Solar energy has been increasing in popularity over the last decade, and by all estimates, it’s a market that’s only going to keep growing. In fact, effective January 2020, a California law now requires all new homes built in the state to produce enough solar power to offset all use of electricity and natural gas. This is a big deal for any electrician who lives or works in California, and chances are that this is a good indicator of where solar energy is heading for the rest of the country.
What makes it a difficult thing for electrical contractors is that the solar trade is evolving so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the industry standards if solar installation isn’t something you’ll be doing on a regular basis.
It’s not really a side service you can offer occasionally and expect to keep up if you only have one or two solar panel installation projects a year. If you want to pursue solar, you’ll need to jump in with both feet and become an expert. It’s still a new enough and sufficiently growing field that, in most areas, there is plenty of room and need for qualified electrical contractors who are trained in solar installations. Here are a few things to consider if you’re considering becoming qualified for solar.
Research the market in your area
California is generally a very progressive state when it comes to renewable energy, so it’s not a surprise that they’re the first state to mandate the use of solar. This is not true of all states, though. Look into your state’s attitude towards solar. Many homeowners are investing in solar because there are rebates and tax credits that dramatically decrease the cost of supplies and installation. There are federal tax incentives for anyone who installs solar panels, but state and local incentives can vary dramatically.
The better your state and local incentives, the more likely it is that solar is going to grow in your area. Some municipalities offer next to nothing in the way of rebates for homeowners, and if you live in an area like that, it might be wise to wait until conditions are more favorable for homeowners. Everyone wants to save on their utility bill, but not if it will cost them an arm and a leg and take 30 years of lower utility bills to recover the installation cost.
Get trained and consider becoming certified
As had been said, the solar industry is constantly changing. You shouldn’t try to watch a few YouTube videos and DIY a project then call yourself a solar expert. You need to be trained by experts, and as long as you’re taking the time to do that, you should consider getting an official certification.
Right now, most states will allow any accredited electrical contractor to install solar panels, but certification will hugely boost your credibility and lead to more job opportunities. Some solar installation companies will only hire electricians who are trained specifically for solar. Some popular training courses and certifications include:
● The North America Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)
● The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)
● The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC)
Solar is an exciting field, one that offers a lot of promise to electricians interested in expanding their services. If the market if favorable where you live, it’s definitely worth doing some research to decide if getting trained and certified in solar will be worth the investment for you.
We want to hear from you! What is the market for solar like where you live? Are you planning to jump in?