Can a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), who is legally allowed to sign off on HVAC design, do the HVAC work as though they are a Tradesman themselves?

Can the PE count as a license for things like purchasing HVAC parts from a warehouse? E.g. Why won't HVAC supply stores sell directly to the public?

Would be nice to know the answer both if use of freon/refrigerant, and without, e.g. replacing a fan, capacitor, or something of the sort.

  • 1
    Does the HVAC work include working with freon? – Harper Aug 17 '18 at 4:53
  • 2
    This doesn't specifically answer the question, so I'll leave it as a comment, but while an engineer of a particular discipline probably could do their own work (and I'm sure many do), the fact remains that engineers are generally not trained in the practical matters of residential and commercial installation. I am an electrical engineer by education, and I know how to do some electrical work, but the two are not inherently connected (even though public perception seems to be otherwise). A PE may be more qualified, or not, depending on the details of their experience. – Chris M. Aug 17 '18 at 15:45
  • I'm voting to close this question because licensing questions are off-topic – mmathis Aug 20 '18 at 13:31
  • @mmathis, licensing is not on the list of off-topic. diy.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic – MikeP Aug 21 '18 at 16:30
  • @MikeP Licensing is a legal aspect, which is off-topic – mmathis Aug 21 '18 at 16:59

This is an interesting question, and like many of these questions a simple yes or no isn't going cut it.

First, a PE license grants you the right to practice the design and approval of systems, but does not grant you the right to preform certain work. As @Haprer has pointed out the PE must apply for a EPA license and probably a contractors license. So you would have to have more than one license. In my state it does allow a different path to a license. For example, in my state the licensing jurisdiction allows people with a degree in electrical engineering to apply for a master electrical license and foregoes the four year apprenticeship and training. Even then it does not allow you to perform your own work without a contractors license.

Second, would be why would they do it. If you are a practicing PE you are probably trying to move to a career different than that of a contractor. Then there is the matter of liability. As a practicing engineer you or someone has to pay for your professional liability insurance and as a contractor you would have to pay for a different type of liability insurance. Plus the other cost of licenses and professional requirements. It would be like a person becoming a licensed medical doctor and then getting a job as a paramedic. It really doesn't make sense, most would really like to see their careers go the other way.

Third, as far a purchasing, a wholesaler has an entirely different set of rules about who they sell to. They are in the business to sell large amounts of specific equipment and material to a select group of people, and they are usually regulated by the state to only sell to particular parties that are licensed and approved to used certain products. All this requires that purchasers are usually licensed and are approved before purchasing. It's usually on a credit line and invoiced for payment every thirty days, because it is not a cash and carry retail outlet. So there is approval of licenses, credit application and other legal documentation before being granted an account.

So in answer to your questions I give you the ambiguous "it depends", unlikely but not impossible.

Hope this helps

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