All posts by Energy Job Blog Team

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Wondering How to Become an Electrician? The Answers May Shock You

Thinking of pursuing a new career? Maybe you're just starting out at a new job—or maybe the spark is gone from an old job and you're looking for something more rewarding and challenging. Have you ever considered becoming an electrician?

Careers in the field of installing and maintaining electrical equipment can be surprisingly lucrative. The requirements vary from state to state, but the path from complete novice to journeyman electrician is pretty straightforward. Plug in and find out!

Charging Up

Each state has different requirements in education, certification, and licensing when it comes to how to become an electrician.

​To jumpstart the process, the first step you'll want to take before choosing and enrolling in a school is to determine and verify what your state requirements are, then start examining different schools and programs based on that information. Knowledge is power (get it?).

You'll definitely want to be sure that the program you choose covers every aspect of what you need in how to become an electrician.

There's nothing worse than completing a full course load of study to find out that (oops!) your school or program didn't quite cover everything, and the first thing you have to do is pursue more education (with an additional cost of time and money) to get closer to that electrician's license, which should be your main goal.

Most programs in any given state will cover all the bases, but it's something you will want to make sure of before enrolling.

girl looking for books at the library

Image via Pixabay.com

And bear in mind that you'll need anywhere from 140 hours to 250 hours of training, followed by up to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training after completing your studies, to qualify for a license in most states.

The Duties You're Charged With

Working as an electrician brings with it a lot of responsibility. You'll need to assess the safety of electrical issues in both residential and commercial buildings, and will be responsible for their repair and maintenance. Everything has to be up to code, and that's on you, too.

While many electricians work in new home construction (which can be more straightforward), others work with existing wiring in older buildings, where the task of fixing electrical problems may require a lot of troubleshooting and trial-and-error to figure out.

electrical charge

Image via Pixabay

​This is where your communication skills come into play—you'll need to be able to explain to a home or business owner what issues they're facing and what could be involved in their repair, especially when making recommendations and determining what costs they're likely to be run into.

Once you've completed your schooling and have the correct training and knowledge necessary, there's a huge range of different career roles available for a qualified electrician. You'll have plenty of choice in the kind of work you decide to take on, so the power is truly in your hands.

Before you get there, though, you do have to get that education, so let's focus on that for a bit.

Speaking of Charges …

Something many people don't think about right up front is the cost your education is likely to entail. Most trade schools that offer electrician programs charge tuition that ranges from around $9,000 on the low end to as much as $20,000 on the upper end.

Your average cost would be right around $15,000, but that represents a significant investment in your future, and is well worth it.

That said, be sure to pick your school or program carefully, and examine all your options when it comes to paying for your schooling. There may be more ways to get your hands on that money than you realize.

Military Programs Could Light the Way


military electrician checking circuit board

Image via DVIDS

If you serve now or are a veteran of the armed forces, many of the schools you'll be considering will accept the tuition assistance you earned while in the military. A lot of the time, this will cover all of your tuition expenses.

Spouses of those in the military can use the My Career Advancement Account (or MyCAA) Scholarship Program, which is a workforce development program provided by the military to those married to active duty or military veterans.

The program provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance toward tuition, and many trade or vocational schools will accept these credits as well.

Lastly, check to see if the school or program you're considering is part of the Military Yellow Ribbon Program, which can also help pay for your tuition as you set out on the path of how to become an electrician.

Ask Your Friends and Family


This one is often overlooked, because it is a little awkward to ask friends and family for monetary loans. The benefits here are that repayment of the loan is just about a sure thing—electricians make good money—and you won't be charged interest rates, which can save you a lot in the long term.

Traditional or Title IV Loans


You can also seek a traditional personal loan from a lending institution. While not all banks will approve such loans, if you go in prepared with the facts and figures—including how much tuition is and how much you're likely to make as an electrician over the life of the loan—you're much more likely to be approved.

woman listening in a panel discussion

Image via Pexels

We'll go into how much electricians make a little later on to give you some bargaining power when talking with a loan officer.

There are also Title IV loans. Title IV refers to an education act passed in 1965 that authorizes the US Department of Education to make loans, grants, and even work-study programs available to post-secondary students.

The trade or vocational school you choose should be able to help you more with this information.

Some Schools Offer Financing


Dollar in a bulb

Image Via Pixabay

Lastly, be aware that some schools will offer 0% financing for the cost of their tuition, with various payback programs that start after you graduate.

And most trade or vocational schools will have a financial advisor who can discuss this with you further and help you pick the kind of financing that's best for your needs.

How Hard Is It to Become an Electrician?

Different people will find it takes different levels of effort to successfully complete electrician training. Here are some basic steps you'll need to accomplish in order to make sure you've got enough power to finish the process.

  • GED or High School Diploma​

This is an essential step. In most states, you won't be able to enter trade or vocational school without at least a GED or other type of equivalency certification.

It's a basic educational requirement that you'll have to show to you've been able to meet before you can even think about how to become an electrician.

If you're an adult who never finished high school, many states now allow you to complete the GED process online, which is a great way to accomplish this initial step.

  • Still in School? Consider These Classes

If you're still in school, choose courses that will help your electrician career. Classes like algebra and trigonometry would be the most helpful, as electricians use this kind of math in determining circuit angles, measuring wire lengths, and calculating the force of an electrical current.

Any kind of shop and drafting or mechanical drawing classes may also help, as might a physics class, as electricians do need to know how to deal with scientific concepts and read technical documents.

mathematical equation on board

Image via Pixabay

​If you're still a student wondering how to become an electrician, these are some great classes to start with.

  • Pre-Apprenticeships

A pre-apprentice position is a type of training that occurs at the vocational or trade school level, before you graduate and begin an actual apprenticeship. It's becoming more and more important as the field of electrical work becomes more competitive.

Having a pre-apprenticeship doesn't just mean you learn the fundamentals of electrical work before seeking an actual apprentice position, but it makes you stand out among the competition when looking for apprentice work after graduation.

teacher teaching in a class

Image vIa Unsplash

And it has the added bonus of making learning the basics that much easier, when you don't have work deadlines or a boss breathing down your neck.

Some of those basics include learning about electrical theory, workplace safety, the National Electrical Code, and other things that will give you a head-start.

  • ​Apprenticeships

Once you graduate from trade school, you're ready for the "real thing." You can find an apprentice position by applying to apprentice jobs the way you would any other job.

It pays to do your research and to indicate your enthusiasm and desire to learn—you'll want to be able to put together a good resume, as it could give you a competitive edge, so be sure to study up on that while you're in school.

Apprenticeship positions can be found in the following places:


  • ​The United States Department of Labor frequently has job postings that could point you in the right direction.
  • ​The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
  • ​The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • ​Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
  • ​Newspaper classified sections
  • ​Online job boards

Image via Pixabay

What to Expect after Schooling

graduates throwing graduation cap

Image via Pixabay

  • ​Basic Skills Test and Interview Process

To become an apprentice, you'll need to pass a basic aptitude exam, which will test your mathematical abilities and your reading comprehension.

And just like any other job, you'll have to pass a face-to-face interview, so try to pick up some interviewing tips either in school or as an extracurricular activity.

Depending on the kind of position and the state you intend to work in, you may need to pass specific physical requirements (like being able to lift 50 pounds or stand for long periods of time), pass a drug test, and demonstrate a certain level of mechanical aptitude.

Don't be put off by the test requirements—it's all part of how to become an electrician.

  • ​In Some States, You Must Register as an Apprentice or Trainee

California, Texas, and some other states require electrical apprentices to register before being allowed to work as apprentices.

This generally only involves filling out some paperwork and paying a small fee. Every state has its own requirements, and you can find out more at your trade or vocational school or through your state's Department of Labor or similar agency.

  • ​Successfully Complete Your apprenticeship

This is the first big goal after graduation. Your apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with online or classroom instruction where you'll be supervised and mentored by a master or journeyman electrician.

The whole process takes four to five years, but you will be compensated for your time, usually with an hourly wage—but in some rare cases with a salaried position.

What You Will Learn during Your Apprenticeship

  • ​How to read construction blueprints and technical electrical plan diagrams
  • ​How to test and inspect electrical systems and components
  • ​How to install, repair, and maintain electrical wiring, circuit breakers and boxes, and other various other electrical control systems
  • ​How to make sure that all work complies with the National Electric code as well as state and local codes

Image via Oregon Department of Transportation, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

​As your apprenticeship starts, you can expect to be called upon to carry out only the most basic tasks, but those tasks will gradually increase in complexity as your skills increase and you gain greater understanding of the underlying concepts. It's all part of how to become an electrician, so don't be put off by it.

By the time your apprenticeship ends, you'll be able to perform on the journeyman level, and will be capable of a full range of construction and maintenance electrical work.

  • ​Getting Your Local License and Certification

All states, and some local jurisdictions, set their own requirements on how to become an electrician who is fully licensed and ready to work.

In most states, you will need a state-wide license to be qualified to perform electrician work.

Electrician working on wires

Image via Pixabay

​Some other states, like Illinois and Pennsylvania, perform electrician licensing and certification on the local level, with no state-wide certification.

In most cases, you will need to be licensed and/or certified to perform any electrical work. In many states, you'll also need a license to perform work as a contractor working for a larger business.

Some locations don't require licensing unless you intend to open your own business—your employer is responsible for making sure you meet all the required regulations, which frees you up from the licensing procedure.

When going after your electrician's license, you'll have to pass an exam that tests your knowledge of electrical concepts, best safety practices, local laws, building codes, and the National Electric Code.

You may also have to prove that you've completed a certain number of hours of classroom instruction and apprenticeship work under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master electrician.

Warning: High Voltage Career

Being an electrician can be a very dangerous job. The dangers vary with the kind of work you're performing and under what conditions.

Most people don't realize this, but electrician work ranks right up there with firefighter, logger, and commercial fisherman as one of the most dangerous jobs you can have.

It's good to be aware of these things—if you're thinking about how to become an electrician, you might find these are some important factors to consider.

warning icon
  • ​Danger of lethal electrical shock
  • ​Exposure to lead, solvents, and other toxic chemicals
  • ​Risk of fire and explosions
  • ​Welding risks, including exposure to UV radiation
  • ​Working in extreme temperatures – both hot and cold.
  • ​Cuts and abrasions from working with knives and sharp-edged equipment
  • ​Exposure to asbestos, mold, and other disease-carrying microbes in older buildings
  • ​Danger of disease from exposure to bird or rat droppings
  • ​Danger of eye damage from flying particles
  • ​Increased risk of slips, trips, and falls in some work environments
  • ​Risks associated with working alone

Being exposed to electrical shock is one of the most serious dangers of being an electrician. Being shocked brings with it the risks of:

  • Severe burns
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle pain and contractions
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

This is why, as you're learning how to become an electrician, you'd be smart to pay the utmost attention to safety training and regulations. While all the safety training you'll receive can be highly technical and far too involved for us to go into here, it is there to protect and save your life.

As you continue on the path of how to become an electrician, you'll learn many safety regulations and practices that you'd be wise to stick with at all times. It's life and death stuff, so take it seriously.

Positive Charge

pile of coin and man with light bulb head

Image via Pixabay

It's not all work and danger—there's also a payday involved, and electricians make pretty decent money. The median wage for someone working as an electrician is right around $55,000 a year, with some making as much as $92,000.

While it varies from job to job and state to state, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has put together some information on median annual wage for electricians in the top industries which employed them. Check it out:

  • ​Electricians working for the government were, on average, paid $60,570 per year.
  • Electricians in manufacturing jobs made $58, 470
  • Those who were electrical contractors or involved in other wiring installations, such as the kind of work you'd see in new home construction, made $52,190
  • Lastly, electricians who found work through employment services were paid an average of $47,520

Wired for Profit

There are ways to make even more money as an electrician, as with any profession. Whether you work for a company or decide to go into business for yourself, staying profitably employed is obviously your main goal.

You need to make sure that you continue to make an effort to do quality work every time, and provide excellent customer service — even if you're in a situation where your boss is your "customer." Here are some tips to follow to make sure you stay on the positive side of the job.

Tip #1 Be Customer Friendly


Working as an electrician generally means that part of your job will be customer service. You'll be dealing with folks every day—whether they're your own customers, the customers of the company you work for, or—as we mentioned above—you come to think of your boss or supervisor as your customer, which is a strategy that pays off over time.

When speaking to these people, either in person, over the phone, or on work radios, maintain a friendly and cheerful demeanor.

​You might be having a bad day or the customer (or your boss) may be difficult, but treating them with respect and consideration means you or the company you work for will receive compliments for your attitude and workmanship.

Even if you're dealing with bosses and supervisors, when review time comes around, those workers who are always cheerful and responsive tend to get more, and better, raises.

And if you're self-employed, those good feelings you leave customers with could translate into better word-of-mouth recommendations and excellent reviews online—all of which means more money in your pocket in the long run.

Tip #2 Be Conscientious and Responsible


You must be responsible when it comes to the quality of your work, but it pays to be responsible and conscientious in how you present yourself or your company as well.

checking the time on a wristwatch

Image via Pixabay

​Do your absolute best to arrive at appointments on time—tradespeople do sometimes have a reputation for being late—and be sure to do everything in your power to do the job correctly the first time.

By doing this, you gain a good reputation which helps build a client base for yourself or your employer—and that will get noticed.

Tip #3 Keep Training


Continue your electrical training if you want to have the most success in your career and enjoy the best career advancement.

Electrical courses help you keep up with the latest technology, learn new and additional skills that can help you on the path from journeyman to master electrician, and even help you become a supervisor or own your own electrical business.

student studying on a desk

Image via Pixabay

There are plenty of courses online or at your local college, and taking these courses can potentially lead to higher wages, more business, and the ability to tackle jobs that other electricians may not be able to handle. All of this translates into more profit and opportunity for advancement.

Tip #4 Only Work with Reputable Companies


When you're looking for jobs as you first start out, only consider working for companies with an outstanding reputation. Who you work for says a lot about you, and you want to build a resume that will impress those who know a lot about your field.

By working with companies who are well thought of, you can build your own solid reputation as an electrician. You can generally find good companies to work for by checking out reviews online and asking friends or family—or your former instructors or mentors—who to look for and who to avoid.

Tip #5 Dedication


When you start your career as an electrician, you need to be completely dedicated to the job. Always arrive to work on time—or a few minutes early, as that always makes a good impression.

Never miss appointments, do your best to work hard and give every situation your full attention, every day.

​By being dedicated to your profession, your customers or your employer will notice your due diligence and will see that you really care about your job.

This will build your personal reputation, increase the number and quality of customers you might be able to work for, and guarantee job security.

Plugged In to an Electrifying Environment: What to Expect from the Job

Once you've done all the hard work, finished your apprenticeship, and become a full-fledged electrician in your own right, what can you expect from your day-to-day routine?

A journeyman or master job can take on many forms. Electricians work both inside or outside, in all kinds of weather, to ensure lights, wiring and cabling, industrial equipment, electrical supply equipment, and appliances can function safely and reliably.

There are many different special types of electricians, including residential electricians, who install wiring and solve electrical problems in homes, and inside electricians, who maintain and repair control systems, motors, and electrical equipment in businesses and factories.

The specific responsibilities associated with being an electrician will vary depending on your area of specialization, but they might include such things as:

electrician working on power lines

Image via Pixabay

​Planning electrical systems for buildings under construction, including optimal placement for electrical outlets, light fixtures, heating or other high-power capacity outlets, and HVAC or ventilation systems

Reading, understanding, and interpreting architectural blueprints, circuit diagrams, and various other technical documents

Installing wiring, circuit breakers and boxes, lighting, and electrical control systems in new and existing buildings, and making sure all the work is up to code

Connecting electrical wires to components and fixtures to form complete electrical circuits, and testing completed circuits to be sure there are no problems and sufficient power

Installing wiring harnesses, hangers, and brackets to support electrical wiring and other accessories

Electrician working on home wiring

Image via Pixabay

Performing routine scheduled maintenance to keep all that wiring, lighting, and those control systems in good working order

Inspecting circuit breakers and boxes, transformers, and other higher-end electrical components for damage, wear and tear, or other faults

Using devices to test, analyze, and discover why electrical systems are malfunctioning

Replacing, repairing, and upgrading outdated or failing electrical equipment, fixtures, and wiring, including isolating shorts or other faults for safe removal and replacement

And in time, the apprentice becomes the master: you'll eventually be training apprentice electricians and delegating specific tasks to them to complete

electrician in front of power distribution boxes

Image via Pixabay

As you work as a fully qualified journeyman or above electrician, you may find yourself working inside new buildings under construction, existing buildings undergoing renovation, or even outdoors on electric power or telecommunications systems.

Electricians may work in large spaces like factory floors or unfinished buildings, or in cramped conditions like crawlspaces or in utility corridors inside buildings.

All of these different working environments may involve live electrical wires, so they can be very dangerous—if the proper safety precautions aren't in place.

Electricians often work independently on projects, which is one of the reasons we're stressing safety so much—if you find yourself working alone around live wires, help may arrive too late, so be sure to follow all of your training to the letter.

Be prepared to move around a bit, too. Unlike most people who have a regular job site, many electricians will work on remote sites for weeks to months at a time before moving on to the next job.

These job sites might be far from home—it's not at all uncommon for electricians to travel up to a hundred miles—or more—from their home to a job site.

Positives and Negatives

Electricians, unlike some other skilled tradespeople, generally work year-round. Their hours may vary depending on the kind of jobs they're working.

Electricians who work in building maintenance usually have regular, 40-hour work weeks. Most of them work a typical Monday through Friday schedule and may not work much overtime.

Other electricians work on-call and may have to work late hours, overnights, and even on weekends and holidays to fix urgent or time-sensitive problems—though those who find themselves in these roles can expect to be compensated for it.

If flexibility is important to you, you may want to consider working as an independent electrical contractor or a junior electrician working for a contractor. These positions don't have such regular hours—they may be quite busy one week with few hours the next, or it may vary from season to season.

Completing the Circuit on How to Become an Electrician: Final Thoughts

Becoming an electrician takes a lot of hard work and dedication, as the apprenticeship period itself is as long as most college careers, but it pays off almost immediately.

After trade or vocational school, you'll start to earn on-the-job money, even as an apprentice—which is an advantage over regular college courses.

Circuit Diagram

United States. Dept. of the Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It can be a dangerous job—always follow your safety training—but it's very rewarding and with the right kind of career moves you can go into business for yourself, which offers a lot of perks and flexibility, as well as the opportunity to have employees, who multiply your ability to earn.

It's a great career option for those who have decided that college isn't quite for them, or who want to start making money soon after graduating from high school. It's also a great career to switch into if you find yourself dissatisfied with what you're currently doing.

The power is yours!


Featured Image: CC0 via Pixabay

solar panel

Should I Consider Using Flexible Solar Panels?

Solar panels can be used for renewable energy since they harness the sun's energy to generate power that can run industries or a home's equipment and lighting. The use of solar panels supplements energy needs, and thus provides an opportunity for homeowners to save on energy costs. The technology is advancing rapidly each year and new developments, such as flexible solar panels, are constantly being released and improved upon.

Whether it is powering the Tesla Gigafactory or providing a reading light in your own living room, solar energy saves money for energy consumers. New flexible solar panels represent a great advancement in renewable energy. But, what are flexible solar panels? This article will walk you through the basics and benefits of flexible solar panels.

What Are Flexible Solar Panels?

silicon wafers

Standard polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panels are typically made of silicon wafers. They are about 200 micrometers thick, which is slightly thicker than a human hair.

To make a “flexible” solar panel, engineers would have to slice the silicon wafers to just a few micrometers. This then would enable the wafers to be ultra-thin, giving solar panels the uniquely convenient property of being flexible.

Flexible solar panels have been around for a while, but they were limited in their flexibility because of the brittleness of conventional electrodes used within the panels. Recently, MIT researchers developed a new method for making the solar panels, and it represented a giant leap in the technology.

Instead of trying to slice down traditional silicon for their solar panel electrodes, MIT researchers found a way they could instead use organic solar cells for graphene electrodes. Graphene is transparent and flexible, meaning it can be used to develop thinner, more stable and flexible solar panels than the ones we used previously.


Thin Film Solar Panels

Current flexible solar panels that most homeowners can get their hands on fall under the category of “thin film panels.”

A thin film solar panel consists of layers over 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels. This makes them thinner and can even make the panels somewhat flexible. They are also lightweight and durable, making them an intriguing option for supplying energy for different needs.

THIN FILM SOLAR PANELS

Although more flexible and suitable for certain projects, the flexible solar panels have a lower efficiency in converting solar energy into useable power than rigid silicon-based panels. This, perhaps, is the most common obstacle faced by the product when it is compared to classic solar panels.

The efficiency rating for the average polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panel is about 14-17%. For thin solar panels, the efficiency is reduced slightly to between 11% and 13%.

The lower efficiency of the flexible panels implies you will need more of them to produce the same amount of energy as traditional solar panels. This can be a barrier to some solar projects, particularly those with limited roof space for installation. Another downside is that they are not a good fit for many home rooftop solar projects, because there may not be enough roof space to produce the desired amount of energy.

If you have ample space or are just looking for a supplemental energy production boost, then we feel the just slightly lower efficiency can be overlooked — especially when you consider how many benefits these flexible panels yield.


Uses

Flexible solar panels can be used in virtually all applications that one could use conventional panels. You can use them for:

  • Low-cost, off-grid PV systems for cabins and homes
  • Their portability makes them useful on-the-go for boats, RVs, autos, etc.
  • Can be used to charge solar batteries
  • Technology can be incorporated into new solar energy consumer products

Benefits of Flexible Solar Panels

satellite

The main benefit of a flexible solar panel is its versatility and ability to fit many types of solar projects. For instance, if your home's roof cannot bear the heavy load of traditional solar panels because of structural concerns, then lightweight flexible panels are your solution. Flexible solar panels will not compromise the structural integrity of your home as they can be shaped to fit the surface. They can even be installed easily on unconventional structures, such as carports.

From a financial standpoint, flexible solar panels require less labor to install, so your cost of installation is likely to be less than it would be if you had used the typically heavy and bulky classic panels that require heavy-duty roof mounting systems.

The lightweight and versatile nature of these panels make them portable, which is beneficial during transportation. The flexible panels can also be folded and rolled, something that is impossible for conventional, rigid solar panels.

Typically, solar panels are manufactured using printing machines that capitalize on the roll-to-roll method. This enables rapid, mass production. Manufacturing flexible panels is affordable compared to conventional solar panels. Besides, the material consumption is low and is recyclable after the life cycle ends. The market for organic solar panels is developing. It is expected that the operational life cycle of solar panels in a few years will support many applications.

Due to their portability and durability, the flexible solar panels are best for smaller solar projects where they may experience wear and tear that would otherwise not occur on stationary roofs. Their durability and reduced weight make them a perfect fit for smaller, mobile solar projects that do not need large amounts of energy, such as on boats or RVs.

Why Should I Consider Using Flexible Solar Panels?

solar panel and mobile phone

Amazon.com sells many types of flexible solar panels at different prices. Ask yourself if you could benefit from a flexible solar panel based on your energy needs.

When shopping for a flexible solar panel that will best serve your purposes, look for value for your money. The performance of the solar panel varies according to the quality of the solar cells used, the material used in laminating them and the rigor of the assembly process.

The following are four things you must consider before purchasing a flexible solar panel:

  • Shorter lifespans
  • Quality and efficiency
  • Product knowledge
  • Durability


Shorter Lifespans

Flexible panels have a shorter lifespan than traditional panels. If you need a solar panel that will last a very long time, then the flexible panel may not be your best option. In fact, many of the low-quality flexible solar panels currently on the market will only 1-3 years. Aside from that, the retailer may offer no warranty.

One decisive factor in determining the lifespan of a flexible solar panel is to check its coating material, which is mostly the preferred ETFE (fluorine-based polymer) or less-preferred PET (polyester-based plastic.) PET-laminated panels are expected to last for 5 years, while ETFE can last up to a decade.


Quality and Efficiency

Sunpower’s Maxeon multi-layered cell technology is the best quality solar cell available in the market. It has an efficiency of up to 24.3%, which means the product can provide 35% more power than conventional cells.

Conventional cells have exposed metal components that can be vulnerable to corrosion. This might be an issue to consider, especially if your home is near salt water. If you are close to a marine environment, then it is best to consider alternative energy sources. If you want energy efficiency, then flexible solar panels are not the best option.


Product Knowledge

If you are looking for a flexible solar panel that is an inexpensive method for charging your tablet or phone, go for the PET-laminated panels. While the efficiency is 24%, remember you will get less value for more energy-efficient cells.

If you are looking for a flexible solar panel for camping, your RV, your boat, your refrigerator, battery, engine starter or the like, then choose ETSE-laminated panels. They are waterproof, fire-resistant, reliable and durable.


Durability

To ensure that your flexible solar panel has a long lifespan, you need to purchase quality panels from the start. You need to know the materials used in producing the panel. Do a little research first.

Do not buy a solar panel that has any physical damage, such as cracks or scratches, as these will reduce the lifespan and durability of the panel.

Additionally, you'll get more use and life out of your solar panel if you regularly clean it for optimal performance. Do not let dust or dirt accumulate, because these components can cause damage to your panel.

And, if you are traveling and do not need to use your flexible solar panel, then it is best to use a protective cover to extend its lifespan.

Conclusion

solar panels

Solar panels are made of silicon wafers sliced down to just a few micrometers wide. This makes them ultra-thin and flexible. Flexible solar panels are being improved in drastically in the near future by MIT researchers, who have discovered the applications of organic solar cells for graphene electrodes. These organic solar cell electrodes will lead to panels that are even thinner, more stable and flexible than ever before.

Current flexible solar panels fall under the category of “thin-film panels,” and are 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels, making them more flexible, lightweight and durable. Flexible solar panels fit many types of solar projects, such as supplying power to RVs or boats, or even charging batteries or your phone.

A flexible solar panel, which is less costly to install than traditional panels, will not compromise the structural integrity of your home. They are lightweight and versatile, making them highly portable and useful during trips. Manufacturing flexible panels is affordable compared to conventional solar panels, and the material used is recyclable after the lifespan of the panel is complete.

Before buying a solar panel, you need to consider the durability, cells used, quality and efficiency, lamination used and how to improve durability.

Renewable Energy Jobs and Careers

With the massive increase in interest in renewable energy, many new jobs and careers are appearing in this industry. We will discuss several of the major categories, and provide some of the issues that said areas will be focused on in the near future. If the immediate future is a bigger concern for you, you can look for current jobs listing posted here.

 

Research

Currently there is extensive research occurring on many aspects of renewable energy, such as how to allow it to better suit our needs a modern, industrialized country, as well as on how to squeeze the maximum possible efficiency out of all of the latest developments and breakthroughs. Another large area of research that isn’t directly considered renewable energy research, but that directly impacts the industry, is the research of new and more efficient batteries. With some recent dire predictions of the world’s supply of lithium running low, especially as Elon Musk plans to dramatically increase production of electric cars, with his recently introduced affordable Tesla Model 3. Lithium is a main component of our most energy dense variety of battery, the lithium-polymer battery, and with lithium-sulfur batteries being the main candidate for replacing LiPo batteries as the next step in commercial battery production, a replacement for lithium is a big issue that needs researching.

 

Engineer

While the research is producing many breakthroughs in renewable energy, it’s the engineers that take these brilliant new solutions and develop commercially viable ways to use produce them. As many of the new breakthroughs feature exotic materials that are hard to work with and produce, the engineers of tomorrow have their work cut out for them as they work tirelessly to apply these ideas into making this world a better place.

 

Install and Maintenance

Once all the research and development is said and done, it’s the job of the installers to allow the general use of these products and to help ensure the implementation of these new ideas goes along smoothly, and stays on the pace needed to help to protect the environment as these new, better technologies replace the old, polluting ones. Once installed, it comes down to the men and women who maintain these sources of renewable energy to ensure the electricity keeps flowing and electric cars keep humming along. Many maintenance crews face new and unique challenges they won’t see anywhere else working in any other fields. These include making sure the giant blades on wind turbines keep on working properly, usually hundreds of feet above the ground, and ensuring that the ethanol used to run cars in a more eco-friendly manner continues to be properly refined and distributed.

The Natural Gas Fracking Jobs Bubble Burst and its Results

As horizontal drilling has become more commercially viable, and with the increased push towards making the United States energy independent, the production of natural gas has exploded in the United States during the past few years. Recently, however, the bad press surrounding the hydraulic fracturing process, as well as the recent drop in oil prices, have lead to the popping of the fracking bubble.

While this may not seem important in regards to the energy jobs field as a whole, the results could be dramatic. This is a result of a compound of several factors all at once. First of all is the obvious one; as the bubble pops, all the lucrative new jobs that were created will disappear. This leads to a second devastating impact that can easily be overlooked; the recent surge in popularity in college degrees related to the field of hydraulic fracturing, such as petroleum engineering, will enter a job market that was a lucrative field hiring anyone who was even remotely qualified to one where the opportunities are sparse, and the wages are nowhere near as lucrative as before.

The shale oil deposits are quickly depleted, so as the easily accessible gas pockets are removed, new wells must be drilled at an increasing rate to maintain the same amount of natural gas being extracted. By 2020, the major reserves will be largely depleted, and by 2040 will be well below the amount predicted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is compounded by the fact that half of the natural gas producers that were predicted by the EIA. This will accelerate the popping of the natural gas bubble as investors notice the major discrepancies that will appear between the overly optimistic predictions and the actually results, and will lose faith in the industry. This failure to meet the predictions will likely result in at least a slowing of hiring by the oil companies, if not outright layoffs, depending on the severity of the under performance and how much natural gas is actually extracted.

The disillusionment of investors will result in the investors selling their shares, which will cause the stock prices to drop. As this occurs, the oil companies will likely have further layoffs as they try to cut their losses. This will also cause an increase in the price of oil, which has many wider economic impacts that are outside the scope of this article.

Given all the factors, we can see that the natural gas industry is already in a decline, and, barring any major discoveries of extremely large natural gas reserves, is likely on it’s way to popping, with devastating effects on both the natural gas and energy job markets, as well as possibly the US economy in general, depending on how much of an impact the natural gas has had on the general oil prices when the bubble pops.

Background/Reference

Further Background/Reference

Emerging Energy Job Markets

Emerging Energy Job Markets

The energy industry is rapidly growing from regulated utilities to independent energy producers and it is because of this why the job market for energy careers is also growing. This is a good thing since there are a lot of people who are in need of a good-paying job. And because of the new publicity that is now going around and becoming popular to students and potential workers, which is the “clean energy industry”, more and more people are getting attracted to the idea of being a part of this positive factor, ergo, the budding workforce of the industry.

Having a career in the energy industry can potentially make one earn more than those who are working in a more common industry and what’s good is that there are a lot of career opportunities to choose from now.

Energy Market Trader

These days, not only does the energy industry need electricians, engineers and the like to be a part of their workforce, they are now also looking for individuals who are highly analytical, coordinated, and have a competitive technical skillset. An energy market trader must possess these things and more in order to deliver the job well.

Billing Analyst

For those who are more inclined with clerical-type jobs, the energy industry also has opportunities for those who would want to be billing analysts. They are the ones responsible for ensuring that all standard accounts are billed accurately and on time. Analyst jobs can be found at the costco application.

Back Office Analyst

Also like a clerical job, a back office analyst may also take over the job of a billing analyst and is also expected to establish processes, procedures and documentation to validate contract and rate compliance and adherence to internal financial controls. A back office analyst is also expected to answer and resolve customer inquiries and billing disputes is there are any, perform analysis on every issue that may arise, to document every issue and every solution given to the client.

Sales Representatives / Account Executive

Just like in any other industry, energy companies also need those people who have good experience with sales and who have the heart for it. The sales representatives are responsible for dealing with the public and making sure that their needs are met and their inquiries are all answered. This is an important job because the sales representative will serve as the face of the company and should be able to perform all demonstration and presentation to the client. The responsibilities of an account executive can be considered the same as that of a sales representative as they make sure that business relationships are cultivated properly. Their tasks also include securing new projects opportunities, sales volume and market share.

Energy Forecast Analyst

As the title implies, energy forecast analyst is a post that is responsible for forecasting the forward price curves for energy and its capacity. A person that would be perfect for this post is one that has strong mathematical and quantitative analysis skills. A bachelor’s degree is required for this kind of career.

Energy Jobs & Careers

Energy Jobs & Careers

When talking about energy, this infamous question always arises: where would we be without energy? How will we live our lives without the usual electronics that have now become a part of our daily lives such as television, air condition, and refrigerator? These questions, although obvious, are valid and can instantly make one realize the value of energy in our lives. And as valuable as its role is, the job opportunities that come along with it are just as important.

The good news about the career opportunities in the energy industry is that there is always a role to fill up which means that there is better opportunity for people to have a good paying job in this industry. Also, not all job opportunities require a bachelor or college degree; a solid career can be achieved with only a high school diploma and dedication with on the job trainings.

Engineers

Civil engineers, electrical/electronic engineers, mechanical engineers are usually the posts available for those who have a college degree to show. An associate degree, on the other hand, is needed for those who are aspiring to be an electronic technician, engineering technician, or an industrial engineering technician. These job posts require a high amount of analyses and the ability to translate practical problems into mathematical equations and techniques.

Repair and Installation Workers

A career in repair and installation is for someone who likes to work outdoors, who are adept with technology and troubleshooting equipments, and who is not afraid of heights and who can withstand standing for a long period of time. Usually, the posts in this category consists of electrical power line installers, control and valve installers and repairers, electrical and electronic repairers, installation maintenance, and supervisory or managerial positions. You can learn more at the application for subway.

Production Workers

A combination of being an operator and a technician, production workers are expected to have high technical skills and are mostly employed in power-plants. The salary in this job post can be considered lucrative and it is because of the high qualifications that it requires. They are the ones responsible for keeping all the equipments in the power-plant in top condition by making sure that they are updated with the latest advancements in technology and by being the first ones to know about an emerging electronic device related to their jobs. They also make sure that they will be able to lead and mandate if ever an emergency occurs. This category include the first-line supervisors and managers, chemical equipment operators, chemical plant and system operators, power distributors and dispatchers, gas plant and power plant operators.

Construction

A construction career is also possible to have in the energy industry. When utility systems are being constructed, construction managers, electricians, operating engineers are all needed in order to ensure a smooth and safe workflow. Also included in this category are the construction and building inspectors, plumbers and pipe layers. This can be quite taxing physically because of the utility of heavy power tools and because it is usually done outdoors but nevertheless, just as rewarding and fulfilling as other jobs in a different industry.

Why Energy Jobs are Important to U.S. Economy

Why Energy Jobs are Important to U.S. Economy

Because of the recession, a lot of people have lost their jobs and the ability to have a comfortable lifestyle. Since this has been going on for quite some time now, one cannot help but ask what will it take for the economy to improve and when will this happen? How many more people are to suffer before this recession ends?

Although the economy has shown signs of improvements and recovery, these have been shallow and slow, and may not even be enough to be considered as an improvement. Unfortunately, these small hints of developments are not enough to prosperously sustain a striving nation. What economists are trying to articulate is that there is a good chance that the economy will improve if only a rise of employment will take place. If more people are employed then more will receive salaries and in turn will be able to pay for taxes.

Good news is that because of the emerging job market of the energy industry, more and more people are now given the chance to have a career and sustaining pay. The boost of job opportunities is considered to be good news for the economy as this can possibly reduce the number of unemployment in the country. Also, because of the renewable electric technologies that are now getting positive attention, the drive for having a clean energy industry have been attracting the attention of students looking for future jobs and potential workers. If this continues, and job opportunities are seen, experts agree that this can help improve the economy.

Recent discoveries have been made by experts making the United States the largest producer of oil and natural gas in a few years, and the import of oil in the country have been greatly lessened – an achievement that has been long awaited for about 17 years. This achievement is forecasted to be a huge factor in economic growth and will therefore be reflected in the job opportunities that will be available to the public.

The nuclear energy industry is also a proud contributor to the emerging energy job market as it provides near-term and lasting employment to the qualified public. Not only that, they also provide a good variety of options for those aspiring to have a job in the industry but are not able to finish a college degree. From construction, manufacturing, to operational, a lot of people will be given the chance to be employed and hired. Among other employers is the much talked about application for   target.

The large increase of the energy production of the country is surely providing positive effects not only to its employment rate but also to its economy. And apart from the job opportunities, it is also important to note the security that the energy job market can bring. Energy companies are assuring the public that the jobs that they are offering come with a good set of benefits and competitive salary. They also provide options for term or permanent employment and the chance for growth in terms of career within the company is also promising.