Megawatt Design


Length: 10 weeks

Instructor: Ryan Mayfield

Subjects: Solar: Megawatt Design, Solar: Design and Installation

Student Rating

Rating: 8.4/10 (view ratings)
186 students have taken this course


Developed in partnership with SolarPro Magazine.

Learn large-scale solar design and how to get your projects permitted and installed faster and cheaper. This training covers many types of large solar PV systems, with a heavy emphasis on commercial rooftop systems.

Ryan Mayfield, your instructor, is the Solar PV Technical Editor at SolarPro. Ryan, along with help from other industry leaders, has developed this course to help experienced solar professionals grow in the industry.

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Learn from the Technical Editor at SolarPro Magazine

Ryan Mayfield developed this with one goal in mind: to give people who take it a competitive advantage on commercial and utility-scale solar projects.

Course Includes Valuable Tools and Templates

We've lined up some really valuable tools and templates to help you in the course and on future design projects, including access to Helioscope.

Use drafting software for creating system designs

These designs are not meant to be overly difficult or complex; they will involve drawing single line electrical pages, showing calculations and system notes, documenting roof/ground layouts, detailing portions of the installation and showing site plans. All these drawings will be in 2D and will not require advanced drafting skills and programs. We will not be able to teach any specific programs or the core functions for any drafting software. There is an expectation that you already have (or will have) the ability to create a drawing set with the key deliverables listed above.

Self-Paced Online Course

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. The course will not officially begin until the scheduled start date, but students are encouraged to work ahead when possible.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn a Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our one-click LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Self Report with Certificate: 30 NABCEP Advanced Credit Hours, 6 NABCEP Technical/JTA, 6 NABCEP Elective, 3 NABCEP NEC, 30 AIA LU/HSW Credits

The most thorough and well-presented solar course I've ever taken.

- David Beavers, Cadmus

High quality course and exceptional value. As a result of completing this course, I am able to focus my business into taking on utility-scale projects.

- Bob Solger, Solar Design Studio

This course is like boot camp for the experienced solar designer. It will challenge you, help you learn new skills, and fill in missing gaps in your understanding of large-scale system design. By the time you are done, you will be a lean, mean designing machine.

- John Wadley, Meridian Solar

The course provides many great resources to individuals that are in the design and engineering field of large solar PV arrays. Ryan Mayfield is very knowledgeable and shares that knowledge in a well-organized format.

- Gregg Stephens, Absolutely Energized Solar

This course is excellent for sharpening your skills in solar PV design and for filling in knowledge gaps.

- Kyle Ingraham, Compass Solar

This is an excellent course and I would recommend it to anyone who's serious about the solar energy industry.

- Luganus Daniel, Jamaica Public Service Company

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Ryan Mayfield

President, Renewable Energy Associates

Ryan Mayfield has been working in the renewable energy field since 1999 and is the President of Renewable Energy Associates, a consulting firm providing design, support and educational services for electrical contractors, architectural and engineering firms, manufacturers and government agencies. Ryan serves as Photovoltaic Systems Technical Editor for SolarPro...[more]

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Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can complete the material whenever is convenient and work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. The course discussion board is a great place to interact with other students and ask questions. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. This session runs for the posted dates and you will receive weekly emails to keep you on pace. Course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after the course ends. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (1 minute) (Video) preview
  • Welcome from Ryan Mayfield (9:30) (Video) preview
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • Join the Alumni Network: Add education to your LinkedIn profile in one click (Resource)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Week 1 - Project Qualification and Site Selection

In this opening week, we will review best practices for technical sales, preliminary engineering and project qualification on large-scale commercial projects. We’ll also cover requirements and best practices for siting ground mount and rooftop projects. Topics include: Establish project goals • Identify array locations • Identify problem spots • Identify deal killers early on • Make initial structural analysis

  • Week 1 Introduction (2:02) (Video)
  • Homework: Software programs (Download .pdf)
  • Week 1 Lesson Part 1 (21:11) (Video) preview
  • Week 1 Lesson Part 2 (19:48) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 1 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • Intro to Helioscope (4:42) (Video)
  • Read: SP1.1 From kW to MW (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Helioscope Videos (Resource)
  • Resources: Roofing Center website (Resource)
  • Resources: Roofing Center outline for successful rooftop PV (Download .pdf)
  • Homework: Week 1 Homework (Download .pdf)
  • Ground Mount location (Download .kmz)
  • Homework: Helioscope file upload (Submit File)
  • Homework: Week 1 Solutions (7:14) (Video)
Week 2 - Equipment Selection

In this module, we dive into equipment selection. Pricing and equipment efficiencies change rapidly in our industry, so we'll make sure you're up to speed on the latest thinking. Topics include: Identify inverter technologies that best fit your project • Central/string/micro • Transformer based vs. transformerless • PID and Capacitive discharge • Discuss array to inverter sizing strategies • Monitoring and SCADA • Tracking systems • BOS strategies

  • Week 2 Introduction (3:23) (Video)
  • Week 2 Lesson Part 1 (25:36) (Video)
  • Week 2 Lesson Part 2 (19:35) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 2 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP4.4 Trackers (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.3 DAS (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.5 String Inverters for Commercial Scale (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.1 Carports (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.4 Estimating (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.5 String Inverter Guide (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: SMA Capacitive Discharge paper (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: SMA PID paper (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Advanved Energy PID paper (Download .pdf)
  • Homework: Week 2 Homework (Download .pdf)
  • Homework: Week 2 HelioScope upload (Submit File)
  • Resources: Week 2 HW Solutions (13:49) (Video)
  • Resources: REA String Sizer (Download .xlsm)
  • Resources: SP6.5 Bipolar Inverters (Download .pdf)
Week 3 - Software Tools to Help the Design Process

What software do you use to design large-scale commercial solar projects? We don't advocate any particular software product, so you're welcome to use what you're used to for this course. We do want to show you what's out there and help you understand how to get the most out of your program to maximize speed and efficiency of your design efforts. Topics include: • Show different preliminary design tools • Show/discuss energy estimation tools • Manufacturer tools • Drawing programs

  • Week 3 Introduction (6:00) (Video)
  • Week 3 Lesson (25:51) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 3 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • Helioscope Tutorial - Mechanical (32:48) (Video)
  • Helioscope Tutorial - Electrical (15:07) (Video)
  • Helioscope Tutorial - Condition Sets (13:23) (Video)
  • Helioscope Tutorial - Advanced topics (29:56) (Video)
  • SketchUp 3D warehouse and Helioscope (6:19) (Video)
  • PVSyst introduction (18:01) (Video)
  • Resources: Articles and Papers for reading/review (Download .zip)
  • Resources: Links to Software Programs (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: CAD drawing examples (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: OR Convention Center drawings (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: OR Convention Center energy reports (Download .pdf)
  • Homework: Week 3 Homework (Download .pdf)
  • Homework: Week 3 HelioScope roof mount report upload (Submit File)
  • Homework: Week 3 HelioScope ground mount report upload (Submit File)
  • Resources: Week 3 HW Solutions (13:55) (Video)
Week 4 - Designing Systems for Different Criteria

Keeping costs down will always be a primary goal for all involved in any PV project. The trick becomes where to cut costs wisely as to impact the overall system performance as little as possible. This week we’ll get into some of the ways we can design our PV systems based on the different criteria we are given. • Value engineering conductors on dc side • Array layouts and energy impact • 1,000 V vs. 600 V • DC to ac ratios • Wire management in the design • Designing with O&M in mind

  • Week 4 Introduction (1:39) (Video)
  • Week 4 Lesson Part 1 (27:27) (Video)
  • Week 4 Lesson Part 2 (23:41) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 4 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • SAM overview (6:15) (Video)
  • Resources: Articles and Papers for reading/review (Download .zip)
  • Resources: HelioScope Optimization Webinar (Resource)
  • Resources: HelioScope Optimization Webinar PDF (Download .pdf)
  • HelioScope Optimization spreadsheet overview (14:15) (Video)
  • Resources: HelioScope Optimization spreadsheet (Download .xlsb)
  • Resources: REA String Sizer (Download .xlsm)
  • Homework: Week 4 Assignment (Download .pdf)
  • Quiz: Week 4 (Quiz)
Week 5 - Fire Code and Structural Connections

Large commercial rooftop systems require a deep understanding of fire codes and techniques for coordinating with fire departments, inspectors and owners. 2012 International Fire Code (IFC) requirements will be covered to help maximize roof safety and rooftop coverage. We will also discuss requirements for the structural portion of your installations.

  • Week 5 Introduction (3:40) (Video)
  • Week 5 Lesson Part 1 (23:26) (Video)
  • Week 5 Lesson Part 2 (17:14) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 5 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • UL2703 and 1703 presentation (48:27) (Video)
  • Resources: UL1703/2703 webinar PDF (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Week 5 Articles and Papers for reading/review (Download .zip)
  • Resources: DNV Wind Load Calculator (Download .xlsx)
  • Resources: SEAOC Website (Resource)
  • Resources: CA Fire Code (Resource)
Week 6 - NEC Considerations

Code, Code, Code. We could spend the entire course covering code, but we're going to assume everyone in this course has a firm grasp on the NEC. This week, we'll discuss some of the 2014 code updates and some nuanced details to help you make fewer mistakes and get your jobs permitted faster.

  • Week 6 Introduction (2:22) (Video)
  • 2014 NEC 690 overview (32:42) (Video)
  • Grounding and Bonding Part 1 (23 min) (Video) preview
  • Grounding and Bonding Part 2 (37 min) (Video)
  • Read: PDF version of Grounding and Bonding Parts 1 and 2 (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Week 6 Articles and Papers for reading/review (Download .zip)
  • Conductor and Conduit Sizing Example (7:29) (Video)
  • Conductor Sizing Information for Quiz (Download .pdf)
  • Conductor Sizing (8 Questions) (Quiz)
  • Resources: Mike Holt Books (Resource)
Week 7 - NEC Application and Utility Interconnection

This week is intended to expand on the NEC applications and interpretations, specifically surrounding the point of interconnection. For the systems we have been talking about, the most common method of interconnection will be supply side connections. We will discuss the basics for interconnecting to medium voltage lines as well for those systems that will be used on dedicated services and installed directly in conjunction with the utility. Topics for this week will focus on: • Review NEC interconnection rules • Discuss different interconnection methods • Review design and drawing requirements

  • Week 7 Introduction (3:26) (Video)
  • Week 7 Lesson (20:45) (Video)
  • Resource: Line side connection example (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Week 7 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • Week 7 Interconnection and Code (18:05) (Video)
  • Read: SP2.3 Pulling it All Together (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP2.4 Can We Land (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP3.1 Calculating 3 Phase Line Currents (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP5.1 NEC 705.12 (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.1 Max Number Interconnection Disconnects (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.1 Basics of Medium Voltage (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.6 Raceway Selection Pt.1 (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.1 Raceway Selection Pt. 2 (Download .pdf)
Week 8 - PV Installation Safety and Operations & Maintenance

Develop a detailed O&M plan that can be refined and re-used on your next large-commercial PV project. This will help reduce future costs associated with the PV array and increase ROI and profitability. Common O&M issues and strategies will be discussed for implementation.

  • Week 8 Introduction (Video)
  • Week 8 Lesson Part 1 (24:39) (Video)
  • Week 8 Lesson Part 2 (25:01) (Video)
  • Week 8 Lesson Part 3 (17:59) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 8 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • O&M tools intro (2:17) (Video)
  • O&M tests - setup (5:03) (Video)
  • IRT testing (5:51) (Video)
  • IV curve tracing (4:31) (Video)
  • Read: SP2.5 Ground Faults (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP2.6 Commissioning (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP3.4 Large Scale O&M (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP4.2 Bakersfield Fire (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP4.2 QA Labeling (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP4.5 Feature IV Curves in the Field (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP5.2 QA Standardizing Documentation (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.3 Soiling on PV Systems (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP6.5 Monitoring Granaularity (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.2 Arc Flash (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.2 O&M tools (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.5 IV Curve (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Solar ABCs O&M report (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Arc Flash study (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: SolarPro Pre-commissioning form (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: SolarPro Commissioning form (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: SolarPro Performance verification form (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Megger IRT guide (Download .pdf)
Week 9 - Permitting and Preparing Your Submittal Package

How can you get your permitting done faster and cheaper? That's the multi-million dollar question. In this module, we'll provide tips and tools for getting your projects permitted and approved easier than your competitors. Commonly seen obstacles and associated solutions will be discussed. Getting through the design review process can be time-consuming and add unforeseen costs, so preparing a solid plan set will minimize duplication of work and costs.

  • Week 9 Introduction (2:07) (Video)
  • Week 9 Lesson (35:49) (Video)
  • Resources: Week 9 Lesson PDF (Download .pdf)
  • Resources: Starter CAD files (Download .zip)
  • Read: SP2.5 Plan Sets (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP3.4 CAD Models (Download .pdf)
  • Read: SP7.3 Skip stringing (Download .pdf)
  • Drawing Sets overview (19:03) (Video)
  • Resources: Solar Permit website (Resource)
  • Resources: NMSU video series (Resource)
Week 10 - Capstone: Submit a Full Megawatt Solar PV Design

We've covered a ton of ground in this course, and in this module we focus on putting all together in a way that makes sense and solidifies the learning. This week, you'll be working on your Capstone Project and wrapping up all of your questions and lessons.

  • Week 10 Introduction (2:42) (Video)
  • Capstone project overview (Download .pdf)
  • Capstone project drawings (Download .pdf)
  • Homework: Capstone HelioScope upload (Submit File)
  • Homework: Capstone drawing upload (Submit File)
After The Course - Feedback and Additional Resources

No matter how great this course is, we know it's just one part of a bigger journey. In this module we'll start thinking about what comes next. You'll provide feedback on the course, request a certificate of completion, and learn about additional resources. Don't forget that you'll have access to the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year). Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. Let us know what you do next and how we can help.

  • LinkedIn Group: Megawatt Design: Best Practices for Design and Installation of PV Systems (Resource)
  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials (Text)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Consider Joining as a Founding Member (Resource)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)
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Free Tools Used in this course

Megawatt String Sizing Tool

Author: Ryan Mayfield

Megawatt System Design Articles

Author: Ryan Mayfield

Megawatt String Sizing Tool 2.0

Author: Ryan Mayfield