Improving Tomorrow’s Installers

Krannich Solar offers industry-approved training courses to newbies and veterans looking to learn the right way to build the U.S. solar industry. 

Mark Loeser had seen it all in New Jersey solar energy systems — shoddy frameworks, careless installs and just overall bad planning. While the state was creeping closer to overtaking California as the top PV installer, Loeser says he was seeing many more inspection failures in his former job as technical director for the New Jersey Clean Energy Program (NJCEP).

“We were failing an inordinate amount of PV projects for numerous reasons, but there was a significant number of failures due to poor installation practices,” he says. “From that experience it has been my firm belief that in order to have a sustainable PV industry, education would have to be one of the cornerstones.”

Now CEO of Krannich Solar East, Loeser took his experiences and has turned Krannich into a training outlet for solar professionals. He believes there should be a minimum mandatory installation training to ensure quality design and installation practices are employed in the solar industry.

“If our industry is to continue to expand acceptance into the American lexicon, then we’ll need to train people from all walks of life on the importance of this industry and the positive environmental impacts it has,” he says. “This training should start with the youth and infiltrate every profession that designs and builds almost everything. This includes professional like architects, engineers and all the way to the tradesman crafts like carpenters and electricians.”

Open to everyone
Krannich Solar started in 1995 as an installation company working out of a house in Europe. Kurt Krannich’s first office was his living room, and his three employees worked out of the garage. Eventually, they transitioned from a small installation company to a worldwide wholesaler and system designer with 19 locations. The U.S. branch was founded by Kurt’s brother in 2005, and 2012 saw the operation reorganized into six companies, a training division and a projects division.

Training became an intense focal point of the U.S. division in New Jersey. Mark Stevens, director of technical and sales support for Krannich Solar USA, says training isn’t new to the company, but its dedication to improving the American industry is a welcome addition.

“Krannich Solar has been fulfilling these roles in Europe for more than a decade,” Stevens says of the company’s training program. “Now, Krannich Solar is bringing its vast experience by expanding its presence in the United States. By supporting the solar industry with value-added services [like] training, engineering, project development and procurement where we highlight customer service, Krannich serves as a one-stop shopping experience.”

Before October 2011, there was a small training room rarely utilized by Krannich, Loeser says. Today the company offers one-day introduction courses and multiple-day seminars across the country, with a large majority taught at its New Jersey headquarters. The courses were chosen after careful market research and direct feedback from customers, says Dessie Kirilova, director of training and business development. Krannich offers comprehensive solar PV training that encompasses classes from entry level to intermediate and advanced, including project management training, product training and skill development.

An instructor introduces a class to “Solar PV Technical Sales” at Krannich’s training center in New Jersey.

“We have quite a diverse audience because our classes are approved for ‘continuing education’ by a number of institutions,” Kirilova says, mentioning state electrical boards, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). “We cater to people who are interested in solar photovoltaics and want to get into the industry to professionals who want to develop specific skills and want to stay current with industry updates and new technologies.”

Vincent O’Grady has taken several courses with Krannich, including “Solar PV Technical Sales” and “PV Conductor Sizing.” He works for GeoPeak Energy, a renewable energy contractor and SunPower Elite Dealer in New Jersey, which recently won SunPower’s “Commercial Top Producer of the Year” award.

“I come from a renewable energy and green building public policy background, so all the technical aspects I have learned about solar PV have been through lessons learned in the field, from training classes at places like Krannich and from colleagues with whom I share skills and knowledge they may lack,” O’Grady says.

Planning for the Future
Krannich’s aim with its training courses is to be a competitive force in the market.

“Our objective for providing training is twofold. The first is obviously to train the solar PV installer community to be the most professional and efficient in all aspects of system design and installation. The second objective is to provide high quality products at very competitive prices and value added services to our clients,” Loeser says. “We are focused on our customers’ success.”

Even in the short time the courses have been offered, Krannich has already started revamping its approach to teaching.

“Seminars/classes definitely evolve as the market shifts focus. Currently in the United States, classes are being attended by people interested in the commercial side of the industry, project development, specific skill development and new product trainings,” Kirilova says. “The same applies to the change in the student audience. The entry-level market is saturated, and we see a shift in training to cater to the professionals that already have certain experience in the field.”

Through discussion courses and hands-on opportunities, students learn the best installation practices as recognized by industry groups and standards. Those at Krannich believe they’re taking the right steps to improving the U.S. market.

“Training is one of Krannich’s main focuses in our plan to support our customers — together with very competitive pricing, unmatched customer support [and] rigorous quality control,” Kirilova says. “We believe in an educated solar PV installer base to promote the benefits of solar energy and instill trust and quality on the solar market.”

A full-listing of courses can be found at www.usa.krannich-solar.com.

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