Business owners are always looking for new ways to go green and reduce their carbon footprint. Adding solar panels to your facility — provided you work in an area that gets plenty of usable sunlight — can help to offset energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions. If you’re considering adding solar to your business, here are a few quick tips to make the process a little easier.
Can Your Roof Support Solar Panels?
The first thing you need to look at is your building itself. Is your roof capable of supporting the weight of traditional solar panels, or do you need to look for alternatives?
Most roofs can hold up to the additional weight of solar panels, but photovoltaic panels can be heavy, weighing between 33 and 50 pounds each. If you’re planning to end your reliance on the local grid and switch entirely to solar, you could be looking at hundreds of pounds of panels taking up space on your roof.
Before you start consulting with solar installers — who may or may not be roofing experts — have your building inspected to see if you utilize rooftop solar.
You may also wish to look into using solar ballast, also known as solar concrete, if you’re worried about drilling holes in the roof. These concrete ballasts provide you with somewhere to attach the solar panels without needing to make any modifications to the building they serve.
Learn About Usable Solar Hours
Not all locations can benefit from solar power, simply because they don’t have enough hours during the year to offset the cost of installation. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools available to help you determine if your building gets enough sunlight to merit the installation of a solar system.
Google’s Project Sunroof works by using Google Earth images to determine how much sunlight you get during the year. It can say approximately how many square feet of panels will fit on your rooftop and whether or not solar is a good idea for your particular location. All you have to do is input the building’s address, and the site does the rest.
Choosing the Right Kind of Solar
What are you trying to do with your solar power? Do you want to get off the grid, or are you interested in taking advantage of solar energy to heat your building? You’ve got two options when it comes to choosing solar energy — photovoltaic, which generates electricity, or thermal, which just collects heat. Those big panels you see on the tops of buildings and at solar farms are examples of photovoltaic solar.
Take the time to figure out what you’re trying to do with your panels to help you decide what kind of solar is the right one for your business.
Leasing or Buying Your Panels
In most states, once you decide on solar, you have two choices — buying or leasing the equipment. Which should you choose as a business owner?
Leases can help you offset the costs of installing the panels. You also aren’t responsible for any maintenance or repairs on leased equipment. If you can’t afford the initial costs of installation but still want to go green, leasing is a great option.
If you can afford the investment, buying your panels outright is the better of the two options. While more expensive, it enables you to write off the costs as a tax-deductible expense and a depreciable asset.
Installing solar panels on your business is one of the best steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and monthly energy costs. Keep these tips in mind when you’re shopping for installers.