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Solar or HVAC Career? (I have to choose for tech school training starting in a month)

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  • Solar or HVAC Career? (I have to choose for tech school training starting in a month)

    I am a computer guy whose had enough of being indoors and in solitude so Im changing careers, and getting outdoors... I was wondering how people felt about doing Solar vs doing HVAC. I am in Florida, and there is undoubtedly more HVAC jobs... now. But since Solar is part of the future, I was thinking I would do the solar installation program at my local tech college, and then in a year or two, transition to sales. My belief is that with the installation experience, I will become a better sales person down the road. HVAC on the other hand seems like you can get hired anywhere over night with no problem. I did work as an HVAC helper in my college years, so I know what the basics of the job are. Any opinions on which you would choose if you had to decide. The only thing about solar that scares me is the amounts of time in the sun (uv radiation and all that). Thanks! New to the forum, but liking it a lot.

  • #2
    If you want to work outdoors, HVAC, If you want indoor, Solar installs now, sales in couple years. With the tax breaks fading away, sales will be tougher.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A



    • #3
      Life is a balancing act. As far as what you do with about half your waking hours, the balance is making enough $$ to support your lifestyle choices with being happy in how you make that $$.

      1.) Think long term and strategically. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled for a job. Get good at it, and as long as there is a demand for what you do, the money will follow.

      2.) Not entirely, but the more your job skills and chosen field have a sustained demand, the more secure will be your future ability to support your lifestyle. That can and does usually mean, among other things, job skills that are applicable to different fields as demands and society change. At this time, the future for solar, residential PV in particular, is not as bright as a few years ago and the future is not looking all that good either.

      Between HVAC and solar, the products overlap some, but looking to the future, HVAC demand will probably be a lot more steady. Solar is the treehugger and media darling now, but its star seems to be fading as gov. subsidies and net metering are drying up. HVAC is less dependent on gov./outside support and more dependent of people's comfort levels (which don't change as much).

      I'd bank on people's need/desire for environmental comfort more than gov. subsidies when it comes to a secure and fulfilling future.

      3.) Sales people are always in demand in just about any field.The trick is to be a salesperson and not an order taker.

      If you choose sales, study and learn about human nature and what motivates people, and try to keep your integrity. Also learn to deal with rejection. You'll fail to be successful about 90 % of the time but you'll have more control of your destiny. Life is a balancing act.

      Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.


      • #4
        Solar is a Fad and fast fading. HVAC is here to stay.Now if you want Solar in your toolbox for side work, then become a licensed Electrician. When there is no Solar Work left, you got your bread and butter being a Electrician which is always in demand.
        Last edited by Sunking; 07-10-2018, 01:26 PM.
        MSEE, PE


        • #5
          With your background in computers (whatever that may be), you may also want to consider HVAC controls.

          I work for a mechanical contractor and good HVAC techs are getting harder to find (most of the good ones are retiring) - if you have decent troubleshooting skills and are able to complete work in a timely manner, then you will find steady work. If you can communicate well and write decent paperwork, then you will always have work and will be gold to a company. If you are looking at the trade unions, be sure to look into how well their pension is doing - some are in bad shape and the unions are getting desperate and letting anybody in which really hurts the trade (and the retirement of those depending on it).


          • #6
            Yes, there are a number of possibilities here. HVAC is certainly one. But if you're interested in the trades why not be an electrician or plumber. Likely better money. Can't comment on the pension -- your likely better off managing your own retirement funds in a personal account.

            But as Philips points out, there is a significant need for building automation system "programmers." It's not really programming per se, rather you configure the Andover or Honeywell application to communicate with the connected HVAC, electrical, and plumbing hardware over Ethernet, BACNet, contact closure, etc. Kind of like a big "LabView" Erector set. Then you setup thresholds and control loops, etc. to turn this on when that happens, lower this if that is too high, etc.


            But, if you really want to be outside (not me) than more power to you. But I agree with SunKing, solar is a Fad. If you really like solar and renewable power, as I do, then you could become an electrician, work on solar systems for a few years and then move on when you get tired of it or it starts to peter out.