The financial and environmental benefits of solar are greater than ever, and companies looking to benefit can now install a solar canopy over their parking lots to share in the savings. Businesses across the country are building solar parking lots that provide shade for cars while simultaneously generating renewable energy – and they’re saving thousands of dollars on electricity bills in the process.
What is a solar canopy?
Solar canopies are elevated structures that host solar panels and provide shade. These overhead solar panel installations are typically installed in parking lots or other paved areas.
In practice, solar canopies are similar to solar carports and ground mounted solar panels – each provides an alternative to rooftop solar, whether because a roof can’t host solar panels or because a property’s electricity needs are too large for a rooftop solar system. Many solar parking lots also incorporate electric car charging stations so that drivers of electric vehicles can recharge with solar power while parked.
According to FuelEconomy.gov, running your car’s air conditioning (AC) system is the main cause of reduced fuel economy in hot weather. Under very hot conditions (such as when your car has been baking in the hot sun), using the AC can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25 percent. For hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles, the effect can be even larger. By keeping cars cool on hot days, solar parking lots reduce the need for heavy air conditioning use.
Canopy parking can be oriented for maximum production
Rooftop solar arrays are restricted by the characteristics of the roof on which they are installed. If your roof isn’t at the right angle, doesn’t face south, or has obstructions like chimneys, skylights, or vents, then your solar array will be less productive. The solar panels on your parking canopy, however, can be oriented so that they produce as much electricity as possible, which means maximum savings.
How much can you save with a solar parking canopy installation?
Your solar canopy economics will depend on the size of your system and how much you currently pay for electricity. A few things to keep in mind:
Solar panels typically reach their maximum production in the afternoon, when demand charges can be very high. If your business is subject to demand charges during moments of peak electricity consumption, a solar canopy can dramatically reduce your bill by cutting your grid electricity use during those times.
A solar parking lot will cost more than a similarly sized rooftop installation because of the additional labor and equipment needed to construct the canopies to host the panels. However, as mentioned above, solar canopies also offer additional environmental benefits, can produce more electricity, and aren’t subject to the same space restrictions as rooftop systems.
How to get your own solar panel parking lot
Solar parking canopies are a major construction investment with the potential for major savings. The best way to determine which solar canopy option is the best option for your property is to compare multiple offers from qualified solar installers in your area.
On the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can get quotes from pre-screened installers local to you and compare them based on pricing, savings, system size, and equipment. To get started, register your property and specify in the “add details” section that you are looking for a solar parking lot installation. If you are building a canopy from the ground up for this project, simply drag the pin to your parking lot or other area where you would like the solar canopy to be built.