Is Solar Roofing a Good Choice for Commercial Structures?

solar panels on a roof

Is solar roofing a good option?

Solar roofing has gained interest among homeowners here in the Knoxville, Tennessee area. But what about commercial properties, is solar roofing beneficial for them too?  Well, most of us don’t realize that skylights have been used in commercial buildings for years, but solar roofing interest is growing. 

Can solar roofing power a commercial building?

Absolutely! The square footage of a commercial structure makes it ideal for a solar roofing installation. With solar panels properly installed and positioned, they can generate ample power for a commercial structure’s energy consumption.

Is solar roofing for commercial buildings different from solar roofing for residential structures?

The technology used for both commercial and residential solar roofing is the same, but there are some differences in the way it is used including: 

  • The Size:  Commercial solar roofing panels are heavier and larger. 
  • The Wattage: Commercial building solar roofing is made to meet the higher energy requirements.
  • The Mounting: Commercial and residential structures have different types of architecture. Commercial structures typically have flat roofing which requires additional equipment for mounting the solar roofing panels. This additional mounting equipment allows the panels to tilt for optimum energy absorption. 
  • The Installation: Solar roofing installation requires more labor and time because the panels are heavier and larger. 
  • The Cost: Installation for residential solar roofing is less expensive than for commercial structures. Both commercial and residential have rebates tax credits.
  • The Regulatory: Commercial solar roofing installations may be subjected to regulations and permits that residential properties don’t. 

What size is commercial solar roofing available in? 

The average commercial solar roofing panel is 78” by 39” with 72 cells and can produce up to 400 watts, making them ideal for large-scale solar installations. Other choices in solar roofing panels for commercial properties include: 

  • 60 cells installed in a 6 x 10 grid
  • 72 cells installed in a 6 x 12 grid
  • 96 cells installed in an 8 x 12 grid

How is the size of a commercial solar roofing system determined? 

A professional solar roofing contractor will help you determine the size of solar roofing panels needed. This is done by taking the daily kWh energy requirement and dividing it by the hours of peak hours of the sun to determine the kW output. Then the kW output is divided by the solar roofing panel’s efficiency to determine an estimation of the solar panels needed.

What are the disadvantages of solar roofing for commercial structures?

There are several advantages for a business or commercial structure to invest in a solar roofing installation. Among those advantages are: 

  • Money Saver: Energy cost savings are a key advantage to commercial solar roofing installation, but there are several other incentives offered to a business that switches to solar power. Those incentives can help offset the initial expense of installation like MACRS (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System), which can be claimed for up to 5 years.
  • Going Green: By switching to solar roofing energy, a business can reduce its carbon footprint significantly, a bonus to overall environmental impact. 
  • Minimal Maintenance: Solar roofing systems require little to no maintenance. The primary concerns are keeping them clean so the UV rays from the sun aren’t blocked or minimized. 

But with these significant advantages, there are some disadvantages to commercial solar roofing panel installation. Among them are: 

  • Upgrades to the roofing system
  • Upfront installation is expensive (including the roofing upgrade)
  • It is weather Dependent (as more sunshine equals more energy)
  • Incentives and requirements change every year

Is a larger solar roofing system better? 

Larger isn’t better in all instances, but when it comes to solar roofing, having an oversized solar roofing panel system can only produce more energy. What isn’t used is stored, and in many areas, the business may get paid for excess created energy through PV Demand Credit.

Why don’t more commercial buildings have solar panels?

There are two main reasons that more commercial structure owners haven’t invested in solar roofing systems, with cost being the number one reason. Over time, there is a reduction in energy costs that can offset the initial expense. But that initial expense is an expense that many businesses can’t spare. 

The next concern is reliability with the intermittent pattern of solar power. When the sun is out and strong, more energy is stored, but there are times when there is less sun, such as rainy days. The peak power production doesn’t always align with the demands of a business, especially a business that operates 24 hours. Because solar roofing power isn’t consistent, many businesses can’t depend entirely on solar power.

The Bottom Line

As a business owner, will it be worthwhile to invest in solar roofing? Yes, it is just a matter of patience for the solar roofing panels to build up the energy. The more solar tiles you have installed, the more savings you’ll see. This can vary between forty and sixty percent over a year. However, if you’re interested in solar roofing in Knoxville, Tennessee, our team can walk you through your options. Give us a call at 865-238-2628 to speak to one of our professionals.