Solar Installation

Summary

Solar installation is the craft of harnessing the power of sunlight to generate electricity or heat in homes or buildings. Solar power is rapidly gaining attention as interest in renewable energy increases. It will become even more widespread as installation costs decrease.

Solar installation for electrical applications is called photovoltaic installation or PV. From reading blueprints and electrical specifications, installing roofing components and mounting modules to installing conduit and wiring, PV installation combines skills from the carpentry and electrical trades.

Solar installation for heating water systems is called thermal installation.

Using blueprints and plumbing specifications, solar thermal installers mount collectors, cut and connect piping and install other system components like sensors and controls. Like PV installation, thermal installation involves other trades, such as carpentry and electrical wiring.

The work is indoors and out and requires installers to work at great heights. Generally, the trade is physically demanding—bending, lifting, kneeling and standing for long periods. Installers also risk injury from falls and electrical shock, so safety precautions are vital. If you enjoy math, problem solving and working with your hands, solar installation may be the trade for you!

Training

Pre-apprentice solar programs teach skills and techniques employers look for in entry-level installers. Skills include:

  • Repairing and sealing roofing components
  • Cutting, assembling and installing pipe
  • Installing system wiring and circuits
  • Mounting and maintaining solar modules and collectors

Career Opportunities

Job growth is expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate through 2018 as efforts to reduce energy consumption rise and costs decrease. Solar panel manufacturers and installation companies are examples of businesses that might hire entry-level installers.

Although national wage data is not currently available, solar installers generally make between $30,000 and $40,000 a year depending on location. As skills are expanded through apprenticeships or on the job training, so are career options.

Visit http://www.bls.gov/green/solar_power to read more about solar careers.

Positions

  • General Contractor
  • Design Manager
  • Supervisor
  • Solar Electrician
  • Journeyperson
  • Apprentice
  • Installation Helper
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