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  • How to become an PV installer

    Long story short, I really want to install PVs in a few homes. It's not feasible to have someone else install it and personally I would get more enjoyment out of it if I did it myself. I don't know anything about PVs especially the laws and regulations and connecting to the power panel.

    My question is how do I get started? I'm thinking going through a course would be easiest. Or maybe even doing some interning but I doubt anyone would want to waste their time teaching me.

  • #2
    Always think safety first, period.

    Then:

    1.) Learn the basics of electricity and,

    2.) Learn the basics of the electrical devices used to distribute electricity and,

    3.) Get a job with a reputable electrical contractor for several years.

    Or, if you're lucky to have access, get into an apprentice program.

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    • #3
      Real simple. Unlearn English, become a Mexico citizen, and join a Roofing Company, and accept $5/hr wage. Roofers are solar Contractors, and sub contract an Licensed Electrician to pull the permits, and inspect the roofer work and wiring.
      MSEE, PE

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sunking View Post
        Real simple. Unlearn English, become a Mexico citizen, and join a Roofing Company, and accept $5/hr wage. Roofers are solar Contractors, and sub contract an Licensed Electrician to pull the permits, and inspect the roofer work and wiring.
        Hmm, I can't tell if this is sarcasm or really good advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MaxThisPower View Post
          Long story short, I really want to install PVs in a few homes. It's not feasible to have someone else install it and personally I would get more enjoyment out of it if I did it myself. I don't know anything about PVs especially the laws and regulations and connecting to the power panel.My question is how do I get started?
          I'll go with something similar to what JPM said.

          Learn about electricity. Start with high school electricity, then do some online courses to learn about the basics - Ohm's law, Kirchoff's laws, power factor. You can learn a lot from the how-to videos that places like Home Depot and Alt-E solar put online. Do some practical lab work with 12V circuits. Replace a few outlets in your house.

          Get a job with an electrician. He will probably have you carry conduit and clean out the van, but you'll learn a lot from watching him (and helping him to a small degree.)

          Get involved with the NABCEP program; it's a certification program for (among other things) solar installers. During that you will learn about the rules and regulations surrounding electrical work, and solar grid tie specifically.

          After that you may be able to get a job installing solar for a company that does that.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MaxThisPower View Post

            Hmm, I can't tell if this is sarcasm or really good advice.
            One characteristic that sarcasm usually or often shares with humor and also with caricature is that way down at the bottom of all 3 a voice of reality is whispering something that may sound familiar.

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            • #7
              Another thing to do is get some simple electrical kits of any type, and get them working. Carry that
              a little farther designing something yourself. It may not work, but it will be educational and give
              more appreciation for the formal courses.

              Some might think I got into electronics to learn to be a HAM, but actually it was the other way around.
              Bruce Roe

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bcroe View Post

                Some might think I got into electronics to learn to be a HAM, but actually it was the other way around.
                Bruce Roe
                Same for me.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bcroe View Post
                  Another thing to do is get some simple electrical kits of any type, and get them working. Carry that
                  a little farther designing something yourself. It may not work, but it will be educational and give
                  more appreciation for the formal courses.

                  Some might think I got into electronics to learn to be a HAM, but actually it was the other way around.
                  Bruce Roe
                  Bruce:

                  I can only speak for myself, but I never thought you got into electronics to learn to be HAM.

                  On a less sarcastic note, kind of like erector sets and model railroading, but more cerebral, I was doing electronic/electric kits with a breadboard and a very simple electricity text by the time I was 10 yrs. old or so. A good way to start, and I learned a lot (built my first Wheatstone bridge that way and learned why and how it can be useful), but being beyond that stage by adulthood may be a necessity before doing the big person stuff.

                  It's too bad there are no, or maybe very few, worthwhile (IMO only) true apprentice programs these days. My limited experience with people trained that way was that they were almost always true professionals in every sense of the word.

                  The for-profit rip off rackets masquerading as educational opportunities these days just ain't gettin' it done.

                  Just my $0.02.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                    It's too bad there are no, or maybe very few, worthwhile (IMO only) true apprentice programs these days. My limited experience with people trained that way was that they were almost always true professionals in every sense of the word.

                    The for-profit rip off rackets masquerading as educational opportunities these days just ain't gettin' it done.

                    Just my $0.02.
                    There is no substitute for hands on, coupled with formal education. A really good ed program has extensive
                    lab sessions.

                    I used to be amused at work when some other lab would call me to figure out an improper hookup. The
                    techs would be standing around with their digital meters, not sure what to do. I would go in with a 48V
                    light bulb with long leads, and figure it out in 5 minutes. What they didn't get, was that a digital meter is
                    for making precision measurements without loading on a working system. For something wired wrong
                    you need a few go-no go tests with something drawing enough current to drain static charge, and
                    maybe charge/discharge caps. And it didnt hurt that I could attach the bulb and watch the response
                    while operating another related panel across the room.

                    Today this one does the same thing on my solar. Bruce Roe


                    PVtestLt.JPG

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bcroe View Post

                      There is no substitute for hands on, coupled with formal education. A really good ed program has extensive
                      lab sessions.

                      I used to be amused at work when some other lab would call me to figure out an improper hookup. The
                      techs would be standing around with their digital meters, not sure what to do. I would go in with a 48V
                      light bulb with long leads, and figure it out in 5 minutes. What they didn't get, was that a digital meter is
                      for making precision measurements without loading on a working system. For something wired wrong
                      you need a few go-no go tests with something drawing enough current to drain static charge, and
                      maybe charge/discharge caps. And it didnt hurt that I could attach the bulb and watch the response
                      while operating another related panel across the room.

                      Today this one does the same thing on my solar. Bruce Roe


                      PVtestLt.JPG
                      I noticed more than a few years back that my pronouncements on the state of things were evolving to be little different in substance from those all the old farts remonstrated about when I was a kid. Some things never change I guess.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MaxThisPower View Post
                        Hmm, I can't tell if this is sarcasm or really good advice.
                        It is ironic humor. The irony is the truth of good advice. Electricians do not make their bread and butter from solar. Its a side income.

                        You do not want to be one of the undocumented roofers installing panels. You want to be the Licensed Electrician or General Contractor making the big bucks. That takes years and solar is just a side job, not the bread and butter.
                        Last edited by Sunking; 09-11-2018, 06:36 PM.
                        MSEE, PE

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                        • #13
                          Mnre has stopped the concept of Mnre certified solar installer. Please visit website of Mnre for any updates in recent past

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by trangctv View Post
                            Mnre has stopped the concept of Mnre certified solar installer. Please visit website of Mnre for any updates in recent past
                            Damn ! I was wondering what happened to that ! Another one of life's enigmas solved.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              OP - subscribe to Home Power Magazine. Lots of practical, detailed examples of how to do residential solar of all kinds. Its how I got started. (not counting all the electronics education...)
                              BSEE, R11, NABCEP, >1200kW installed

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