Powerful Geography
Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Physical Geography

Overview:  Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.  This is an extremely fast-growing occupation.

At the jobsite, PV installers verify the measurements and design of the structure on which the PV system is being set up. For PV systems on flat roofs, PV installers must first add a structure that allows the PV system to be mounted at an angle. PV installers set up new systems on support structures and place PV panels or PV shingles on top of them. Once the panels are in place, they sometimes connect the panels to electrical components. After the system is in place, PV installers must test the system and its components.

PV installers use a variety of handtools and power tools, including drills, wrenches, saws, and screwdrivers, to set up PV panels and connect them to frames, wires, and support structures.

Depending on the job and state laws, PV installers may connect the solar panels to the electrical grid, although electricians sometimes do this task.

Geographic skills are important for solar PV installers.  If performing residential or commercial work, installers need to be able to read a map to get to the job sites.  More significantly, however, installers need to understand terrain, orientation, directionality, and weather, and how those factors will all affect the efficiency of the solar equipment in converting sunlight to energy.  Global positioning system (GPS) data and digital maps are also important, and geographic information systems could be integrated at a high level in siting of solar panels.

Geographers at work:  Environmental geographers, physical geographers

Recommended College Courses:  Environmental geography, physical geography, natural resource use and management

Skills:  Map reading, spatial skills, understanding of physical terrain, weather, and solar intensity, geographic information systems

Occupation Group: Construction and Extraction

Learn more about Solar Photovoltaic Installers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm#tab-2

Written by Christopher Anderson