Selecting a Certified Solar Electric Installer
Many professions and trades have instituted certification programs to
elevate the credibility and the quality of their services. Credentials
are available representing all types of occupations from health care to
finance to auto mechanics professions where public safety and protection
are a concern.
Certification is a voluntary process by which a nongovernmental
agency or association grants recognition to an individual who has met
certain predetermined qualifications.
Licensure is the process by which an agency
of government grants permission to persons to engage in a given profession
Now, consumers who are purchasing solar electric systems can look for
an installer with a certificate from NABCEP.
NABCEP: the North American Board of Certified
Incorporated as a not for profit, NABCEP
is a representative board with the involvement of the solar industry,
independent installers, the trades, training organizations, educators,
national laboratories, and government. The NABCEP
is dedicated to the implementation of appropriate professional standards
designed to protect consumers and the profession. NABCEP
certificants and candidates are expected to act in an appropriate manner,
which promotes the integrity of, and reflects positively on, the practitioner,
the NABCEP, and the renewable energy
profession, consistent with accepted moral, ethical, and legal standards.
Since April 2001, the (NABCEP) has
developed a voluntary national certification program with
Four main goals:
- Protect consumers
- Promote renewable energy
- Provide value to the profession
- Promote worker safety
The first step in establishing a certification program is to develop
a task or job analysis.
The Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Installer Task
Analysis defines knowledge, skills ,and abilities typically required
of practitioners who install and maintain PV systems. These include Eight
1) Working safely with photovoltaic systems;
2) Conducting a site assessment;
3) Selecting a system design;
4) Adapting the mechanical design;
5) Adapting the electrical design;
6) Installing subsystems and components at the site;
7) Performing a system checkout and inspection;
8) Maintaining and troubleshooting a system.
The NABCEP Certification Process
To qualify to sit for the PV Installer Certification
Examination , the candidate must meet at least one of the following
- Four (4) years of experience installing PV;
- Two (2) years of experience installing PV systems in addition to completion
of a board-recognized training program;
- Be an existing licensed contractor in good standing in solar or electrical-construction
related areas with one (1) year of experienceinstalling PV systems;
- Four-year construction or engineering degree from an educational institution,
including one (1) year experience installing PV systems.
for further details on the eligibility requirements.
The NABCEP Examination consists of
approximately sixty multiple-choice questions. It is a four-hour exam.
The examination is based on the Task Analysis, described above. Exam questions
cover fundamental trade knowledge, codes and standards, and accepted industry
practice in the context of installation scenarios. The NABCEP
has hired an independent testing company for examination development,
administration, security, scoring, and psychometric (test validity) services.
Benefits of PV Certification
· Identifies installers as professionals, instilling consumer confidence
in their work
· Validates extra resources spent on training and gaining experience
· Allows for installer mobility as the market moves from state
· Allows installers to distinguish their skills and experience
in the field
· Provides a means to identify qualified installers, promoting
confidence in the work performed
· Preserves consumer choice, maintaining access to both certified
and uncertified installers
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Pete Sheehan,
Executive Director. Saratoga Technology + Energy Park. 10 Hermes Road,
Suite 400, Malta, NY 12020. Phone: (518) 889-8126. Email: email@example.com