Solar Installers – Why You Should Choose Only Professional Installers

Solar installers are the people who install solar panels and solar cells on the roofs of commercial and residential buildings. Even in this day and age of green energy it is difficult to find professionally trained solar installers or solar roofers as they are becoming increasingly known as. The reason for this is that they have to have a combination of two skills; that of the regular roofer, complimented with the knowledge of a solar electrician.

The market consists of basically two different types of solar installation being done today these are; retrofitting and integrated. Retrofitting is when a solar panel or panels are fitted to an existing roof. Integrated is when solar cells and panels are incorporated into the roof of new buildings.

When a solar panel is retrofitted the skills of the solar technician are not so important because it is not so difficult. Broken down to the basics this just means fitting one or more panels to the existing roof and feeding the wiring through the roof to the battery banks. This could easily be done by a regular roofer that just then leaves the wiring to an electrician.

A drawback for retrofitted solar panels is that because solar panels can be bulky and are more exposed to the elements such as; wind, rain and snow and, that a lot of people think they are unsightly and in some areas can actually bring down the value of a property. This is the reason that integrated solar roofing is growing very quickly in popularity. These types of panels are actually built into the roof, meaning that the sides are almost flush to the rest of the roofline. In this way the solar panels are less exposed to the more severe elements and obviously are more pleasing to the eye although it is still noticeable that you have solar panels on your roof.

In response to this problem solar cell manufacturers have come up with the ingenious solar shingles. These very clever, very sophisticated solar shingles have photovoltaic solar cells built into them. Because these solar shingles are the same in appearance, size, shape and color as regular asphalt shingles they will go virtually undetected. In this way the solar installer can turn an entire roof into one big solar panel and will give the look of a regular roof (well, from a distance anyway). With the increasing popularity of this type of roof it has also increased the demand for skilled solar installers/roofers.

Solar panels and solar shingles differ in as much as in the panel the cells are already wired together, whereas the shingles have to be wired together in an array as they are fitted to the roof. This means that the shingles must be fitted and wired together before the rest of the roof goes on. In this way the wires from the shingle can be run along the roofs ridge cap thus hiding and protecting them from bad weather.

Qualified, professional solar installers are usually made nowadays because there are not many people that have both the necessary skills needed. This is why reputable solar installation companies will take a regular roofer and train them to be solar technicians or take the technician and train them in the art of roof building.

Ten Questions to Ask Before You Select a Solar Installer

What You Need to Know When Selecting a Solar Installer

With the summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start looking for a home solar energy system. Before you scroll through the phone book to find the number of a local solar professional, there are a number of important considerations that you have to take into account to find the right solar installer for your solar power system project. Knowing what questions to ask can make the difference between an exciting journey into renewable energy and an endless stream of problems with your new solar energy system.

  • How many solar energy systems have you installed?

Ask if the professional has experience with grid tie or off grid solar energy systems. Also, ask if the installer does mostly solar panel residential or commercial systems. This would indicate that the contractor has a history of involvement with the industry and is familiar with many different brands and components.

  • What do you recommend for my property?

As a potential solar client, keep your interests up front. If a solar contractor arrives at your door, communicate your interest in going solar, and find out what they recommend for a solar power system on your property. Chances are you already have a site selected – but find out what your contractor recommends before showing your hand. In this manner, you’ll confirm that the installer recognizes the importance of site selection. If they show up without a solar pathfinder or SunEye in hand – try someone else! The most important decision of a solar energy system is selection of a site.

  • Do you have any formal training in home solar energy installations?

A good installer will be one that has received extensive training. For instance, many solar panel manufacturers offer continuing education classes to solar contractors. These classes help familiarize the contractors with the intricacies of their unique solar energy systems. You might want to ask a potential installer whether they received formal training with the particular brand of solar equipment you hope to buy.

  • Do you have any certifications?

A number of national and state organizations, like the North America Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP), offer certification programs to help distinguish capable professionals. The NABCEP board in particular holds its installers to some of the highest standards, and many states now require homeowners to use a NABCEP-certified installer before they can participate in financial incentive programs. NABCEP’s on-line Installer Locator makes it easy to find a certified professional in your area.

  • Do you have references?

To really test the reputation of a solar installer, consider asking them for references from previous clients. Contacting past customers is a great way to determine whether a company’s claims of customer service ring true. Many installers will be happy to show you pictures of completed solar power installations – it’s a sign of a job well done!

  • Does your installation team include an experienced electrician?

Many solar energy systems require complex electrical components and unfamiliar hardware, so an electrician’s expertise is very important. However, not all licensed electricians are familiar with solar energy systems, so it’s important to ask whether the electrician working on your system has received solar-specific training and possesses experience installing photovoltaic energy systems.

  • Do you work with a licensed roofer?

If your solar photovoltaic system will be installed on your roof, contracting a licensed roofer to monitor the stress your new solar energy system will place on your home’s structure would be a prudent consideration.

  • Are you insured and bonded?

Be sure to verify that your installers have sufficient liability insurance by asking to see insurance papers. If the technicians encounter problems, you want to be confident that the installer can cover the cost of repairs and damages.

  • Do you warranty parts and components?

Some solar accessories may not come with warranties from the manufacturers. If this is the case with the specific brand that you’re looking to implement, you should ask the installer if they will warranty the equipment. Whether it comes from the maker or the installer, you should seek coverage for the greatest number of conditions and components over the longest period of time.

  • What is your long-term service policy?

Teasing out the long-term provisions of an installer’s service agreement can be tricky, especially if the agreement is full of legal and technical information. Here are a few points to consider: 1) How many years will service be provided on the unit? 2) What types of repairs and replacements does the service agreement cover? 3) What happens when the equipment doesn’t perform as efficiently as promised?

If you have more questions about home solar energy systems, please visit the SolarTown Learning Center.

7 Exciting Reasons To Get Into the Solar Installation Business NOW

It Is the Perfect Time To Get Into the Solar Installation Business

The solar energy industry is absolutely booming. There’s never been a better time to get into this field. Customers who are ready to install solar PV systems at their homes are often put on long waiting lists because there simply aren’t enough installers to meet the current and growing demand. The initial equipment costs have come way down and there are more federal and state subsidies than ever before. This means the customer can get in for less but your service fees are not affected. It is also worth noting that PV systems are being designed now to be easier to install and maintain and there’s a flurry of research with amazing new products about to be launched.

There’s Enormous Potential For Growth

For the last 20 years, the demand for solar PV has grown at least 30% each year. In the United States, solar installations are expected to DOUBLE in 2011, according to IDC Energy Insights (the leading source for research-based analysis for the solar industry). – and if there were enough installers, it would likely more than double. According to several studies, electricity consumption is is expected to at least double by 2030 and the price is expected to continue to rapidly rise. The demand will surely get MUCH greater over the next two decades. This is one of the few under-saturated industries out there and a reputable solar installer should have all the work they would want and then some.

It’s Easy To Get Started In the Solar Business

The start-up costs are very low. You can become profitable within the first month or two. It’s easy to start part-time if you don’t want to quit your other job. The business isn’t that hard to learn if you can get someone who has already been in the business for a while to divulge what they know – no sense in reinventing the wheel here – just pattern yourself after someone who has already been successful in the solar business. You do NOT need a college degree but those who have one will find it rewarding work.

You Can Take Enormous Pride In What You Do

As the co-organizer of an annual public solar tour in my community, I personally know several solar consultants who just beam with pride when they show off their work. Each project is an accomplishment that lasts a long time (solar PV lasts 40 years on average) and each project is there in plain sight for the whole world to marvel at. Solar installers absolutely love to take us on a pre-tour to point out all their projects that could be included on the public solar tour. With an excited voice, they say things like “See those panels on that church, I installed those about 5 years ago….I also installed the panels at the middle school….want to see?!?” As we pass by a house and they point at the roof, “Look over there….that was one of my first projects and they still work fine…hardly any maintenance at all….they’ve already made their original investment back and now they’re selling electricity back to the utility company!” The pride solar installers show for their work is extremely infectious and spreads throughout the whole community. Local newspapers love to write about these projects. It’s one those rare jobs where everyone involved feels good – the installer and the customer.

It’s Really Easy To Attract New Customers

I also know from the solar tour that if you do a good job with each installation, customers will be more than happy to brag on you profusely and highly recommend you – and encourages other to get the same technology. Free seminars and energy audits are also good method to easily attract new customers. Often times, a seminar will include a field trip to a past project or two and I’ve found that solar PV customers are more than happy to host such a visit and talk very enthusiastically about the project. It’s like having a human billboard showing off your work which is very tangible and exciting to see.

It’s Incredibly Rewarding and You’ll Meet All Kinds of Interesting People

People who decide to install solar PV at their homes or businesses are some of the most fascinating people around. They’re often into all sorts of cool sustainability issues and love to share information and trade notes. They are people who genuinely care about the future of the planet and about what we leave future generations. It is quire rewarding to work with and help these kinds of people realize their solar energy dreams – and they are usually networked into many others who are also interested in your services.

Solar Installation Is Highly Profitable and It’s Only Going To Get Better

The solar business is VERY lucrative. According to large job sites, the average annual salary for a solar consultant ranges from about $75,000 to $150,000. The lower end of the salary range tends to be in states with a lower cost of living and the higher end corresponds to states with a higher cost of living. If you own your own solar consulting business, you can of course net MUCH more than this – and as your business grows you can create highly desirable jobs in your community.