PDHs (Professional Development Hours) for engineers and 28 hours of classroom instruction. This course, coupled with a passing score on the NABCEP Entry Level Exam, result in 18 hours of prescribed hours applicable towards certification.

NABCEP requires 58 hours of training to become certified as stated in the PV Installer Certification Eligibility Requirements document.

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Commercial SPARE
1-day class

In this class, participants will cover the issues associated with larger commercial PV installations which typically have three-phase electrical systems. Weight and wind loading play a major part in the design of large commercial installations, as most commercial buildings have expansive, flat roofs. The class will also look at issues for large, ground-mounted systems and review interconnection issues such as the necessary size of the local service, when a new transformer would be needed, when an entire substation would be needed and when the local utility might need the plant to provide reactive power (VAR support). The economics of these larger systems will also be reviewed. NABCEP requires that a "minimum of 40 of the 58 prescribed hours for certification must cover advanced solar PV installation and design principles and practices addressed in the NABCEP PV Installer Job Task Analysis". This class meets section 3.5.C.III as it is taught by an ISPQ certified instructor.

Commercial SPARE Prerequisites

Participants should have taken the Basic SPARE course or have similar knowledge of PV basics. Participants should have a calculator and the skills to operate it.

Course Hours

This course has been approved for 7 PDHs (Professional Development Hours) for engineers and completes 7 hours of classroom instruction.

NABCEP requires 58 hours of training to become certified as stated in the PV Installer Certification Eligibility Requirements document.

Watch the Going Green segment that highlighted the SPARE course:

  • Going Green: PV Installation Training
    ESF Outreach runs a program called SPARE to train people to install solar panels. The course is needed to obtain certification and certified installers are needed in New York and other states for installations to qualify for tax credits and other incentives.
Roger explains P1020236_Cropped

NABCEP PV Associate Exam
Take on your own time

To help participants who are interested in becoming certified installers, we are actively encouraging them to take the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. To make this process easier, we are utilizing Computer Based Testing.

As a registered NABCEP Entry Level Exam Provider, participants who take a SPARE class offered through SUNY-ESF are eligible to sit for the Entry Level Exam. This exam will help them prepare for the Certification exam. The combination of taking the Basic SPARE Class and receiving a passing score on the Entry Level Exam will garner you 18 training hours to apply towards final certification. In New York State, NYSERDA requires all solar installers who want to offer state incentives to their customers to be NABCEP certified. Certification requires taking an exam along with classroom training and roof time. Interested students should confirm all information regarding Certification with NABCEP.org.

In simple terms this test is like taking the PSAT before the SAT. You find out what you know and don't know before taking the actual certification exam. Students must sign up for this exam through their eligible provider; for students who sign up for classes with ESF, that is us.

SUNY-ESF will be offering the Computer Based Testing (CBT) option. Participants can register and pay at any time. Once verified as completing a SPARE class, they will be processed to take the CBT test. Students have 6 months from the time of verification to set up their exam.

Registration Disclosure

Maximum enrollment limits have been established for all SPARE courses, so make sure you get into the classes you want before they fill. Please note that minimum enrollment limits are also established for SPARE, so don't wait too long to register or the courses you want may be cancelled due to low enrollment. (Cancellation decisions are typically made 7-10 days prior to the start of each course.)

News from NYSERDA

NYSERDA is requiring all PV installers in New York State who want to offer NYSERDA incentives and be listed on the NYSERDA approved installers list to be NABCEP certified. Installers who are not concerned with offering incentives, install off-grid or install in a municipal electric district currently aren't required. All other building and installation code requirements still apply. Many installers are already For more information regarding NABCEP Certification and the pre-certification exam see the Course Overview section of the navigation box.

Want to be placed on an e-mail list to get up-to-date information regarding SPARE? Send your name, mailing address and e-mail address to kbsearing@esf.edu and ask to be put on the SPARE mailing list!


Images from Past Courses


Upcoming Courses

Basic Course:
April 24-27, 2017

Commercial Course:
May 5, 2017


Katherina Searing
Associate Director, Professional Education and Non-credit Programs
ESF Outreach
Phone: 315-470-6888/6817
Fax: 315-470-6890