Have you bought an electric vehicle and want a sustainable way to charge it? Solar carports are excellent options. Check out this guide to see why?
As more people buy electric vehicles (or EVs as the cool tech people call them), there’s been a surge in solar carports as people look for residential and commercial solar solutions. And, if you own an EV, you certainly know why this is – the car needs a recharge, just like a traditional car needs gas.
One seemingly easy way would be to harvest some free energy from the sun, right? The question is; are solar carports worth it?
Is it easier to set up a solar carport with inbuilt panels or install a carports solar panel system on an existing canopy? Also, what are the best carports solar panels for those who wish to transform their carports?
It’s good to learn all you can about solar carports and if they’re worth the investment. That way, you can check the cost of setting it up and how much renewable energy you can generate. Remember, the idea is about saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint through clean energy.
So, let’s start at the beginning;
What is a Solar Carport?
Also known as solar patio covers, these are car sheds or canopies installed with solar panels that generate green energy from the sun. These are great multipurpose structures that help protect your car against harsh weather elements and offer a source of clean energy. And you can even use this energy to power your homestead appliances.
Many folks like solar canopies since they have a simpler installation process than traditional rooftop PV panels installations. In fact, you can turn the installation into a DIY project. This saves the cost of having to hire someone to install solar carports.
But, always ensure you have some basic electrical training for proper installation before attempting the procedure.
Generally, many garages and parking lots lay open to the elements or with mere roofs for just protecting the cars – pah! Wasted potential!
However, we can always install solar panel systems on roofs to create solar parking lots, and solar canopies can be easily installed in open lots. These will help us harness the sun’s renewable energy and save on energy costs.
Solar carports are now gaining popularity as more people own EVs and understand the need for green, electric car charging stations.
And that’s not all!
While the primary use of a solar carport is charging an EV, renewable energy serves a different purpose. For instance, a building can use the energy to power lights in the garage or the entire building. These solar canopies produce lots of useful solar energy.
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How Do Solar Carports Work?
Now that you know what a solar carport is, let’s see how it works. Solar carports share similarities with rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels – they employ the sun-harnessing technology for clean energy production. And this energy is useful in many different ways, as mentioned earlier.
After installing a solar canopy, it begins converting light particles (photons) into renewable energy. This occurs through the photovoltaic effect, where photons are converted to electricity.
The production of an electric current happens when the sun’s photons come into contact with the panel’s electrons. The photons trigger a displacement of the electrons, moving them into one side of the solar panel, a process that generates electric voltage.
Generally, the energy generated is in the form of Direct Current (DC). Most battery-operated devices use DC power.
But, since you need renewable energy to power your vehicle and other appliances, you can convert it to Alternate Current (AC). The best way to do this is by adding an inverter to the solar carports.
It’s better to install a solar carport that you can use to charge the vehicle and for other uses. And there’s even a possibility of setting up commercial solar carports to gather as much energy as possible.
You won’t need to build a solar farm or take up more space. All you need is the garage space to set up useful solar canopies for your EV cars.
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What is the Total Cost of a Solar Carport?
The total cost of solar carports includes the structure and installation cost. And like rooftop solar panels, you have to buy solar carports.
Certain factors will impact the price of a solar carport. These include:
- Carport system size
- Amount of renewable energy
- Quality of the carport
These three factors will determine how much money you end up paying for the solar carport. If it’s for a commercial setup, then the purchase cost goes considerably higher. Still, considering the amount of savings you generate when there’s less reliance on the national grid, it’s worth it in the long run.
According to Solar Electricity Supply, installing a residential solar carport will cost you between $3.45 and $3.99 per watt. This will amount to around $67,275 for a small 50kW.
On the other hand, a commercial system will need an average of $3.45 per watt. And while it may not be easy to give precise figures, a solar carport will pay itself up in at least 14 years.
When it comes to installation, you can do it yourself to reduce the cost of installation. But, make sure that you have the necessary skills for the job. It is better to have an expert come in to do a proper installation job than to mess things up.
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Pros and Cons of Solar Carports
Like many things in life, solar carports have their pros and cons. Below are some critical pros and cons worth noting as you contemplate setting up solar canopy structures.
Pros of Solar Carports
1. Generate Renewable Energy
Perhaps the biggest advantage of a solar carport system is generating extra clean energy. This gives you an extra solar electricity supply that you can use for various purposes.
It’s possible to set up solar carports in a residential or commercial property where you need to charge an electric vehicle.
Since your vehicle won’t use up all the energy, you can use the extra to power your home. However, using an inverter, it’s possible to use renewable energy to heat water, power the property, or run specific appliances.
2. Save on Electricity Costs
By the end of 2022, it’s expected that the cost of electric energy will rise by at least 3.9% per annum. This means you’ll pay more for electricity each year. But, you can reduce those energy bills by installing solar systems to generate renewable energy.
Installing solar canopies is advantageous since you can generate extra solar energy. As a result, you rely less on the national grid and don’t have to pay a hefty electric bill each month. This even applies to buildings that set up commercial solar carports.
Commercial buildings and factories end up paying a hefty amount for electricity. But, once they have solar canopy structures, the cost comes down. It’s possible to generate significant savings by adding a solar panel carport in your home or office area.
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3. Absorbing Solar Radiation
Have you ever come across a heat island? This is an open space where the temperature rises so much during the day. Temperature increase on a heat island can reach up to 7°, higher than in other surrounding areas.
Since such spots have lots of solar radiation, they pose a danger for at-risk folks like babies, kids, and older people. It’s better to add a solar carport that absorbs the solar radiation and turns it into useful energy. Otherwise, heat exposure can only lead to heat stress and other related issues.
4. Federal Solar Tax Credit
People who install residential solar carports are eligible for a solar tax credit. When you install a solar carport at home, you can enjoy a 26% tax return on the total solar carport installation cost.
There are also the possibilities of benefiting from incentives given by state governments and local municipalities.
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Cons of Solar Carports
1. Purchase and Installation Cost
Solar carports have their advantages, but you must consider the cost. It’s not cheap to buy and set up solar panel carports. The price goes even higher when you want to install commercial solar carports to generate more renewable energy.
So, consider the total cost before choosing to get a carport with solar panels. This includes the cost of the solar panel carport and installation. While it’s possible to set it up yourself, it’s better to have someone with electrical knowledge for proper installation.
2. Daytime Use Only
Solar energy is only useful during the day when the sun is out. However, you might be forced to switch to the national grid at night.
It’s possible to have a solar battery system that stores the extra energy. But, there’s the issue of the additional cost.
Are Solar Carports Worth It?
Solar carport installation can add value to your home and lower the electric cost. So, if you have extra space at home, a solar carport is better than a plain garage roof.
Plus, it won’t hurt that you can easily charge your electric vehicle.
The renewable energy from the solar panel carports serves a great purpose in the building. You can use it to power the lights or run some appliances. At the same time, solar carport structures can be supersized to serve as parking for commercial areas.
Plus, it helps protect your car from some of the elements. Residential solar carports are parking spots for vehicles, both electric and non-electric.
What is the Difference Between a Solar Carport and Rooftop Solar?
Part of understanding the worth of a solar carport is noting the difference between it and the rooftop solar. If you have a good roof, rooftop solar is one of the best ways to generate renewable solar energy. But, issues like roof size, angle, and obstructions make this hard to do.
When you have a space in your home or commercial building, you can make good of it. Options like solar carports make it easier to get more energy without changing the roof. The design of solar carports makes them reliable and easy to get optimal sun exposure.
Rooftop solar panels don’t only serve the purpose of generating energy. Instead, a good, solid carport can shield your vehicle from the wind, the sun, rain, and snow.
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Best Solar Carports Manufacturers
1. Six Space Solar Carport by iSun Energy & Mobility Hub
These are among the best solar carports on the market, which come already installed with the solar system. If you want to protect your car from the elements while still enjoying green energy, this carport does just that.
It allows EV cars’ charging, has an online data monitoring system and is fitted with air quality sensors. In addition, it has a smart light and charging port.
2. ECOHOUSEMART | Wooden CARPORT
While this carport doesn’t come pre-installed with a solar panels system, it’s a great option. Once you have the structure, all you need is to buy the solar system and customize it into a solar carport.
It has a great design, is made of wood, and can fit two cars. Its design makes installing the solar panels quite easy, offering the best solar electric supply.
Best Solar Panels You Can Use for Your Carports
Whether you’re looking for solar panels for your outdoor adventures or to install on your carport, this HQST 200W 12 V system is an excellent option. It’s not only highly efficient but also durable and easy to install. And, with a conversion rate of 21%, you are guaranteed enough energy for your electric vehicle.
WEIZE solar panels system comes as a pack of two 12V 100W panels that efficiently convert solar energy to electricity. They are also durable, versatile, and weather resistant. Also, the system can generate enough power for multiple purposes besides charging your EV car.
Togo 120W portable monocrystalline is an excellent solar panel with a 23% conversion rate. It’s pretty efficient, scratch-resistant, and will help you charge your car even when the sun intensity is at its minimum.