Most consumers are aware that contractors are regulated by the California State License Board (CSLB), but many don’t know a contractor may do only the type of work permitted by their license’s class. A business certified by CSLB for painting, for example, cannot do carpentry. Each class of license has an alphabetic designation and may have a number following it, and the license may have more than one class listed.

The Solar Company has the license classification (C-46) designated by the state license board for installation, alteration, maintenance, and repair of photovoltaic (solar electric) systems.

Although licensed electricians (C-10) may install solar systems, the unique components and special building code requirements are probably beyond the average electrician’s expertise. To obtain a C-46 license, contractors must have at least four years of experience working in the solar field and then pass a rigorous examination showing they have extensive knowledge of all aspects of photovoltaic systems.

There’s a lot more to installing a photovoltaic system than mounting the panels and running a few wires. Here are just a few things a C-46 contractor has to know:

  • How are the panels to be mounted on different styles of roofing to avoid leaks? Flat tar and gravel? Composition shingles? Tile? Metal?
  • What if the utility company has a power outage? The solar panels keep generating electricity and can’t be allowed to feed that power into the grid without endangering workers handling the high voltage lines. There has to be an automatic disconnect switch to protect them.
  • The solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity and must be converted by special devices (inverters) to alternating current (AC). What model and power rating?
  • Will the roof be able to support the system?
  • Will the position of the solar panels be approved by the fire department? They have concerns about roof access in an emergency.

The list of special requirements for photovoltaic installation is much more extensive than the few examples listed above.

For a solar electric system that is installed to state and local specifications correctly, quickly, and professionally, make sure your contractor is licensed and endorsed with a C-46 classification.