Do you want to learn how to install solar panels? Well, thankfully it is easier than ever to access the equipment and resources to help you accomplish your quest. With solar capacity skyrocketing in the United States, Canada, and around the world, learning how to install solar panels is a great way to enter into one of the fastest-growing industries in the past decade.
As solar panel installation refers to a wide range of applications from small-scale systems on RVs, homes, and businesses to large utility-scale multi-acre solar panel fields, learning the trade can be simple, complicated, or ongoing. We are experts in DIY solar panels, so if you’re looking for small-scale renewable energy without an overwhelming installation, feel free to check out our foldable solar panel collections for instant power generation.
In this comprehensive guide, we will share the necessary steps and resources to help you pursue a career in renewable energy, after outlining how and why learning how to install solar panels is a very wise professional and personal decision.
Why Should You Learn How to Install Solar Panels?
Do you want to be a part of the sustainable energy revolution that gives people around the world access to affordable clean electricity production? Or…. Do you need a job and don’t mind a little bit of sunshine and exercise?
If you said yes to either of these questions, then learning how to install solar energy panels is as worthy of pursuit as any. Whether you are interested in a DIY solar installation or you are looking for your next career move, then learning how to install solar panels and solar energy systems will be a good skill to possess while capacity escalates around the world.
How Much Do Solar Installers Make?
According to Glassdoor.com’s designated career page, solar installers make approximately $45,000 per year in average base pay across the United States. Solar installation teams are typically comprised of hourly workers and may present opportunities for overtime labor. With extra hours paid and occasional homeowner generosities, solar installers can earn a good living wage in most American cities.
Careers in the Solar Industry
For many individuals, solar installation is the first step into a rapidly advancing industry. Across the solar energy realm, installers go on to become licensed electricians, re-roofing experts, project managers, and more.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in the solar power industry have been growing at a rapid rate over the past decade and are expected to continue to create jobs nationwide. With increased capacity demand and production, solar installation jobs are being created alongside roles for solar equipment development, system maintenance, and other industry roles.
A Day in the Life: The Solar Panel Installation Process
As we alluded to above, learning how to install solar panels is actually the culmination of many unique tasks. While some states require a master electrician to sign off on final installations, the solar development process is almost always the effort of a team of individuals of varying expertise.
While a day in the life of an average solar installer is always going to different for every team member, most hired professionals can expect to perform one or more of the following jobs on any given installation site:
- Inspecting sites for safety and setting up equipment
- Installing mounting systems on roofs or vacant properties
- Carrying solar panels on the ground, up ladders, and on roofs
- Carefully mounting the panels onto fixed equipment
- Configuring and wiring electrical parts and components
- Safely installing the inverter, battery, and other solar energy parts
- Occasional panel detaching and system maintenance
Essentially, a solar installer is responsible for doing anything and everything to get the job done. While most companies have designers and project coordinators making sure the ideal equipment is sent to the job site, solar panel installers can focus on the physical demands and crucial processes of solar energy development and construction.
Where to Learn How to Install Solar Panels
In the information age, learning how to install solar panels can be as easy as heading down a YouTube rabbit hole. However, in order to safely install a DIY solar panel system or pursue a career in solar energy development, we highly recommend hands-on training with a local professional. The solar energy industry is growing fast, with many experienced individuals eager to pass the torch to a new generation of solar installers.
Learning on the Job
Have you ever heard the term “fake it until you make it?” Well, that is actually one of the best ways to learn how to install solar panels. While we are not asking you to “fake” much of anything, it is actually relatively easy to become a solar panel installer with little to no experience.
There are many companies out there that are completely willing to provide on-the-job training for residential and commercial solar installations. By simply expressing your interest and submitting a job application, you could be well on your way to learning how to install solar panels before you even know how to pronounce the word “photovoltaic.” Plus, by training on the job, you will probably be getting paid to learn how to install solar panels.
Trade Schools & Apprenticeship
If you’re not quite ready to throw yourself at the whim of any hiring installer, there are many trade schools and apprenticeship programs that are being developed especially for solar training. As solar energy is quickly becoming one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to develop sustainable electricity, specialty programs may even be available in underserved communities that could benefit from increased interest in renewable power development.
While you may not be paid for your time (and some require a few), any professional solar course is most likely going to be worthwhile for future solar installers. Not only will you learn the necessary skills to install solar panels, but apprenticeships, diplomas, and certifications are also a surefire way to build up a potential resume.
How to Become a Professional Solar Installer
If considering solar panels for RV camping, then you probably don’t need to be a certified solar installer. However, if you want to take your skills and become a solar energy professional, then you will need to find a company that is hiring or take the leap into starting your own business. Below, we will outline some of the important licenses and certifications to be aware of after learning how to install solar panels.
US Solar Licensing Requirements
Like many things in the United States, the licensing requirements of solar contractors and professionals vary from state to state and often from county to county. While this may come as a surprise to many, in the early 2020s, only about a dozen states in the US actually require specialty solar contracting licensing. With this being said, it is true that most states require that any solar company providing PV solar installations must have a licensed electrician on staff.
Beyond state-specific requirements, solar energy installations in the USA are much more likely to qualify for federally available incentives with a NABCEP or similar certification attributed to the solar professionals.
What is a NABCEP Certification?
Both in states with and without licensing requirements, NABCEP certifications are the most recognizable seal of approval for true solar professionals. NABCEP is an acronym that is short for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, whose website can be found at https://www.nabcep.org/.
While many solar installers work for years without even considering a NABCEP Certification, a NABCEP certified professional may be required for installations in some states and is generally preferred by home and property owners across the country.
How do I get NABCEP certified?
Getting NABCEP certified is no easy task for a beginning solar installer, as the certification represents a wealth of knowledge for individuals capable of handling an entire project by themselves. There are many training programs, mock quizzes, and courses available to help prepare for the NABCEP certification test, while most candidates already have a few years of solar experience under their belts before considering the exam.
Looking into the Future
If you’re still reading this, that means that you still have enough interest to learn how to install solar panels. If you’re starting to look for opportunities in your area, there are a few important things to consider when exploring the idea of future, potentially ongoing solar installations. Without the proper attitude and preparation, it is very easy to become discouraged during a personal or professional solar panel installation of any kind.
How long does it take to learn how to install solar panels?
Unless you are setting up portable renogy solar panels that pack into a suitcase, learning how to properly install long-term solar panel arrays is a trade that requires more than a few days on the job. On most job sites, installers can play one of several roles with varying degrees of difficulty so that tasks and skills are made familiar over time.
If you are interested in designing, purchasing, and installing your own home or vehicular solar energy system, the entire process will typically take about one month of dedicated time to find, install, and activate the perfect solution. In grid-tie solar systems, city and utility approval will be required to feed energy into the grid, whereas small off-grid systems typically do not require any paperwork or approval to operate.
Typical Solar Installer Working Hours and Conditions
If you are in the process of learning how to install solar panels, then you may not be completely aware of the toll that ongoing work may take on your body. The solar installation itself can be hard work lugging heavy panels around and may come alongside early mornings, long drives, and extended periods in the hot sun.
While we are not trying to paint a devastating picture here, it is important to understand the physical and safety requirements of both professional and DIY solar installations. Although it almost goes without saying, it is important to note that any individual with acrophobia (the fear of heights), should not become a professional solar installer. Besides riding in trucks, and spending time on ladders and roofs, solar installers may be required to enter tight areas of a property such as attics and crawl spaces.
As in a lot of construction industries, very few solar installations are exactly alike, despite always being made up of the same components. Learning how to install solar panels requires ongoing critical thinking skills to properly place, space, and equip different parts of the solar system. With local setback regulations and varying rooflines on every job, solar installers must often account for the small details that the design or blueprint has not yet thought of. Plus, as safety is always the number one priority, critical thinking, calculated precision and quick response time are entirely necessary for solar installers to maintain safe conditions for the people and property of each installation.
So there you have it, there are many great ways to learn how to install solar panels and the process is constantly being refined and modified in every new and unique development. Learning how to install solar panels is not only a great career move but knowing the process also opens the doors to developing and accessing your own reliable solar electricity.
Want to experiment with small (or large) amounts of personal solar energy generation? With a complete solar kit, we give you everything you need to get started on your own DIY installation including the resources and support to ensure a successful project.
If you’re not really sure where to start, you may feel free to contact us today with any questions about your next solar installation. Or, you can check out all of the helpful information in our DIY solar learning center.