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HOW DO I BECOME A SOLAR ELECTRIC CONTRACTOR

The share of total U.S. electrical generation has risen from just 0.1% in 2010 to over 3% today. It is due to the rising solar competitiveness against other technologies [1] that shows that the impact of the solar energy industry has grown dramatically in recent years. As it is a cost-effective, eco-friendly renewable energy source, it is widely preferred nowadays over conventional energy sources. 

 

With increased deviation towards the use of solar technology in Florida, the demand for solar contractors has risen too. Presently, many individuals show interest in this field, making it a perfect, high-demand professional option in this solar-friendly state. 

Why Do You Need to Consider a Profession in Solar Energy Industry

 

Solar energy is the most abundant form of energy on Earth. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of energy from the sun that hits Earth for one hour is enough to meet the world's energy usage for an entire year [2]. This shows that with proper developments, it can exceed the present and future electricity demands of the US.

 

Using sunlight to generate electricity will help reduce the hazardous emissions in the environment, the unnecessary use of resources, and long-term, effective costs. Over the years, the solar energy industry has dramatically grown as more people become aware of its advantages and look at it as a cheaper and greener alternative. 

 

There is no doubt that with the increase in the influence of the solar industry, there will be a need for solar energy workers. These include but are not limited to, solar engineers who can make solar panels, constructors who can build panel systems, and installers who can install solar panel systems, and so on. 

 

If this field interests you and you are wondering 'how do I become a solar electric contractor' in Florida, here is a complete guide by Everything Solar that has got everything you need to know. 

installation of Solar electric system by solar contractor in Orlando
Solar contractor in South Apopka  Orlando Florida

Concepts to Understand Before You Become A Solar Installer in Orlando

 

Solar Installer is an emerging occupation. It may have evolved from an existing occupation or emerged in response to consumer needs or technological advances. In general, solar installers install, service, and maintain solar thermal (heat) and solar photovoltaic (light) power generation equipment.

 

As a solar installer, you need to understand what a solar panel system is and how it works. 

Solar contractor in Orlando Florida
solar panels linked to a solar pool heater system in Florida

The Solar Panel System: Construction and Working

 

 A solar panel, also known as a photovoltaic panel, is an electrical module of solar cells. These solar cells are capable of trapping the energy from the sun and convert them into electricity, which is used to power electrical loads.

 

Each solar cell is made up of two semiconductor layers, preferably boron as the positive layer and silicon or phosphorus as the negative one. Energy is trapped in the form of photons, which are energy-rich packets coming from the sun. 

 

When exposed to sunlight, the negative layer absorbs these photons, as a result, electrons are emitted from this layer. These electrons travel to the positive layer, thus creating a potential difference. 

 

As each solar cell produces an output of one to two watts, multiple solar cells are required to assemble solar modules into a complete weather-tight, photovoltaic panel system. 

The Brains of the Solar Panel System

 

The other important thing you need to know about is the inverter, also commonly called the brains of the solar panel system. It converts the direct current produced by the solar cells into alternating current which is required by home appliances. 

 

 

The Unit for Electrical Measurement

 

The most common unit for calculating the amount of work done by a solar panel in a particular time is given by kilo-watt/hour. For example, a solar panel system working at full capacity of seven hours will generate 7kW/hr of electricity. 

 

These are the few basic concepts of the solar energy industry. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about to answer your most relevant question - how do I become a solar electric contractor in Florida?

A Complete Guide For Solar Electric Contractor Licenses in Orlando


A solar contractor in Orlando is a person who installs, alters, repairs, maintains, relocates, or replaces solar panels for potable solar water heating systems, swimming pool solar heating systems, and photovoltaic systems.


There are two different kinds of licenses that you can obtain in the solar industry: 

  1. Certified Solar Contractor (CV)
  2. Residential Solar Water Or A Heating Specialty Contractor (CW)


A contractor with a CV license can serve both commercial and residential solar heating needs, whereas a CW license restricts the contractor to residential work only.

Who Needs A Solar Electric Contractor License?

 

All solar contractors in Florida must have state licensure as per the requirements of the Florida Statute [3].

 

However, if an individual is employed in a solar contractor’s company and works under the supervision of a licensed professional, then he or she is not required to acquire a solar license yet.

Solar Panel Assembling in Orlando

Eligibility Requirements For A Solar Electric Contractor License


As stated earlier, if a person wants to work independently, without the supervision of a certified solar professional, they are supposed to acquire a solar work license to become a legal practitioner. 


According to the Florida Legislature and the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB), to be eligible as an applicant for solar contractor license specifically in Florida, the following requirements must be met: 


  1. The applicant must be 18 years old or above. 
  2. The applicant must have a high school diploma or an equivalent A-level certificate. 
  3. The applicant must have a history of one of the following criteria: 

    A. One year of experience as a foreman and three years of credits for any      accredited college-level courses or,

    B. One year of experience as a skilled worker, one year of experience as a foreman, and two years of credits for any accredited college-level course or, 

    C. Two years of experience as a skilled worker, one year of experience as a foreman, and one year of credits for any accredited college-level courses
  4. The applicant must demonstrate experience in the installation of:

    A. Photovoltaic Systems
    B. Swimming Pool Solar Heating Systems
    C. Domestic Water Solar Heating Systems
  5. The applicant must have qualified for the Florida Contractor License Examination.
  6. The applicant must have practical experience in photovoltaic systems including swimming pool/ spa heating systems, and domestic water solar heating systems.
  7. The applicant’s criminal background must be checked against the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Florida Department of Law Enforcement database. 
  8. The applicants need to DBPR application, complete an Applicant Consent and Waiver Agreement for criminal history records check.

Licensure Procedure For A Solar Electric Contractor

 

According to the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FLASEIA), the licensure exam takes place in the state of Florida three times a year; February, June, and October. The Floridian Statute requires the applicants to register for the exam thirty days before the examination date.

 

This examination consists of two parts. The first part is the trade portion or solar installation, whereas the second part is the business and finance portion. The applicants have two years to pass all parts of the exams after the first scheduled examination date. 

 

Once all parts of the exams have passed, the applicant can now apply for the CILB application for licensing. The applicant who has not only passed the examination but has also met all the required qualifications can be granted a solar contractor license. 

Solar Contractor in Orlando
Man on roof installing Solar Pool heating system in Orlando

Verification of a Solar Contractor’s License 

 

To avoid future fraud or fabricated work, it is crucial to verify whether or not your solar contractor is licensed. Unlicensed solar contractors may not deliver proper solar work which can turn out to be a poor investment in your solar installation procedure. 

 

Therefore, the citizens can verify the credentials of any solar contractor by heading onto www.myfloridalicense.com, and by putting in the verifying information such as the license listed on his/her proposal, business card, or any other marketing material.

Solar Apprenticeship Programs In Florida

 

If you are asking yourself 'how do I become a solar electric contractor with great skills', then all you have to do is train yourself. To become a solar electric contractor, many companies offer training that gives an idea of what is practically done in the field. 

 

This usually consists of the technical processes of installation, maintenance, and alteration of the solar panel and technicalities of the precautions that need to be taken in the solar field. 

 

Solar apprenticeship is a good way of maintaining the standard of the solar business. It helps in recruiting, training, and retaining highly skilled workers by providing them with exquisite training. 

 

In addition to a smooth flow of business for the solar contractor’s company, the apprentices can also get hired at reasonable wages while getting trained in workplace skills. This ultimately drives them a step closer to their career. 

Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs for Solar Businesses

 

  • Apprenticeship Programs help solar businesses gain a team of young employees who are supervised under certified solar contractors, thus improving the overall workflow.

  • It also provides the opportunity to train a workforce of highly skilled workers which improves the efficiency of the work standard of the solar industry. 

  • Once trained, the apprentices help in reducing the turnover, increasing productivity, and lowering recruitment costs.

  • Apprenticeships provide a great average return on investment per annum.

Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs for Apprentices

 

  • Apprentices receive on-the-job training which provides far greater practical skills. 
  • Apprenticeships Programs allow them to learn under the supervision of a certified, experienced mentor.
  • The wages of the apprentices rise in correspondence to their increased work experience, with an average starting wage of $15.00 per hour.
  • It helps the young, fresh graduates to move forward in their careers without incurring college or training debts.
  • Apprenticeships Programs over nationally recognized credential certification, which is one of the basic requirements for acquiring a solar contractor license in the future.
Large solar panels in the city installed by Solar contractors in Orlando

Responsibilities of a Solar Electric Contractor

 

A solar electric contractor pays for a team of a highly-skilled, well-equipped workforce that designs and builds the solar panels. The contractor and his team decide the purchase of the most affordable and compatible product, which meets all the requirements of the customer.

 

Hence, a customer expects a certain level of performance from his hired solar contractor. These expectations are his responsibilities which must be fulfilled at all costs. 

 

If you want to know 'how do I become a solar electric contractor' the trick is to fulfill your responsibilities strictly. Following is the list of tasks carried out by the solar electric contractor and his team: 

 

  • Assemble solar panels or modules, as their supporting structures.
  • Install photovoltaic systems including solar collectors, pumps, fans, etc. 
  • Install additional subpanels with utility service or other supporting power generation sources. 
  • Make the solar panel system weather-friendly by applying weather sealing.
  • Install solar panel systems using drawings, schematics, and instructions according to the codes and standards. 
  • Ensure the system functionality and performance conformity upon activation, including start-up, shut-down, normal, and emergency operation.
  • Ensure proper integrity of wiring, polarity, and terminations.
  • Prevent electrical and environmental hazards during installation.

4 Tips in the answer to ‘How Do I Become a Solar Electric Contractor’ in Orlando

 

If you are inspired by the solar contracting and installation jobs, you need to set your foot right on track from the very beginning. As the use of solar energy continues to gain popularity, the market competition is also rising rapidly.

 

To stand out from other candidates competing for the same position, we have compiled a list of four basic things you need to do to ensure the quality output of your business in the solar industry. 

Acquire Knowledge And Skill Work 


No matter what profession you choose, it mostly comes down to your knowledge in that particular field and how you use your soft and hard skills to be the best at what you do. 


This is the same in the solar industry. Your output performance depends on the quality of input you provide to your work. This quality comes from acquiring the right knowledge and skills. Master your work by devoting time to learn from your experiences. 


If you apply for apprenticeship programs, make sure you make the most out of under-supervision learning and understand the basic do’s and don'ts in the work field. 


Most importantly, excel in your work by practicing as much as you can so that you can perform hassle-free work even without the supervision of your certified mentor. Once you know how to operate and can do so freely, it will be an indication that your skills have been finely honed.


Networking

Your networking in social communities plays an important role in landing a job. Building relationships in the solar community is an excellent strategy in the solar field. This is because it provides you with much-needed exposure and helps you understand the dealings of the real world more closely. 


It will always be a good idea to be a part of events and gatherings of the solar workers' community to put up your good image by maintaining a network of communications. 


Moving To A Solar-Friendly Region

If you need an answer to 'how do I become a solar electric contractor', moving to a solar-friendly region has got to be your first step. To state the obvious, your solar business needs light from the sun. Although solar companies are now increasingly found in many states, location plays a crucial role. The rate of success in some areas is far greater than in others. Your basic goal is to go for a location that offers optimum solar energy in terms of magnitude and time. 


According to the Solar Energy Industry Association [4], California ranks at the top as the most solar-friendly state in the US. It is followed by Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. 


The Final Word

As of 2020, more than 230,000 Americans solar workers are hired at more than 10,000 companies in every U.S. state [5]. This, once again, shows the potential of joining a solar energy industry. By offering your services in this field, you not only work toward a stronger economy of your country but also help in maintaining a safe and greener environment for your future generations. 

1- How Do I Become A Solar Contractor?

To become a solar contractor, you need to fulfill the requirements set by the Florida Legislature and the Construction Industry Licensing Board. This includes a four-year experience of a combination of foreman skills and credits from college-level courses, passed license examination, and acquired contractor license. 


2- How Long Does It Take To Become A Solar Electrician?

There are multiple pathways to becoming a solar electrician. You typically need to have a high school diploma, a technical diploma from community college, and at least a year of on-the-job training.  In some cases, you are hired to work directly under the supervision of a solar contractor based on your skills. 


3- How Much Does A Solar Contractor Make?

According to US News, Solar Photovoltaic Installers made a median salary of $44,890 in 2019. The best-paid 25 percent made $55,680 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $36,310.


4- How Do I Become A Solar EPC Contractor? 

To become a solar EPC contractor, you first need to register yourself for starting the EPC process, for which you need mandatory certifications and documentation. Then begins the process of solar business registration.


5- What tools must a solar contract use when making an solar installation?​​​​​​​

A solar contractor must use a combination of common household tools, along with specialist equipment to ensure the job is completed to a high standard. Click the link above to read a more detailed article about solar contractor tools needed in Orlando.

References 

 

1. Rising solar competitiveness

https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data

2. Data from the US Department of Energy

https://www.bls.gov/green/solar_power/

3. Requirements by the Florida Statute 

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index

4. Ranking of solar-friendly states of USA

https://www.seia.org/research-resources/top-10-solar-states-2017

5. Number of American solar workers in 2020

https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data