Continuing education is important in all industries, especially solar. As technologies evolve, new installation techniques arise to make solar systems safer and more efficient. The best place to learn these new skills is often at tradeshows and conferences, when more industry peers are together to exchange tips and tricks.
On account of coronavirus halting gatherings for awhile, we reached out to the would-be presenters at the NABCEP Continuing Education conference for their best advice on three questions:
- What’s the easiest way to speed up installation of solar systems?
- What’s the most common installation error in a solar or battery installation?
- What’s the best way for installers to improve customer satisfaction?
See their answers and more below. Follow us on Twitter to see even more installer-focused tips during our annual SPW Installation Week. We hope you’ll learn some new strategies to make your business stand out as we approach uncharted waters. Oh, and check out Solar Energy International for online solar training.
What’s the most common installation error in a solar or battery installation?
“A common error by installers is to design a system around a price point of components rather than sizing the system around a “system” that will provide for energy needs of their customer. This often leads to the under-sizing of the system and ultimately a dissatisfied customer experience.”
-Matthew Campbell, Channel Marketing Director, Discover Battery
“Correct battery sizing is often a common error when installing and designing a battery based systems. A battery bank sized based on budget or incorrect calculations can result in an improper battery bank for the respective loads or inverter size.”
-Troy Daniels, Technical Services Manager, SimpliPhi
“We hear of many surveyors estimating the sizes of onsite obstructions, especially the heights of trees and other rooftop features like vent pipes, attic fans and HVAC units. Whether they are using tape measures, satellite imagery, Google Earth or just eyeballing things, this practice can be incredibly detrimental to creating an accurate design. An accurate survey makes all the difference!”
-Jason Steinberg, Co-founder and COO, Scanifly
“Inaccurate modeling of objects and 3D space on and around the rooftop (e.g. trees, obstructions on rooftops, etc.). An inaccurate model impacts energy production estimate, which then affects savings and costs of the PV system.”
-Marc Georgiou, Senior Client Engagement Manager, Aurora Solar
“The most common error we see is under-torqued screw terminals, which can lead to loose connections and potential arcing. A string inverter would still detect an arc, but reliability could suffer. Proper torqueing is necessary to ensure a safe and reliable operation.”
-Ben Brubaker, Applications Engineer and Trainer, Fronius
“With any racking system, the most common error is over-torqueing fasteners, which can cause stress on fasteners and module frames.”
-Jason Comstock, Field Support/Product Training Manager, Ecolibrium Solar
“Not being prepared to deal with the newer forms of communication to the inverter — connecting to the inverter to program and connecting the monitoring. Many newer inverters have removed displays and the commissioning and connecting to the inverter is done through built-in Wi-Fi using a smartphone, iPad or PC.”
-Claude Barker, technical sales engineer, ABB
“Installers sometimes don’t check equipment compatibility for rapid shutdown when purchasing inverters and MLPE. Installers sometimes don’t check AHJ requirements in advance and are surprised by NEC rapid shutdown requirements after the system is already installed. Installers often don’t realize that inverters with a built-in RSS Transmitter have to be configured through the menus to enable rapid shutdown.”
-Gary Hethcoat, sales engineer, Tigo Energy