How to Become a Solar Panel Installer

Over 11,000 US solar panel businesses currently operate in the US. Solar panel installers, also called solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, have an average annual salary of $37,239. Do you want to know how to become a solar installer? This article will examine steps like acquiring solar panel contractor insurance, hiring employees, and registering your business as a legal entity.

How to Become a Solar Panel Installer

Your journey of how to become a solar panel installer starts with steps like registering your business and finding investors. These steps are explained in the following sections.

Research Starting Costs

When learning how to become a solar technician, you must figure out the costs to start your business. Without a clear understanding of the costs, you may run into financial problems immediately. Below are some example costs you must pay when starting your solar panel business.

Solar Panel Installation Business Expense Cost
Cargo vehicle $10,000-$20,000
Insurance coverage $600-$12,00 per year
Business building rent $500-$4,000 per month 
Employee wages $20,000-$40,000 per year
Advertising $200-$5,000
Installation Equipment $1,000-$5,000

Decide a Business Name

When learning how to become a solar contractor, you must develop a catchy business name. Once you start the business registration process, you need a name separate from your personal name. The name you choose should be memorable and catchy. Choose a name that speaks to your business brand. If you want to offer less expensive services, you could choose a name like “Big Savings Solar Panels.”

Register Your Business Legally

The next step in your journey of how to become a solar photovoltaic installer is registering your business legally. You must choose a business structure and register in your state. Common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship: These are simple and inexpensive to start. You enjoy all the profits as the sole owner; however, you must also deal with business debts and liability yourself.

  • Corporation: A corporation protects its owners or shareholders from business liability. A corporation can issue stocks to generate investment capital for the business. Corporations are more expensive to start and tax shareholders on dividends they make. Effectively a corporation will tax you twice on its profits.

  • LLC: A limited liability company has liability protection like a corporation, but you don’t have to pay the extra corporate tax on dividends. An LLC is more expensive to create than a sole proprietorship, and you must pay ongoing fees.

Get an EIN

Getting an employer identification number or EIN is a critical step when discovering how to become a solar energy technician. Without an EIN, you cannot hire employees or open a bank account for your business. An EIN is a tax ID number allowing you to manage withholding, reporting, depositing, and paying employment taxes more easily. You must apply via the IRS website or mail or fax to get an EIN. Either way, you must fill out an application asking questions about your address, business structure, business address, and when your business started.

Open a Business Bank Account

You will want to research opening a business bank account as part of your quest to learn how to become a solar panel technician. You can separate your personal and business finances with a business bank account. This makes making payments on business expenses and tracking your income easier. A merchant services account lets you process credit card transactions. You could also open a business savings account to earn interest on your profits. Another option is a business checking account. This account is the best for processing daily transactions, making cash transfers, and withdrawing cash since there is typically not cash withdrawal limit.

Find Investors

The investment process may be essential to study when learning how to become a pv installer. Unless you have the money already saved up to start a business, you may need to look into getting an investor. Reach out to friends and family to see if they are interested in contributing to your solar panel business idea. You can also see if a venture capitalist will offer you money to start your business in exchange for equity. By offering business equity, you don’t have a loan to pay back but can still use the extra money to get your business off the ground.

Create a Website

When you want to learn how to become a solar panel contractor, a business website is practically a requirement today. 85% of customers investigate a business online before purchasing a product or service. With a website, you could post content to educate your customers about your solar panel services and answer their potential questions.

To create a website, you must register a domain name from a service like Google Domain. Next, you need to find a web host like GoDaddy who will make your website accessible. Lastly, you need to design your site with a service like Squarespace. With Squarespace, you can build a website from a pre-existing design that looks unique and professional.

Hire Employees to Help You Expand

When deciding how to become a solar pv installer, an essential consideration is when to hire employees. It is recommended that you start small at first, but eventually, you will need to hire employees as the demands of your business increase. You will need to hire additional solar panel installers so you can take on more complicated jobs and a higher quantity of work. An office assistant can handle talking to clients on the phone and scheduling service calls. You might also want to hire a bookkeeper to manage your business finances to ensure you make correct financial decisions.

A solar panel installer.

How to Become a Certified Solar Installer

Are you interested in learning how to become a certified solar installer? You will need the right prerequisites before you can obtain proper certification.

Get the Necessary Education

When learning how to become an accredited solar installer, you will discover you need a minimum of a high school education. You can further your education at a college or technical school for additional training. 40% of solar panel installers have only a high school diploma.

Train on the Job

Another step to take when learning how to become a certified solar panel installer is to get on-the-job training. Typically you will need at least one year of job training as a solar panel installer to get you ready for certification.

NABCEP Certification

Getting your National American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification is a critical step of how to become solar technician. Some states require this certification before offering solar installation businesses to customers. It will also help you gain legitimacy from potential clients. Getting certified required filling out an application and satisfying requirements for job training experience and OSHA safety courses.

States that Require Certification

On your journey of learning how do you become a solar panel installer, you may find out you require a certification to install solar panels. The following states have specific certification requirements.

State Certification Requirement
Alabama NABCEP
Connecticut NABCEP
Delaware NABCEP
Missouri No state requirement, but some counties require NABCEP
New York NABCEP or equivalent level of training
Pennsylvania NABCEP or similar certifications

Remember to Renew Your Certification

Your NABCEP certification will need to be renewed every three years. Renewing your certification will also require 12 contact hours of continuing education for associates and 30 hours for other professionals, specialists, and solar-heating installers.

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How to Become a Licensed Solar Installer

When researching how to become a licensed solar installer, you might need a specific license in your state. The following sections will cover these licenses and the states you need them.

Electrician License

An electrician license is the most common license you need when learning how to become a solar power installer. This license ensures you have to proper training to install electrical systems that conform to National Electric Code (NEC) safety standards. Typically you apply for an electrician license through your state’s contractor board or Department of Labor.

Contractor License

You may be required to get a solar contractor license classification, generally under the electrical or plumbing licenses category. This license allows you to serve both commercial and residential solar installation customers. You must pass an exam that tests applications on their installation skills and ability to regulate their business needs and finances. Some states have contractor licenses that fulfill solar installation requirements without being a separate classification. For example, you may only need a state contractor or electrical contractor license.

Plumbers License

A plumbers license may be required to install some solar thermal devices. To get a plumber license, you must pass a contractor’s exam and take a business and law test. Some plumber’s licenses have special solar classifications that allow you to fulfill other solar installation requirements.

HVAC License

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This license is required when you install a solar water heater or any other HVAC system that uses solar energy. HVAC licenses have an exam that you must pass that tests to verify you can install HVAC systems and are literate in business and legal concepts.

States That Require a License

Some states have specific license requirements to meet before you can install and sell solar panel installation services. See the chart below for a comparison of these requirements.

State State License Requirements
Alabama Electrical contractor
Alaska Electrical contractor or Electrician
Arizona General contractor, electrician, plumbers license
Arkansas Contractor, electrician, plumbers license
California Contractor, electrician, HVAC, plumbing
Colorado Contractor, electrician
Connecticut An electrician or solar contractor
Delaware Electrician
Florida Solar contractor license
Georgia None
Hawaii Electrician, plumbing
Idaho Solar specialty, plumbing
Illinois None
Indiana None
Iowa Electrician
Kansas None
Kentucky Electrician
Louisiana Electrician
Maine Electrician
Maryland Electrician
Massachusetts Electrician
Michigan Electrician
Minnesota Electrician
Mississippi Electrician, plumbing
Missouri None
Montana None
Nebraska Electrician
Nevada Solar contractor
New Hampshire Electrician
New Jersey None
New Mexico Electrician, plumber
New York None at the state level
North Carolina Electrician
North Dakota None
Ohio Electrician or HVAC
Oklahoma Electrician
Oregon Electrician
Pennsylvania None
Rhode Island Solar energy permit
South Carolina Electrician
South Dakota Electrician
Tennessee Electrician
Texas Electrician
Utah Solar contractor
Vermont Electrical permit
Virginia Contractor
Washington Electrician
West Virginia Electrician
Wisconsin None
Wyoming Electrician

How to Become a Tesla Solar Roof Installer

Are you interested in researching how to become a tesla solar roof installer? You need to take slightly different steps to become a Tesla roof installer, including an application and a Tesla certification.

Apply Online

So you want to know how to become a tesla solar roof contractor? The first step is applying online. The application is open to everyone, even if you don’t have roofing experience. Tesla provides training will be provided to applicants upon acceptance.

Get a Telsa Certification

If you want to retain ownership of your own business, you can apply for a certification so you can install Telsa roofs by becoming a Tesla partner. You can apply online to become a Tesla partner and be granted the ability to install Tesla products and sell them to your customers.

Look for Job Openings

If you are just concerned with installing Telsa products like their solar roof, you can try to find a job opening by an already certified installer. By joining a business already providing this service, you can get on-the-job training to learn how the installation process works.

Learn About Tesla Solar Roofing

If you have trouble applying for jobs from Tesla-certified contractors, you may want to research Tesla technology. You will want to learn advantages about the Tesla roof you can speak to in interviews, like its improved performance compared to the rest of the market or how they are built durably.

Apply in the Right States

Tesla themselves are hiring roofers or electricians with experience in certain states that include:

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Hawaii

  • Illinois

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • Nevada

  • Oregon

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Virginia

How Much Do Solar Panel Installers Make?

The average solar panel installer in the US makes $37,239 annually. The typical salary range for solar panel installers is between $29,000 and $47,000. You will have an average hourly wage of $17.90 as a solar panel installer. Below is a comparison of what you can expect to make on average in different states.

State Average Annual Salary Average Hourly Wage
Alabama $33,106 $15.92
Alaska $44,076 $21.19
Arizona $41,547 $19.97
Arkansas $31,765 $15.27
California $41,905 $20.15
Colorado $38,335 $18.43
Connecticut $42,718 $20.54
Delaware $42,574 $20.47
Florida $26,592 $12.96
Georgia $30,935 $14.87
Hawaii $35,910 $17.26
Idaho $35,673 $17.15
Illinois $39,029 $18.76
Indiana $34,718 $16.69
Iowa $38,798 $18.65
Kansas $37,376 $17.97
Kentucky $37,501 $18.03
Louisiana $35,534 $17.08
Maine $35,521 $17.08
Maryland $40,061 $19.26
Massachusetts $43,549 $20.94
Michigan $35,064 $16.86
Minnesota $43,392 $20.86
Mississippi $36,837 $17.71
Missouri $38,955 $18.73
Montana $40,075 $19.27
Nebraska $39,865 $19.17
Nevada $41,873 $20.13
New Hampshire $42,084 $20.23
New Jersey $37,722 $18.14
New Mexico $33,027 $15.88
New York $38,487 $18.98
North Carolina $39,129 $18.81
North Dakota $42,197 $20.29
Ohio $31,116 $14.96
Oklahoma $32,216 $18.20
Oregon $31,116 $14.96
Pennsylvania $37,846 $18.20
Rhode Island $42,427 $20.40
South Carolina $35,398 $17.02
South Dakota $39,654 $19.06
Tennessee $31,700 $15.24
Texas $31,598 $15.19
Utah $40,289 $19.37
Vermont $43,425 $20.88
Virginia $41,546 $19.97
Washington $43,465 $20.90
West Virginia $38,774 $18.64
Wisconsin $40,384 $19.42
Wyoming $42,075 $20.23

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Insurance Requirements for Boosting Income

Once you get your solar panel business started, the time starts ticking until you have an unexpected cost like a lawsuit or damaged vehicle. These costs can strain your business financially unless you have the right insurance. See the recommended insurance policies below to protect and boost your business income.

Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner’s policy is one of the more comprehensive options. It combines the coverages of general liability and commercial property insurance. NEXT should be your choice for a business owner’s policy. They offer affordable insurance with no hidden fees. You can get quick online quotes and get your policy up and running quickly. They combine the convenience of an online insurer and a tailored insurance policy. NEXT has an A- score from AM Best, and the Better Business Bureau gave them a B+ rating.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance protects your business from third-party lawsuits. It covers events like advertising injury, property damage, and bodily injury. For example, your solar panel installation service might cause a client to trip and fall, who might sue your company. Thimble is an excellent choice for this policy because they offer short-term general liability insurance. This means you only pay for the coverage and policy period you need. The Better Business Bureau gave Thimble an A+ rating.

Professional Liability Insurance

A professional liability policy protects your business against errors and negligence. A customer may sue you for failing to provide promised services. Hiscox is our top choice for this policy. They offer worldwide coverage for professional liability insurance. You can save when bundling multiple policies, and they have a 14-day refund period. Hoiscox has an A rating from AM Best.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance is your lifeline against physical damage. It protects your building and equipment from fire, theft, vandalism, water damage, and more. For this policy, we recommend CoverWallet. They are a great pick for first-time buyers. Over 75% of their customers are buying insurance for the first time. CoverWallet has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If you use vehicles in your solar panel business, you need commercial auto insurance. It protects from accident liability. It also can help you repair or replace damaged vehicles of your own. We recommend Tivly for commercial auto insurance. They have many coverage options like gap insurance, uninsured motorist, medical payments, and personal injury protection. Tivly lets you choose from 200 insurance partners and has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Your workers’ compensation policy is required in most states. It helps employees pay for medical treatments related to injuries they sustain on the job. The policy also pays employees supplemental income if they miss work due to an injury or occupational illness. The Hartford is our top choice for this policy. With The Hartford, your employees can access top medical care and over 65,000 pharmacies nationwide. You can file a policy online, and they are a longstanding insurer with over 200 years of history. The Hartford has an A- rating from AM Best.

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