Safety First - An Installer’s Perspective On Going Solar The Right Way

Posted by
Alex
Apr 18, 2017

Going solar isn’t just about choosing the right panels and batteries - you need a qualified, knowledgeable installer to make sure your system works safely and reliably for the long term. ShineHub’s Alex Georgiou sat down with certified Master Installer Nathan Hicks to talk about all the ways that he and his team work to deliver a top quality installation, as well as how the ShineHub model benefits local communities.

Nathan Hicks, New Alternative Technologies
Watch the video here: Nathan Hicks Interview

Nathan:

Hi I'm Nathan Hicks I'm the director of New Alternative Technologies working the ShineHub to install solar around the area. I've been a electrician 20+ years, been doing solar for 8 years and I see this a good opportunity to grow my business and help deliver a good product for a good price for the customers around the area.

I find the solar industry has a lots of up and downs, I've seen a lot of shonkey dealings and companies folding so I think this way is a way customers can feel safe with the local team and local installer that has been around for a long time and get delivered a quality products instead of people who are just trying to snatch and grab. I believe in the products that are delivered here and I for one will be installing tat the best of my ability. We do very neat jobs and if it takes a little bit extra to make the job 100% correct and safe, we'll go that extra mile.

Alex:

Awesome so talk about your training and certifications so people can really understand how much quality you put into every installation and how much you care to learn the best practices.

Nathan:

I've got a level 2 certification with undergrounds as well. It was a 3 day course originally and then each year we have to do extra training with first aid and skills training. My skills are always being upgraded, whether it is online webinars and things like that to stay up to date with the industry.

The SPS battery course is on top of the grid connect and design accreditation, which is required to install solar in Australia. I got my battery accreditation 3 years ago and have been enjoying installing stand alone systems - obviously not everyone can be stand alone and the grid connect hybrid systems are definitely the way of the future, probably more ethical and environmentally friendly cause your batteries aren't sized too big. So it's an exciting industry.

Alex:

Talk a little bit about how the batteries are becoming more popular, how a lot of installers who haven't had any battery training are going out there and doing these hybrid battery installations, and what the risks are.

Nathan:

The grid-connect batteries and also SPS batteries are a dangerous operation actually. If you've got installers that aren't properly trained and understand what they're doing, yeah you could defiantly put a house and family at risk and that's something I take very seriously. I think everyone who installs hybrid systems with batteries should be accredited and know 100% what they're doing.

Alex:

Awesome and how do you ensure your team have met the proper safety, the harness, making sure they don't get pushed to a point where they rush the work and cut corners - or worse, get injured?

Nathan:

My company, we start the day with a site meeting and tool box talk and we all have ropes and harnesses, appropriate training and all the guys know what they're doing on the roof before we get up there. I use builders, electricians and roofers and a yeah safety is 100% our first and foremost. I want all my boys getting home. I've got a 1-year-old son myself and we all want to get home each day to him and my lovely wife.

Alex:

What leads to installers going too fast and running the risk of cut corners, unsafe installation, and that sort of thing? We don't want another pink batt fiasco.

Nathan:

The industry is seen a lot of people pushing to get to many jobs done, in my opinion, each day, and safety goes out the window first. If you screw down the price of an entire job, then people are under pressure to get the job done quickly. Obviously, you want to get the job down quickly but you don't want to risk any safety.

In every manual industry there's risk that you could injure yourself but I think working on roofs is very dangerous and you have be 100% on your game every day and if your pushed to hard then I think it's quite dangerous. It's also why you should get someone appropriately trained because you want it done correctly and right the first time.

Alex:

Can you speak about the bulk buy, your participation, and how it benefits customers and the local community?

Nathan:

Yeah - I'm very happy to be with ShineHub working alongside them, I think the customer is getting a good value for money, getting good product, and me as an installer, I'm getting good value as well. Also all the paper work is streamlined, and the jobs are streamlined and I can put on guys and know there's work there for us. A lot of the headaches are taken out of the process for me, and um and obviously we're get home safely and make a few dollars on the way and I think the customer is getting the total benefit of having a team that's happy and a team that's safe on the roofs as well.

Alex:

Awesome, and imagine you could grow your business now to double what it is right now - what will that mean for you, your family, your kids?

Nathan:

I've been in the area 20 years. Moving forward I want to move off the tools and run teams, still enjoy being on the roof and working, but my family would like to see a bit more of me rather than 6 days at work. I'm want to grow my business so I can be in more of a managerial role, imparting some of my knowledge onto some younger team members and help them move forward in their lives as well.

I have a wife and one year old child, we bought a house here a year ago here in the Byron Bay area and we want to stay here a long time. We're really looking forward to continuing with my business. It's a family business, a small operation, and we've got family members in the team and also customers have come along, even ex customers have come to help me install these days. It's a very small community business that I run and we're all friends that surf together and work together so it's great when we can all have success.

About the Author

Alex 1 followers

Alex is a home energy expert with experience across virtually every area of the industry, ranging from energy efficiency and smart home gear to the latest solar and battery technologies. As co-founder of ShineHub, he is responsible for delivering the best digital experience in the industry for customers as well as managing customer-facing communications.

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