#7: Photovoltaic Labs

Lead authors
Brian Hurd


Christopher LaForge
Great Northern Solar 

Dr. Jerry Ventre
Engineering and Education Consultant, Former Director, Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division, FSEC


The primary purpose of this document is to assist faculty and administrators at colleges, universities, and other technical and training institutions that seek to develop new photovoltaic (PV) laboratories or improve existing ones. Such laboratories can then be used for a variety of courses and programs to enhance learning and develop the skills of several target audiences.

Although enrollment has been high for PV instruction throughout the country, the groups receiving the most attention to date have been the construction trades. Contractors, administrators, and tradesmen have shown an increased interest in PV systems installations. The laboratory facilities, equipment, hardware, tools and hands-on learning activities required to train future PV installers effectively are more extensive than those for other solar occupations (such as site evaluation, sales, or system design).

Consequently, this document presents information on developing laboratories that are inclusive enough for PV system installation courses and programs. From this more comprehensive list, selected equipment can then be used in courses for PV designers, contractors, code officials, site assessors, sales personnel, building designers, utility personnel, business professionals and other photovoltaic-related occupations.

This document is not intended to establish minimum requirements for facilities or equipment. Specific needs in these areas will depend on the overall educational objectives and desired outcomes of courses and/or programs, the level and length of courses and/or programs, available budgets and assets and the backgrounds and capabilities of the students.

How to Use This Document

This document is organized into five sections. Please see the menu at the left to navigate through the sections and sub-sections.

While designed to provide an overview of PV labs in a step-by-step approach, the needs of most readers will be best served by navigating the document rather than reading it from beginning to end. To facilitate this process, a clickable index is provided to allow easy navigation to the topic of interest. By skimming through the index, readers can pick and choose those sections that best meet their individual needs. Each subsection has links to resources such as pictures and web sites that will support laboratory development.

Disclaimer: It is strongly emphasized that listed examples of possible manufacturers and/or suppliers do not in any way constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Rather, readers are strongly encouraged to use Internet search engines to identify manufacturers and suppliers of the equipment listed. For most products, numerous options will be found.

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