How To Pick A Solar Contractor
In a recent article in a well know Caribbean newspaper the piece spells out obvious concerns about the growing number of people installing solar systems by the very body that is most suited to have an option and with direct subject matter expertise.
Licensed Electricians and Electrical Inspectors!
Solar Photovoltaic Energy (PV) is very simple and pure in its application but, vastly complex in safely harnessing its power so, if the electrical wiring of a solar system is not done properly without system fault protection installed or the wires are too small it is likely the system may catch fire and burn – often undetected until it is too late.
As a NABCEP, UL and US Solar Institute Certified PV Installer, IAEI Electrical Inspector Instructor, A Florida Certified Solar Contractor and the founder of the only dedicated, accredited and licensed solar college (US Solar Institute), we here at Cayman Solar understand better than most the critical nature of the warning issued by the various Electrical Licensing Associations.
In the past 10 years, as a Solar Electrical Inspector I have been asked to inspect many systems in throughout the Caribbean. In that time, I have witnessed many systems that were NOT electrically safe. In my opinion, the solar electrical (known as Photovoltaic or PV) industry must be governed as a pure electrical trade and this is why Cayman Solar agrees with the Electrical Association for stepping up and issuing warnings to professional solar electrician wanna-bees.
Untrained solar panel installers throughout the Caribbean are building systems that are not properly grounded and are without ground fault detection and interruption (GFDI) circuits. Further, the metal frames on the solar panels and the mounting systems (called racking) that secure solar panels to the roof must be grounded and protected with Ground Fault (GFDI) and Arc Fault (AFCI) detection and current interrupting circuits.
GFDI devices open (pops a breaker) when something is electrically wrong and if they do not open the circuit could start a fire. Solar panel electric systems installed by anyone other than a solar trained electrician could spell trouble and for a few it may only be a matter of time before the roof is on fire.
For example, last month a crew under the supervision of Cayman Solar removed a rebuilt a battery based solar energy system that was installed only two (2) years ago because the system had begun to fail to produce energy and was a fire hazard. The home owner spent over $30,000US only to spend half that much again to replace the batteries and re-wire the entire system due to unqualified, untrained and uncertified persons whom had no business installing the original system in the first place.
The previous installer was not a licensed electrician nor had any proper solar training (sadly NO solar energy training and certifications are required by Cayman law). The battery system had completely failed, there was no solar array grounding and the DC wiring on the roof was burned and charred from arcing (i.e. the system was literately on fire) due to undetected ground fault conditions.
Instead of using the solar panel manufactures, listed and proper connectors the rouge installer cut into the factory installed wires and connected them with AC wire nuts and duct tape.
Solar panel DC power cannot be connected with AC wire nuts and tape as ANY licensed electrician or properly trained and NABCEP certified solar installer knows. This is just one example of why Cayman Solar wants everyone to know what to look for and how to pick a solar contractor.
In the end the point is: it is currently common in the Caribbean to see solar panel energy systems installed by those un-trained and most likely not Licensed Electricians either.
With rising electrical rates everyday someone in the Caribbean and Cayman Islands is installing panels but who is doing the work and what are their qualifications?
Cayman Solar holds every known license and certification in the solar industry – including licensed solar trained electricians. We encourage everyone to consider these things when determining how to pick a solar contractor and anyone else who wants to Go Solar should first and foremost look for qualified installers