Solar Carports: An Innovative Way to Harness Solar Energy while Keeping Your Car Safe

Solar Carports are an innovative and an increasingly popular system which uses solar panels as roofs to cover your car. They are essentially a static, rigid frame that is designed to hold solar panels and either connect to the power grid or use for local power utilisation. The static nature of most solar carports make them highly dependable and will last for years and years with minimum maintenance.

Ground Mounted Panels vs Solar Carports

Ground-mounted solar arrays are quite similar to solar carports in the fact that they both attach to the earth, are angled in a manner to maximize production.

One major difference however lies in the land usage. Ground mounted systems are mostly 3-7 feet tall which makes it hard to use the land beneath it for anything useful. Solar carports can generate the same amount of power while providing shade for vehicles or coverings.  The land beneath the solar carports and solar canopies is still usable since it has been designed and engineered to be as such.

Types of Carports

There are two types of carport based on the number of cars it can accommodate:

  1. Single Row Carport: Only one car can be parked under the carport.
  1. Double Row Carport: Two cars can be accommodated.

For residential purposes, Single row carports might be sufficient but for commercial purposes, Double Row Carports make sense as it takes relatively less space and lesser materials are required to park more number of vehicles.

How to produce maximum energy out of the roof?

Based on the roof of the carport, the structures on which photovoltaic (PV) modules are installed are classified into three types:

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Mono Pitch Canopy: A mono pitch canopy has a single surface slope, which has the same slope angle at a given time. The tilt angle of the rooftop must be such that it does not make visual impacts and reduces shade to cars.

Fig 1: Mono-Pitch Solar Canopy
Fig 1: Mono-Pitch Solar Canopy

Duo Pitch Canopy: A duopitch canopy has two rows of roofs arranged in East-West orientation, making a valley running in both of them. The tilt angle of the rooftop here too must be such that it does not make visual impacts and reduces shade to cars.

Fig 2: Duo-Pitch Solar Canopy
Fig 2: Duo-Pitch Solar Canopy

Barrel-Arch Canopy: A barrel arch canopy is a curved roof having different tilt angles at different points. Since the panels are bent, there are no shading problems as such that arise as in the case of Mono-pitch and Duo-pitch canopies with regards to the tilt angle.

Fig 3: Barrel-Arch Solar Canopy
Fig 3: Barrel-Arch Solar Canopy

Benefits Of Solar Carports

Benefits of these systems might vary from one application to another (for example, commercial carports vs residential carports). However, there are some benefits which are common and pretty cool irrespective of their application:

  1. Efficient Use of Space: For carports, no additional space is needed, instead an already existing space can be utilized to maximize efficiency. A carport can protect vehicles from the sun to prevent overheating, from rain and snow. By providing shade to prevent cars from overheating in the sun, solar carports can actually improve the car owner’s fuel economy.
  2. Reduced Parking Lot Maintenance: Solar carport can help channel rain and snow to certain areas, which can reduce the cost of removal and overall maintenance. It also helps the parking lot to be safer during certain seasons.
  3. Reduced Electricity Costs: Energy can be locally produced and used to reduce consumers’ electricity bills!
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Source:@Solar_Edition @alt_Energy_Mag @hindawi

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Keyword: Solar, Solar PV, Carports, Solar Carports, Car Parking

Reference: https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2019/06/solar-carports-–-do-they-make-sense-for-you/31210

Reference: Umer, Farhana & Aslam, Shehzad & Rabbani, Muhammad & Hanif, Muhammad & Naeem, Nadeem & Abbas, Muhammad. (2019). Design and Optimization of Solar Carport Canopies for Maximum Power Generation and Efficiency at Bahawalpur. International Journal of Photoenergy. 2019. 1-8. 10.1155/2019/6372503.