Solar carports have gained popularity in the renewable energy field in recent years, and many solar integrators have already used solar carport products as part of a utility or commercial scale project. Solar PV carports remain a viable option in situations where ground installation is not possible or where a roof system is already in place.
Learn more about solar carports, including their benefits, drawbacks, and applications, by continuing to read the following text.
What is a Solar Carport?
A solar carport is a shaded structure with solar panels built in that houses and protects your vehicle from the elements. The structure is typically made of stainless steel and is supported by a concrete foundation. The solar panels are attached to the roof of the structure, forming a solar panel system.
Owners can generate power in an easily accessible, pre-owned area to power their existing operations or generate additional revenue by selling power back into the grid by installing a solar carport. Solar carports have the added benefit of protecting cars from the elements, which is especially appealing to car dealerships.
Solar Carports vs. Non-Solar Carports
Building a garage can be an expensive endeavor. If you simply want to keep your car cool and protected from the elements, a carport can be a cost-effective solution. They don’t provide the same level of security as a garage, but if security isn’t an issue, a carport may be the best option for you.
A non-solar carport protects your vehicle and is made of common building materials such as concrete, bricks, or wood. A solar carport, on the other hand, is made of solar panels and can provide energy to your home as well as shelter for your car.
Carport Systems + Bifacial Panels
The extra height and space provided by a carport system allows for more ambient lighting to reflect on the bifacial solar panels. To take advantage of the additional ambient lighting, the cells of the panels must be free of back shading from the racking system. Trina Solar studied power gains at various albedo levels and discovered the following percentage gains: painted white – 24.6% gain over a monofacial module with the background painted white, sand – 11.81% gain, and grass – 6.7% gain. Other studies have shown that white concrete, snow, and ice have extremely high albedo.
How Do Solar Carports Work?
Solar carports generate solar energy using the same technology as a typical ground-mounted or rooftop system. Like solar panels on the ground or on the roof, a solar carport uses the photovoltaic effect to turn the energy of photons, which are particles of light, into electricity.
When a photon collides with a solar panel, the energy it emits causes electrons to flow through the solar cells, resulting in an electric current. Direct current (DC) power is produced, which is commonly used in battery-powered devices. An inverter converts this current into an alternating current (AC) for use in the home or business.
Solar carports use the same technology as other solar configurations, but they have several distinct advantages. First, solar carports require no additional land, utilizing unused real estate above parking spaces. Second, because solar carports are mounted higher than ground-mounted systems, they allow for optimal orientation to maximize solar energy collection.
When compared to ground-mounted systems, solar carports provide a more efficient and unobtrusive way to collect energy from the sun. If your home or business lacks space, a solar carport is an excellent way to capitalize on clean energy in the most efficient way possible.
Solar Carport VS. Rooftop
Rooftop solar panels are a cost-effective way to generate power, but many homeowners struggle to get enough solar energy from their rooftops due to space, angle, and obstructions. Furthermore, ground-mount systems may be out of the question for homes and businesses with limited space. In both of these cases, a solar carport could be an option.
Solar carports, on the other hand, are not only a last resort for those who are unable to install ground or rooftop systems; they can also be more cost-effective. Solar carports, as previously mentioned, use otherwise unused space and offer more flexibility for the best solar panel orientation.
Because the solar panels themselves serve as the roof, solar carports eliminate roof angle, shading, orientation, and size issues. Solar carport support systems are specifically designed to provide maximum sunlight exposure, which most roofs cannot provide.
Another advantage is that if a roof needs to be repaired before the warranty on a rooftop solar system expires, there is no extra cost for removing and reinstalling the system while the roof is being repaired. With a solar carport, roofing concerns are irrelevant.
Carports shield vehicles from the elements like sunlight, wind, rain, and snow. Because there is less need to blast the air conditioning to cool the vehicle down upon entry, keeping a car covered during storage actually improves fuel economy. A solar carport provides all of these benefits and more: it protects a car while also producing clean electricity for a home or business.
Advantages of Solar Carport
Our cars are idle 95% of the time, and the places we park them take up a lot of space. Exposed parking areas take up approximately 40% of all paved areas in cities. Paving over a portion of your property for the sole purpose of parking an idle vehicle is a waste of money. Solar carports offer a variety of advantages, only some of which are financial.
1. Lowering Energy Bills
Solar carports are an excellent way to reduce or even eliminate your energy bill. Carports can provide enough solar paneling square footage to generate a significant amount of energy for your home.
2. Charging of Electric Vehicles
In addition to company EVs, you can connect EV charging points for staff and visitors to charge their electric vehicles with electricity generated by the PV system.
3. Protects Your Car from the Elements
Aside from the financial and environmental advantages, there is one very simple reason to install a solar carport: it will protect your vehicle from weather damage. A carport can be especially useful against inclement weather if you live in a snowy or rainy area. In addition to providing shade for your vehicle, they can help collect rainwater.
4. Improved Space Utilization
A solar carport, as opposed to ground-mounted solar, allows you to make better use of available space. In general, the structure is built in the same space where a traditional carport would have been. As a result, you can make better use of your space. Furthermore, existing space can be used to increase productivity and comfort for employees, customers, and visitors.
5. Cost Savings
Solar carports, like rooftop and ground-mount solar systems, lower energy costs, resulting in significant savings for businesses and homes. Solar carports help businesses and residents save money by lowering energy costs and increasing revenue stability.
Depending on your location, you may be able to trade the energy generated by your solar carport system for credits on your monthly bills or sell it back to the grid for a higher price than what you pay for power.
6. Better Power Generation
Another benefit of a solar carport over a standard solar panel system is the installation angle. The angle at which solar panels are installed affects the amount of sunlight exposure, which influences energy output.
There is a limit to how far the panels can be tilted or even which direction they can be fastened for roof installations. Solar carports, on the other hand, are adaptable and can be built in such a way that exposure and energy output are maximized.
7. Simpler Upkeep
A solar carport, like other ground-mounted panels, is more accessible and easier to maintain than a rooftop system. It is easier to clear snow or debris from them and to wash them with water on a regular basis without having to climb on a sloped roof. There are no panels that need to be removed if a homeowner’s roof needs to be repaired for any reason.
Disadvantages of Solar Carport
There are a number of reasons why having a solar carport may not be the best option for you, despite its many advantages.
1. Constructing a New Structure
While you will save money on energy bills in the long run, installing a solar carport can be expensive at first. If you already have a carport, the pitch of the roof will most likely be insufficient to support solar panels, which must be angled in order to maximize the amount of power they harness from the sun.
2. Installation Cost
The panels themselves, which cost an average of $16,000 to $18,000 for a 5KW system. The solar carport structure that holds the PV panels costs about $2,500. Depending on how much you spend on electricity, you may be able to recover the difference in cost within two or three years.
3. Maintenance Charges
You should have your solar panels serviced at least once a year. An annual inspection typically costs around $150. You’ll also need to clean your solar panels on a regular basis to ensure they’re working at full capacity.
Solar carports stand out due to their multi-purpose nature, which allows them to provide clean energy while also protecting your vehicle and saving space. The market potential is enormous as more people and businesses look to generate their own energy and begin using electric vehicles. This space-saving alternative to ground-mounted and rooftop solar PV systems shelters vehicles while generating clean energy.