A Special Message to Electricians: Saving an Electrical Industry in Decline
By: Jerry Durham | Mar 31, 2021
How Solar PV Can Save the Electrical Trade During a Recession
Part 1 of 3
Friends, my name is Jerry Durham. In addition to being an electrician, I am an electrical inspector and a full-time electrical instructor for JADE Learning, the electrician’s choice for top-tier online and classroom continuing education since 1996.
I come to you with an important message about the current lagging electrical industry and an opportunity to steer the industry back toward growth. If you are an electrician, electrical contractor, electrical inspector, or supplier of goods for these trades, this message is for you.
Brick and Mortar Stores in Decline
Retailers everywhere are wrestling with operational challenges that result in missed revenue. The retailer’s plans for expansion along with any hopes of opening a new brick and mortar location have been shelved long ago. While some locations can adjust to limping along at half-throttle, many businesses are simply closing their doors. Analysts say over 12,000 retail locations closed in 2020, with even more expected to close in 2021.
As a result, the electrical trade is losing steam. One electrician told me the commercial side of their business is down 50% from just 16 months ago. New commercial construction projects are not materializing. And in an environment where people have learned to shop from home, will they ever come back?
New Home Construction is Not Enough
New home construction is still in demand, but the competition among electricians in this space is fierce. Generator installations are on the rise for as long as spring storms keep thundering the alarm. And service work is helping to keep some contractors on the road. But is this enough to prop up the entire electrical industry? And will the current demand remain if businesses across America fail to pick up the pace and kick the country’s economy back into gear?
A Solution for the Industry
JADE Learning has determined one component of a solution for the ailing electrical industry. It is not a solution to merely keep electrical contractors afloat, but a prescription for growth during this downturn.
I won’t keep you in suspense. One solution to our industry’s dilemma is Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Installations performed by licensed electricians. There is a lot to say about this, but in case your time is limited, I’m going to lay out the fundamentals right now:
- The electrical industry is declining due to a lack of business expansion – like we experienced in 2009.
- The current federal administration has earmarked billions of dollars to be poured into the green energy sector, and that means solar PV power will be leading the way.
- Hundreds of millions of dollars are projected to be available for home and business owners, and ultimately PV installers, in the way of tax credits, rebates, and a slew of other incentives to provoke home and business owners into embracing solar PV energy as a primary or supplementary energy source.
- Nearly every PV system installed in this country will be installed by a licensed electrician. Permits and inspections are required for installing PV systems; this is not a homeowner’s DIY project.
- In 2019, only 6% of homeowners in the U.S. made the plunge to install a solar PV system on their home. Another 46% (36.8 million homes) reported they were seriously considering a PV system. That number should skyrocket when federal money starts pouring into the PV space.
The Myth About PV Installers
Many electrical contractors will tell you there are two camps. The first belonging to general electricians and the second belonging to the PV installers…”and never the twain shall meet!” I tell you this isn’t true, and I’m going to prove it.
Answer this question: Are you planning to send your lifelong customers to your competitors when they ask you about a solar PV system for their home or business? Are your competitors planning to send them back after the installation?
You see, PV installers are simply electricians that have learned the PV portion of the electrical trade. During a time when other areas of the trade are floundering, the place to focus is where the government is sending truckloads of money.
Where Does JADE Learning Fit In?
The electricians and electrical inspectors at JADE Learning spent months developing a 4-hour video training course designed to carry general electricians from their electrical camp to the PV installers making all the money camp. JADE Learning recognized that not a single affordable product existed on the market capable of transitioning licensed electricians into the knowledge of PV systems installation. So that is what we built. JADE Learning has taken the mystery out of installing solar PV systems, and for less than $75, that knowledge is yours.
JADE Learning’s 4-hour Installing Solar PV Systems video course is based on the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC). We start at the beginning of the PV topic and walk you through the following:
- How PV systems convert sunlight into usable electricity.
- The different types of PV modules (solar panels) for PV systems.
- The different components in a PV system.
- The types of PV systems—how they work and how they differ from one another.
- How PV system-generated electricity merges seamlessly with power generated by the utility company.
- Bidirectional metering (net metering) that pays the PV customer for generating PV power.
- Disconnect requirements for ac and dc circuits in the PV system.
- Grounding and bonding requirements for a PV system.
- Selecting and sizing the conductors for a PV system.
- Selecting ac and dc overcurrent and ground fault protection for a PV system.
- Selecting the appropriate rapid shut down system for a PV system.
- Labeling the PV system components (stickers required on system components).
- Installing a PV system compliant with the 2017 NEC.
A Life-Changing Investment
That’s right, for a limited time offer of $67.50 (through 5/15/21), JADE Learning will take you through a 4-hour video training experience that will get you started in the PV industry. When you are done with the course, you will have the confidence you need to contact your electrical supply house and begin discussing PV packages for installation. This new knowledge will not only supplement the downturn we are experiencing in the commercial portion of our industry, but with the focus of federal funds to normalize this type of power for every home and business, the sky is the limit for growing your electrical contractor business for the foreseeable future.
Thank you for joining JADE Learning for Part 1 of a three-part special blog series on how solar PV system installations, incentivized by the U.S. government, will provide the path to success for the stalled electrical industry. Join us next week for Part 2, where we lay out more of the facts describing how the electrical trade is set to grow once contractors get on board with federally subsidized solar PV energy.
Don’t wait. Start learning your new PV specialty trade today and be ready to say “yes” when your next customer calls, asking you to install a PV system.