Career Development

What Does a Solar Designer Do?

Find out what a solar designer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a solar designer.

Solar designers are responsible for the design and construction of solar power systems. They work with a wide range of clients, from individuals who want to install solar panels on their homes to large corporations that need massive arrays of solar panels to generate electricity.

Solar designers must be well versed in all aspects of solar technology—from photovoltaic cells to inverters to batteries—as well as the regulatory requirements for installing these systems in different jurisdictions.

Solar Designer Job Duties

Solar designers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Estimating the cost of a solar project based on factors such as location and property size
  • Providing technical support to other members of the team throughout the project lifecycle, including engineers, contractors, and end users
  • Designing a system layout based on the customer’s needs and available space
  • Developing financial models to determine the cost of a solar installation, taking into account factors such as local incentives, labor costs, material costs, utility rates, tax credits, etc.
  • Creating drawings or models of proposed systems, including roof-top solar arrays, ground-mounted solar arrays, and solar farms
  • Researching new technologies to determine their viability for use in future projects
  • Developing proposals and bids for new projects, including outlining design requirements and costs
  • Coordinating with other members of the team throughout the project lifecycle to ensure that designs are feasible and compatible with other systems on the property
  • Communicating with clients throughout the design process to ensure that they are satisfied with the results

Solar Designer Salary & Outlook

Solar designers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company they work for.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $112,000 ($53.85/hour)

The employment of solar designers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

As more people install solar panels for electricity generation, demand for these workers will increase. In addition, as the cost of solar power continues to decline, more homeowners and businesses are expected to install solar panels.

Solar Designer Job Requirements

A solar designer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Solar designers typically need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers may prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in solar design or a related field. Relevant coursework includes solar design, solar installation, solar sales, solar marketing and business management.

Training & Experience: Solar designers typically receive on-the-job training from their new employers. This training may include learning the company’s specific software and procedures. It may also include shadowing another solar designer to learn the basics of the job.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications allow professionals to prove their qualifications to current and future employers. Solar solar designers can earn certifications to gain more practical knowledge of their daily responsibilities, test their skills and advance their careers.

Solar Designer Skills

Solar designers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the practical skills needed to perform a job. Solar designers use technical skills to read and interpret data, design and create solar models and analyze the performance of solar panels.

Communication skills: Solar designers use their communication skills to explain their designs to clients. They also use their communication skills to collaborate with other professionals, such as engineers, to ensure the design is feasible.

Problem-solving skills: Solar designers use problem-solving skills to find solutions to challenges they encounter during the installation process. For example, if a panel isn’t working properly, they may need to find the source of the problem and repair it. This can help ensure the panels are working properly and the system is generating enough energy.

Attention to detail: Solar installers need to have attention to detail to ensure they’re installing the solar panels correctly. Attention to detail can also help solar designers ensure they’re designing the solar panel system correctly. This can help them save time and money by avoiding having to redesign the system.

Ability to work as part of a team: Solar installers often work as part of a team to complete a project. They may work with electricians, roofers and other solar installers to ensure the project is completed to the customer’s satisfaction. Solar installers may also work with sales representatives to help customers understand the benefits of solar energy and how it works.

Solar Designer Work Environment

Solar designers work in a variety of settings, including offices, factories, and research and development laboratories. They may spend time outdoors at construction sites and solar farms to oversee the installation of their designs. They typically work full time and may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines. Solar designers may experience periods of high stress when working on tight deadlines. They may also travel to attend conferences or to meet with clients.

Solar Designer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how solar designers work. Solar designers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Solar Installers Will Need to Be More Technical

As solar installation becomes more popular, solar designers will need to be more technical in order to install and maintain solar systems.

This trend is already being seen in the industry, as solar installers are increasingly required to have a background in electrical engineering. By learning how to install and maintain solar systems, solar designers can set themselves apart from the competition and become more valuable to potential employers.

More Focus on Energy Efficiency

The trend of increasing focus on energy efficiency is having a major impact on the design industry. As homeowners and businesses look for ways to save money on their utility bills, they are turning to professionals who can help them create buildings that use less energy.

Solar designers are well-positioned to take advantage of this trend, as they have the expertise needed to design efficient solar systems that meet the needs of their clients. In addition, they can also provide advice on other ways to reduce energy consumption, such as installing LED lights or upgrading HVAC systems.

A Greater Emphasis on Renewable Energy Sources

As renewable energy sources become more popular, solar designers will need to adapt their skills to meet the needs of their clients.

In the future, solar designers will need to be able to not only design solar panels, but also install and maintain them. They will also need to be familiar with other renewable energy sources, such as wind and hydroelectric power, in order to provide comprehensive solutions for their clients.

How to Become a Solar Designer

Solar designers have a lot of opportunities for growth in their career. They can move up the ranks to become a lead designer, manager, or director. They can also specialize in different areas of solar design, such as residential, commercial, or utility-scale systems.

No matter what stage of your career you’re at, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in solar design. Read industry journals and attend conferences and workshops. Network with other professionals in the field, and offer to help out with projects when you can.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects for solar designers are good. With the increasing popularity of solar energy, there is a growing demand for solar designers. Solar designers may advance to become project managers, sales managers, or marketing managers. They may also start their own solar design business.

Solar Designer Job Description Example

As a Solar Designer at [CompanyX], you will be responsible for the design of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential and commercial customers. This will include load analysis, site assessment, equipment selection, system sizing, and electrical design. You will also be responsible for creating system proposals and presentations for potential customers. The ideal candidate will have experience in the solar industry, as well as experience with AutoCAD, PVsyst, and other solar design software. He or she will also have excellent customer service skills, as they will be interacting with customers on a regular basis.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Design solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential, commercial, and industrial applications
  • Perform site assessments to collect data needed for design
  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create system designs
  • Select appropriate PV modules, inverters, racking systems, and other components based on customer needs and project requirements
  • Estimate the number of PV panels needed for a system and determine the best array configuration
  • Determine the size of the electrical wire needed for a system and calculate the voltage drop
  • Prepare construction drawings that include system layout, single-line diagrams, and wiring schematics
  • Specify the type and quantity of equipment needed for a system
  • Prepare cost estimates for PV systems
  • Assist with the installation of PV systems
  • Monitor PV system performance and troubleshoot problems
  • Keep abreast of new technologies and developments in the solar industry

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, renewable energy, or related field
  • 3+ years experience in solar design or a related field
  • Proficient in AutoCAD, PVsyst, Helioscope, or similar software
  • Strong understanding of solar photovoltaic systems
  • Excellent mathematical skills
  • Ability to read and interpret blueprints

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in engineering, renewable energy, or related field
  • 5+ years experience in solar design or a related field
  • LEED accreditation
  • NABCEP certification
  • Proficient in SketchUp, Revit, or similar software


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