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Preparing for the CHP-5 Exams – A CEO’s Perspective
by Chris Compton, CEO and Founder of HVACRedu.net
NATE CHP-5 Exam Recon Mission
I took the first online proctored CHP-5 exam on the evening of the 12th of February. My interest was to determine the rigor of the CHP-5 Certification exam process. The reason for my recon mission was to make sure that we are providing adequate study materials to technicians that are going for it using our program.
My takeaway is that we are doing a darn good job of teaching the technology and with that, our technician learners should be successful on these Certification exams. And they are – over the past 2 decades we have monitored our own NATE TO (Testing Organization) to ensure our program meets the needs of technicians pursuing a HVAC/R Career. Several thousand have taken their NATE exams through our TO. I can report a 90+% pass rate on the whole spectrum of NATE Certification exams including the Senior Level Efficiency Analysts, the top tier of NATE certification.
If you opt for the online proctored exam, I highly recommend that you read the extensive instructions that you receive when you schedule your exam. Read them several times and prepare your exam area and computer as instructed. Otherwise, you and your computer will not be prepared. You will go over them again with the online proctor who is obviously somewhere offshore. They will read the entire instructions to you again in a very rapid-fire way and ask you if you understand. If you don’t read them a couple times prior, you will not understand, and you won’t be prepared to move forward! Nothing like a little or lot of frustration just at the point of taking a $70 exam. Even if you have your ducks lined up the proctor set up does take 20-30 minutes before you can begin the exam. Make sure you allow enough time to complete! I intend to report on each of the CHP-5 Exams as I take them. I will not divulge questions but will comment on what you should know or study to prepare. You can read them here, on our website blog, and on our social media posts.
Chris Compton, CEO, CMHE, CMS
HVACRedu.net / ItsAboutQ.net
I took the CHP-5 Electrical & Controls exam first because that is where most technicians fall over. I found it to be a reasonable exam for residential certification. It is survivable for someone that has extensive residential service experience plus some training or has recently completed at least a year long HVAC/R technical program. You can be successful with that type of background. I would not recommend wasting your money without doing some study prep on the electrical side of HVAC/R.
The online proctored exam is very convenient because you can take it at your convenience at home, in the office and on your day and time.
I missed one question out of 30. I believe it was related to ECM motors.
I’ve been working and teaching this trade for 43 years. The only thing I did to prepare for the CHP-5 Electrical & Controls exam is go through our 4 electrical TCA (Technical Core Assessment) exams prior to taking the CHP-5 exam. Did it so I could relate what we are doing to prepare a technician for a Certification success. The TCA was helpful for me, got my head back in the electrical side of HVAC/R. My takeaway is that we are doing a darn good job of teaching the technology and with that, technicians should be successful on Certification exams.
Here is my input related to the Electrical & Controls Domain knowledge areas that stood out for me during the exam:
- Electrical Science Fundamentals
- Need to know how to use Ohm’s Law.
Our 111 DC Electrical Theory, and the stand-alone tutorial: Terminology and Units of Measurement will get you through this.
- Basic Electricity
- Need to know the measurement units of electricity.
Our 111 DC Electrical Theory, 112 AC Electrical Theory, and the stand-alone tutorials: Terminology and Units of Measurement, Series Circuits & Parallel Circuits will prepare you well beyond the target of this domain of the CHP-5 Electrical & Controls exam.
- Wiring Layouts
- Need to know how to read residential equipment schematics
- Need to know the different styles of schematics
- Need to know schematic symbols
It often seems that schematics are the great mystery of life, and they are until you get your head around them. To bone up on schematics turn your attention to our course, 113 Electrical Common Components, and the tutorial: Intro to Understanding Electrical Schematics.
- Overview of Electrical Troubleshooting
- Need to know voltage readings for open or closed switches
- Need to know how to ohm out a single-phase compressor
- Need to know about capacitors as applied to motors
- Need to know the gamut of how single-phase motor starting relays work
- Need to know gas furnace sequence of operation
If electrical troubleshooting residential systems is something that you do regularly then you shouldn’t have much trouble. For those with no or limited experience this domain area could be a real challenge for you. There is much involved in electrical troubleshooting HVAC/R systems. You need to know sequence of operation for various residential systems, how to use a meter, all types of single phase electric motors, etc. Our offerings cover all of this in detail and more, but I can’t honestly recommend any specific course other than to study all the electrical courses and tutorials we offer. That will get you there plus some!
- Need to know some things about ECM’s
- Common controls electrical-mechanical and electronic.
Again, the exam is focused on residential systems, AC, HP, Gas Heat systems. If you are employed as a technician and doing that work regularly you should have the experience to deal with this domain. If not, I recommend a study across the board of our Electrical and Service categories. Stay tuned, I am scheduled to take the CHP-5 Fundamentals exam section soon and will continue my reporting on the process and will report on each one as I take it.
Well now I’m two exams down with three more to go. The Electrical & Controls exam was what I expected it to be. I have to say that the Fundamentals was more of the same. I wasn’t as well prepared for it but passed it with a scores ranging from 100% to 83% across the 5 topic areas. If I did the math right, I missed four. I’ve broken it down as before with some pointers as to where you head needs to be if you are going for it.
- If you have been through an OSHA 10 or 30 in the past few years you should be good to go. Mostly related to safety closely related to the normal HVACR workplace, service, or construction. The good news is our US students typically test high in Safety when they take our entrance exam, the TCA (Technical Core Assessment). Our campus is online, so we have technicians in our campus from all over the country. We do have a HVACR safety courses, OSHA 10 &30 and our own 102 Safety.
- My tool exam section was more related to refrigeration cycle tools, you need to know them. I actually missed one of these. Don’t have a clue of what it is. I would make sure you know your hand tools and how to use them and be aware of what is available to technicians today in the line of the more common digital instruments. Our 109 Hand and Power Tools that covers this section of the CHP-5 Fundamentals.
- Basic Construction
- My section was all related to HVAC installs and what normally happens on an install. I would say if you have installed some residential HVAC systems and were paying attention to how a building is put together you should survive this section. Our 106 Building Systems is a quick course that covers this well.
- Basic Science and Heat Transfer
- Maybe these were so easy to me that I didn’t twitch. The best thing to do for this section is review the basic physics if it’s been awhile, and definitely if you have never had them. Our Fundamentals 101 is a good study for this and be expected to know some common HVAC formulas related to basic Psychrometrics. We have that covered with our 121 Air Systems and Properties course.
- Codes and Regulations
- I missed one of these. The focus was on building and electrical codes. It seems that the focus in on the more common and noteworthy codes related to the installation of Residential HVAC systems and the Electrical related to the same. If you have worked residential installs and paid attention, this should be okay. If you haven’t, too bad. We don’t have a course that focuses specifically on this general knowledge area. Our courses address code issues as it applies to the course topic. Example: 135 Heat Pumps 133 Gas Furnace and 241 R-410A
Yes, some shameless plugs for our courses but whether you come see us or not, or if you are already enrolled in one of our programs somewhere, this is my honest assessment of what you will run into taking the CHP-5 Fundamentals exam. So far, after taking two of the series, I find the CHP-5 series as an acceptable measure of a technicians knowledge base and therefore be “Certified”. Three more to go, I’ll keep you posted.
Chris Compton, CEO, CHME, CMS
HVACRedu.net / ItsAboutQ.net
Stay tuned – Chris will be taking all 5 exams and creating study notes to help you prepare for the NATE CHP-5 Certification Exams!
Get started on your CHP-5 Certification courses today!