A two-day event in Phoenix this fall will help residential HVAC contractors plug into opportunities in the growing field of solar energy.

The inaugural Solar Forum, November 14 and 15 at the Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport, will offer seven workshops on solar power as it applies to HVAC. Topics will include how HVAC systems interact with home design and solar equipment, business strategies for contractors interested in solar power, and the various incentives offered for certain HVAC- and solar-related home upgrades.

The Solar Forum is being put together by ACCA, which represents more than 3,000 HVACR contracting companies and more than 60,000 workers, and Pearl Certification, a company that helps homeowners, contractors, builders, and real estate professionals understand high-performing homes — those that have advanced energy-saving features or are equipped for the power grid of the future, for example — and document their value.

“HVAC contractors are in a position to take over the home of the future,” said Casey Murphy, vice president of customer solutions at Pearl Certification and The Solar Forum’s education director. “The good ones are looking at the home as a system.”

“This is a way for (contractors) to get a leg up on the competition,” said Deb Weiner, ACCA’s manager of communications and strategic partnerships. Even if contractors aren’t yet seeing a demand for solar, Weiner added, “by having this knowledge of how to move forward ... they’re already ahead of the curve.”

The cost of The Solar Forum is $550 per person. Registration is ongoing; demand has been strong, Weiner said, and attendance is limited. Attendees can get a special room rate at the Crowne Plaza until Friday, October 14.

A recent survey of ACCA member contractors found that 85% were interested in working in the solar field but see a lack of training and difficulty in sourcing parts and installation as obstacles.

Workshops at The Solar Forum will be more than presentations, but opportunities for questions, strategizing, and to directly connect contractors with solar resources, Weiner said. The conference will cover subjects such as home electrical upgrades, grid-interactive homes, demand-response systems, electric vehicle (EV) charging, and battery storage of solar-generated electricity.

“I think of HVAC contractors as being in the prime seat to take advantage of these emerging trends,” said Murphy, who will lead a workshop/panel discussion on the home of the future.

The event will also include breakfast on both days; a November 14 reception; a welcome by Cynthia Adams, a cofounder of Pearl Certification and its CEO; and closing remarks by Barton James, the president and CEO of ACCA.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s really about understanding how you can deliver value to your customers, looking a little into the future and understanding where HVAC is going,” said Murphy.

The Solar Forum had originally been scheduled for January but was postponed because of the spread of COVID-19 at that time.