RegisterSign In

Achieving Solar - An Introductory Guide to Solar Energy


In this online six-module solar energy course, you will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. energy consumption and a detailed primer on today's solar energy applications and uses. The difference between solar thermal systems and solar photovoltaic (PV) applications and technologies will be clarified. Climate, geographic, siting, and zoning considerations will be discussed. Finally, you will learn how to locate a contractor, and how solar can add value to a structure and real estate.

This class is approved for 4 hours of continuing education credit with the United States Green Building Council. Ask instructor for details. Student has access for 60 days but may complete the course sooner.

Module 1: The Context for Solar Energy

  • Energy production
  • Energy consumption
  • Cost of energy in the US
  • The global perspective
  • Renewable energy
  • Quiz

Module 2: What is Solar Energy?

  • What is solar energy?
  • Solar technologies
  • Measuring solar energy
  • The power of the sun in your state
  • Determining solar angles
  • Shading and obstructions

Module 3: Solar Heating

  • Solar space heating
  • Insulated solar gain systems
  • Solar water heating
  • Freeze protection - passive systems
  • Freeze protection - active systems
  • Collector types
  • Solar thermal systems and roofs
  • Appearance of solar thermal systems
  • Solar air conditioning

Module 4: Solar Electric (Solar Photovoltaics

  • How solar electricity works
  • Grid-connected systems
  • Off-grid systems
  • Types of PV systems
  • PV in the Marketplace
  • Installation considerations
  • Cost of PV
  • Value of PV as a home improvement

Module 5: Getting Ready to Install

  • Covenants, zoning, and other restrictions
  • Solar in the local community
  • Overcoming objections
  • Choosing a solar contractor
  • Warranties for solar energy systems
  • DIY Installations

Module 6: Value of Solar Power

  • Solar thermal vs. PV
  • System value from ROI
  • Beyond ROI
  • Owning vs. renting
  • Payback
  • Incentives
  • Lifestyle considerations
  • Cost trends
  • Lifetime value

Conclusion and Evaluation


At the conclusion of this online courses, students will be able to:

  • Recognize the economics and environment driving the adoption of renewable energy
  • Identify basic aspects of solar power and the technologies that harvest it
  • Recall the role site characteristics play in a successful solar powered installation
  • Differentiate between solar electric and solar thermal technologies
  • Identify resources for evaluating solar electric and solar thermal systems
  • Locate a qualified solar contractor
  • Decide whether solar power is appropriate for your needs.


Each module in this course has a brief quiz the student must pass to demonstrate their understanding of the material. Additionally, students have activities and optional assignments to work on throughout to reinforce the information presented.

course quick facts
course code DED5021
cost $59.00
estimated time to
complete course
4 Hours
course materials
60 Days

Jason LaFleur is an experienced instructor committed to enhancing the ongoing professional development of the sustainable living and green building industry through top-quality, third-party reviewed e-learning programs. This program is an approved education provider of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and qualifies for continuing education credit (CEU).


"After taking this solar energy course I had a much better idea of how to pick a contractor to install solar panels on my roof. I knew very little to begin with and I am so glad I got some better information before I hired someone." - Elizabeth Person