The Solar Power World March 2022 Digital Edition is sponsored by CPS North America | Chint Power Global
Residential installer talent shines again at second Solar Games
Amidst the blazer-and-dress-shoe crowd at Intersolar 2022, installation crews wearing matching shirts and work belts heavy with tools stood in circles hashing out their strategies for the Solar Games. At this second annual competition in Long Beach, California, the stakes were higher than before, with $10,000 up for grabs for the winning team.
The mock roofs were short enough that conferencegoers could watch the action from all angles. The audience looked on as seven teams took different approaches to installation, with some getting right to work securing the rails and others assembling the panels first — clipping rapid shutdown devices onto panel frames and attaching wires to junction boxes before rushing to the roof. Teams once again had 90 minutes to complete the installation, but bonus points were up for grabs if they finished in under 60.
As the rounds went on and teams were eliminated, Las Vegas-based returning champion Sol-Up USA maintained a slow-and-steady strategy. In the two final rounds, the teams competing against Sol-Up fi nished in around 40 minutes, but Sol-Up did not rush under pressure. They double-checked every element of the installation, while still completing their work in under 60 minutes to collect bonus points.
“You can get focused on the time aspect, and it is important, but the safety and quality ended up winning the day almost every time,” said Wes Doane, executive director of Diversified Communications, the company behind Intersolar.
Sol-Up’s final opponent, Northern California-based Solar Works, received just two infractions in the championship round — one installer wasn’t tethered to the roof for a few minutes, and some roof mount pins were mispositioned. But Sol-Up’s painstaking work gave the team a perfect score and a $10,000 check.
“The thing that differentiates them the most over two Solar Games now is just the quality, the attention to detail of the work they do,” Doane said. “It’s just above and beyond, and that’s why they were able to win it again, even with all these teams.”
Doane pointed out the added challenge competitors must overcome by installing racking, inverter and panel brands they may not use on a daily basis — as well as off-grid systems in some rounds. Winning this competition shows customers are in good hands when they choose these top-placing teams.
“It’s a huge endorsement for any of these companies that they take their job so seriously. There’s a very high skill level involved,” Doane said.
The Solar Games showed how a solid installation skillset can set contractors apart in a sometimes-crowded fi eld. In this annual installation tips issue, we explore the ways companies can get even better at their craft. Although daily installations aren’t always observed or judged, completing a near-perfect install means happier customers, a longer project lifespan and, ultimately, more referrals to keep the jobs rolling.