Francisco CastroMay 28, 20192210
If you’re looking to harness sunlight and convert it to power, you’re likely looking at your roof to place the solar panels that will allow you to do this.
The reason rooftops are popular in terms of positioning your solar panels is because they tend to receive the most sunlight and are out of the way,
But there are instances when the roof may not be the best place to put the photovoltaic (PV) modules. There may not be sufficient space on it to accommodate the solar array that you need. Maybe the angle doesn’t allow for southern orientation of the panels as they should face in the Northern Hemisphere. Or it could be that there’s something obstructing the sun from directly hitting the panels.
Fortunately, there are many other ways to get solar power in your property without having to put panels on your roof.
If you have enough space in your home, the obvious location for solar panels are on a ground-mounted system. They can be placed anywhere from a few inches to a few feet off the ground.
One advantage of ground-mounted solar arrays is that - if you have the budget - they can incorporate a tracking system that allows the panels to follow the sun during the day and even seasons, thus generating more power.
Also, maintenance of a ground-mounted solar system is easier to perform and usually less expensive because there’s no need to get up on the roof.
But these types of system can interfere with your home’s overall aesthetic and reduce the amount of yard space available.
If land space is an issue, something else to consider is a pole-mount array, where the modules are attached to poles several feet off the ground.
Some even allow the panels to be placed in a vertical position, reducing snow and ice build-up.
Canopies and carports
Another way to get solar when your roof is not an option is by using solar canopies. A solar canopy combines the capabilities of a ground-mount array with the installation properties of a pole-mount system. The canopy is supported by reinforced columns that are specifically designed to support the size of the array.
These type of structures provide shelter, parking space and electricity generation, all at the same time.
A shed, barn, or garage
Sheds, barns, and garages can also be an alternative for placing solar panels when the roof is not an option. But similar to your roof, you want to make sure there’s ample room for your solar panels and there’s no shade impacting their performance.
Yet another option are solar trees, where a single pole supports many solar panels up in the air. The modules are elevated high in the air and are supported by a single structure. As such, they can offer shade and can be customized in different shapes to fit your needs. Solar tree capacities range from 1.8 to 5.3 kW and are viewed not only as an energy source, but as pieces of art that can take on many forms.
An awning or overhang
Another option are solar awnings that can reduce solar heat gain in the summer—by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows.
Homeowners add them over patios, outdoor living spaces, or even the front door.
Solar awnings replace traditional metal and fabric with solar-power-generating panels that provide necessary protection from the elements while also replacing traditional electricity usage.
On a gazebo
A pergola, solarium, or gazebo constructed to hold solar panels is also a way to bring solar to your home. And when you build the feature to suit your solar production, you can optimize performance by choosing the ideal orientation, direction, and slope.
The best part about all these alternatives to roof placement of solar panels is that they still allow you to take advantage of the power of the sun for your electricity needs and qualify for tax credits and incentives available to homeowners who decide to go solar.
If you don’t have space in your property for any of the alternatives above, another way to switch to solar energy is by taking part in community solar installation. You and your neighbors can put solar panels on a nearby piece of land and you can all use the power generated there. The project can even be administered by a third-party company and those attached to the community solar project simply pay a subscription instead of an upfront cost for the panels themselves.
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