Although solar energy has been around for over a century, we have seen a tremendous push for renewable energy in the past several years. This can be contributed to the environmental benefits of solar, as well as a desire to decrease long-term energy costs. As the solar industry grows, the need for qualified personnel to design, build, maintain, and repair sites are increasing at a rapid rate.
Solar installations are complex energy systems and therefore require experience in the solar industry and qualified contractors for the varying aspects of the design, construction, and maintenance phases. You wouldn’t let someone who is not a surgeon operate on your body-the same could be said for these complex energy systems. This poses the question… who is best for the job?
When it comes to building and repairing solar sites, a professional electrician needs to be involved in most aspects of a solar installation. Electricians have the training, experience, license, and insurance coverage, which means they have the knowledge and expertise to correct problems before they become part of the as- built system.
Experience and training especially matter when it comes to the review of plan sets and site drawings. Verifying what is on the drawings and what is at the site is crucial for quality and performance. Electricians also know what to evaluate and consider when determining what is up to code and specifications. This can prevent after build problems before they occur.
Another very important reason to have electricians on site is safety! Electricians have been trained in most aspects of electrical safety and typically hold national, state and regional safety certifications such as OSHA 30, CPR, NFPA 70E, and other applicable training. They are aware of the dangers of electrical systems and handle projects with care and precision.
As electricians, we can make repairs or complete any necessary upgrades prior to the installation being complete and that helps with the quality and successful commissioning of the project. “Solar is no different than any other electrical system, and that is why electricians need to be more heavily involved in solar construction and maintenance,” says Phillip Day, Master Electrician and owner of Day Electric.
What is at risk?
Remember that the solar panel installation is not only about placing solar panels on the correct spot on the roof or array. There is far more that goes into it. Solar installations are compromised of not only solar panels and racking, but wiring, inverters, DC/AC disconnects, meters, and more. The solar panels will generate electricity, but everything needs to be connected and supported for the system to operate safely and efficiently.
Electricians tend to put more of a priority on safety and energy production levels, over other contractors and therefore are an integral part of the success of the site for years to come. If companies without knowledge of electrical systems install a solar installation, it can be hazardous, and a site owner or developer may not get the full benefit of the solar energy that is expected.
Likewise, like any other electrical system repairs, monitoring, and preventative maintenance is required to prevent fires, arc flashes, and other catastrophic events. Without the correct licensing, training, and experience an individual should not attempt to troubleshoot or repair these complex energy systems. All repairs should be handled by an O&M provider with licensed electricians, to prevent safety issues and prevent costly repairs in the future.
Currently, there are no regulations when it comes to solar construction or maintenance needing to be completed by qualified electricians. However, If you are an EPC or O&M provider it is critical to make sure your employees are not only experienced in PV solar systems but also have the correct licensing and safety certifications. This is not only essential to safety on-site but the quality of workmanship and energy production for years to come.
About Wayne Williford
Wayne Williford is a seasoned technical expert with skills across a range industries and more than thirty years of experience in testing, deploying, and supporting advanced technologies and complex mechanical systems. Wayne is currently Vice President of Operations at Day Electric and has held positions as V.P of Commercial O&M at Stellar Energy, SunSystem Technology, Director of O&M Business Development at REC Commercial Solar, V.P of P.V Services Group at Soligent and Director of Service and Warranty at SPG Solar, Mr. Williford has managed teams of technicians responsible for servicing and maintaining more than 300 large-scale commercial solar photovoltaic systems.
About Day Electric
Day Electric is a full-service solar O&M service provider and Electrical Contractor with complete project design, procurement, and construction management capabilities. The company also provides professional operations and maintenance services for solar power plants as well as small business and residences. With completed projects spanning government, education, commercial, and municipal customers. The Day Electric portfolio of projects makes the company one of the top solar PV service firms. For more information about professional O&M services for your PV system, contact Day Electric by phone at (434) 333-0355 or online at www.dayelectricusa.com.