Looking Back At altE’s 9th Annual Solar Installer Conference

Solar installers and vendors gathered from across the world for altE’s 9th annual Solar Conference February 24th through 26th, at the Devens Common Center in Devens, MA. The solar conference was three days of learning, networking, and earning valuable NABCEP continuing education credits for our installer customers.

Training Sessions

Before the conference proper, we had a day of five-hour training sessions. Our own Nate Dooley and Garrett McCutcheon taught “Intro to Solar Grid Tie and Battery Backup,” to a packed room and munificent reception. The prolific and highly experienced Dr. Sean White also returned, teaching the advanced-track “PV And The 2020 NEC” for six NABCEP Continuing Education credits.

The two conference days featured over 30 breakout training seasons for Installers, that included a total of 14 hours of NABCEP continuing education credits. Sessions were hosted by field experts, with topics ranging from Comparative Energy Storage/Battery Chemistries, to Grid Tie Systems with Battery Backup, to Mounting Alternatives for Solar Systems.


Over 20 industry-leading manufacturers lined the perimeter of the Exhibit and Trade Show area. Exhibitors and sponsors included manufacturers of solar panels, grid-tie and off-grid inverters, solar panel racking, charge controllers, enclosures, and data logging devices.

  • Schneider Electric offered a 2-part session going over the expanded feature set of their Rule 21-compliant Conext XW Pro Inverter/Charger, and how it can be used in grid-tie battery backup residential solar systems.
  • KiloVault unveiled and presented on the PLC advanced pure lead carbon battery.
  • Outback Power went over the new UL9540 certification that has been passed in CA which requires UL stamp on an entire integrated system- ie, inverter, batteries, battery rack – expediting project permitting and approval, and giving customers peace of mind.
  • Blue Sky Energy introduced their new blue tooth accessory and mobile app for multi-controller monitoring and data collection.
  • Tamarack Solar presented a new flush-mount rooftop solar racking system that is easy to install, offers excellent wire management, and ships with everything the installer needs in a UPS-able kit!
  • Morningstar went over their newest product to be launched this year – the MultiWave high frequency inverter/charger that offers superior charging capability, a lighter weight design for easier installation, and more agile and efficient electronics.

The great advantage of altE SolarCon over the larger conferences is the ratio of exhibitors to attendees. Solar exhibitors love the show because it gives them one-on-one time with the people who actually install their products.


Eric Bentsen of Schneider Eectric, the 2020 Gold Sponsor, teaches "Gateway & Conext Insight 2 Monitoring Platform"

Eric Bentsen of Schneider Eectric, the 2020 Gold Sponsor, teaches “Gateway & Conext Insight 2 Monitoring Platform”

With valuable technical training sessions, and the opportunity to network with manufacturers, altE staff, and other solar professionals, altE SolarCon was the place for Installers to be. Solar installers and dealers love the show because it gives them time to ask the out-of-the-ordinary questions to the people who know the products inside and out.

With every conference comes new breakout sessions, vendors, and technologies, but no new costs for attending the educational workshops. In this fast-changing world, the altE Solar Installer Conference gives attendees a few days in the middle of the winter to stop and look around, to see what’s available to improve their business going into the Spring.

With hands-on training sessions, installers and dealers can learn time-saving tips for installation, repair, and maintenance of a solar system. Meeting and networking with nearby installers lets them raise issues they run into in their area, and address them collaboratively.

ConnectedSolutions Controversy

In this year’s “keynote address,” a Program Manager from National Grid Utility explained the ConnectedSolutions demand response program, part of the Mass Save initiative. Within ConnectedSolutions, he focused on the Daily Dispatch Battery program.

On February 12th the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC) approved the recommendation to proceed, and the program will go to the state’s DPU. The Daily Dispatch Battery program has drawn criticism for only offering pay-for-performance pathways for five of the largest national battery and inverter companies. While other “battery implementers” may be approved in the future, giving these national companies a months-long head start is seen as unfair by many other solar manufacturers, distributors, and local installers.

The National Grid manager was thorough in his presentation, and receptive to audience feedback. Many in our community used this opportunity to be heard, and have input to how the program is constructed.


The 2020 altE Solar Installer Conference could not have been the successful event that it was without all of our Sponsors, Exhibitors and attendees! Our thanks to each and every one who participated. We at altE are already looking forward to 2021 and the 10th annual Solar Conference. Hope to see you there!




2020 Gold Sponsor


2020 Silver Sponsors


2020 Exhibitors


About Author

Seth Lockman
Seth Lockman has communications experience in offshore wind, aerospace, and now the world of solar. His favorite punctuation mark is the interrobang. Outside of work he loves playing music, hiking, and sailing. See more of Seth Lockman's blog posts.