How to lift & carry a solar panel with ease

The solar industry is in a perpetual state of change, new product offerings, growing supplier networks, and even the solar sales model is constantly evolving. With so many changes in this industry, there is one thing that has stayed fairly consistent throughout the years, the installation process.

True there are minor tweaks to the process with new products, but nothing I would consider mind-blowing. For example, integrated grounding for solar racking eliminated the need for grounding lugs on each solar panel. Can I get an amen that we no longer have to use WEEB Clips anymore!!! My point is even with these types of changes the installation process is still basically the same.

Solarpanelcaddy-.jpgHere at Solar Tools USA, our mission is to literally change the way you install solar by providing tools that make the process much faster, safer, and easier. One of the flagship products that we have created is the Solar Panel Caddy. This tool has taken the solar industry by storm and companies around the world are embracing all of its amazing benefits.

So how does it change the way we install solar?

This tool changes the one job that every solar installer has come accustomed to as a necessary evil and that is the simple task of carrying the solar panels everywhere we go! I am going to assume that the majority of installers are not using forklifts or solar panel hoists to get solar panels around the job site. For the companies that are doing this, good for you, you are a small minority of the industry. (If you're interested in a Solar Panel Hoist we have those available too.) At the moment, I am going to focus on those installers without the means or desire to use heavy equipment, who are looking for a faster, safer, and easier process of getting solar panels on the roof.

Knowing that the task of getting solar panels to the roof is a cumbersome, time-consuming, and exhausting task. We set out to improve this process in a way that saves energy, reduces muscle/back strain, and speeds up productivity. To do this we had to analyze the way panels are carried to the roof and develop a method to complete the same process using less energy in a way that is versatile and economical for any installer.

How does it work?

Here’s the basics. Using a gravity-based locking mechanism, with the extra assurance of a safety block for accidental disengagement, you’ll clamp the caddy around the frame of the solar panel in landscape orientation with the cell side facing away from you. Squat, lift up and hold the panel near the midsection of your body, allowing for the best center of gravity. Better balance and mobility of the solar panel allows an installer to easily swing the panel behind their back as they climb a ladder and walk across a roof or to one side as necessary, with the simple movement of the wrist.

What about OSHA?

I get this question a lot, so let’s discuss. We should all be very familiar with OSHA’s three points of contact regulation and verbiage. Basically, if you are carrying an object in one hand, it’s impossible for your other hand to always be connected to the ladder as you climb, and therefore you are not maintaining consistent three points of contact. I guess I’d ask, how are you getting your panels to the roof now, without violating this code?

As much as I would like to say the solar industry is in 100% compliance with OSHA ladder-climbing regulations, the standard procedure for most involves a ladder climb with only two points of contact, continually off balance, and  constant prayer that a gust of wind doesn’t show up as they approach the top rung. Installers aren’t violating this section of the code because they don’t care, it’s simply a lack of good affordable alternatives.

Though the Solar Panel Caddy cannot provide a user the ability to maintain consistent three points of contact, we have worked hard to offer an option that provides more stability, and it certainly increases the safety and ease of carrying a solar panel to the roof. So I guess the argument is, if you are going to climb a ladder with a solar panel, why not at least put the safety odds in your favor.

How much time does it save?

Consistent installer feedback has shown the Solar Panel Caddy cuts the time it takes to carry a panel to the roof in half when compared to the usual method, I just discussed above. To put this into perspective a 30-panel job, at 1 panel a minute, just went from 30 minutes down to 15. Not only did your time get cut in half, but my bet is also the guy who drew the short straw to hump all those panels is nowhere as winded as he would have been on the 30- minute job. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed at some point in the original scenario he would have needed a 10-minute breather. With the Solar Panel Caddy, no breather is needed because it requires much less exertion of energy.

If you want to crunch the numbers, consider this scenario in relation to the dollars you are saving on labor costs. Take the average number of installs you do per year, multiply it by the number of total hours saved, and then times it by your labor cost per hour. My guess is that number comes out to be way more than the $100 investment for the Solar Panel Caddy, which means you’ve just made a pretty decent ROI.

The Pitch

I think by now you’ve got the picture of the potential positive impact the Solar Panel Caddy could have on your install crew and your business. So I’ll just shoot it to you straight. They cost $99.98 each (+ shipping) or $89.99 if you buy 4 and can be purchased on our website.

Best of all, you’ve got nothing to lose because we offer a 30-day-money-back guarantee on this product. Decide it doesn’t pull its weight? No problem, we will take it back for a full refund. I’m betting in the end, your crew is gonna fall in love with something that will legitimately change the way you install solar. 

This article was written by Kevin King. The founder of Solar Tools USA and the designer of the Solar Panel Caddy and the Solar Panel Hanger.