How to maximize your commercial solar energy production with a rooftop, ground mount, or carport installation
Your solar PV system design should maximize your available solar resource and meet the specific energy goals of your business. Learn about the different options to monetize your roof, parking lot or land space with commercial solar PV panels.
A professionally designed and engineered solar solution will deliver decades of energy savings for your business by utilizing 100% renewable energy instead of energy from the grid. It is therefore extremely important to take into account all of your available assets when selecting where to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Maximizing your available solar resource and installing solar PV panels in the optimum place ensures maximum energy production – and as a result, a greater reduction in the energy you need to draw from the grid.
Currently, there are three ways to design and install a commercial solar PV system:
- On top of your building structure (i.e. rooftop installation)
- On empty land space (i.e. ground mount installation)
- Over your parking lot (i.e. solar carport installation)
Which solution is best? It depends – let’s explore some of the benefits of these three types of solar PV installations.
Rooftop solar is usually the most straight-forward solution
A rooftop solar PV installation is the most popular solar system design option. This design solution monetizes your roof by mounting solar PV panels to your available solar-optimal roof space – generating onsite power for your business. There are several important advantages of rooftop solar PV installations, including:
- Aesthetics – the solar PV panels fit seamlessly with your pre-existing rooftop for a more streamlined appearance. They are a visible testament to your sustainability and environmental commitments.
- Space optimization – with rooftop solar, there’s no need to clear away extra land.
- Fortification – your solar PV panels protect your roof from weather and wear and tear. This, in turn, increases the lifetime value of your property.
- Speed – rooftop solar is usually easier and faster to install than ground-mounted or carport systems, which require underground wiring.
- Least expensive – rooftop solar is generally the most straightforward option and requires the least amount of investment.
There are times when a rooftop solar PV installation is not ideal
Although rooftop solar PV systems are the most common installation type in the United States, there are times when this design solution isn’t ideal:
- Spatial limitations – some roofs are too small or have too many obstacles in the way.
- Shading challenges – if your roof is surrounded by trees or other obstacles, your solar PV system will not be able to capture sunshine.
- Orientation – solar PV panels work best on south-facing roofs. If your roof has a different orientation, your solar PV system may not capture the maximum amount of sunshine.
- Pre-installation upgrades – older roofs may need to be fortified before they can accommodate solar PV panels. This can add to the total installation cost.
In these situations, a ground mount solar or carport solar PV installation may be the solution. Let’s explore why you might want to consider a ground-mounted or carport PV installation instead of a rooftop installation.
Ground-mounted solar can offer more versatility than a rooftop installation
With a ground mount design, solar PV panels are installed in the ground either onsite at your facility or at another location. Although ground-mounted systems are less common, they offer important benefits, including:
- Shading – ground-mounted solar eliminates shading challenges. Solar PV panels can be installed where conditions are best for capturing the maximum amount of sunshine.
- Installation size – if your property has a lot of unused land, you can install a much larger solar PV system and generate more energy and savings.
- Orientation – for properties without south-facing roofs, ground-mounted solar PV installations allow you to maximize your energy generation potential. Unlike a rooftop installation, there are no issues with roof angle or orientation.
- Fewer upgrades – no changes to existing rooftops are necessary with ground-mounted systems.
Carport solar is another option for monetizing existing space – your parking lot
With a carport installation, an overhead canopy of solar PV panels covers parking areas onsite at your facility. Installing solar PV panels using a carport design solution offers many similar benefits to ground mount solar. However, there are a few additional benefits:
- Value-add – the solar PV panels provide shelter for vehicles and employees.
- Complete energy solution – installing LED lighting to increase energy efficiency and keep employees safe at night, as well as installing electric vehicle chargers that charge employees’ vehicles using sunshine, can further maximize and monetize your facility’s parking lot.
Which solar PV design solution is best for your business?
From our experience, there is no single “best.” Each of these solar PV system design solutions have important benefits, and the “optimal” arrangement ultimately depends on the specific energy needs and requirements of your business.
If you’re not sure which solar PV installation option is best for your business, contact our team of solar energy experts today. We will accurately measure the available solar resource at your facility and tailor a custom-designed solar solution to meet your business’ specific energy requirements.