Bird's eye view of a neighborhood with solar panels on installed on various roofs.

Everything You Need to Know About Solar Carports

Solar carports protect your vehicle from inclement weather while also providing a way to charge your EV without taking up excessive space.

Homes with solar panels typically sell for 4.1% more than homes without them, according to Zillow.

However, if your home or business suffers from restrictions like insufficient roof space, you have an alternative when it comes to installing solar panels — solar carports.

Here we’ll talk about what a solar carport is, how it works, and how to shop for one and determine the best pricing. 

[Related: What to Know Before Installing Solar Panels]

What Is A Solar Carport? 

Solar carports are a type of overhead shade structure that will protect your vehicles from pollen, inclement weather, and sunlight overexposure — but they also generate electricity. Moreover, you may also find solar carport structure designs that include electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

How Does A Solar Carport Work?

Solar carports collect sunlight and convert it into energy like any other solar panel installation, except the solar panels are on top of the carport. However, the difference between a solar carport and a regular carport is how it’s designed.

Solar carport systems have module racking, which allows you to easily replace and install solar panels. Moreover, all of the modules within the solar panel array above the port are wired together and connected to a combiner box. The combiner box routes power through an inverter.

[Related: How Do Solar Panels Work?]

Solar Carport Benefits

While the upfront costs of installing solar carports may be higher than other mediums of generating solar power, they have several benefits that you may not find in other types of solar installations.

1. Serves Multiple Purposes

Instead of plugging your EV into your home and spending more on your electricity bill, you can use your solar carport to supply electricity to your vehicle while protecting it from the elements. Any residual electricity you don’t use for your EV can power your home.

However, carports aren’t only used for parked vehicles. You can use them as canopies to store items that are susceptible to weather damage. Or perhaps use them to host events underneath during the summer.

[Related: How Many Solar Panels Do You Need for EVs?]

2. Solution for Utilizing Space

Solar carports don’t occupy much space thanks to their thin design. Therefore, you can use any residual space for other structures and parked vehicles. 

3. Increases Your Return on Investment (ROI)

The payback period for a solar carport installation ranges between five and 15 years. There are also various federal incentives, such as the solar tax credit, as well as state and local rebates and incentives that will help reimburse some of your initial investment.

Moreover, installing solar panels, in general, will enhance your home’s curb appeal. You can potentially increase your home’s resale price if you plan on selling later. This increase in value partially comes from the fact that potential buyers won’t have to make additional investments to install a carport.

4. Protects Against Vandalism

You can continually monitor and protect your vehicle if you opt to install additional security add-ons for your carport. You can also utilize your solar carport’s energy-producing capabilities to power your security system.

Solar Carport Structural Design Considerations

Due to the slanted edges of carport canopies, snow shedding from your solar panels during the winter months can be dangerous. However, solar carports can include snow guards to catch the snow and mitigate this risk. You can also adjust the structure’s geometry to control where the snow accumulates.

[Related: Do Solar Panels Work in Winter?]

Solar Carport Cost

When purchasing a solar carport system, you’ll also need to purchase photovoltaic (PV) panels and a carport structure to support the panels. Moreover, you’ll need to buy the hardware wiring, various components, and the labor that goes into installing your solar carport.

Residential Solar Carports

Rooftop solar installations typically cost $2.81 per watt to install. However, due to various rooftop restrictions, you may not be able to use a residential rooftop solar system. As a result, you’ll likely pay around $4 per watt to install a solar carport. 

Commercial Solar Carports

Many businesses will want to use solar carports for various types of parking lots — this saves money on electricity bills in the future. Since businesses have the ability to purchase multiple solar carports, commercial installations tend to range around $3.45 per watt. 

[Related: How Much do Solar Panels Cost?]

What to Look for When Choosing a Solar Carport

You’ll need to consider several factors before purchasing a solar carport to ensure you choose the best one for your space. Some areas you’ll need to consider include:

  • Energy efficiency: The more watts per square foot, the better.
  • Net metering: If you intend on selling electricity to your power company, you must ensure that it meets the requirements of your utility provider.
  • Design: Investing in carports with higher-quality materials will ensure your system lasts longer.
  • Custom vs. pre-manufactured: Pre-manufactured solar carports typically work better for commercial applications, whereas custom carports allow you to choose a preferred panel brand and customize your energy consumption.

[Related: Who Makes the Best Solar Panels?]

Contact Freedom Solar to Learn More About Solar Carports

Installing a solar carport comes with a myriad of benefits. Not only will you protect your vehicle from inclement weather, but you can also use your solar carport to charge your EV without taking up excessive space in your driveway.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of solar power, solar carports, or if you’re ready to make the switch to clean energy, contact us today. Call solar panel company Freedom Solar at +1 (800) 504-2337 or complete our inquiry form and one of our solar experts will be in touch!

Looking to maintain, repair or upgrade your solar system? Our solar repair and maintenance department can help you obtain maximum energy production and efficiency.

Featured image via Unsplash