A solar panel or PV panel is an array of photovoltaic cells mounted on a framework. It uses sunlight as the source of energy to generate electricity. Photovoltaics is the conversion of light into electricity by using semiconductors. It is used for various applications aside from the production of electricity, including remote power systems for cabins, telecommunication equipment, and remote sensing.
The photovoltaic effect was discovered by Edmond Becquerel, which led to the invention of the first solar cell in 1893 by Charles Fritts. Russel Ohl of Bell Laboratories patented the first silicon solar cell in 1941, and the same company produced the first solar panel in 1951. During these times, the primary use of solar panels was for space satellites. In the 1970s, they were already used in calculators.
The solar array generates power during the day that can be used in homes at night. Net metering allows solar panel owners to get paid if the electricity generated is more than they need.
Having solar panels is a convenient way to produce electricity. They can be used in off-grid living. Remote cabins having a solar electric system is less expensive than installing electric utility poles. Moreover, solar panels can provide up to three (3) decades of service if properly maintained.
However, the main benefit of solar panels is the fact that it is a clean and renewable source of energy. There is no emission of gases which is the main problem of global climate change. Also, they have no moving parts that require a lot of maintenance. Having solar panels also means that your electricity is free, which can also generate income from your electric company, as mentioned above.
Solar panels can be installed in an industrial, commercial, or residential setting. Solar power plants supply power to industrial clients and cooperatives. Some companies design and install solar grid-tied rooftop systems for commercial customers in manufacturing companies, mills, cold storage plants, hotels, warehouses. Electricity savings range from 10-80% monthly in these commercial buildings. Residential solar grid-type rooftop systems enjoy free air conditioning use during the day without worrying about high electricity bills.
How much does solar panel installation cost? The average cost is $12,000 after tax incentives. A smaller system costs around $5,000, while the high-end ones can cost around $40,000 or more. There are also labor costs, operational costs, and additional equipment. Some factors that also affect the cost are federal and state incentives, electricity needs, choice of panels, location, and purchasing options.
What does a solar panel installer do? A solar panel installer assembles, installs, and maintains the panel systems. They measure, cut, and bolts structural framing and solar modules. They also take care of minor electrical work.
There are five steps in installing solar panels:
Complete a site survey with an engineer. Your selected solar panel company will send an engineer to your home to evaluate your current electrical system. He will also inspect your roof. It should be able to support the weight of the solar panels.
Secure the required permits. The company will need to secure documents to ensure that the installation meets safety and zoning requirements.
Order the right equipment. By now, you have already picked out the specific solar panel to be installed, solar batteries, and inverters for your home.
Solar panel installation. Your installer will prepare the roof then place the wiring needed in your electrical system. Racking will then be placed. The solar panels will be placed in those racks, and then the inverters will be connected to the panels. The timeline to install solar panels ranges from one to three days in total.
Has your system been approved and connected? There will be a municipal government representative who will assess and approve the whole system. After which, you will be issued a Permit to Operate. There will also be a utility company representative who will hook your system up to the electrical grid.
You may be curious as to how much do solar panel installers make. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of a solar panel installer as of February 2022 is $42,341. The Minimum is $23,000, and the maximum is $67,000. An overall consensus is that they will make an average of $35,000 to $45,000 annually. Indeed.com states that they get paid $21.31/hour.
Of course, the pay will depend on several factors: education, work experience, certifications, and location.
Solar panel installers usually receive training from community colleges, specifically solar training courses, to learn about electricity, safety, solar installation techniques. For the work experience, if you are new to the role, you can get as low as $32,590, according to OwlGuru.com. Experience strongly influences the pay that comes with the job.
Licensure and certification requirements vary by state. Certification by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is required for this role.
Payscale.com adds that there is a possible $1,900 in bonuses and $400 profit sharing that can be earned on average.
Ranking the best cities for solar panel installers based on annual salaries:
Sta. Cruz, California – $74,830
San Francisco, California – $60,970
Urban Honolulu, Hawaii – $60,140
Portland, Oregon – $58,760
San Antonio, Texas – $58,420
Switching to a solar energy system can cut your electricity bill by 75%. Many companies will provide a calculator to estimate the cost and savings of having solar panels in your home. The average American home has an average annual electricity cost of $1,500. Depending on the solar panel system, it might take five to ten years to break even.
Since the sun provides a free source of energy, and your solar panels generate 100% of your electricity, the utility office will still send you a bill monthly – but instead of payment, you will get net metering credits.
With the knowledge of how much a solar installer makes, it gives you an idea of how to upscale your business. Having more leads means more installation and profit. It is best to find a solar lead generation company to help you. Solar Exclusive provides exclusive leads for solar businesses. A marketing company that concentrates on the solar industry and has served over 1000 solar companies.