The US solar market continues to grow by leaps and bounds, creating energy sector jobs and highlighting the resilience of American innovation even as some politicians turn their focus backward towards fossil fuels. As CNN Money reported not long ago, “solar employment expanded last year (2016) 17 times faster than the total US economy, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency report.” With hundreds of thousands of jobs being created in solar installation, manufacturing, and project development, it continues to be clear that solar energy offers a vibrant future.
In any rapidly growing industry, an influx of new talent is exciting and energizing. In a highly technical industry such as solar, it is also cause for reflection on the value and benefit of experience. When it comes to both consumers and industry newcomers, those of us who have spent decades building the solar industry that is thriving today have an opportunity to put our experience to good use.
The Importance of Solar PV Design Experience
For consumers, the importance of recognizing industry experience when choosing a designer, engineer, and contractor is paramount. As in any field, a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities offered by solar energy provides greater value and benefits to clients. In the solar industry in particular, the combination of design and installation experience pays major dividends to consumers.
When beginning a solar project, whether commercial or residential, finding a design company with field experience in both solar design and application is the first step towards a successful result. Why?
Here’s what experienced solar design and engineering companies understand:
How to Achieve the Best Product Mix
SolarEnergy.com recommends asking if a company “promote(s) enough of a selection of products to offer a solution that meets your goals?” and warns consumers to “Beware the company that only offers 1 solution to every customer.” I would echo this concern, as solar designers who trade in pre-packaged solutions are unlikely to be the right fit for any project. Instead, an experienced designer will be able to mix and match, recommending custom solar plus storage options that address cost, scale, and impact.
In addition, a solar project leader who understands both design and installation can incorporate passive solar design principles in order to increase the system’s effectiveness and further lower utility costs.
How to Create the Right Design Package & Documents
The ability to create a design package and documents is a strong indicator that you’re working with an experienced energy system designer. “Going solar is a significant investment in your home, and you should have a strong, trusting relationship with your installer,” EnergySage recommends. “The best installers will work with you to understand how solar fits within the energy system of your home or business.”
This is a litmus test for experienced, professional solar design and installation experts. The design package and documents, in addition to helping the consumer understand the scope of their investment, are used to secure the connection from the utility company and permits from local authorities. The ultimate success of a solar project depends heavily on the designer and contractor’s ability to document the process at every stage.
How to Increase Long Term Value
An experienced design and application team knows how to maximize the value they provide to clients. That means planning carefully to do things right the first time instead of taking the cheap road and then paying more later due to problems that arise as a result. For example, I’ve heard stories of contractors who misunderstood roof capacity or voltage requirements, leading to scrapped designs and soaring expenses midway through installation.
In addition, an experienced design and contracting company will understand the solar financing options available to their client and work with them to maximize their savings. An investment in solar energy is incredibly valuable, even more so when you work with a team that understands how to keep initial costs low.
How to Prioritize Training & Experience
While a project lead with a variety and depth of experience is a must, staffing a project with experienced and well-trained workers in every position is best. The importance of proper training and background cannot be understated when you consider the potential for expensive mistakes (blown transformers, etc…), which lead to increased expenses, delayed projects, and very unhappy customers.
Modernize offers a helpful list of important questions to ask potential solar contractors, such as whether they have the required licensing and certification, necessary insurance coverage, and experience with projects of a similar type and scale.
Put Our Experience to Work
At Solar Design Studio, our deep experience in both commercial and residential design and installation pays off for your solar projects. Our commitment to each client is to maximize the long term energy and economic benefits of their solar installation, and we bring decades of experience to the table to ensure success. We’re proud of our reputation for doing things right the first time, never sacrificing the quality of our design or installation.
If you’re seeking an experienced solar design and application expert for your commercial or residential solar installation, you’ve come to the right place! Schedule a consultation today to get started.