Why NABCEP Certifications are Important for Solar Installers
History of NABCEP
The world of renewable energy is in many ways an exciting frontier: as new technological solutions emerge, regulating bodies often cannot make legal precedent fast enough to truly be the protective force in the industry. This is in many ways quite good: it ensures rapid innovation.
That being said, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, or NABCEP, was formed in 2002 with the stated purpose to “to support, and work with, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, professionals, and stakeholders to develop and implement quality credentialing and certification programs for practitioners.” This organization created a conference to bring practitioners together to share new techniques, created a centralized “Career Center” to bring practitioners access to good renewable energy jobs, and they partnered with associations like ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to ensure that their procedures and methods would be high-level standards.
The organization maintains their programming as voluntary options for solar professionals, and there is no mandate that an installer be NABCEP certified. However some states do require it. NABCEP provides quality assurance for those who choose to aim for a high standard of installation or inspection, but are not a regulating body demanding that all practitioners work within their rules. As such, you may encounter perfectly legitimate installers without NABCEP certified employees, but the level of craftsmanship and care in installation may not be at the same high level.
One of the most valuable aspects of NABCEP is offering multiple certification levels ranging from entry level to certified PV Installation Professional, along with Technical Sales and more. These programs provide a range of qualifications so that employees just getting started have a way to get started and then advance.
Importance of NABCEP Certifications
Promote renewable energy
As renewable energy begins to compete in many sectors with more traditional fossil-fuel-based energy, it is important to have an organization with a good reputation putting information and resources into the world about renewable energy. The certified practitioners can confidently advocate for the big changes being made to the energy grid as well as give their customers clear reasons why renewable energy is a value-added aspect of their lives.
For instance, Mountain View Solar employs multiple certified practitioners and can provide solutions that have been industry proven on residential, commercial, and agricultural solar, as well as the energy storage options available for backup, peak demand shaving and more.
Provide value to practitioners
NABCEP takes care of certified practitioners by doing more than simply educating and training them in the latest and most well-established methods for installation and delivery of solar energy. They provide a host of benefits, from discounted insurance to access to marketing and reporting tools. Their benefits are possible because they have established a good reputation and gained the benefit of a large membership.
Choosing a solar installer that invests in certifying their employees means that the company is committed to advanced training. While this is a major benefit to the employees, the benefits also translate to the customers in quality of work performed.
Promote worker safety and skill
As renewable energy practitioners discover the best practices for installation and maintenance of systems, they also are learning more about the most efficient methods for installation and the safest approaches to complex projects. Customers looking to invest in a new renewable energy project want to feel confident that the installation will be handled correctly, with clear understanding of the materials and equipment, and with no workplace injuries that result in costly delays. Companies who choose to participate in certification programs show a commitment to working beyond the most basic levels of safety, pushing to have well-trained employees who can do a good job quickly because of that experience and training.
Promote consumer confidence
The motto of the NABCEP is “raising standards, promoting confidence,” which clearly expresses the connection between these two items. Companies who promise extremely cheap solar installation may succeed in creating a low-budget installation, but their employees may never have installed a photo-voltaic module before, instead outsourcing to temp labor or using trainees. This kind of risk is frustrating to consumers who want an option to invest in their own capital projects with confidence that the work will be high quality and that the installers are experienced. Solar energy systems are expected to last well over 25 years, after all.
NABCEP makes it a little harder to pass off inexperience and the ability to purchase a few PV panels as being qualified. Their willingness to develop programs that make training more systematic allows interested customers to research what it is that the certification programs include, which allows them to feel confident in their renewable energy investments.
What do the Certification Programs include?
The certification programs and credentials offered by NABCEP include NABCEP PV Installation Professional, NABCEP PV Associate, and NABCEP PV Technical Sales Professional. They also offer system inspector related credentials, according to their Handbook. The organization is also implementing other certification programs as well focused on specific parts of the industry.
In addition to learning information textually, higher level NABCEP certifications require a Job Task Analysis which requires real experience:
- Inspecting electrical, structural, and equipment elements for detailed and specific functionalities
- Knowledge of the National Electric Code, especially the PV related chapters
- Understanding of a battery storage system as applied to solar energy
- Documenting every step of the process to make sure it passes inspections
Understanding the particular blueprints of the system all the way up to understanding the National Electric Code are all essential to be able to perform the Job Task well enough to pass the rather difficult written exam. Having gained this certification means more than simply checking boxes or choosing answers. It is a sign that this installer has a verified ability to perform at an excellent level.
When looking at solar installation options, check the company’s staff site for the recognizable seal that shows that the installer employs NABCEP PV Installation Professionals. You can confidently know that they have worked through scenarios, observed best practices, and maintained their own safety, the safety of their team, and the safety of your delicate solar equipment.
If you’re ready to discuss your solar future with a highly qualified solutions company, contact mtvSolar now for a free consultation.