Commercial Solar Rooftop: A Smart Business Move for Maximizing Savings

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Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by admin

Commercial Solar Rooftop: A Smart Business Move for Maximizing Savings

Solar systems have gained traction mainly in the past two decades. This popularity is mostly fueled by the desire to boost sustainability and take benefits from the 30% solar tax credits. The Biden Administration is aspiring to end the fossil fuel economy by 2035. For this, the development of commercial solar projects is essential. This will eventually take off the load of the fossil fuel-based U.S. Economy. Solar energy has the power to resolve the issues like debt ceiling only if its implementation takes place properly.

commercial solar rooftops

Moreover, there has been a considerable trend in favor of sustainable energy options in recent years. A lot of companies are switching to renewable energy as a means of reducing their carbon footprint and decreasing their energy costs. Commercial solar rooftops, which offer a safe, dependable, and affordable source of electricity for commercial premises, are one very sustainable option.

As businesses become increasingly aware of the impact of their operations on the environment, many are turning to renewable energy sources to power their facilities. One solution that is gaining popularity is commercial solar rooftops. These systems allow businesses to generate their own electricity using solar panels installed on their rooftops. Commercial solar rooftops offer a range of benefits including cost savings, reduced carbon footprints, and increased property value. In this article, we will explore the benefits of commercial solar rooftops, the factors to consider when installing a system, and the future of this rapidly growing industry.

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Important Points To Remember:


  • Panels can be mounted using ballast or brackets which depend on the types of roofing materials and the amount of weight it can support.
  • Commercial solar panel installation utilizes 96 cells or greater solar panels. This means that every single panel composition involves 96 or more individual solar photovoltaic cells. However, residential solar PV modules will have 60 to 70 cells.
  • The ideal roof for solar panels is south-facing and has a slope between 10 and 30 degrees.

What is in this article?

What Is a Commercial Solar Rooftop?

A commercial solar rooftop is a system that utilizes solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. The installation of these systems can take place on the rooftops of commercial buildings. Thus, providing a convenient and efficient way to generate renewable energy. The solar panels are connected to an inverter. The solar inverter will then convert the DC power produced by the panels into AC power.

How Do Commercial Solar Rooftops Work?

Commercial solar rooftops work by converting sunlight into electricity. These panels’ composition commonly involves photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are made of silicon and other semiconductors. When sunlight hits the cells, it creates an electric field that generates a flow of electricity. The DC power produced by panels is then converted into AC power with the help of a solar inverter.

Moreover, to ensure maximum efficiency, commercial array installation should take place on a rooftop that receives direct sunlight throughout the day. These panels can be mounted using ballast or brackets. The mounting of panels depends on the types of roofing material and the amount of weight it can support.

What Do Commercial Solar Panels Look Like?

The size of commercial and industrial PV modules is larger than the residential solar system.  Commercial solar panels installation utilizes 96 cells or greater solar panels. This means that every single panel composition involves 96 or more individual solar photovoltaic cells. However, residential solar PV modules will have 60 to 70 cells. Commercial panels utilize larger and more advanced grid-tied inverters as well.

Moreover, the various installation options for commercial projects are factory roofs, solar carports, or large ground mount arrays. In contrast to rooftop solar panels, commercial solar rooftop often includes intricate racking systems to elevate and tilt the panels. Some of these systems even use racking with tracking capabilities, enabling these panels to face the sun throughout the day.

How to Choose a Commercial Solar Rooftop System?

Choosing a commercial solar rooftop system can be a complex process. Here are some key factors to consider:

1. System Size:

The size of the system should be based on the energy needs of the business. A professional solar installer like Solar SME can help determine the appropriate size based on the building’s energy consumption.

2. Roofing Material Types:

The types of roofing materials and their condition can impact the installation process and the type of mounting system used. Flat roofs, for example, require ballast mounting systems, while sloped roofs require brackets.

3. Energy usage:

The business’s energy usage should be considered when selecting a commercial solar rooftop system. A business that uses a lot of energy may require a larger system or multiple systems.  Similarly, a smaller business may only need a smaller system.

4. Budget:

The cost of the solar system is an important factor to consider when opting for commercial panels. The cost of a commercial solar rooftop system can vary throughout the U.S. Its cost depends on the size of the system, the type of mounting system used, and other factors. However, it is important to note that the upfront cost of a system can be offset by long-term savings on energy bills.

5. Quality:

It is important to choose a high-quality system that is designed to last for decades. Look for systems with a good warranty and a proven track record of performance.

How to Choose a Commercial Solar Rooftop Systems?

how to choose commercial

Installation of Commercial Solar Panels

The installation of commercial solar panels occurs in different types of locations. These locations can be rooftops, on-the-ground, and parking structures. However, the most common location for commercial solar panels is on the rooftop of a building.

Installing solar panels on the roof of a building has several advantages. Firstly, it allows businesses to use the available space on their property without taking up additional land. This is particularly important in urban areas where land is scarce and expensive as well. Secondly, solar panels on the roof are often more efficient than ground-mount systems. This is because these systems are less likely to be shaded by trees or other buildings.

Another advantage of rooftop solar panels is that they can help cool the building by providing shade and reducing heat transfer through the roof. This can lead to cost-effective energy for air conditioning and can extend the life of the roof by reducing thermal stress.

However, not all roofs are suitable for solar panel installations. The ideal roof for solar panels is south-facing and has a slope between 10 and 30 degrees. Flat roofs can also be suitable but require ballast mounting systems to secure the panels in place. Additionally, the condition of the roof also needs to be taken into consideration because repairs or reinforcements may be necessary before installing a solar panel system.

Moreover, it is also worth noting that ground-mounted systems and parking structure installations may be more suitable for some businesses. The best location for solar PV modules will depend on the specific needs and characteristics of each business.

How Much Do Commercial Solar Panels Cost?

The cost of commercial solar panels can vary depending on different factors. These factors may include the size of the system, the type of panels used, the mounting system, and the installation cost. On average, the cost of a commercial solar panel system ranges from $2.5 to $3.5 per watt. This means that a 100-kilowatt system costs between $250,000 and $350,000.

However, it is important to note that the cost of solar panels has been steadily decreasing in recent years due to advancements in technology and increased competition in the market. According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the cost of solar panels has decreased by more than 70% since 2010. This trend is likely to increase, making solar energy more accessible and affordable for businesses of all sizes.

What are the available Financing options for Commercial Solar Rooftops?

In addition, there are several financing options available to help businesses offset the upfront costs of installing a solar array. These options include cash, leases, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and loans, which allow businesses to pay for the system over time while still enjoying the cost savings on their energy bills.

The following are the financial options available for Commercial solar panels:

Cash and Loans:

When it comes to financing solar energy projects, cash payment is usually the most favorable option for companies, as it allows them to take advantage of federal and state solar incentives and depreciation benefits. The solar tax credit, which was reinstated and extended through 2032 as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, makes it even more attractive by covering almost one-third of the system cost.

However, not every company has sufficient funds to make a full cash payment, which is the main disadvantage of this option. To maximize the return on investment, businesses can combine cash with a loan or lease. The best return on investment can often be obtained by financing only the necessary portion of the net cost after incentives have been applied. Low-interest loans or credit lines from a pre-existing banking relationship are typically the most beneficial financing options outside of an all-cash purchase.

Leasing:

Choosing to lease a solar energy system typically means paying a higher monthly fee without gaining immediate ownership. At the end of the lease term, businesses may be able to negotiate a buyout option, which usually involves lower fees compared to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Although several lease programs are available to for-profit companies with a tax liability, non-profits can receive a direct payment of up to 40% of the system cost with no tax liability needed, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. This generous incentive makes leasing less attractive, and as a result, Sun Valley Solar does not offer a lease option.

One significant drawback of leasing a commercial solar system is the inability to directly benefit from tax and depreciation incentives, which play a crucial role in reducing the cost and accelerating the return on investment for solar energy projects.

Power Purchase Agreement or Solar Service Agreement:

Utilities and municipalities have traditionally used Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), also known as Solar Service Agreements, to finance the purchase of electrical generating facilities. For commercial and institutional solar installations in specific states, PPAs are a prevalent financing option. With a PPA, businesses only pay for the power that the system generates and typically secure lower energy rates than what utilities offer. However, similar to leasing, PPAs do not provide a direct opportunity to benefit from tax and depreciation incentives, which are essential in reducing the cost of solar panels.

Public Financing:

Certain rural businesses and non-profits may be eligible for public financing options, such as grants, bonds, or other incentives that are only available to specific organizations. These options often come with favorable financing terms or reduced interest rates, making them an appealing choice for eligible businesses.

However, eligibility criteria and the availability of these financing options may differ depending on the location, and businesses may need to navigate a complicated application process to access them. It’s also common for organizations to combine multiple financing options to reach the total amount needed when it comes to public financing.

Furthermore, when considering the cost of commercial solar rooftops, it is important to take into account the long-term savings on energy costs. Depending on the size and location of the solar system, businesses can save thousands of dollars each year on energy bills, which can offset the initial investment and provide a significant return on investment over the life of the system.

Overall, the cost of a commercial solar panel system will depend on several factors, but businesses can expect to pay between $2.5 and $3.5 per watt for a system. However, financing options and long-term savings on energy costs can help make solar energy an affordable and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

Steps Involved in The Installation of Commercial Solar Systems

Installing commercial solar PV modules involves several steps, including site evaluation, system design, permitting, installation, and commissioning. Here is a brief overview of the installation process:

Site Evaluation:

The first step in installing a commercial solar panel system is to conduct a site evaluation. This includes assessing the suitability of the location for solar panels, evaluating the condition of the roof or other potential installation sites, determining the electrical capacity and energy needs of the business.

System Design:

Once the site evaluation is complete, a professional solar installer like Solar SME will design a system that meets the specific needs of the business. This includes selecting the types of solar panels, designing the mounting system, and selecting the inverter and other components.

Permitting:

Before installing a solar panel system, businesses must obtain the necessary permits and approvals from the local government and utility companies. This may include building permits, electrical perms, and interconnection agreements.

Installation:

After acquiring the necessary permits, the solar array installation can begin. This typically involves mounting solar panels on the roof or other installation sites, installing the wiring and electrical components, and connecting the system to the building’s electrical system.

Commissioning:

After the installation of the solar panel system, it must be commissioned to ensure that it is operating correctly and safely. This includes conducting a final inspection, testing the system’s performance, and obtaining any necessary certifications.

Moreover, it is important that installing a commercial solar system is a complex process that should be done by experienced professionals like Solar SME. Working with a reputable solar energy provider can help ensure that the solar installation process is safe, efficient, and in compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.

Why are Commercial Solar Rooftops Important?

Commercial solar rooftops provide several benefits, including:

Lower energy costs:

By generating their own electricity, businesses can reduce their reliance on the grid and lower their energy bills.

According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar energy can provide significant savings for commercial properties. The report found that a 100-kW solar system can save a business up to $15,000 per year in energy costs. Over the lifetime of the system, the total savings can reach up to $750,000.

Environmental sustainability:

Solar energy is clean and renewable, reducing the carbon footprint of businesses and helping to combat climate change.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that a 1 MW solar system can offset up to 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This is equivalent to taking 285 cars off the road or planting 40,000 trees.

Increased property value:

Installing a solar rooftop can increase the value of commercial property and make it more attractive to tenants.

A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that solar panels can increase the value of a commercial property by up to 3.5%. Even so, for a typical commercial property, this can translate into an increase in property value of up to $14,000 per kW of solar installed.

Energy Independence:

The solar rooftops provide a reliable source of energy. This can reduce the risk of power outages and ensure businesses have access to electricity when they need it.

A report by the US Department of Energy found that solar energy can provide a reliable source of energy for businesses. The report found that solar energy can provide up to 100% of a business’s electricity needs.

What are the Challenges of Installing a Commercial Solar Rooftop?

While commercial solar rooftops offer many benefits, there are also some challenges to consider. Here are a few common challenges:

Upfront cost:

The upfront cost of a commercial solar rooftop system can be a barrier for some businesses. However, there are many financing options available, including leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs). These all options can help make solar more accessible

Roof condition:

The condition of the roof can impact the installation process and the type of mounting system used. In some cases, roof repairs or reinforcements may be necessary before installing a solar rooftop system.

Permitting and zoning:

Obtaining the necessary permits and complying with local zoning regulations can be a complex and time-consuming process. Working with an experienced solar installer can help streamline the process.

Maintenance:

Like any other equipment, solar panels require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. This can include cleaning the panels, checking the wiring, and monitoring energy production.

challenges of installing

The Future of Commercial Solar Rooftops

Despite the challenges, the future looks bright for commercial solar rooftops. According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the commercial solar market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. The report suggests that commercial solar installations will reach 11.9 GW by 2025.

However, this growth is driven by several factors. These factors include the declining cost of solar technology, the increasing demand for sustainable energy solutions, and the availability of financing options. As more businesses recognize the benefits of commercial solar rooftops, the market is expected to continue to expand.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, commercial solar panels offer different benefits to businesses, including cost savings, environmental sustainability, and energy independence. The initial investment in a solar panel system can be significant. Businesses can take advantage of financing options and long-term savings on energy costs to make solar energy an affordable and cost-effective solution.  However, with advancements in technology and increased competition in the market, the cost of solar panels has been steadily decreasing. This is making solar energy more accessible and feasible for all types of business owners. Installing a commercial solar panel system requires a comprehensive site evaluation, system design, permitting, installation, and commissioning, and should be done by experienced professionals. With the help of solar energy businesses can reduce their environmental impact while contributing to a more sustainable future for all.

1 thought on “Commercial Solar Rooftop: A Smart Business Move for Maximizing Savings”

  1. I found this blog post on solar energy and its potential for resolving various issues to be incredibly thought-provoking. The information provided shed light on the increasing popularity of solar systems and the driving forces behind their adoption.

    The mention of the desire to boost sustainability and take advantage of solar tax credits resonated with me. It’s encouraging to see the growing recognition of solar energy as a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. The goal set by the Biden Administration to end the fossil fuel economy by 2035 is ambitious and inspiring, and the development of commercial solar projects plays a crucial role in achieving this vision.

    I appreciate the insight provided on how solar energy can alleviate issues like the debt ceiling if implemented effectively. It emphasizes the broader impact and potential of solar power beyond its environmental benefits. It’s reassuring to know that solar energy can contribute to transforming the U.S. economy and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.

    The content of this blog post has expanded my understanding of the significance of solar energy and its potential to drive positive change. It has provided a compelling case for the importance of supporting and advancing solar projects on a commercial scale.

    Thank you for sharing this informative and thought-provoking piece. It has motivated me to explore further and support the implementation of solar energy in my own capacity.

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