Solar Panel Installer
Information about Danny Francis
||Plug Into The Sun
"Sometimes I get to work at spectacular places - being outside and up on a roof means I get plenty of fresh air, loads of sunshine and often some incredible sunsets.
I’m Danny Francis, and I work for Plug Into The Sun, a company that supplies and fits solar panels.
I started working as a roofer - I had an NVQ in roofing and a couple of years' experience - which helped me get into my current job, because much of what I do involves working at height.
Sometimes I get to work at spectacular places - being outside and up on a roof means I get plenty of fresh air, loads of sunshine and often some incredible sunsets.
Tell us about your job – where do you work and what do you do?I work for a company that installs solar panels for all kinds of different clients and on all kinds of different buildings. My job involves working outside, mainly on the roof, fitting panels, connecting them up and ensuring that all the electrics to the unit inside the building are installed and work properly.
What inspired you to do what you do? How did you get into it, did you have a plan?I originally trained as a roofer, but I thought that solar was going to be the way forward so I decided to go back to college and train in electrics, the when I left I took a job with a solar company.
Why is your job meaningful? Both to you personally, and in how it benefits the wider world in terms of climate change and other environmental challenges.I love working outside. Solar, wind, all these alternative and renewable energy supplies are the way forward. Every new build is going to have to include some form of renewable energy. I guess I feel I’m part of making a difference, both to the way we use energy, and helping cut down on the use of oil and coal.
We help homeowners and businesses to plug into the sun. Once we’ve installed and connected our solar panels, people know that their house or office is being powered by the sun, so no more energy bills and a massive cut in their carbon footprint.
Many jobs in this sector are very new, how long has your job existed?I’ve been working in this for a few years, but the company has been going for about 10 years. Although solar technology has been around for a while, it’s only in the last 10 years that people are really going for it, both as businesses and homeowners. The technology is becoming cheaper too.
What personal qualities do you think have got you where you are today?Being prepared to learn and work hard. I am someone who’s really good at practical skills, and I’m not afraid to start at the bottom and work my way up.
What are the essential skills for your job?You need to be practical, and have a head for heights!
What qualifications do you have? Are these typical for people in your role?I’m a qualified electrician and I have an NVQ in roofing. I wasn’t much of an academic in school, so I went to college to learn something practical.
You don’t need a degree or anything, but you do need vocational training in electrics and roofing - it’s an industry standard.
What do you think most helped you get where you are now?I guess my route into this has been a combination of experience as a roofer and going back to college to train as an electrician. Experience is important because it’s how you learn, but to do this kind of work you need to have vocational qualifications.
Please describe a typical working dayMost of the time we meet at the warehouse, pick up panels, load up the van, then drive to wherever we are working. Most of the day is spent up on the roof - fixing panels, connecting the electrics - or I’m inside, working on the consumer unit which connects the solar energy to the power supply of the building.
My hours are mostly 9am – 5pm. We might do a bit of overtime here and there, but mostly it’s a 5 day week.
What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?I love being able to work outdoors in the fresh air.
The most stressful bit is having to do public speaking, but fortunately I don’t have to do much of that – the boss does it.
What kind of people do you meet through your work or do you work alone?Most of the time I work with other employees - so other roofers, builders or solar installers.
Do you feel well paid for what you do, or is it not about the money?Yes, I do earn a good wage. Ultimately I’d like to run my own company one day, then I could really see the rewards of my hard work - a few foreign holidays each year, couple of cars on the drive and a double garage!
Finally, what do you know now about jobs, careers and the future that you wish you’d known when you were at school?Work hard, don’t expect it all to land on your plate, be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up, but always believe you can get there.
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