Solar energy is increasingly becoming the go-to energy solution for businesses around the globe.
According to IRENA, solar energy is now in fact one of the cheapest power sources in the world right now. This explains the rise of commercial solar panel use by businesses looking to cut down their energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions.
It’s not too late for your organization to invest in solar and start enjoying the benefits. Now more than ever, the limited-time 30% tax credits being offered by the government allow your organization to get into the solar game at the lowest cost.
Even big corporations like Target and Walmart are benefiting from solar as they continue to install sprawling commercial rooftop solar installations on their premises.
If you are considering switching your organization to a commercial solar installation, this article is for you.
We look at:
- What is a Commercial Solar Installation?
- Benefits of Commercial Solar Panel Installation
- Commercial Solar Panel Installation vs. Residential Solar Panel Installation
- Choosing Commercial Solar Installation Companies
- Installing Commercial Solar Panels
- 5 Stages of Building a Commercial Solar Project
- How Long Does A Commercial Solar Panel Installation Take?
- Best Solar Panels For Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMEs)
What is a Commercial Solar Installation?
A commercial solar installation is a system of solar panels, batteries, inverters, and other solar products owned by an organization and installed on commercial buildings or land. An example of a commercial solar system is a solar installation at Walmart.
Commercial solar installations or systems can be as big as 100 kW or even 1 MW, which is much larger than residential solar installations with solar arrays typically below 10 kW.
As a result, commercial installations use specialized, high-output solar panels, inverters, batteries, and other equipment designed for large-scale commercial use. For example, commercial solar panels come with 96 solar cells and are bigger and more efficient than residential solar panels with 72 solar cells.
Commercial solar power setups not only cut down costs but can be another source of income for your business. How? You can feed any excess power generated by your solar back into the grid and cash in from your power utility.
So despite the high initial investment required for commercial solar power, it has plenty of benefits that are more than worth it for organizations.
But what are these benefits?
Benefits of Commercial Solar Panel Installation
Commercial solar installations done right can be incredibly rewarding for companies. These installations have a plethora of benefits such as reduced energy bills, lower pricing, and reduced carbon emissions, to name but a few.
Other advantages of going solar right now are:
1. Limited-Time Tax Credits: The government has put in place federal policies to encourage businesses and homeowners to adopt solar power. Currently, businesses and residents that invest in solar enjoy a massive 30% investment tax credit (ITC). In essence, putting more capital back into your pocket for reinvestment in other profitable ventures. Check out this article for more info on solar tax incentives.
2. Protection From Grid Supply Problems: Having a solar installation insulates your business from any problems in the power grid. So suppose a power line gets knocked over in a storm or some trees short your power lines. In that case, your business can continue operations without missing a beat.
3. Increases Property Value: A study by Zillow shows that solar panels can increase a property’s value by 4.1% on average. In New York and some places, the increase in property value can be as high as 5.4%. So even if you don’t plan on selling your property, you won’t be making a loss by investing in solar.
4. More Affordable Than Other Energy Sources: Solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of power. So businesses planning on lowering their cost of doing business know investing in solar is their best bet. More so than coal, gas, or any other energy sources. For example, gas costs around 10 times more than solar energy.
5. Usable In Remote Locations Away From Grid Supply: As long as you have enough sunlight and solar panels, you can operate your business from anywhere. Even places with no nearby power grid or gas station.
6. Excess Solar Energy Can Create Additional Revenue: Chances are that your solar installation will likely produce more energy than you need. So instead of letting that energy go to waste, you can feed that solar power back to the grid and receive benefits or payment.
7. Lower Product Prices: The reduced cost of operations allows organizations to reduce their product’s pricing and still make a profit. Walmart highlights this factor as one of the reasons why the megacorporation continues to invest heavily in solar. Walmart’s lower product prices give the business a marked edge over its competition.
Commercial Solar Panel Installation vs. Residential Solar Panel Installation
The biggest difference between commercial and residential solar panel installations is the scale at which they are installed. Businesses or organizations often require large amounts of energy to operate, so commercial solar installations need to be much larger than their residential counterparts.
Commercial solar panel systems can range in size from several kilowatts up to sprawling megawatt-class installations that need a lot of installation space. In contrast, the size of residential systems is often below 10kW, which can fit on most residential rooftops.
Besides the obvious difference in size between the two installation types, there are other differences:
1. Cost: Commercial solar systems are more expensive to install due to the large number of components involved. Commercial solar panel installations can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $1,000,000 for large businesses. That being said, the cost of commercial installations is still lower than residential solar installations for each unit of energy installed (cost per watt).
2. Ease of Installation: Commercial installations are harder to design and install due to the sheer amount of connections and mounting that needs to be done.
3. Installation Time: A residential installation can be completely set up in just a few days or less. In fact, it's possible to carry out a residential installation from start to finish in a day. On the other hand, large commercial installations can take anywhere from a week to several months.
4. Level of Skill Required: A non-technical homeowner can attempt to install residential solar on their own. But the same can't be said for commercial solar systems that require professional engineering and consulting. The difficulty of installing commercial solar panel systems is high due to the increased complexity involved in designing, building, and managing the system.
Choosing Commercial Solar Installation Companies
When it comes to installing solar on a commercial property, choosing the right commercial solar installers or solar installation companies is key. The right commercial solar installation company can ensure that your solar will work safely, efficiently, and as intended.
A shoddy installation job on a large-scale solar installation is bad for business as it can cause staggering losses due to equipment failure.
Experienced installers and installation companies can help your businesses acquire the required permits and get your system up and running in the shortest time. They can also help you design a cost-effective system free of any potential engineering hazards and problems.
So how do you find reliable commercial solar installers or installation companies?
1. Check their licensing, experience, and qualifications to ensure your chosen installer has the necessary skills, licensing, and experience needed to do the job correctly and safely.
2. Get quotes from several installers so you can compare the prices and services offered by different installers. Avoid installation companies that quote prices that are too good to be true.
3.Choose installers that offer after-installation support and services in case something goes wrong and needs to be repaired.
4. Research the installer’s financing options available, your chosen installer should offer financing options that can accommodate your unique circumstances.
5. Evaluate the installation company’s customer reviews and testimonials online to get an idea of what to expect from them.
6. Research how long an installer has been in business. An experienced installer that’s been operating for many years is likely to be more reliable than a rookie installer.
7. Check if the installer or company is adequately insured against losses and damages during installation.
8. Communicate with the previous clients of the installer to get a more accurate assessment of the installer's skill, service, and conduct.
Once you’ve identified a viable installer to work with, ask them about permits and applicable incentives or tax credits. They likely have more experience than you in this area. Knowing how to take advantage of tax incentives could help you to recoup a significant chunk of your investment and reduce upfront costs.
Installing Commercial Solar Panels
Before going ahead with the installation, you need to decide whether your solar panels will be installed on the ground or rooftop. A ground-mounted system makes sense only if a rooftop installation is not possible or inadequate. This is because ground-mounted panels require additional prep work before installation such as digging holes and foundations.
Another key factor you need to consider is the skill and reliability of your commercial solar installer. A cheap, inexperienced, or unreliable installer is not recommended as they are more likely to make mistakes that will cost you in the long.
Instead, we recommend going for an installer that's insured, experienced, and has plenty of reliable customer reviews and testimonials.
5 Stages of Building a Commercial Solar Project
Stage 1: Site Assessment
The first stage in any commercial solar panel installation is assessing and preparing the site of the installation. Activities in this stage include:
● Carrying out a detailed evaluation of the property’s structures.
● Procuring the required permits and legal authority to proceed with the installation.
● Determining the property’s energy usage and needs.
● Calculating the optimal system size that the property can accommodate.
● Identifying ideal locations for the installation.
Stage 2: System Design
Once all the required information is gathered and the site has been assessed, the installation company will use this information to create a formal design or plan for the installation.
The designs will illustrate the best possible way to build and arrange the installation to get the most efficiency and maximum performance out of your solar panels.
Stage 3: Procurement and Installation
The stage where contractors acquire and install solar panels and other solar components while following the plans laid out in the system design. During this phase, technicians must stick to all regulations governing solar panel installation in that region. That's why picking an experienced installer that's familiar with the local landscape is crucial.
Stage 4. Testing and Commissioning
After installation is complete, the whole system and its components must be tested to ensure that they are working correctly and as expected. Testing also ensures that the installation is safe to use and compliant with relevant safety standards.
If all the tests pass or are positive, the system is commissioned and ready for use by the client.
Stage 5: Maintenance
If you picked the right commercial solar installation company that offers after-installation maintenance services and resources. You should find it easy to operate and maintain your system so that it can continue working at the highest levels.
Activities in this stage include:
● Regular component checkups (at least once a year).
● Solar Panel Washing ideally every six months
● Connection and wiring checks
● Replacing old or damaged components
How Long Does A Commercial Solar Panel Installation Take?
Unlike residential solar panel installations that can be done in under a week, commercial solar panel installations can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the installation's size.
Best Solar Panels For Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMEs)
As larger corporations like Walmart ramp up their solar adoption drives towards sustainable energy, small and medium-sized businesses are finding it difficult to pick solar panels that meet their energy needs while still staying within budget.
To help guide you in your decision, we recommend Renogy’s high-output monocrystalline solar panels ideal for use in commercial solar installations for SMEs.
Renogy’s 450W and 550W high-quality monocrystalline panels are perfect for commercial projects that require a reliable power source. In addition, their durable construction can withstand operating in harsh weather conditions, making them suitable for both rooftop and ground installations.
Besides their reliability and durability, Renogy’s monocrystalline solar panels are designed with efficiency in mind. Their performance is higher and more advanced than other solar panel models.
The 550 Watt 2-Piece Monocrystalline Solar Panel and the 450 Watt 2-Piece Monocrystalline Solar Panel should be the one-stop solutions for small-to-medium-sized commercial projects. These panels are affordable, dependable, reliable, durable, and so much more. Visit Renogy store and find what you want.