On Top of the Green Economy: Solar Installer-Roofers

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What Is a Solar Installer-Roofer?

Solar Installer-Roofers are the people who install solar panels and solar cells in the roofs of residential and commercial buildings.  Currently, trained, qualified Solar Roofers are hard to come by these days, even in our quickly growing "green" economy.  Why?  Because a Solar Roofer must not only possess the trade skills and construction experience of a roofer, but must also be a competent solar electrician.

 

Solar Roofs
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There are basically two different types of solar roofing jobs being done today: retrofitting and integrated.  Retrofitting is installing a solar panel on an existing roof.  Integrating is incorporating solar cells and panels into a new roof being built.

Solar electrician skills are less important for retrofitting solar roofing.  This is a relatively easy job.  It basically consists of mounting one or more solar panels on an existing roof, and feeding the wiring though the roof to the battery banks.  A regular roofer could do this, and leave the wiring to an electrician.

Retrofitted solar roofs, however, have many drawbacks.  Solar panels are bulky, more exposed to the elements of wind, rain, and snow, and many consider them to be an eyesore that drags down property values.  Consequently, integrated solar roofing has become increasingly popular.  The solar panels are actually built into the roof, the sides more or less flush with the rest of the roof.  Such solar panels are less exposed to harsh weather and more aesthetically pleasing.  It's still obvious, however, that you have solar panels on your roof.

To compensate for this problem, solar cell manufactures have started producing "solar shingles."  These are specialized roofing shingles that have photovoltaic solar cells built into them, but otherwise appear to be the same shape, size, and color as regular asphalt shingles.  Solar shingles can provide an entire building roof that is essentially one big solar panel, but (from a distance, at least) looks like any other roof.  Although solar shingle roofs are increasingly popular, they have also increased the demand for Solar Installer-Roofers.

Unlike solar panels in which all the solar cells are already wired together, solar shingles must be wired together into a solar array as they are applied to the roof.  Furthermore, the solar shingles need to be installed and wired together before the rest of the roof is installed with regular shingles, so that the wires from the solar shingles can be run along the ridge cap of the roof, where they are hidden from sight and protected from harsh weather.

istock_000010930278smallresizedRequirements for Becoming a Solar Installer-Roofer

Solar Installer-Roofers are usually made rather than found.  Unfortunately, few people today possess both roofing trade skills and solar electronics training.  Therefore, solar roofing companies either hire roofers and train them to be solar electricians or hire solar electricians and train them to install roofs.

If you are already a roofer, enter a two-year program in electrical engineering at a community college or vocational school.  Another option is an electrician apprenticeship trade program.  Either way, this should give you the electrical knowledge and experience necessary to qualify for a Solar Installer-Roofer position.  For there, your employer should train you on the specifics of their methods and equipment.

On the other hand, if you are already have an Associates or Bachelors in electrical engineering, or are a certified electrician, you'll need to train to become a roofer as well.  Vocational schools should at least offer a few classes in this construction skill, and some might even offer full programs.  Another route is to enter a roofing apprenticeship trade program.

Boots on the Roof, a leading Renewable energy training institute, is enrolling students into its Alternative Energy Training classes. For more information on qualifications, Training Dates and Locations, click here.