What Is a Solar Installer? | SaveOnEnergy.com

What Is a Solar Installer?

home with solar panels on the roof

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Key points

  • A professional solar installer receives training to install solar systems correctly.
  • Solar installers typically get on-the-job training and relevant education.
  • Their duties include installing panels, completing electrical work, filing permitting paperwork, and maintaining solar systems.

A solar panel system is complicated technology. While it is possible to install solar panels yourself, having a trained solar installer do the job will give you confidence and peace of mind that your system will work correctly and last a long time. When you install panels yourself, there is a greater risk that something might be done incorrectly and cost you more money. 

As solar power has become more accessible and affordable over the past decade, the demand for professional solar installers has gone through the roof. Professional installers have the skills to work on residential and commercial solar systems, and with advanced solar technologies and the electrical grid. Many solar equipment manufacturers may deny a warranty to replace or repair a part if a licensed professional does not install it. That could be a costly mistake for the solar owner.

What does a solar installer do?

Solar installers assemble the entire solar panel system, including photovoltaic (PV) panels, an inverter, racking and mounting systems, a battery, and a performance monitoring device. They are responsible for the secure installation of the system consistent with building codes and fire safety standards. 

It is important to properly connect your home to the power grid when solar panels aren’t generating power. PV installers have the necessary electrical knowledge to set up wiring, connect panels to the electrical system, and inspect all electrical parts before and after installation. After installing solar panels, installers are responsible for solar panel maintenance. They also provide remote system monitoring services.

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What kind of qualifications must solar installers have?

Requirements and qualifications for solar professional PV installers vary from state to state. The U.S. Department of Energy-supported Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. provides a Solar Licensing Database for anyone seeking information on solar licensing requirements in individual states.

At the minimum, solar panel installers need a high school diploma and to complete a solar program at a vocational school or community college where students can learn the technical aspects of solar. Completed courses from solar programs could count toward a solar certification. While certification is not mandatory to become a solar technician at a federal or state level, some solar companies may require it. Solar professional certifications are available through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Most solar installers go through on-the-job training for up to a year under the supervision of experienced installers, which can sometimes substitute for the educational requirement. 

While professional requirements vary from state to state, all solar installers must have a good grasp of the following:

  • PV panels 
  • How solar technology functions
  • How to safely install solar panels consistent with building and electrical codes
  • How to safeguard the solar system during and after installation
  • How to help customers make the most of their panels
  • How to assist customers with technical and other questions

What are solar panel installer job duties?

Many entry-level installers start their careers with basic tasks, such as installing mounting racks and attaching panels. These duties require heavy lifting, agility, and precision. Typically, more experienced installers connect various electrical parts after the panels are attached to a rooftop or a ground-mounted surface. They also survey solar sites and design solar systems for customers. Attention to detail, knowledge of basic math, ability to use diagrams and instructions, physical stamina, working at an elevated height, and good communication skills are essential attributes of a professional solar panel installer. 

Solar installation companies provide additional customer support

Solar installation companies include clerical staff who provide additional support to customers. They can assist customers with applications to the federal tax credits and state rebates. They also help fill out the paperwork necessary to get building and utility permits, which are important steps to complete before installing solar panels. 

You may need to attend a hearing at your local government before it issues a permit for solar installation. Your installer can attend it on your behalf and answer questions on the design of your solar system. A solar installer can collect your permit once it’s ready and help arrange post-installation inspections with the local building department. 

Depending on the state, installers can also educate customers about solar renewable energy credits (SREC) and how they work. They can facilitate customer registration for an SREC program through a third-party broker, such as Sol Systems. SREC is a tradable and non-tangible energy certificate that solar owners can keep or sell to their utility through a broker.