Solar Parking Structure Manufacturers ( Solar Thermal Magazine)
Modern parking lots often occupy vast amounts of land that could be used for many things. Transforming these spaces into beautiful solar power plants, while still providing parking, seems not only logical, but inevitable. Solar parking structures can provide power to the grid, to a business or to electric vehicle charging stations. They allow land, that can be very scarce in cities, to be used for multiple purposes at the same time.
As we continue to transition to electric cars and motorcycles, having access to clean electricity to recharge our vehicles becomes a necessity. Solar parking canopies not only provide power for EV charging systems, they also protect vehicles from the elements while they are parked.
Several companies have developed solar parking structure solutions including SolarCity, Envision Solar, Solar Shade Structures, Solar Wing, Sundial Energy Inc., and SunPower.
SolarCity’s solar parking structure solution is called the ZS Beam, which is part of their Zep Solar product line.
While other solar carport mounting products must be installed from above the structure frame, ZS Beam is installed from below, eliminating the safety hazards affiliated with standing or climbing on the modules and racking.
ZS Beam uses a unique clamp that locks solar panels onto carport or canopy structures. The modules are clamped at all four corners onto the canopy, electrically bonding them to the structure for increased safety. ZS Beam can withstand winds of up to 120 mph and a snow load of up to 50 psf.
By seamlessly connecting panels into a single plane, the ZS Beam solar parking structure provides an aesthetically appealing addition to parking lots.
According to SolarCity, the Zep Solar line should make it possible to build carport structures that create shaded parking and also provide solar electricity at a lower rate than electricity from their utility companies.
Envision Solar offers several solar parking structure products. Their Solar Tree Arrays shades six to eight standard car parking spaces and simultaneously produced enough clean energy to deliver up to 700 e miles or power six family homes per day. The energy produced can be used to reduce utility bills, charge EVs and be stored for use in an emergency. The Solar Tree product consists of a 35’ by 35’ square, PV canopy mounted atop a single column. There is a 12’ standard minimum clearance from the lowest point on the array even when it is tracking the sun.
The company also has a transportable, solar powered EV charging station. It is delivered to a customer’s location complete and ready to charge cars, it does not require any permits, civil engineering or planning, foundations, trenching or electrical connections. Each EV ARC will deliver up to 225 e miles daily, while charging up to six EVs at a time. Equipped with on-board battery storage, it will charge EVs day or night and during a black out or other grid failure,
Solar Shade Structures
Solar Shade Structures is another company that offers solar parking structures to commercial, industrial and non-profit customers. They use a light gauge steel box-beam design which is engineered to withstand the elements and heavy loads. Each one of their solar carports can be specifically designed to viturally any height and pitch.The box-beam is engineered for Semi, Full and T Cantilever buildings.
The company can individually engineer and fabricate each solar structure to any size or clearance height.
Solar Shade Structures has what they call the “Solar Purlin” which allows them to install panels quickly by sliding them into place and securing them with an “L” clip all while remaining within their scissor lifts. This means installers do not have to unsafely climb on top of the structures to install panels one by one. It also allows crews to install around three times the number of panels in a day as can be done with conventional systems.
Here is a video of an installation:
Sundial Energy Inc.
Sundial Energy produces many innovative solar structures. Their SmartShade solar parking structure merges PV flexible laminate technology and MasterCraft metals. The SmartShade roof generates electricity even at very low sun angles and continues to perform well under the hottest conditions or cloudy days. The result is more total energy throughput and up to 30% more power production, on an installed watt-per-watt comparison, than crystalline modules. All grid-tied SmartShade roofs include one or more AC receptacles that can be used to charge plug-in hybrid cars or any electric vehicle, including bikes.
Commercial SmartShade solar parking structures range from 1kW to 250kW. The company also produces residential solar parking canopies ranging from 1kW to 6kW.
In the SmartShade Roof system the power producing surface is laminated directly to the metal panels to maintain roof profiles from all directions. The SmartShade roof’s unobtrusive quick connect wiring system is hidden in roof details to eliminate the negative visual impact associated with rack-mounted crystalline modules.
The SmartShade Roof can be installed over a wide range of roof geometries, from 3.5° to 60° and includes a 25 year power output warranty and 5 year system warranty.
The SunPower Helix Carport System features high clearances, wider column spacing, integrated wire management, tapered beams and quality structural materials and coatings. The system uses SunPower high efficiency panels and feature a pre-configured inverter power station that reduces field wiring and improves installation efficiency.
The solar carport system includes LED lighting and monitoring software. Clearance options range from 10 to 14 feet. Warranties on various components range from 1o to 25 years.