Group Approves Requirements for PV Installer Certification

A new voluntary certification process for photovoltaic (PV) installers will offer them another way to distinguish themselves as professionals in the growing field.

Latham, New York – February 27, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] At a meeting in late January, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) approved the prerequisites and process for PV installers to become certified to NABCEP quality standards of practice. The voluntary certification program for PV installers was developed by the NABCEP PV Technical Committee and by the Board based on input from stakeholders, extensive deliberation among committee and board members, research of skill requirements for existing trades and examination of certification and licensing pathways for similar trades. According to NABCEP, the certification is not intended to prevent qualified individuals from installing PV systems nor to replace existing state licensing requirements. It is meant to provide a set of national standards by which PV installers with skills and experience can distinguish themselves. Certification will provide an educational tool for consumers and may encourage increased financing and reduced insurance rates for PV projects. It will be available voluntarily to those PV installers who feel they will benefit from it. To qualify for the certification process, an applicant must:be at least 18 years of age; meet certain prerequisites of related experience and/or education; complete an application form documenting requirements; sign a code of ethics; pay a reasonable application/exam fee; and pass a written exam. Certification, which will be valid for three years, must be maintained by completing a continuing education requirement and a specified number of documented installations every three years. In order to qualify to take the exam for certification an installer must have PV installation experience, although specific qualifications vary. A committee will review applications and decide whether candidates meet the sprit of the NABCEP qualifications. The written exam will be based on supplied scenarios and situations, with multiple-choice questions requiring various calculations, knowledge of the relevant National Electrical Code sections, knowledge of safety practices, PV-system assessments, installation requirements, and customer interaction issues, according to NABCEP. As a part of the application process, candidates are also required to sign a Code of Ethics indicating that they will maintain professional and ethical business practices. This will “serve the purpose of protecting consumers and quality installers from the degradation of the value of the certification if unethical certificants do not perform up to the standards the credential was developed to encourage.”
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