Is Your Solar Installer Certified?: New UL Certification
Last week, Underwriter Laboratories (UL) announced that it will introduce a program to train and certify installers of photovoltaic products and systems. The program, set to launch in July of this year, is geared toward professional electricians interested in expanding their skill set to meet the demands of the growing solar energy industry.
Certification programs, like the one to be launched by Underwriter Laboratories, are designed to build a qualified workforce capable of installing solar energy systems safely and efficiently. Training programs usually consist of hands-on course work centered on proper installation techniques, photovoltaic components, and maintenance considerations. Certified professionals are more likely to identify solar energy products and installation defects that may negatively affect performance.
Renewable Energy World reported that the number of certified professionals in the solar energy industry increased dramatically last month. The North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP), the largest provider of photovoltaic (PV) installer certifications in the United States, certified 287 new PV professionals after its March 13, 2010 exam. With the addition of these newly certified installers, NABCEP has increased the total number of certified solar professionals to a total of 1,196 individuals nationwide, a 32% increase since September of 2009. In just two years, the number of NABCEP certified solar energy professionals has more than doubled from 517 in March of 2008.
The residential solar system industry stands to benefit significantly from an increase in the number of certified panel installers. One of the major problems currently facing the industry is the lack of expertise among homeowners and building operators about the proper function and maintenance of their solar energy systems. The knowledge gap can lead to problems with shading, soiling, or equipment failure. By hiring professionals that are trained specifically in the installation of photovoltaic systems, homeowners can be sure that they can get the most energy from their panels.