Power Your House with a Carport

Jessica PirroMay 21, 201945750

A solar structure that is growing in popularity is solar carports. Carports are distinctive because they are overhead canopies that are built to cover parking areas. They are also very distinctive from panels that are installed onto previously existing carport structure.

What are solar carports?

Solar carports have the most in common with ground mounted solar panels, they are angled panel modules that are installed on the ground as opposed to a rooftop.

Unlike traditional solar panels, which are applied to something like the roof of your home to work, a carport does not need to be attached to anything. This is also different from installing an array of solar panels to a carport, which is also an option if you already have one.

With both ground mounted solar systems and solar carports they don’t need a surface for the panels to be mounted on. Instead they create an infrastructure for the panels to be mounted on, meaning that the panels themselves provide your car with shade and protection while simultaneously producing energy. In this way, a solar carport is really just a mounted solar panel that is built high enough to allow a car easy access beneath it. 

How are solar carports different from ground mounts?

The main difference between carports and ground mounts is that carports are taller than ground mounts. This is because cars have to park under the carports. Other than the height difference the two are very similar and they both offer installers the option to place the panels in the most optimal angle for sunlight.

What is the appeal of carports?

You may be wondering what makes a solar carport so great and why you should spend extra money when you can pay less for a traditional carport. A solar carport offers several benefits. 

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages when it comes to solar carports and solar patio covers is that there isn’t any need for additional property like a ground mount would. Solar carports offer more efficient use of space than ground mounts because you can use all the of space that is under solar system.

Solar panel carports have less restrictions and conflicts than ground mount solar systems and in a lot of circumstances they are preferred.

One great benefit of a solar carport is providing extra energy to your home if you have a smaller roof, while also being able to use it as protection for your car. Think of your solar carport like an extension of your garage.

Except this garage can be placed anywhere and isn’t limited to where the roof of your home is and how large it is. You can build a carport large enough for two vehicles if you need more panels for your home and you won’t have to worry about having too many panels on your roof.

You can put the carport in your driveway or in your backyard and not be limited to where your home itself is. This means a carport essentially extends the solar power from your roof.

You can also angle the carport however you want, unlike the roof. Because the panels are part of the actual structure, they can be built at an angle to get the optimal amount of sunlight, and, again, not be limited to the actual structure of the roof, which may be flat.

Another huge benefit is if your car is an electric vehicle. If so, you can use your carport as a charging station. You’ll have natural energy from the sun to charge up your car and won’t have to worry about the cost from your power company for charging it anymore.

There’s also the bonus of having plenty of panels on your roof but using your carport as an extra energy source. If you do that, you can either store the extra energy in a battery or exchange it for money. You’ll have extra energy if there’s a blackout or a natural disaster, or you can sell your extra energy for cash to someone else who needs it.

Residential and commercial carports

When thinking about carports, most people associate carports as being commercials,

but they are also used for home solar power.

Solar carports are a lot more popular in the U.S. commercial sector than in residential markets. A lot of businesses have installed huge solar canopies for parking lots. Businesses like Whole Foods have installed over 325 kilowatts of power for one of their biggest locations in Brooklyn, New York.

What is the difference between solar and residential carports?

There are different layouts when it comes to both commercial and a home solar power system. The size and layout all depends on the number of rows of parking that is required. The typical solar carport are normally one, two or three rows wide.

Solar parking lots are usually large enough to use dozens of rows of parking. By installing a solar canopy you can power your home. Or the parking canopy can turn a stretch of pavement into a major electricity generator.

Not only does the size of carports vary depending on the area that is being covered, the angle of the panels varies as well.

The panels will either be angled upward in one direction, so the solar structure’s roof is at a slant. They can also be angled and curved in one direction while leading to a flat surface, so the front or the back of the structure drops down a little bit. It could also be so slightly angled that it actually looks flat and provides shade for a large amount of cars.

Residential solar carports have an advantage over commercial carports and it us the materials that are used for construction. When it comes to commercial carports, in almost every case, you will need a steal metal foundation. This steal metal adds a large amount to the total cost of installation.

The smaller residential carports don’t require the steal metal and they are more flexible when it comes to the structure material and design. If a homeowner wants they can choose a larger or a smaller carport for their solar system.   

Solar carports v. rooftop solar panels

Like ground mounting systems, people often assume that carports are only offered if the home doesn’t qualify for rooftop solar panels. On the contrary, these are very viable options that often times can make more sense for homeowners.  

If someones roof doesn’t have ideal angles or the size and orientation doesn’t ideally measure up it is irrelevant when it comes to carports. The metal poles that are used to support the panels can be situated when the optimal array size and angle is determined.

Another issue that homeowners can run into when it comes to size and installing solar systems that are large enough to support their solar power needs. With carports, you don’t run into that problem. These space constrictions become eliminated when it comes solar carports.   

Solar carport installation

Solar panel carports are still considered a new product in the U.S. solar industry. Therefore, it isn’t as available for installation. But because the installation process is so similar to ground mounts, any installer who works with ground mounts, should have no issues installing carports.

When considering your options for solar installers you should look for reputable solar installers in the area. After you find a few installers you should get them out to your property to have them asses your property and get a few quotes so you can compare prices.

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