When it comes to adding commercial rooftop solar panels to your commercial property, you’ll want to make sure that your existing roofing system is suitable for the additional load. Not all roofs are created equal, and every building has unique structural elements.
Here we’ll look at what it means for a building’s roofing system to be strong enough to support this increasingly popular type of sustainability system, along with other things to consider before switching to this clean energy alternative.
What Are Solar Panels?
Simply put, solar panels are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar arrays (a group of solar panels) work by using photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert energy. The PV cells are made of semiconductor materials like silicon, which absorbs photons from the sun and releases electrons. These electrons flow through wires in the solar panel to generate an electrical current, and the current is sent to an inverter, which converts it into usable AC (alternating current) power.
Commercial solar panels generate electricity for facilities like office buildings, factories, warehouses and shopping centers, decreasing their overall carbon footprint. Commercial panels often come with a performance and/or a limited warranty, and are usually larger and more powerful than residential solar panels. These systems are designed to meet the high energy demands of commercial properties, and can be installed as either rooftop or ground-mounted systems.
For excess power generated by your solar energy system, many businesses also add solar batteries. Electricity is stored in them and then used on days the solar panels can’t generate electricity (like on cloudy days or at night).
Can Your Roof Support Solar Panels?
Unfortunately, not all commercial roofs can withstand the added weight of solar panels. It’s important to keep in mind the age and condition of your commercial roof before moving forward with rooftop installation.
Metal Roofing is a Great Option
If you have a metal roof on your commercial building, you’re in luck. Standing seams on metal roofs allow for smoother commercial solar installation.
Certain roofing materials aren’t great for solar panels because of their brittle nature. This mostly applies to residential roofs, with slate being the number one culprit.
Considerations for TPO Roofing
Once the solar panels are anchored, the membrane in a TPO (or thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing system is compromised, which can allow water to penetrate the system. If your building has a single-ply roofing membrane, it’s important to consult an experienced commercial roofing contractor before panel installation.
There are different types of mounts for commercial solar projects. Ideally, a flat roof is the best choice for solar panel installation, but other low-sloped roofs can accommodate panels, too.
Flush-mounted solar panels are parallel to the roof, conforming to the roof’s angle or slope. With this product, there’s no change in appearance to the roofline.
Solar Ballasted Mount
Also known as ballasted solar racking, these types of solar power systems are mounted to concrete blocks that sit on top of your roofing system.
Tilt-up mounts are anchored to the roof system with bolts and can be adjusted to catch the maximum amount of sunlight. These mounts can also be adjusted seasonally (ie. during winter months when the sun is lower in the sky).
Are There Benefits to Rooftop Solar Panels?
There are different types of advantages to commercial rooftop solar installation. Whether it’s a rebate or lower energy bills, they’re certainly worth checking out.
There’s a Federal Investment Tax Credit for commercial solar panels. It’s claimed on federal corporate income taxes for 30% of the cost of the solar PV system.
Increased Property Value
Business owners and homeowners (with residential systems) are seeing property values increase after installation. Renewable energy systems are attractive to investors and provide long-lasting savings for your building.
The typical return on investment for solar energy on commercial rooftops is about 10%.
Solar panels are extremely efficient, and generate a great deal of electricity, ultimately lowering your company’s operating costs and expenses (ex. electric bills). On average, a commercial solar power panel produces about 250 watts of peak power.
Fine Print of Solar Financing
Just like your commercial building’s roof, commercial rooftop solar panels are an investment. On average, solar system costs can be between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on the type of panel chosen and the overall needs of your business. There are several ways to fiscally obtain commercial solar panel systems.
Just like any other type of loan, monthly repayments for solar loans occur over a span of years.
As with a vehicle, solar leases allow you to pay a fixed monthly payment in order to borrow solar panels.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
In this financial agreement with a third-party solar company, you purchase the power that’s generated from the solar panels, but at an agreed rate per kilowatt-hour.
In addition to monetary planning, there are other aspects to consider. On-site regulations from various state and local municipalities may differ. There are also interconnection requirements from utility companies that you need to look into, including hookup fees.
Call on TEMA to Get Your Roof Solar-Ready
Solar panels are an ideal method to reduce the environmental impact of your business. While it’s good to research new ways to cut energy costs, it’s also great to have experienced and licensed roofing contractors check the condition of your commercial roof. A trusted roofing company like TEMA Roofing Services can evaluate your commercial roof and determine its ability to withstand the addition of commercial rooftop solar panels.
Contact TEMA Roofing Services today and get the professional insight you need before solar panel installation.