7 Types of Commercial & Industrial Solar Systems
Solar technology has advanced rapidly over the past 60 years and today, solar installation and design companies can work with almost any kind of property to start generating cost savings through solar electricity.
Solar carport systems allow business owners to put large parking areas to good use. These systems can produce electricity while also providing shading and covered parking. For business owners who cannot install roof-mounted systems, carports are a simple and economical way to generate solar power. They are also an elegant solution for people who want to increase the energy production of their existing rooftop solar systems. Panels on carport structures also offer easy access for cleaning and maintenance
Business owners can choose between three main options for flat rooftop systems: attached, ballasted, or a hybrid of the two. The choice between systems will depend on the roof, the building construction method, and structural engineering analysis. An attached system relies on penetrations in the surface of the roof and connections to the framing. A ballasted system relies instead on the weight of the system, including the panels, racking, and other materials, to hold the array down. A hybrid is considered a minimally attached system and it requires a combination of penetrations and ballasting.
Solar systems have advanced to accommodate all types of roofs including slanted ones. Commercial solar suppliers and installers can work with business owners to take advantage of solar power and its many benefits even if the roof is sloped and composed of metal, composition shingle, wood shingle, or even Spanish tile. Slanted rooftops are not eligible for ballasted mounting systems and require penetrations to remain attached to the roof.
Ground-mounted systems are a cost-effective option for businesses with rooftops that are not suitable for solar or that are too small to meet electricity needs. If the business owner has the land available, ground-mounted systems can be sized to match electricity consumption and designed to be as effective and productive as possible. There are two main types of ground mounts. Standard ground mounts have metal framing driven into the ground to keep solar panels at a fixed angle. Pole mounts elevate panels higher off the ground and sometimes use tracking systems to tilt toward the sun.
Trackers are designed to increase energy production as motors move the panels to follow the sun. Single-axis systems move the panels east to west, and dual-axis systems track along both the x and y axes. Tracking systems ideally allow consumers to get more kilowatt-hours per panel. However, they require higher development costs and are more expensive to install and maintain compared to the typical solar system that is mounted at a fixed angle and has no moving parts. Trackers are not as popular as the traditional fixed-mounted systems, and their reliability is often questionable, but advances in technology may make them more affordable and dependable soon.
Business owners looking to make a bold statement should consider artistic systems. Solar panels can now be arranged into creative, beautiful arrays that convey a message without sacrificing energy production. One North Carolina-based business, CEI, installed a solar array on their rooftop with the panels arranged to spell out the company name. CEI can now be seen on satellite images from space. Disney’s solar farm in Florida boasts strong brand messaging thanks to its fun and iconic Mickey Mouse shape. While these are examples of large arrays, smaller systems can also be designed for on-point branding. As expected, however, the more customized and unique a system is, so too will the cost for design or installation likely rise.
Utility-scale solar generates clean energy that is sold to utility buyers, not individual consumers. Federal and state policies encourage the development of these clean energy projects. There are many benefits to utility-scale solar, including its environmental and economic benefits. Solar on such a large scale is one of the fastest ways to reduce carbon emissions. In addition, these solar plants generate fixed-price electricity, while fossil fuels fluctuate constantly in price.