Solar panel installers place solar panels in sunny places to gather the sun's power.
The most common type of solar module is the 3' x 5' flat solar panel. It is usually mounted on top of a roof. Before adding the panels to a roof, installers make sure that there is enough room and that the roof can hold the extra weight. If the roof isn't strong enough, installers reinforce it.
Once the roof is ready, installers bolt structural framing, or racking, to the roof. They attach the solar panels to the rack and connect them with wires. They check the wiring on the panels and on the building itself to make sure the panels work correctly.
Installers hook the wires to an inverter. This device turns the energy captured by the solar cells into electricity used by homes and businesses. Installers program inverters to specific set points and modes. Some systems include a battery that stores power for later use. Inverters must be wired to buildings by licensed electricians. Because of this requirement, many installers are licensed electricians. When the system is activated, installers ensure the system responds to the controls and performs as designed.
Lead installers may take responsibility for getting work permits and inspections. Lead installers decide what materials and tools to bring to the work site. They evaluate work site conditions. They decide the layout of the system to ensure it is safe, gets enough sun, and is easy to maintain. Some people want their solar panels connected to the power grid or a backup generator. These may require special subpanels or other equipment. The lead installer ensures that all parts of the system work well together. They must label the parts correctly and document that the system meets all requirements.
Work schedules of solar panel installers are similar to those of construction workers. They may work long hours on some days followed by periods of no employment.
Workers must be comfortable working at heights. Many residential installations are on roofs with steep slopes and on loose or fragile materials, such as clay shingles. Installers often wear safety harnesses when working on houses with steep roofs. Most commercial installations are on flat roofs.
Solar panel installers use power tools and hand tools to construct equipment. They must read diagrams and instructions and follow them precisely. They may also keep records on system performance and maintenance.
As the use of solar power expands, the job tasks of solar panel installers change as well. Workers may install active solar systems, like solar collectors. Those at small companies may perform many duties such as maintenance, sales, planning, and wiring.