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Old 07-04-2011, 12:13 PM   #1
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Has any taken a course on solar? I ask because I know people who have taken the 19 week course thru our local union hall and they don't seem to know anything more than the guys who didn't take the course. Everything in all the different types of solar work I have done is pretty self explanatory. The majority of the work is laborer work, sometimes a bit of iron worker's work or carpenter's work. The electrical work is very basic for someone who can run some wire, install some pipe or cable tray, and land conductors on lugs.

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Old 07-04-2011, 12:38 PM   #2
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PV work is, IMO, a whole new area that has many different rules and takes some getting used to. It can't be that simple as new stuff keeps arising. There is also 20 pages in art. 690 on PV. I guess once you have done a few it gets easier but there are a lot of installs out there that are not compliant.

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Old 07-04-2011, 12:46 PM   #3
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I could be wrong but it seems like there isn't any money on installing solar now or the near future. They have roofers do most of it then pay an ec min pay to come hook it up. I've hooked a few up and looked into it and no one I know of is making any money on it around here.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:49 PM   #4
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PV work is, IMO, a whole new area that has many different rules and takes some getting used to. It can't be that simple as new stuff keeps arising. There is also 20 pages in art. 690 on PV. I guess once you have done a few it gets easier but there are a lot of installs out there that are not compliant.
In reality, large jobs are engineered and no one on the job, including the foreman, needs to know a thing about article 690. An RFI takes care of any issues. Problems at the end are not the concern of the EC as long as he followed the plans and specs. We are in the age of the electrical installer. As I said in the other thread, I have worked on many large installations and it requires less electrical know-how than pulling MC all day.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:52 PM   #5
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In reality, large jobs are engineered and no one on the job, including the foreman, needs to know a thing about article 690. An RFI takes care of any issues. Problems at the end are not the concern of the EC as long as he followed the plans and specs. We are in the age of the electrical installer. As I said in the other thread, I have worked on many large installations and it requires less electrical know-how than pulling MC all day.
I agree with that esp. with commercial work. Residential work is usually not engineered so it takes a bit more independence on the install.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:55 PM   #6
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I agree with that esp. with commercial work. Residential work is usually not engineered so it takes a bit more independence on the install.
I've never done residential. I always figured that the equipment manufacturer had the system pretty much laid out.
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:04 PM   #7
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I've never done residential. I always figured that the equipment manufacturer had the system pretty much laid out.
Usually I have a set of plans that have outlets and switches drawn to the controlled lights. The circuitry is up to the electricians as well as panel, meter, grounding etc.
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:20 PM   #8
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The only money I really made in it is picking up a new customer and setting a sub panel and running new branch circuits to green colored receptacles for H.O.'s Of course, I'm in a cloudy area
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:22 PM   #9
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Only solar I have done so far is residential. We have to design the system ourselves after doing shade analyses etc then create a single line and drawings of everything from the hardware we are mounting it with to the roof layout and locations / specs of all the equipment. On top of all this the leasing company we use breathes down our neck constantly and will just pop in on jobs randomly taking pictures. Then comes the hard part all the state paperwork and SREC registration (after approvals before the site analyses). The installation is the easy part after you do a handful at least until someone throws you a curve with your first set of micro-inverters. Get to know your utilities specs too because there will be conflict. Every few systems I get a utility inspector that says he will not turn me on unless I bond the neutral to the revenue meter and remove the GEC/ EGC that usually holds up pay for a few weeks. But generally the installation is easy.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:32 PM   #10
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When the solar bubble finally ends, be prepared for an army of "electricians" to flood craigslist. The PV circus is the biggest show in town here, and I see some of the most hackest hack stuff you ever saw in your life going on by some very large and well funded outfits who have mega buck ad campaigns detailing how expert they are at the electrical craft.

Worse part is that most of these vinyl sider "electricians" they have created will get enough "book" hours to go take a license test, which if they pay a certain company a grand they will get the test answers from and a guarantee to pass the tests or your money back...
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Old 07-06-2011, 05:47 AM   #11
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I would be interested to know how many residential solar installs are done in N.J. every year by non electricians. The DCA draws the line on who is allowed to do what, but I am sure roofers are doing more than there supposed to with EC's signing off and doing the final tie in. "Current" has got it right on commercial jobs. If you do one residential system you will probably know what to RFI on the large jobs. But there is a lot to know about residential solar when you are playing engineer. I have done a couple of residential systems, my own house and co-workers. These guys were great.
http://www.americansolarpartners.com/who-we-are.php
No better way to learn than installing it on your home, families and co-workers. I got more out of it than a coarse at the hall.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:18 AM   #12
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In reality, large jobs are engineered and no one on the job, including the foreman, needs to know a thing about article 690. An RFI takes care of any issues. Problems at the end are not the concern of the EC as long as he followed the plans and specs. We are in the age of the electrical installer. As I said in the other thread, I have worked on many large installations and it requires less electrical know-how than pulling MC all day.

I don't think we are in the age of the installer. New construction guys are installers. Always have been......Smaller EC's and service techs are (usually) electricians. I've met a few new construction guys who had a clue but most only know how to follow plans. That said...like Dennis mentioned I see lots of articles where inspected jobs are being found to have many violations. The fairly new national gypsum plant here had solar panels catch on fire a few months back. I heard the cause was faulty wiring to the solar panels or something.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:20 AM   #13
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I would be interested to know how many residential solar installs are done in N.J. every year by non electricians. The DCA draws the line on who is allowed to do what, but I am sure roofers are doing more than there supposed to with EC's signing off and doing the final tie in. "Current" has got it right on commercial jobs. If you do one residential system you will probably know what to RFI on the large jobs. But there is a lot to know about residential solar when you are playing engineer. I have done a couple of residential systems, my own house and co-workers. These guys were great.
http://www.americansolarpartners.com/who-we-are.php
No better way to learn than installing it on your home, families and co-workers. I got more out of it than a coarse at the hall.



In NC only EC's can do electrical work for money. Including hanging light fixtures or changing switches out and solar work.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:36 AM   #14
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In NC only EC's can do electrical work for money. Including hanging light fixtures or changing switches out and solar work.
That is the way it is here as well.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:51 AM   #15
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In NC only EC's can do electrical work for money. Including hanging light fixtures or changing switches out and solar work.
In NJ, there is no electrician classification whatsoever, just a contractor license. Any day laborer you pull off the street becomes an electrician when working under a licensed contractor. Even when built union, a lot of commercial jobs have 30 laborers doing the work and setting the panels/combiners/inverters and 1 or 2 electrician to do the pipe work and pull the wire.
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Old 07-06-2011, 03:33 PM   #16
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In NC only EC's can do electrical work for money. Including hanging light fixtures or changing switches out and solar work.
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In NJ, there is no electrician classification whatsoever, just a contractor license. Any day laborer you pull off the street becomes an electrician when working under a licensed contractor. Even when built union, a lot of commercial jobs have 30 laborers doing the work and setting the panels/combiners/inverters and 1 or 2 electrician to do the pipe work and pull the wire.
I think john didn't say it correctly. The EC can get the job but the guys working for him do not have to have any experience. We can pick them off the street and put them on the payroll. I cannot sub work to a non licensed person-- they would have to be licensed or work for me- on my payroll.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:42 PM   #17
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In NJ, there is no electrician classification whatsoever, just a contractor license. Any day laborer you pull off the street becomes an electrician when working under a licensed contractor. Even when built union, a lot of commercial jobs have 30 laborers doing the work and setting the panels/combiners/inverters and 1 or 2 electrician to do the pipe work and pull the wire.
I currently work for a solar company. They cater to a higher end residential customer. I have my associates in Electrical Construction and Maintenance. In school I took an additional two courses in PV Design and PV installation. Neither really taught anything practical. Its only since installing systems that I have learned anything. I was hired as a team lead and I basically do the electrical end of things and guide the rooftop work. Most of the rooftop stuff is just racking systems, leveling and making the systems look pretty.

I think the problem is that since solar is relatively new, there are not a lot of experienced instructors to teach classes on how PV actually is installed.

Some of my installers went to like a nine month course and obtained some kind of PV certification. They really know so little though. I try to encourage them to expand their electrical knowledge but they are happy with knowing very little. In fact one guy argued with me saying voltage flowed and that amperage is unit of power.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:55 PM   #18
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I would be interested to know how many residential solar installs are done in N.J. every year by non electricians. The DCA draws the line on who is allowed to do what, but I am sure roofers are doing more than there supposed to with EC's signing off and doing the final tie in. "Current" has got it right on commercial jobs. If you do one residential system you will probably know what to RFI on the large jobs. But there is a lot to know about residential solar when you are playing engineer. I have done a couple of residential systems, my own house and co-workers. These guys were great.
http://www.americansolarpartners.com/who-we-are.php
No better way to learn than installing it on your home, families and co-workers. I got more out of it than a coarse at the hall.
It doesn't help when you have companies like boots on the roof telling them after a 5 day training course that they are allowed to install the panels but the inverter must be installed by an electrician when both DCA and the examining board has made it clear they consider it generation equipment and must be done under a licensed contractor.
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In NJ, there is no electrician classification whatsoever, just a contractor license. Any day laborer you pull off the street becomes an electrician when working under a licensed contractor. Even when built union, a lot of commercial jobs have 30 laborers doing the work and setting the panels/combiners/inverters and 1 or 2 electrician to do the pipe work and pull the wire.
It would be nice if we had both an apprentice registration and a journeyman requirement.


There is certainly money to be made in Solar but not if your only installing inverters and sealing a permit for the "installers" but while this practice is common I question the legality.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:55 PM   #19
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When the solar bubble finally ends, be prepared for an army of "electricians" to flood craigslist. The PV circus is the biggest show in town here, and I see some of the most hackest hack stuff you ever saw in your life going on by some very large and well funded outfits who have mega buck ad campaigns detailing how expert they are at the electrical craft.

Worse part is that most of these vinyl sider "electricians" they have created will get enough "book" hours to go take a license test, which if they pay a certain company a grand they will get the test answers from and a guarantee to pass the tests or your money back...
I know in school, PV was taught as more of a specialty sub-division of electrical. Here in reality most guys are just laborers, no skill at all. I have the hardest time when I'm on a site and the electrician's helper comes over to me and starts spewing off code articles. "That needs 32" of work space depth!!!"

ME: "Actually it requires 36" of work space depth, I am a journeyman electrician and I'm very familiar with the code."

HIM: "Oh I assumed that to you didn't know about the NEC, because most solar guys don't."

That is precisely why I am looking to either get into Industrial Control work or obtain my contractor's license. I am an electrician and hate hearing when I go on an interview. "WE see you have five years electrical experience but for the last year you've been working as a solar installer."

I plan to get out before I've labeled myself as a solar installer within a field of mostly hack workers.

I've got about eight months left till I can take the exam for my contractor's license.
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Old 07-07-2011, 05:51 AM   #20
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both DCA and the examining board has made it clear they consider it generation equipment and must be done under a licensed contractor.
I agree completely. A co-worker of mine has a son starting out working for a small shop. His boss is a "sub" off a roofing company. The roofer installs the rack, panels and pv wire to a combiner box and he takes it from there. If I understand it right if a roofer got hurt he would be covered under the EC because he is the one licensed and permitted on this job. It will continue this way until someone gets caught. The EC on this one does not know a thing about sizing a system or any paperwork and has "installed" over 100. I believe the DCA draws the line between the racking system and the solar panels, PV wiring, I have gone to two different training classes and both had roofers looking to get into the field.

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