What are Solar Panel Carports?

If you are thinking about building a patio cover or carport in order to provide shade and weather protection for your vehicles, you should definitely consider taking it all to the next level and transforming this simple construction into a solar station. We are talking about solar canopies that are also called carports. But what is a carport? If you want to find out more about this topic, just keep on reading.

Solar carport definition

The solar carport is an overhead canopy placed above a parking place that has the purpose of providing shelter for your car, boat, tractor, or some other vehicle, but also to generate and transform the sun’s power into usable electricity. These things are actually a sort of upgraded traditional carports based on solar technology that’s becoming bigger and bigger part of our lives, just as it should given all the advantages it has to offer.

Solar carports or solar driveways are quite different from panels installed on top of already existing carport structures, but they are similar to ground mount solar panels. The main thing that makes them distinctive and different than a classic solar system is that solar carports don’t need a surface on which solar panels will be mounted. That is a huge benefit money-wise, given you won’t have to build base or construction that will have a capacity to hold them – panels themselves will be the actual roof.

And if you compare solar carports to the ground-mounted system, you will see that they don’t need any additional space like these ground-based constructions just so they can be placed and able to work. Solar carports are more space-efficient, there is no doubt about that. But other than that, and the fact that they are positioned in a certain height and not at the ground, they are pretty similar to ground panels.

Commercial vs. residential carport

After we are finished with the carport definition, let’s see what types of carports there are. Carports can have different sizes and layouts available. It all depends on whether you need a commercial or residential solar canopy. In the United States, the first ones are way more popular, many corporations, recreation centers, schools, stadiums, and other facilities already decided to install carports with solar panels above their parking lots. 

Photovoltaic canopies can have one, two, or three rows, depending on how big of a marquee you need. The fact is, when it comes to commercial solar carports, the amount of electricity they can generate can power up the entire house. But there’s another thing you should know – these solar constructions can be set up in different angles, which might affect the electricity production process.

The panels can be places almost totally flat, in order to provide the more shaded place in a parking lot, they can be slightly curved on the edges, or positioned under a significant angle (most residential carports look like that).

Residential canopies are still not as popular as commercial ones, but they are on their way to conquer the world. More and more people are becoming aware of their advantages and starting to build these constructions at their home. And in one thing they are certainly way better than the carports companies are usually building – they will cost less to be set up for a private purpose only.

If you wonder why the answer is simple. Because they need to cover a huge area. When they are built-in commercial places, solar carports have to have a stable and durable steel metal foundation, which automatically raises the price of installation significantly.

What is the difference between a solar carport and a regular rooftop solar system?

People usually assume those who decided to install a ground mount solar system or solar carport were not allowed to implement a rooftop solar system, but that’s not true. There are many reasons these are better solutions than classic roof-based solar construction.

First of all, the standard solar system sometimes isn’t big enough to generate the right amount of electricity, because the house roof doesn’t have enough room to welcome the right number of panels. This usually won’t be the problem with solar canopies or ground mound systems. Then, you can easily set the right angle and orientation for the solar carport by adjusting the construction that holds it, but you cannot do that with the rooftop system, it’s unchangeable and inflexible.

The truth is, at this moment, installing a solar carport would cost you more than setting up the traditional solar system, or ground mount. But the experts predict their prices will go down drastically in the next few years, so it will be a viable option for most American households.

The fact is that all the electricity that can be produced thanks to the solar carports can be used just like any other solar energy. You will be able to power up your house and the backyard, to save the surplus in the battery storage or to exchange it for credits in a grid.

How to install solar carport?

Solar carports are still pretty much the new thing in the solar market, so there is not enough information about how to set up one for your home. Not enough people had the opportunity to do this, so you will probably have a hard time finding a good recommendation for the professional installer. But the fact is most of the companies that have ground mount solar as part of their offer should know how to set up solar carports as well. 

If, however, you are thinking about doing it by yourself, as a DIY project, you should probably first try with the smaller off-grid canopy. The one that can power up your entire home will be quite challenging for a non-professional.

Conclusion

The fact is, solar is our future, and this is just another example of that. There are tremendous benefits of having a solar panel system on top of a marquee instead of having just a useless piece of metal, wood, plastic, or any other material. These solar canopies can provide you with electricity while protecting your vehicles from different weather conditions, and they are very reliable and require little maintenance. And if you decide to add battery storage, you will make them absolutely trustworthy, since you will be able to use the power they generate 24/7.