About this course

This course provides in-depth analysis of the issues surrounding the use of energy storage systems (ESS) for residential and commercial PV applications up to 100 kW/150 kWh. It covers battery system design, specification, use and maintenance.

This is an intensive six-week training with solar legend Christopher LaForge. PV systems that employ batteries require significant design considerations. Whether you're using batteries for backup when the grid goes down or as part of a stand-alone, off-grid system, this course will help you determine the best storage technology and capacity for your projects.

The course was updated in 2022 to focus more directly on lithium-ion batteries.

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Course outline

6 modules • 136 assignments • 4:41 hours of video lectures

Welcome • 3 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.

  • Orientation to the New - Updated - Course (02:59 minutes)
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board
Module 1 • 12 assignments
Outlining Battery Types and Beginning the Design

Topics covered this week include: client qualification, basic battery types (lead acid, FLA, SLA), why we use flooded lead acid batteries, load profiling, and beginning system design.

  • Reading Assignment #1: Client Qualification - When do they NEED batteries? (.docx)
  • Batteries in Solar PV Systems (13:39 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #2: Load Analysis - The Starting Point - What are you going to power? (.pdf)
  • Resource: Load Analysis Profile Template (.pdf)
  • Load Analysis (20:49 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #3: LaForge Battery Basics (.pdf)
  • Resource: Battery Capacity Calculator (.xls)
  • Reading Assignment #4: Battery Sizing Tips for Stand-Alone PV Systems (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #5: How to Size a Deep Cycle Battery Bank
  • Resource: Lead Acid Battery Buyers Guide (.xls)
  • The coming Evolution to Lithium Ion and other battery types...
  • Take Week 1 Quiz
Module 2 • 25 assignments
System Choices: Exotic Batteries, Load Analysis, Battery Bank Design, & Site Analysis

Topics covered this week include: exotic batteries - future of energy storage, expediting the load analysis (profile S), battery voltage choices, paralleling strings, battery wiring, large battery issues, and site analysis.

  • Exotics (10:54 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #6 Nickel-metal hydride battery definition
  • Reading Assignment #6 - Windows users Nickel-metal hydride battery definition
  • Reading Assignment #7 Lithium-ion battery definition
  • Reading Assignment #7 - windows users Lithium-ion battery definition
  • Reading assignment #8 - Living with Lithiun-Ion Energy Storage (.pdf)
  • Lithium Ion - no longer exotic...
  • Resource - Load Analysis Consumption Excel Spreadsheet (.xls)
  • Using the "Consumption" Spreadsheet (17:55 minutes)
  • Resource - Battery containment Requirements for containing battery banks (.pdf)
  • Resource - Battery containment Typical commercial battery containment (.pdf)
  • Resource-NiMH Specifications of a typical NiMH battery (.pdf)
  • Resource-Lithium-Ion Promotional flyer for LiOn Battery (.pdf)
  • Resource-Lithium-Ion Specifications of a typical LiOn Battery (.pdf)
  • Resource-Example NiCad MSDS Exotic batteries have serious use issues-see the example (.pdf)
  • Voltage, Parallel strings, and Wiring (25:44 minutes)
  • Exercise 1: Battery Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of Battery banks (.pdf)
  • How I review Manufacturer's Presentations (06:11 minutes)
  • Resource - Manufacturers battery presentation - MK Review the presentation - disregard AD content (.pdf)
  • Resource - Example of system schematic Review this example system design (.pdf)
  • Exercise 2: Battery Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of more Battery banks (.pdf)
  • Site Survey - issues for systems with batteries (07:57 minutes)
  • WEEK 2 QUIZ: 19 Questions
  • Exercise 1: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 1 with this Key (.pdf)
  • Exercise 2: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 2 with this Key (.pdf)
Module 3 • 24 assignments
Specification, Design, and Detailing Components

Topics covered this week include: battery bank design and wiring, on-grid vs. off-grid design differences, The Energy Master Design Program, and component detailing for charge controllers and inverters.

  • Introduction to Week Three - (04:35 minutes)
  • Resource - Grid-tie Battery Back-up Example of GTBB components (.pdf)
  • Resource - Grid-tie Battery Back-up 2nd Example of GTBB Components (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #9 Component Integration - MidNite In-depth analysis - disregard AD content (.pdf)
  • Resource - System Design Spreadsheet Energy Master Excel Spreadsheet - for Lead Acid Batteries (.xls)
  • Resource - System Design Spreadsheet - Energy Master Excel Spreadsheet - for LiOn Batteries (80%) (.xls)
  • Resource - System Design Spreadsheet - Energy Master Excel Spreadsheet - for LiOn Batteries (100%) (.xls)
  • Using the "Energy Master" Spreadsheet (30:24 minutes) Preview
  • Exercise 3: Array Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of Array to Combiner Box wiring (.pdf)
  • Resource - Charge Controller String sizing tool Practice array sizing for MidNite Solar's Classic Charge controllers.
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentations-OutBack
  • Resource - Manufacturer - Schneider's Solar installers Handbook Review the Handbook for Installers by Schneider Electric. (.pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation-Magnum Review presentation - disregard AD content (.pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation-Morningstar Review presentation - disregard AD content (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #10 - XW Installation and Menu Overview Read through the overview carefully noting the extensive menus (.pdf)
  • AEE's Solar+Storage Comparison Webinar.
  • Exercise 4: Array Wiring diagram Print and complete the diagrams of Array to combiner Box wiring (.pdf)
  • Resource tip - 2 Using the Home Power Articles in the course... (01:45 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #11 - Read through "Choosing the best batteries" (.pdf)
  • Manufacturer's Interviews - Generac PWRcell (48:13 minutes)
  • WEEK 3 QUIZ: 19 Questions
  • Exercise 3: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 3 with this Key (.pdf)
  • Exercise 4: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 4 with this Key (.pdf)
  • Week Three Review - (37 seconds)
Module 4 • 25 assignments
Balancing System Components

Topics covered this week include: The proper blend - loads/PV/batteries/back-up generation, diagramming the overall system, DC coupling - the tradition, Case Study: Kroska, AC coupling - the innovation, component detailing, and AC coupled inverters.

  • Introduction to Week Four (01:51 minutes) Preview
  • Exercise 5: DC system wiring diagram Print and complete the diagram of this simple Dc system (.pdf)
  • Equipment Sizing Use and Maintenance (32:12 minutes)
  • Stand-alone Design article Review this article on off-grid system design (.docx)
  • Reading Assignment: Battery Based Inverters (.docx)
  • Resource - Inverter Buyer's Guide Review this guide - an inverter buyers guide - scroll down to find inverters that work with storage.
  • Reading assignment: Read this article on Grid-intertied systems with battery back-up. (.pdf)
  • Exercise 6: DC+AC system wiring Diagram Print and complete the diagram of this System including an inverter (.pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation - Trojan Review presentation - disregard AD content (.pdf)
  • Resource - Manufacturer's Presentation - Rolls Surrette Review presentation - disregard AD content (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12a Familiarize yourself with The XW equipment 1) Inverter (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12b 2) Power System Installation (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12c 3) MPPT 80 600 Charge control installation (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12d 4) MPPT 80 600 Charge Control Operation (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #12e 5) System Control Panel (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #13a Familiarize yourself with the Magnum equipment 1) inverter (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #13b 2) Magnum Panel (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #13c 3) Remote Control (.pdf)
  • Exercise 7: DC+AC system Wiring Diagram Print and complete this final diagram exercise (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #14 Read this AC Coupling White Paper (.pdf)
  • WEEK 4 QUIZ: 23 Questions
  • Exercise 5: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 5 with this key (.pdf)
  • Exercise 6: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 6 with this key (.pdf)
  • Exercise 7: Diagram Key Review the correct wiring for exercise 7 with this key (.pdf)
  • Week Four Review (01:02 minutes)
Module 5 • 22 assignments
Components: Continued Use and Maintenance

Topics this week include: Reviewing additional components (combiner boxes, charge controls, and appliances) and finalizing the design by component integration, system labeling and other code issues, aesthetics of design, and important considerations for use and annual maintenance.

  • Introduction to Week Five (01:13 minutes)
  • Resource - PV Combiner Box Review this article - choosing a combiner box.
  • Resource - Combiner Box Specifications - MidNite Review this Product Line by MidNite Solar (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15d 4) Battery monitor - Flexnet DC (.pdf)
  • Resource - Charge Controller Review this blog - reviews of good charge controllers
  • Resource - Battery Monitoring Compare battery monitoring tools at this site.
  • Reading - Battery Monitoring 2 Review this presentation on battery monitoring and maintenance.
  • Reading Assignment #15a Familiarize yourself with the OutBack equipment 1) Inverter-off grid (.pdf) (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15b 2) Inverter - grid-tie (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15c 3) Charge Controller - Flexmax (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15e 5) Flexware - ICS Plus combiner boxes (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #15f Review the FlexPower Radian quick start guide. (.pdf)
  • Review this article on Bonding and Grounding in PV systems (.pdf)
  • Resource - Off-Grid Appliances Review this article on choosing the correct appliances for Off-Grid applications
  • Reading Assignment #17a Familiarize yourself with the LinkPRO amp-hour meter installation (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #17b Familiarize yourself with the LinkPRO operation (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #18a Familiarize yourself with the TRI-METRIC Amp-hour meter Installation (.pdf)
  • Reading assignment #18b Familiarize yourself with the TRI-METRIC operation (.pdf)
  • PV Watts - practice using the NREL production and cost Calculator
  • Creating your Capstone Project (05:12 minutes)
  • WEEK 5 QUIZ 25 Questions
  • Week Five Review (02:43 minutes)
Module 6 • 21 assignments
Summary and Capstone Project

This week you'll tie everything together by finishing your capstone project to demonstrate what you've learned. The purpose is to get practice designing battery-based PV systems.

  • Introduction to Week Six (03:15 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #19 Ground-Fault Protection, note the difference for battery systems (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #20 Workmanship - note Battery issues (.pdf)
  • Reading Assignment #21 Permit/Inspection Checklist - note Battery issues (.pdf)
  • Code and Compliance - Overview and Update (18:39 minutes)
  • Reading Assignment #22 Labeling and the NEC - 2017 article and 2020 update - Poster (.pdf)
  • Resource - Required Labels Visual guide to required labels for PV systems - 2020 (.pdf)
  • Resource - Safety for PV Installations Review this OSEIA guide to Safety issues for PV Installations (.pdf)
  • Resource: OSHA Web Page for the Solar Industry
  • Resource: Solar ABC's web page on Building Codes
  • Commissioning for Small Scale Photovoltaic Systems with Energy Storage... (07:15 minutes)
  • Review this document On Commissioning - produced for the California Energy Commission - Energy Storage Review (.pdf)
  • Comparing LiOn and Lead Acid Batteries Today... (14:10 minutes)
  • Capstone - Example Consumption Spreadsheet - Off Grid (.pdf)
  • Capstone - Example Energy Master Spreadsheet - Off Grid (.pdf)
  • Capstone - Example Cost Estimate - Off Grid (.pdf)
  • Capstone - Example Project Diagram - Off Grid (.pdf)
  • Capstone - Example PV Watts Calculator - Off Grid (.pdf)
  • Upload your Capstone Project Documents
  • GNS Mobile Unit Workshops... (.pdf)
  • Week Six Review (01:53 minutes)
Conclusion • 4 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!

  • 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 Building or Fire Code
  • 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
40 30 6 30 12 2
0 12 0 0 0 0
24 30 6 18 12 2
24 30 6 18 12 2
40 30 0 18 12 2
24 30 6 18 12 2

NABCEP Registered Provider

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


  • Christopher LaForge

    Certified Master Trainer (IREC), NABCEP Certified Photovoltaic Professional - Emeritus , Great Northern Solar
    View profile

    Christopher LaForge is the CEO of Great Northern Solar and a NABCEP certified photovoltaic installer-emeritus. He has been designing, specifying, and installing systems since 1988. He has been an instructor with the MREA since 1993 teaching Advanced Photovoltaic design and installation and is an ISPQ Affiliated Master Trainer. In 2016 he was named IREC's Master Trainer... Learn more

Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?
You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 6 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.
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 19 reviews
students have taken this course
Austin J
Samuel D

Designing a residential solar + storage system is a fundamental tool in decarbonization and a skill everyone should have.

Peter Hubbard
Founder, Georgia Center for Energy Solutions

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