About this course

Megawatt Design includes access to HelioScope - Powered by Aurora!

Learn large-scale solar design and how to get your projects permitted and installed faster and with a better return on investment.
This training covers many types of large solar PV systems, in the range of 500 kW to 5 MW, with an emphasis on commercial rooftop systems.

Industry professionals
Randy Batchelor, P.E. and Will Lindsay teach this course to give experienced solar professionals a competitive advantage on commercial solar projects. This course is intended for individuals with prior experience or education in PV system design.

Through the coursework you will be led through the design and engineering of a megawatt-scale PV system. The course materials are continually updated to reflect ongoing changes in this dynamic topic. Throughout the course, both Randy and Will will be answering questions on the discussion board and reviewing project work you submit. The also hold a monthly live virtual meeting to answer any questions you have about the course or to support with your design related questions.

Students have access to all of the course materials as well as HelioScope for a year and can complete the course on your own pace. When you have completed all of the assignments, you will be able to print a certificate of completion with CEUs for self reporting.

In the course, students will use HelioScope Basic Plan. Typically, HelioScope offers a 14-day trial. Students in Megawatt Design will be given access for a year to develop their solar design skills in the course.

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Learning Objectives

  • Project Qualification and Site Selection
  • Equipment Selection
  • Software Tools to Help the Design Process
  • Optimizing System Design
  • Fire Code and Structural Connections
  • NEC Application and Utility Interconnection
  • PV Installation Safety and Operations & Maintenance
  • Permitting and Preparing Your Submittal Package

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Course outline

12 modules • 119 assignments • 13:07 hours of video lectures

Welcome • 8 assignments
Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

  • Live Office Hours - Thursday, July 18th - 10-10:25am PST // 1-1:25pm EST
  • MW Course Introduction - Randy (05:50 minutes) Preview
  • Welcome to Megawatt Design! (.pdf)
  • [ACTION REQUIRED] HelioScope Free Trial Information
  • Note on Pacing of the Course
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile
  • Optional: Join our LinkedIn group
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board
Module 1 • 12 assignments
Project Lifecycle, Site Assessment and Investigation

We will review the overall lifecycle of a PV project, to first orient ourselves to the various activities that take place, and give context for the lessons in the course. We will then focus on best practices for technical sales, preliminary engineering, site assessment and detailed site investigation (aka, discovery) on large-scale commercial projects. We’ll cover requirements and best practices for siting ground mount, carports and rooftop projects.

  • Module 1: Intro Video (01:48 minutes)
  • Project Design Lifecycle (24:27 minutes) Preview
  • Project Design Lifecycle PDF (.pdf)
  • Project Design Lifecycle Table PDF (.pdf)
  • Site Assessment and Investigation (.pdf)
  • Site Assessment and Investigation (39:22 minutes) Preview
  • Successful Rooftop Photovoltaics (.pdf)
  • Optimizing for Speed (.pdf)
  • From kW to MW (.pdf)
  • Three Phase Power Calculations (.pdf)
  • Discussion Topic: Site Assessment & Investigation
  • Rooftop Site Assessment Checklist (.pdf)
Module 2 • 12 assignments
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

  • Module 2 Intro Video (03:53 minutes)
  • Module 2: Module Selection (20:52 minutes) Preview
  • Module 2: Module Selection PDF (.pdf)
  • Module 2: Racking and Power Electronics (37:58 minutes)
  • Module 2: Racking and Power Electronics PDF (.pdf)
  • Module 2 - Electrical Equipment Selection (23:42 minutes)
  • Module 2: AC Electrical Gear PDF (.pdf)
  • Data Acquisition System Equipment Selection (20:17 minutes)
  • Module 2: DAS PDF (.pdf)
  • Reading and Resources (.zip)
  • Cooper Pad Mount Transformer Specifications (.pdf)
  • Discussion Topic: Equipment Selection
Module 3 • 9 assignments
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

  • Module 3 Intro (03:32 minutes)
  • Module 3 Lesson - Software Tools (24:28 minutes)
  • Module 3 Lesson - Software Tools (.pdf)
  • Reading and Resources (.zip)
  • Helioscope Training Videos
  • Helioscope Rooftop Layout Exercise (.pdf)
  • Helioscope Rooftop Layout Report Upload
  • Solar Software Tools List - Google Sheet
  • Discussion Topic: Solar Design Software
Module 4 • 8 assignments
Optimizing System Design

Keeping costs down will always be a primary goal for all involved in any PV project. The trick becomes where to cut costs wisely and how to improve the performance of the system in a way that is meaningful to the project owner. 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

  • Module 4 Introduction (02:50 minutes)
  • Module 4 - Optimizing System Design (44:38 minutes)
  • System Optimization (.pdf)
  • Reading and Resources (.zip)
  • Resources: HelioScope Optimization Webinar PDF (.pdf)
  • Module 3 Homework Solution (.pdf)
  • Discussion Topic: Optimal Inverter Loading
  • Inverter Loading Ratio Analysis (.pdf)
Module 5 • 13 assignments
Fire Code and Structural Considerations

Large commercial rooftop systems require a deep understanding of fire codes and techniques for coordinating with fire departments, inspectors and owners. 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.

  • Module 5 Introduction (02:34 minutes)
  • Module 5 lesson - Fire Code PDF (.pdf)
  • Fire Code (27:16 minutes)
  • Module 5 Lesson - Structural (.pdf)
  • Structural Code and Considerations (47:25 minutes)
  • UL2703 and 1703 presentation (48:26 minutes)
  • Resources: UL1703/2703 webinar PDF (.pdf)
  • Resources: Week 5 Articles and Papers for reading/review (.zip)
  • Resources: CA Fire Code
  • Update Helioscope Design (.pdf)
  • Upload Updated Helioscope Design
  • Discussion Topic: Fire Code Interpretations
  • Module 4 Solution (.pdf)
Module 6 • 18 assignments
NEC & eBOS 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 portions of the code that really drive cost in MW scale projects and some nuanced details to help you make fewer mistakes and get your jobs permitted faster. We'll also discuss how system architecture and electrical balance of systems (eBOS) affects system cost.

  • Module 6 Introduction (03:39 minutes)
  • Grounding and Bonding General NEC Requirements (23:16 minutes) Preview
  • Grounding and Bonding Article 690 2017 (22:29 minutes)
  • Read: PDF version of Grounding and Bonding General Requirements (.pdf)
  • Read: PDF version of Grounding and Bonding 2017 NEC (.pdf)
  • Resources: Module 6 Articles and Papers for reading/review (.zip)
  • Conductor sizing lesson (01:19:48 hours)
  • Conductor Sizing Lesson - PDF (.pdf)
  • Conductor Sizing Assignment (.pdf)
  • Optimal Conductor Sizing Lesson (27:48 minutes)
  • Optimal Conductor Sizing (.pdf)
  • Conductor Sizing Quiz
  • Reducing Conductor Lengths - Location, Leapfrog, Y Connectors (.pdf)
  • Reducing Conductor Lengths - Location, Leapfrog, Y Connectors (19:48 minutes)
  • Locating Inverters (.pdf)
  • Locating Inverters (33:32 minutes)
  • Module 5 Helioscope HW Solution (.pdf)
  • Discussion Topic: Locating Electrical Equipment
Module 7 • 9 assignments
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

  • Module 7 Introduction (02:00 minutes)
  • Module 7 Lesson: Utility Interconnections (23:07 minutes)
  • Resource: Dedicated new service example (.pdf)
  • Resources: Module 7 Lesson PDF (.pdf)
  • Module 7 Interconnection and Code (18:05 minutes)
  • Resources: Module 7 Articles and Papers for reading/review (.zip)
  • Module 7 Helioscope SLD Exercise & Upload
  • Link to Week 6 Conductor Sizing Quiz Solutions - Google sheet
  • Discussion Topic: Supply side connections
Module 8 • 12 assignments
Commissioning & Electrical Testing

Learn the importance of commission, how to develop a detailed commissioning plan including: voltage and current testing, insulation resistance testing, IV curve tracing.

  • Module 8 Introduction (01:38 minutes)
  • Module 8 Lesson Part 1 (24:38 minutes)
  • Module 8 Lesson Part 2 (25:00 minutes)
  • Module 8 Lesson - Arc Flash (17:57 minutes)
  • Resources: Week 8 Lesson PDF (.pdf)
  • O&M tools intro (02:16 minutes)
  • O&M tests - setup (05:02 minutes)
  • IRT testing (05:51 minutes)
  • IV curve tracing (04:31 minutes)
  • Resources: Module 8 Articles and Papers for reading/review (.zip)
  • Module 7 SLD Solution (.pdf)
  • Discussion Topic: Commissioning & Electrical Testing
Module 9 • 11 assignments
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.

  • Module 9 Introduction (02:02 minutes)
  • Permitting and Plans (46:17 minutes)
  • Resources: Module 9 Lesson PDF - Permitting and Plans (.pdf)
  • Read: SP2.5 Plan Sets (.pdf)
  • Read: SP3.4 CAD Models (.pdf)
  • Drawing Sets overview (19:03 minutes)
  • Sample Plan Set - Carport (.pdf)
  • Sample Plan Set - Ground Mount (.pdf)
  • Sample Rooftop Plan Set (.pdf)
  • Drawing Sheet List and Notes (.pdf)
  • Discussion Topic: Permitting & Plans
Module 10 • 2 assignments
Ground Mount Design

This week we will use some of what we have learned thorughout the course to develop a basic ground mount design.

  • Ground Mount Design (.pdf)
  • Group Discussion: Ground Mount Design
Conclusion • 5 assignments
Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • Group Discussion: Course Wrap-up
  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate

Continuing Education Units

Approved for the following CEUs

  • NABCEP Advanced Credit Hours
  • NABCEP RE Elective
  • NABCEP PV Associate Renewal

Approved NABCEP CEU Hours

NABCEP Credential Advanced Hours for Exam Recertification CEU Hours NEC JTA RE Elective Building or Fire Code
30 30 6 14 12 2
0 12 0 0 0 0
30 30 6 14 12 2
30 30 6 7 12 2
16 30 0 18 12 2
16 30 6 7 12 2
0 6 6 0 0 0

NABCEP Registered Provider

This course counts towards the training requirements for taking NABCEP professional certification exams and CEUs for renewing all certifications.


  • Will Lindsay

    Sol Rebel
    View profile

    Will Lindsay has been working in the solar industry for two decades. He worked for Tesla's solar energy division for 10 years before starting work with Bay Area-based Sol Rebel, a firm that provides engineering and consulting services for the solar industry and project owners. Will has worked on thousands of residential, commercial and utility-based solar PV projects... Learn more

  • Randy Batchelor

    Principal and Owner, Sol Rebel
    View profile

    Randy Batchelor is a licensed Electrical Engineer in California and is a NABCEP Certified PV Professional. He has experience with projects ranging from small off-grid power systems to utility-scale plants connected at medium Voltage. Randy has been working in the solar industry since 2006 and has been involved in the design and construction of hundreds of PV systems,... Learn more

Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?
You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 10 module course is delivered entirely online. This course is self-paced and you can set your own schedule to complete the materials. You can begin the lecture videos and other course materials as soon as you enroll. During your year of access the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.
How long do I have access to the materials?
Students get unlimited access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after enrollment. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world. After the one year of access expires, access can be extended by joining as a HeatSpring member. A single membership extends access to course materials for all past enrollments.
What system sizes is this course intended for? Does it cover ground mounted systems in detail?
This course is ideal for designers working on systems ranging from 500kW to 5MW. The course is focused on rooftop systems but many of the topics covered apply broadly across system types.

A number of considerations for ground mount systems are also discussed, including: racking systems, fire clearances and roads, and overall system architecture (AC versus DC, etc.). The resources provided cover topics relevant to ground mount systems in more detail.

The instructors have years of experience designing ground mount systems. They are happy to address any participant questions about ground mount systems and provide additional resources for learning more.

Is there a certificate of completion?
Yes, 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 LinkedIn integration.
Can I register multiple people?
Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Groups page to get a group discount.


Based on 82 reviews
students have taken this course
Preston K

Thank you for all the effort to help us to learn and willingness to share your knowledge. - much appreciated:)

Jessica Antinozzi
Solar Project Designer, Blue Horizon Energy LLC

The Megawatt Design course on Heatspring is a great choice for those transitioning into larger-scale design. I feel much more confident in every aspect of the design process now.

John Serjeantson
Project Coordinator, Solvest Inc

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