When Are Solar Panel Carports Worth It?

A solar panel carport is a freestanding structure beneath which you can park your vehicle. The top of the structure is lined with solar panels. The energy from these panels can be fed into your home or the grid in the same way it would be if the panels were situated on your roof. If you have an electric vehicle, you can link the solar carport to a car charging unit, allowing you to totally eliminate fossil fuels from your vehicle’s energy diet.

When should I get a solar carport?

If you’re parking in your driveway and have space for a solar carport, you should seriously consider making the investment. The carport will not only provide your home with clean, renewable solar energy, but it will also shelter your car from rain, snow, and sun.

You might also want a carport if your roof is not ideal for solar. Some roofs are partially or entirely shaded by trees or nearby buildings; others can’t bear the weight of solar panels.

And in some situations, carports may actually be cheaper on a per-watt basis than putting panels on your roof, especially if the roof is not facing the right direction and the carport can be oriented in a way that maximizes solar energy production. The best energy returns are typically from panels that are oriented towards the south, so if your your roof primarily faces north, east, or west, you might want to supplement it with a solar carport.

Solar panel carports are more popular in commercial parking lots than they are in residential homes, where garages can usually be equipped with solar panels. Solar carports in commercial lots can be scaled up to cover multiple vehicles.

Since the solar panels are installed from below the carport frame and don’t require much in the way of hardware, solar carports are also easier to install than traditional solar panels. Plus, you don’t have to worry about evaluating your roof for structural integrity or relocating rooftop vents.

Are there different kinds of solar panel carports?

Like a standard home solar system, solar carports come in a variety of system sizes. The size you choose depends on your energy needs. Solar carports with higher energy production capacities will be more expensive.

If you decide a solar carport is right for you, be sure to get one that fits in your driveway. Some can accommodate just one car, while others can accommodate two or three.

You’ll also have to choose a carport that meets your aesthetic preferences. Solar carports are usually unadorned steel or aluminum, though some have wooden legs. Shop around to find a carport that meets your personal preferences and matches your home.

How much do they cost?

Residential solar carports are usually competitive with the cost of a home solar system on a dollars-per-watt basis, though they’ll probably provide less absolute wattage. In 2016, most home solar systems cost between $3.20 and $5 per watt; this fairly typical 2,000-watt carport from Cutting Edge Power costs $3.80 per watt.

Analysts predict that like other segments of the home solar market, solar carports will continue to decline in price. In 2010, they cost an average of $7 per watt. By the end of 2018, they’re estimated to cost about $2.25 per watt.

Where can I get a solar carport?

Solar carports are a relatively new solar product. Most of the demand so far has come from government and businesses. However, a growing number of solar installers have begun to offer solar carports. Contact PowerScout today to explore your options and choose an installer who can provide you with a solar carport.