SHOL101: Solar Thermal Training - Solar Hot Water Design and Installation - Online

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Students in this course will learn the theory, design considerations and installation strategies necessary to install and maintain a solar domestic hot water system. Passive solar water heaters, drainback systems, antifreeze systems, and photovoltaic powered systems are all addressed, as well as an introduction to pool and space heating systems.

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The course will familiarize students with industry history, the distribution chain, jobs in the industry, safe practices, and national codes and standards. Students will explore the different types of collectors, systems, components, and materials used in solar heating systems and determine their appropriate applications.

The course will also examine the techniques and tools used for installing solar heating equipment. Finally, students will learn how to conduct site assessments, analyze hot water loads, develop accurate system sizing and project cost estimates, and identify the economic and non-economic benefits of a solar heating system.

Students who complete the SHOL101 course will be able to perform the following:

  • Differentiate between various renewable energy sources and types of systems
  • Perform calculations as needed for system sizing and other exercises.
  • Evaluate the different types of SH systems and their suitability for specific climates.
  • Describe solar energy and applications for solar heating systems.
  • Identify components specific to various types of solar water heating and solar pool heating systems.
  • List the applications, operation, and functionality of the following SH systems – solar pool heating, ICS, thermosyphon, direct forced circulation, drainback, and antifreeze.
  • Obtain specifications for various solar collectors and determine collector performance given various environmental and operating conditions.
  • Identify various types of tools used in the SH industry and explain how to use them safely.
  • Determine the magnetic declination, define azimuth and altitude angle and evaluate the shade potential for a given site.
  • Estimate energy production of a SH system based on location specifics including orientation and tilt angle.
  • Describe methods of attaching mounting hardware to a collector.
  • Evaluate what type of solar heating system is most appropriate based on specific site criteria.
  • Identify appropriate codes and standards concerning the installation, operation, and maintenance of SWH systems.
  • Identify potential safety hazards and the proper personal protective equipment for working on solar heating systems.
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Click here for Computer & Software Requirements for online courses.

This course was developed by two of the solar heating industry’s most respected leaders: Chuck Marken and Vaughan Woodruff.

Chuck Marken is an instructor for Solar Energy International and a licensed Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC-R contractor in NM. He started installing solar water heating systems in 1979 and PV systems in 1983. Chuck is also a technical editor for Home Power and SolarPro magazines and has authored more than 50 articles on solar topics. He has hands on experience selling, installing and servicing hundreds of solar energy systems of all types – including off grid and grid connected PV systems, hot water and swimming pool solar systems. After founding and owning AAA Solar for more than 25 years, he sold the company in 2010. He has, through contracts with Sandia National Laboratories supporting the US Department of Energy, served as a subject matter expert for the Solar Instructor Training Network and Solar America Cities program. He has also taught classes and workshops for numerous other educational and not for profit organizations in the US and is the co-author of the current NABCEP Solar Heating Resource Guide.

Vaughan Woodruff is owner of Insource Renewables, a solar design/build and consulting firm in Pittsfield, ME. A trained engineer and educator, Vaughan serves diverse roles in the solar heating industry. He is a NABCEP-Certified Solar Heating Installer, serves on committees for NABCEP, IAPMO, and IREC, and was the former lead solar thermal instructor for the Northeast and Northern Mid Atlantic regions of the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network. Vaughan is the co-author of the NABCEP Solar Heating Installer Resource Guide, author of NYSERDA’s Field Inspection Guidelines for Solar Heating Systems, and has been published in Home Power and SolarPro magazines. In addition to his work with SEI, Vaughan provides training for a variety of schools and organizations.

SEI Contact Training Hours: 60 hours online

This course provides approved credit hours towards the following NABCEP Certifications and Recertifications:

  • PV Installation Professional (Recertification only)
  • PV Design Specialist (Recertification only)
  • PV Installation Specialist (Recertification only)
  • PV Commissioning and Maintenance Specialist (Recertification only)
  • PV Technical Sales Professional (Recertification only)
  • Solar Heating Installer Certification (and Recertification)

Please visit NABCEP’S online course catalog for credit hours breakdown.

This course also provides 24 Continuing Education Hours (CEH) with NATE (North American Technician Excellence), specifically 8 hrs Heating Hydronics – Gas Installer; 8 hrs Heating Hydronics – Oil Installer; 8 hrs Heating Hydronics – Gas Servicer; and 8 hrs Heating Hydronics – Oil Servicer

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You will have access to a Digital Course Notebook from within the online course, that can be downloaded for use as a reference after the course completion date.

Workshop and Training Program Policies

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Solar Energy International (SEI) is approved and regulated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Division of Private Occupational Schools.* 

Enrollment:  Prospective students may enroll anytime.  Late enrollments will be accepted on an individual basis for online courses, and the first day of class for in-person and hands-on labs courses.  Enrollment is on a first-come basis and class sizes are limited. To reserve a space you can register online or call in to register at 970-527-7657 option 1 and make payment in full. If you are sending a check, call first to check on availability and to let us know that you are sending payment.

Lodging & Logistics:  SEI’s main campus and Lab Facility is in Paonia, Colorado.  For detailed info about Paonia click here.  Many of our workshops are held in other parts of the country and the world. We now also have a lab facility in Costa Rica and the Middle East as well. Local logistics and lodging for each workshop venue are available on the location page for each workshop. More information will also be sent to registered students upon confirmation of registration.

Waiting List:  If a workshop is full we will place you on the waiting list. There is no charge to be on the waiting list. If space becomes available, we contact the first person on the list. You then have 24 hours to register before we move on to the next person.

Cancellation & Refund Policies:  Students not accepted to the school are entitled to all moneys paid.  Students who cancel this contract by notifying the school within three (3) business days (*of original registration) are entitled to a full refund of all tuition and fees paid.  Students, who withdraw after three (3) business days, but before commencement of classes, are entitled to a full refund of all tuition and fees paid except the maximum cancellation charge of $150.00 or 25% of the contract price, whichever is less.  In the case of students withdrawing after commencement of classes, the school will retain a cancellation charge plus a percentage of tuition and fees, which is based on the percentage of contact hours attended (if training is offered as distance education: “based on the percentage of no. of lessons completed”)*.  The refund is based on the official date of termination or formal documented withdrawal.  Please visit ‘Complete school catalog’ link above for full cancellation information and refund table.  If you are unable to complete your course due to illness or natural disaster, please contact the administration office.

If SEI Cancels a Class: In the event a class is cancelled for a reason beyond SEI’s control, SEI will work with the student to reschedule them into future online or in-person classes at no fee. Any remaining credit will be held for up to two years in this situation. If a student chooses not to reschedule for a future online or in-person class, and instead would like a tuition refund, then SEI will charge a cancellation charge of $150.00 or 25% of the contract price, whichever is less. SEI is not responsible for losses incurred on housing, travel or other arrangements.

Entrance Requirements:  SEI is an open enrollment training organization.  However, students still must meet the prerequisites for any course(s) for which they would like to register. Additionally, if a student wishes to be considered for admission into the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program, a separate application for admission is required. This program is a selective admissions program where we ask students to complete an application that requires an essay where they can indicate their dedication to successful program completion and their relevant  transferable skills that would make them a good candidate for this rigorous training program. Please see application for details,  The school does not discriminate based on race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, or disability.  By completing the SEI enrollment agreement, all students agree to comply with the requirements and directions of the training and supply any information that is relevant to safety and medical issues.  Additionally, students completing this enrollment agreement attest to the fact that he or she is physically capable of performing all requirements of the training and agree to comply with all safety regulations and directions given by instructional staff.

Previous Credits:  Credits from another institution will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  SEI only allows the transfer of a PV101 equivalent course with the same amount of contact hours and learning objectives as SEI’s PV101 course.    The student may be asked to provide a transcript, certificate of completion, course catalog, link to the course description from the transferring school’s website showing equivalent course, or may be required to take a PV101 opt-out quiz to prove proficiency of course material. SEI does not guarantee transferability of our credits to another institution unless there is an articulated agreement with another institution.

Attendance / Online Course Progress Requirements:  Students are expected to arrive on time for class with proper materials. Instructors may request your withdrawal from a course or program if absences or tardiness exceed 50%.  In the SEI Online Campus, course participation and acceptable progress is determined by attempting ALL graded activities with a passing grade of 70% or higher averaged across all graded activities.   Students who are unable to continue classes for medical reasons or severe personal problems will be required to take a leave of absence until they are able to return to class.  Proper documentation will be required and a formal request for withdrawal will be required to substantiate a student’s withdrawal request.

Progress Policy:  Students must maintain a 70% or higher grade point average to complete the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program.  Those who do not, will be given an opportunity to retake courses, for a retake fee of ½ the original tuition price of each course.  The retake option is available anytime within one year of original course start date. The student may be dropped from the program if acceptable progress is not satisfactory after multiple attempts to pass a course.  Dropping of a student from the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program shall be at the school Director’s discretion.  The Executive Director has final authority and shall notify the student of the final decision.

Financial Assistance:  SEI has a limited number of partial tuition scholarships available for international and low-income participants. We also offer a work/trade program for people taking 8 weeks or more of workshops.  Click here for additional info.

Placement Assistance:  Solar Energy International (SEI) offers employment assistance to graduates, consisting of job lead referrals and job skills development.  While providing resources to help you in your job search, we make no guarantee, expressed or implied, of future employment.  Current law prohibits any school from guaranteeing job placement as an inducement to enroll students.

Conduct Policy:  All students are expected to act maturely and are required to respect other students and faculty members.  Possession of weapons, illegal drugs, and alcohol of any kind are not allowed at any time on school property.  Any violation of school policies may result in permanent dismissal from school.

Dismissal:  Any student may be dismissed for violations of rules and regulations of the school, as set forth in school publications.  A student also may be withdrawn from classes if he or she does not prepare sufficiently, neglects assignments, or makes unsatisfactory progress.  The Executive Director, after consultation with all parties involved, makes the final decision.  The Executive Director may temporarily suspend students whose conduct is disruptive or unacceptable to the academic setting.  After appropriate counseling, students who demonstrate a genuine desire to learn and conform to school standards of conduct, may be allowed to resume attendance.  The Executive Director will review each case and decide upon re-admittance.

Student Grievance Procedure:  If a student has a grievance regarding any SEI policy or staff member they should contact, via email, SEI’s Executive Director, Kathy Swartz at  Students should first discuss any instructional grievances directly with their instructor. If unable to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion, students should contact, via email, SEI’s Executive Director, Kathy Swartz at for in-person and hands-on lab courses.   For SEI Online Campus courses contact via email, SEI’s Online Course Manager, Scott Martin at Final decisions may be appealed to SEI’s Executive Director, Kathy Swartz at  Once a grievance is submitted via email to the Executive Director, within one week, she will investigate the grievance and arrange an appointment if necessary with the student for discussion. Every effort will be made to resolve any grievance in a timely manner.

Student Complaints:  Attempting to resolve any issue with the School first is strongly encouraged.  Student Complaints may be brought to the attention of the Division of Private Occupational Schools online at ,303 862-3001. There is a two-year statute of limitations for the Division to take action on a student complaint (from student’s last day of attendance).

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