A solar installer is someone who puts together solar panels and installs them in residential homes and in businesses so that their clients can use renewable energy to power their homes and/or businesses.
The job description for a solar installer includes measuring the area in which the photovoltaic panels will be installed. They then can even cut the panels before assembling them. This step is not always necessary—sometimes solar panels simply need assembly by the solar panel installer, but solar installers need to be trained in cutting out custom panels regardless of if each job needs that skill.
A solar installer may also be known as a solar technician, and the primary responsibility of these professionals is to place solar energy systems made up of photovoltaic (PV) panels in where their clients need them.
Solar installers need to be familiar with the materials that comprise PV panels, including the silicon, glass, and connectors that make the systems run and create solar energy. They also need to find the places on the clients’ properties where solar photovoltaic panels would generate the most energy, thus saving money for their clients and perhaps even creating a negative energy usage.
The first thing that a solar photovoltaic installer needs to do is to assess the clients’ energy needs. That way they know exactly which panels are best for the client, how many they client will need, and where to install the panels.
Typically solar panel installation takes place outside, for example, on a rooftop or in a field, but sometimes solar panel installers are required to go into attics and small places to connect the system. Travel is often required for solar installers.
Solar Panel Installers Will Spend Most of Their Time Outdoors and Traveling to Job Sites
A solar installer does not need any form of higher education, although that would be helpful, especially if their university degree were in mathematics, engineering, or trade schools. The only requirement to begin on-the-job training for a PV installer is a high school diploma.
Many people who decide to install solar panels as a living do take classes and/or complete programs at trade schools, like electrician programs, so that they have a better understanding of how solar energy works and the best installation techniques.
Almost all solar installers do have on-the-job training, like apprenticeships, that can last up to a year. This is akin to shadowing an experienced installer. Since working with electricity can be dangerous without the proper knowledge and experience, this is the absolute best way to learn—from an experienced and confident professional. This way solar installers can be confident in their safety practices.
Adherence to Safety Protocols is an Extremely Important Part of Solar Panel Installation Due to On the Job Risks
These experiences include climbing on the roofs of businesses and homes, and this is a risky endeavor in itself, let alone including the assembly and set up of solar panels. Solar installers in training need to be confident about working with heights and outdoors. They also need to be okay with frequent travel. Solar panel companies typically serve a wide area because there are not as many of them as there are other electricity companies.
Essentially, a prospective solar installer needs a high school diploma, safety training, willingness to travel and work on roofs, and trade school and/or extensive on-the-job training.
Solar installers, also called solar thermal installers, need to have a thorough understanding of solar panels and how they are put together. They need to be confident in working with the materials which make up solar panels, and they need to be knowledgeable about connecting panels together to make solar energy systems for clients.
The needs to have excellent mathematical skills and a thorough understanding of electrical components and systems. Working well and keeping cool under stressful situations are also key skills, since solar installers find themselves consistently in risky or dangerous places.
Solar installers need to especially pay attention to details. When working with anything electric, especially entirely new systems, one wrong step could spell electrocution, shut down of the entire system, and/or expensive damages.
Interpersonal skills are also a must-have for solar installers. Not only do they do the hands-on work of ensuring businesses and homes are set up for solar power—they are normally the same person that the client speaks with directly about their needs and desires. Solar installers do not work alone, either. It is necessary to be able to work well with a partner or a team of other installers and electronic professionals in order to get the job done.
The main three duties of a solar panel installer are to assemble solar panels, install the solar energy system made up of solar panels, and then to maintain that solar energy system.
The job is not finished once the solar panels have all been installed and solar energy flows into the building. Solar installers must also be on call if there is damage to solar panels, if inclement weather takes a toll on a system, or if there is some issue with the energy storage battery.
Not only must solar installers be able to put together the components of each solar panel—they must also be able to connect the system. Seldom does a client ever need one single solar panel. Solar energy systems are also connected to a battery with stores energy and controls the voltage so that the energy supply to the building is not too high.
If there are any repairs needed on the panels themselves, the wiring, or the battery system, especially the voltage converter, solar installers need to know how to make those repairs. This is what makes the apprenticeship and shadowing of an experienced solar installer so essential.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar installer positions are needed more than other types of jobs, with a projected growth rate of 27% over the next decade. Why is this growth rate so much higher than the growth rates for other jobs, like high school teachers (5%) or passenger vehicle drivers (12%)? This is likely because solar energy, along with other forms of clean and renewable energy are becoming more popular choices in the States.
Businesses can often get tax write offs if they are powered by the sun, and residences can save on their energy bills in the long run while using only clean energy for their electricity needs.
Clean energy sources like solar power are only becoming more popular, and demand for solar panel installation is rising. They are great long-term investments and make homeowners and business owners alike feel good about getting away from fossil fuels for power. Solar installers are becoming essential workers in these new world of clean energy.
Solar installers do not need years of training or university degrees to perform their jobs. They simply need to graduate high school and take some trade classes. At times, apprenticeships can replace trade school classes and/or certifications.
The steps to becoming a solar installer do not take nearly as long as even a college degree takes to acquire, and the training is a fraction of the price. As long as a prospective solar installer is an analytical thinker, unafraid of heights, and detail-oriented, solar panel installation could be an excellent career choice.
The states which currently pay solar installers the most (between $55,000 and $61,000 each year) are Texas, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Nevada. These states have either clean energy tax incentives that are higher than other states and/or significantly more sunny days than surrounding states, so the demand for solar installers is rising and the salaries reflect that.