• Businesses and organizations across the nation are waking up to the benefits that solar presents for their bottom line.   From warehouses to hospitals, facilities with large campuses that use a lot of electricity stand to save a ton on their power bills by making the switch, and many savvy business owners have realized that.  The new reality is that businesses of all sizes and types can go solar, whether it's mounted on their roof, in their parking lot or on their lawn.  

    The question is then, what is holding many business owners back?  Many think they may not have space or the roof type that would make their facility applicable for solar.  This could not be farther from the truth.  With new innovations in racking and carport structures, not having space on your campus is no longer an excuse.  There are many varieties of commercial installations now, and the chances are that at least one solution can work for you.  Let's take a look at the different types of commercial solar panels, and what types of facilities they are optimal for.  
  • 1. Rooftop Solar

    This is an obvious first choice for many businesses, as the appeal is that you can utilize unused roof space to mount the solar, out of sight from your customers all while offsetting your power bill.  Even with this solution, there are different ways the panels can be mounted that can vary based on your roof type.  They are:

  • A. Standard roof mount

    Much like a residential installation, a standard roof mount solar installation follows the contour of your roof, and utilizes a fully-anchored, rail-based mounting style.  This style is perfect for pitched roofs and unique rooftop situations.  Restaurants, storefronts, churches, and most small businesses can utilize this mounting type.  Pictured here is a church solar installation we completed with a standard roof mount setup.

  • B. Single-tilt flat roof mount

    For large, flat roofs, such as large warehouses or manufacturing facilities, the single-tilt mount will provide optimal energy output per killowatt installed.  They are perfect for businesses with unconstrained roof space, and who are looking to maximize their internal rate of return.  This is generally the racking style you will see with very large installations.  Pictured is the San Diego Cardiac Center solar installation we completed with a single-tilt flat roof style.

  • C. Dual-tilt flat roof mount

    The dual-tilt racking is similar to the single-tilt except it utilizes panels facing in both directions, doubling the number of panels in the same amount of space that the single-tilt would use.  This racking type is perfect for businesses with smaller flat roofs that are still looking to maximize their energy production but have limited space, and present the best option for businesses that prioritize net present value.  

  • 2. Carport Solar

    Businesses and organizations that don't have the roof space or have a unique roof, but have a large parking lot are perfect candidates for carport solar.  You can utilize space in your parking lot or garage to mount hundreds of panels, which not only power your business, but provide shade and cover for your patrons to park under.  There are three varieties of this type of installation,  each of them suited to different situations.

  • A. Long Span Canopy

    Covers two parallel rows of parking as well as the internal driving aisle with one contiguous canopy.  Great for large parking lots in sunny areas.  Our installation at St. Margaret's Church is a good example of this kind of installation.

  • B. Dual-tilt Canopy

    This type of carport covers one row of parking, with two sets of panels tilting down towards the middle.  This style works well for slightly smaller parking lots, but provides the benefit of directing snow, ice, and rain towards the middle of the system, collecting the rain for potential future use.

  • C. Garage-top Canopy

    If you have a parking garage, this carport style is for you. It is easily adaptable to different structural conditions, while maintaining optimal direction for sun exposure.

  • Solar carports provide other benefits besides just solar power.  They can be outfitted with EV chargers for your patrons or employees that may drive electric vehicles, and provide runoff management systems that can capture rain on the underside of the canopy for potential reuse.   The dual tilted canopies also are perfect for collecting snow and ice, directing them towards the middle of the system so they stay off your patron's cars and the driving aisle.  The canopies are also able to be outfitted with LED lights, providing illumination for your parking lot, making it more appealing and safer at night.  On top of all this, the carports can be branded with your logo, and serve as a marketing peice for your organization.  When your customers and employees see that you are utilizing solar, it shows that you care about the environment, as well as your bottom line.

  • 3. Ground Solutions

    In some circumstances, some businesses may want large-scale, power-plant level production solar installations.  Whether it's for their own power, or to produce power to sell to other businesses, these large-scale installations are gaining in popularity.  Most of these installations use standard, simple ground mount modular racking systems to the mount the modules at a tilt.  The design of these racking systems is usually simplified such that the design can be automated, saving cost and time.  If you have the land, and want to produce a ton of power, this type of solution may be for you.  

  • So no matter what your businesses situation may be, chances are that solar can work for you.  We've installed solar for every type of institution, from churches, to non-profit organizations, to grocery stores and warehouses.  No matter your roof or land situation, we can figure out a solution for your organization, whether it's roof mounted, a carport, or ground mounted, so that you can start saving money on your power bills and improve your bottom line.  If you're looking for a quote on  commercial solar, contact us today. 

  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.