NABCEP Con-Ed Conference 2014 Day 1

I’m a sucker for continuing education. I love learning. Always. Cooking, music, writing code, solar, yes… even electrical code.

Right now I’m in a Hilton DoubleTree in Denver, Co. I am surrounded by other solar professionals that have pursued or are pursuing a reputation as a quality installer.

NABCEP stands for North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals. It is a third party certification that requires experience, education, and testing to receive. Certification doesn’t guarantee quality. But if you get certified, and you do bad work, you are cutting corners consciously.

What are we learning here?

Best practices, what’s new, what’s hot, what’s worked, what’s failed, lessons learned, etc.

I’ve seen interesting new technology that I’d like to check out. I’ve also seen interesting things that I would never put on a customer’s roof.

Several manufacturers are providing the training which can slant the material in their favor. Luckily it’s pretty easy to see through the marketing messages and find gems of useful information.

Independent trainers are providing the best sessions because they don’t have to be diplomatic. They can slam bad practices and equipment, and can take sides with quality products.

What else is going on?

I’ve been in the solar industry for almost 10 years now. The people I see at these events is changing.

I used to see just long hair and bushy beards: tickerers, back to the land types, and true believers. Then came along my “generation” true believers that saw a chance to take solar to a broader market and grow an industry. And now there are those that are more on the side of “live fast and cheap, get in get out, all solar is good solar, go go go.”

Luckily those people in the last category don’t last in the industry for long. Even so they can create serious issues for those of us that are in it for the long term. There are few “churn-and-burn” types at a conference like this which is nice.

Most of us fall into the category of “how do I extend the lifetime of this product for decades?” There is great information for us here.

Longevity is king

This morning I was in a solar roofing best practices course. For me there was not much new, but it is always good to hear that what we do is still the preferred method.

This afternoon was nothing but product demonstrations. This was a great reminder to me that just because it’s bright shiny and new doesn’t mean it’s “the next best thing.”

I like things that have proven track records. I like new things designed to be robust; to have the ability to be serviced 20 years from now whether the manufacturer is in business or not. That second point is the most important to me.

Not every company we do business with needs to be a 100 year company. They just need to produce to a standard that means I can use something off the shelf to service their product.

The only thing worse than a “churn-and-burn” installer is a “churn-and-burn” manufacturer.