Job Profile: Solar (PV) Technician
In order to make systems green, many companies and some individuals are turning to solar power. Photovoltaic (PV) equipment, or solar paneling, is used together with HVAC/R systems to power, cool, and heat buildings, offices, and homes, making solar energy an increasingly important component of HVAC/R system installation. Both solar panel installation and integrating the solar-generated DC charge into the existing system are essential skills for a PV technician.
Solar Industry Outlook
The Solar Technician (Installer) profession only emerged a couple decades ago with the advent of usable solar technology. After state initiatives led by California began to advance the industry, it became clear that solar power would be a source of incredible demand. In California alone, growth in the solar industry is expected to create about 4,000 jobs for PV System Installers and Solar Installers through 2016 and just under 15,000 jobs through 2026. More investments are being put toward solar energy as state incentives and optimistic long-term growth continue, increasing the likelihood of a market boom. In fact, at the nation’s rate of training solar technicians, demand is expected to exceed the supply of those who can provide PV system services.
Job Certification and Responsibilities
There are several types of voluntary certification available to PV Systems Technicians in the USA. However, while the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers the most common certification, there is no standard requirement. State regulations may require technicians with certain types of licensure to install PV systems in order for owners to qualify for rebate or tax-break incentive programs. Preferred licensure changes from state to state, and even from employer to employer, so if possible you should research what area you would like to work in or which employer you would like to work for before you start preparing for any one licensure or certification exam.
As outlined by the NABCEP, Solar Technicians often rely on a core set of skills and need to be able to:
- Assess sites and how solar systems would perform in the given environment
- Possess knowledge of PV module characteristics, design, and performance capabilities
- Calculate system requirements in order to maximize efficiency
- Apply the appropriate wiring methods and technologies
- Properly mount cells and modules
- Perform PV system maintenance, diagnostics, and troubleshooting
- Utilize sound customer services skills
Solar Training at RSI
The RSI Electro-Mechanical Technologies program teaches the fundamentals of photovoltaic science and then delves into more complex subjects and training. PV study and installation training is set within the context of how it functions as part of the other HVAC/R systems. Course topics include:
- PV science
- Residential and commercial applications
- Analysis of electrical loads and power capabilities
- Assembly and installation of PV arrays
http://www.refrigerationschool.com/articles/what-is-photovoltaic-science-and-how-is-it-taught-in-rsi-programs.html http://www.refrigerationschool.com/articles/solar-panel-installation-and-more-taught-in-phoenix-hvacr-classes.html http://www.coeccc.net/Environmental_Scans/SolarTechs_Scan_SW_08.pdf