A solar installers’ biggest threat is the customer themselves—they have the power of choice. They are spending more time online, reading reviews, and doing their research in order to select from a plethora of other solar companies that meet their specific needs. And with access to this plethora of information, that’s exactly why solar installer certifications matter.
|“Unlike risk-tolerant consumers of the past, future solar buyers will come to the table with real concerns about performance and reliability issues. They want assurances about their systems’ utility savings, functionality, and longevity. It is our responsibility to instill confidence so that customers can go Solar Without Fear®”. —Omnidian|
The Importance of Solar Installer Certifications
Solar installer certifications are essential qualifications for those who work on solar energy projects. This professional certification ensures the project team has the correct solar training, knowledge, experience and skills to carry out system installation and maintenance proficiently.
These training programs reduce the risks of costly problems arising from incorrect design and installation, as well as ensuring higher performance levels over time. And that’s just the beginning.
Other benefits include:
Solar installation certifications provide the education to adhere to safety regulations, making them a more attractive choice for any solar energy project.
Build Customer Confidence
Solar installer certifications provide reassurance that project managers, installers, engineers, and technicians receive comprehensive hands-on training in renewable energy systems and meet industry standards for quality, efficiency, and aptitude.
Hiring New Employees
Although not all certifications are necessary across all states, they can make your resume look more attractive to employers and make the hiring process easier for recruiters sifting through CVs. According to the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, the average salary increases by $11k after earning NABCEP Board Certification.
Protecting the Industry’s Reputation
Compared to the trades industry (plumbing, electricians, roofing) which are hundreds of years old, the solar industry is in its infancy. Over the years, many mistakes were made, they did it wrong, had accidents and roofs leaked. Many painful lessons had to be learned in order to forge the current licenses and permits available today.
If the solar industry fails in the public eye, fails to reap ROI and over promises and under delivers to its customers, this can be catastrophic for the industry’s reputation.
|“As the solar and storage industry has matured, so too has the definitions for the areas of responsibility for who does what work and when they do it. When only one ‘solar company’ was on the hook for everything, the solar customer knew just who to call for help and corrective actions were taken when needed.
“Now, deciphering who is responsible for the performance of these systems that are supposed to last 25 years is not so easy.” —Kyle Bolger, 60Hertz Energy
How Solar Installer Certifications Benefit Your Renewable Energy Project
Requiring solar installer certifications are beneficial to renewable energy projects: Your certified personnel have a better understanding of cost-effective, efficient installation and design. Solar Installer certifications also ensure that high-quality work is completed, which can lead to long-term cost savings by ensuring system longevity.
|“The mission of NABCEP is to work with and support the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, professionals, and stakeholders to develop and implement quality credentialing and certification programs for practitioners.
“Practitioners who choose to become certified must demonstrate their competence in the field and their commitment to upholding high standards of ethical and professional practice.”
Electrocution and falls are two of the leading causes of deaths in the construction industry, so it’s vital that the system is wired correctly with the correct configuration and connection points.
Certified installers understand the importance of fire and safety risk, local building codes and regulations, and how to configure equipment to a high level to ensure utmost performance and electrical generation.
A NABCEP-certified engineer—who can demonstrate their knowledge, technical understanding, safety protocols, and best practices—ensures that PV systems are installed electrically and mechanically sound. A customer can be confident that the system is built to manufacturer and license standards and that your array will not fly away at the first gust of wind!
Solar Installer Certifications to Look Out For
With this in mind, it is essential to ensure PV installers have the required licenses to perform installations. Requirements vary depending on state and locality so it is important to ascertain which licenses are required in your specific state in order to operate legally. Let’s take a look at the certifications available for the solar industry.
There are a variety of solar installer certifications available from national training bodies such as Solar Energy International (SEI), North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and Solar Training Network (STN).
The type of installer certification needed depends on the type of solar energy project being undertaken, as well as the prospective installer’s experience.
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Certification (NABCEP)
NABCEP is commonly recognized as the gold standard for solar photovoltaic system installer certification and solar heating installer certification. The NABCEP certification isn’t required in all states but makes an invaluable addition to any PV installers’ CV to build trust with potential customers and demonstrate knowledge.
Solar Photovoltaic Installation Professional (PVIP)
PVIP is a solar energy international certification that covers the fundamentals of solar electric systems, including installation, commissioning, maintenance, site assessment, and system design for professionals with up to two years’ experience in the field.
The solar PV entry-level certificate requires successful completion of an exam that covers solar photovoltaic (PV) system installation and design. Holders of the solar PV entry-level certificate do not require continuing education units (CEUs), but holders of the PVIP must complete CEUs.
PV Technical Sales (PVTS) Board Certification
The PVTS certification is for installers who want to work as an application engineer or site assessor, in performance, sales, or finance.
This certification covers the ability to qualify solar sales leads and conduct site and performance analysis. 10 hours of OSHA construction industry training, solar training and a written exam are essential. While solar installation is not necessary, experience in solar sales is a must.
OSHA Construction Safety
The 10-hour construction industry course is often available online and covers everything to prevent injury on site and in the field, including hazard identification, hazard avoidance, and risk control and prevention.
Solar Electrical Licensing Certificate (SELC)
For many states, an electrical license is mandatory, issued by the local state or government agency. There are varying levels of licensing, all include passing a written exam and an allotted number of hours on-the-job experience.
NABCEP Solar Heating Installer Certified (SHC)
SHC certifies individuals in the design, installation, and maintenance of both residential and commercial solar thermal systems.
Solar Thermal Installer Specialist (STIS)
STIS certifies individuals in the installation of solar hot water and space heating systems, as well as hybrid systems that combine solar energy with other energy sources like natural gas or electricity.
PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist (PVCMS)
The PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist (PVCMS) Board Certification highlights expertise in the areas of operations, maintenance, and commissioning. It spotlights your ability to apply verification protocols, critically analyze systems, and implement preventive and corrective maintenance procedures for PV systems.
Heatspring is a third party education provider that offers NABCEP exam classes. Visit their website for more information:
Solar Energy International is a premium provider of curriculum across the board for the solar industry and should be highlighted in our article. This is the solar community’s high bar for others to achieve. They also have a bit of a “solar summer camp” vibe for those willing to go to Paonia, Colorado for hands-on learning. Visit their website for more information:
For more information about the solar installer certifications available in your state check out the National Solar Licensing Database here: https://irecusa.org/solar-licensing-database/
Successful Solar Installations Start With Easy-to-Read Maintenance Data
The education (and expertise) certified solar installers provide assets are a sound investment. Build on their knowledge of safety, PV technology, and asset maintenance with a CMMS that makes it even easier to check on data, generate custom work orders, and seamlessly work offline.
Asset owners and managers across 9 countries, managing over $147 million+ in assets, rely on 60Hertz to help them keep up with maintenance.
Make asset maintenance easier. Book a demo today.