commercial solar panels

Commercial Solar Panels: Benefits & Installation Cost (2024)

As the world increasingly embraces sustainable energy solutions, solar power generated using commercial solar panels has become an innovative and cost-effective choice for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs. 

The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that annually, more companies opt to add solar power to their buildings. And those who are already using solar are increasing their usage. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of commercial solar panels, exploring their benefits, installation considerations, financial incentives, and maintenance requirements. 

Whether you own a small business or a large company, this guide will give you the information and knowledge you need to make smart decisions about adding commercial solar panels to your business. Let’s embark on this sustainable energy journey together.

What are Commercial Solar Panels?

Commercial solar panels refer to photovoltaic (PV) systems designed specifically for businesses, industries, and large-scale enterprises to generate electricity from sunlight. These solar panels are installed on commercial rooftops, parking structures, or ground-mounted arrays to harness solar energy efficiently.

Commercial solar panels are tailored to meet the higher energy demands of commercial entities, offering cost-effective and sustainable solutions to reduce utility expenses and carbon emissions. By utilizing advanced technology and scalable designs, commercial solar panels enable businesses to embrace renewable energy and contribute to a greener future while enjoying long-term financial benefits.

Types Of Commercial Solar Panels

There are different types of solar panels available in the market. Before knowing about commercial solar panels, their installation cost, and industrial solar solutions, let’s look at the types of commercial solar panels you can find in the market right now.

  •     Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline panels are well-known for their excellent efficiency and streamlined design. Due to their monocrystalline composition, they are all a consistent dark black in color. These panels operate admirably in both direct sunlight and low-light environments. Although more expensive, they are a preferred option for businesses looking for the highest energy output due to their longevity, space efficiency, and durability.

  •       Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline panels are distinguished by their blue color, which results from a manufacturing process that involves numerous silicon fragments. Although slightly less efficient than monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels offer cost savings without sacrificing performance. They are an excellent solution for organizations looking for a good mix of cost and reliable energy output. They also function well in regions with plenty of sunlight.

  •       Thin-film solar panels

Thin-film solar panels are light and flexible, making them ideal for specialized applications. They are made by putting a thin layer of photovoltaic material on a surface like glass, plastic, or metal. While their efficiency may be lower than that of crystalline panels, thin-film panels excel in low-light and high-temperature environments, making them an excellent choice for businesses operating in a variety of environments. They are also more aesthetically beautiful, making them suitable for incorporation into architectural projects.

Average Cost of Commercial Solar Panels

The cost of commercial solar panels can vary depending on several factors, but on average, businesses can expect to invest between $2 to $3 per watt for solar panel installation. For a regular business setup needing 100 kW to 500 kW of solar power, an average total cost typically ranges from $200,000 to $1,500,000.

Factors Influencing the Cost

Several factors impact the cost of commercial solar panels, including:

1. System Size:

The size of the solar panel system directly affects the overall cost. Larger systems require more panels and additional components, resulting in higher upfront expenses.

2. Quality of Panels:

The quality and efficiency of the solar panels chosen for the installation play a significant role in determining the cost. High-quality panels may have a higher upfront cost but can offer better performance and durability over time. That’s why choosing the best solar panel is one of the most important factors.

3. Installation Complexity:

The complexity of the installation, such as roof type, orientation, and shading, can affect labor costs and material requirements. Rooftop installations may require additional structural modifications, while ground-mounted systems may involve more extensive groundwork.

4. Incentives and Rebates:

Government incentives, tax credits, and rebates can significantly reduce the upfront cost of installing commercial solar panels. Businesses should explore available financial incentives at the federal, state, and local levels to maximize savings.

5. Financing Options:

Various financing options, such as solar loans, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and solar leases, can impact the overall cost structure and repayment terms. Businesses should evaluate different financing models to find the most suitable option for their budget and financial goals.

6. Maintenance and Operations:

While not directly related to upfront costs, businesses should consider ongoing maintenance and operational expenses when assessing the total cost of ownership. Regular maintenance ensures optimal performance and extends the lifespan of the solar panel system.

7. Energy Needs and Consumption Patterns:

The energy requirements and consumption patterns of the business determine the size and capacity of the solar panel system needed. Understanding energy usage trends allows businesses to right-size their solar installations and optimize cost-effectiveness.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Commercial Solar Panels

  • Energy efficiency: Evaluate the efficiency levels required for your business and balance them with the panels’ cost-effectiveness. 
  • Durability: Consider the materials used in the panels’ construction to determine their overall durability.
  • Warranties: Select commercial solar panels with an extended warranty period to ensure your system is well-protected. Look for products with an excellent performance track record and designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.
  • Budget: Consider the upfront investment, long-term savings, and return on investment (ROI) when selecting the most suitable option.
  • Space availability: Assess the available rooftop or ground space to determine which panel type maximizes energy generation.
  • Energy production: Consider the local climate, solar insolation and other factors that affect the solar panel’s efficiency

You can also watch this video to know more details about commercial solar panel installation

Some Applications Of Commercial Solar Panels

Applications of commercial solar panels provide businesses with various options to embrace renewable energy and benefit from cost savings, reduced carbon footprint, and long-term energy independence. They all have their own advantages, so you can choose the one that works best for your company.

  • On-site solar installations

On-site installation is an everyday use for commercial solar panels. Solar panels can be installed on a company’s rooftop or on any available land to provide sustainable energy to run the business. Installing solar panels on company property is a great way to lessen a company’s reliance on the utility grid for power.

  • Community solar projects

Businesses can join in shared solar initiatives through community solar projects. Companies can subscribe to a community solar project instead of installing panels on their own property and get credits or energy generated by the shared solar array. This solution is advantageous for businesses that do not have sufficient rooftops or land for solar installations but wish to support renewable energy.

  • Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs)

Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) give businesses the financial flexibility they need to transition to solar energy. A third-party corporation owns and maintains the solar panels installed on the business’s site under a solar lease. The company pays a fixed monthly leasing price. 

Whereas PPAs are long-term contracts that require the purchase of solar energy at a predetermined price. Both options enable businesses to benefit from solar energy without incurring the upfront costs of purchasing and installing commercial solar panels.

  • Net metering

Net metering is a billing mechanism in which businesses receive credits for excess solar energy generated and fed back into the grid. When solar production exceeds the company’s electricity use, the extra power is transmitted to the grid, and the company receives credits. When solar production is low, such as at night or when there is a lot of demand for energy, these credits can be used to lower electricity bills.  

Installation and Maintenance Of Commercial Solar Panels

How To Install Commercial Solar Panels?

Commercial solar panels are often put on roofs with ballasted or connected racking. Weighted cement blocks or similar materials are used in ballasted racking to secure panels on a flat top. 

Connected racking, on the other hand, permits panels to be connected to sloping roofs using specialized roof-penetrating hardware. These techniques of installation ensure that the boards are firmly placed and positioned for maximum energy production.

Unlike smaller-scale residential installations, which may allow for DIY solutions, commercial solar panel installations are strongly advised to be done by professionals. Professionals have the tools, skills, and training required to manage the complexities of larger systems. Incorrect installation may result in underperforming panels, jeopardizing planned power generation. 

Furthermore, suppose the commercial solar panels are not securely fastened. In that case, they may pose a safety hazard, risking damage to property or individuals. Hiring competent commercial solar panel installers is critical to ensure safety and efficiency. Before installing commercial solar panels you should also know about commercial battery systems, it will help you to decide to choose best solar panel system according to your requirements. 

How To Maximize Solar Panel Efficiency Through Proper Maintenance?

There are several ways to maximize solar panel efficiency:

  • Eliminate shade as much as possible

The optimal conditions for solar panels are bright, unobstructed sunlight. Your array’s output may drop significantly if a tree or structure blocks some of the sun’s rays. Shade on even a tiny portion of your array can cause your system as a whole to reduce its output. 

Clear the area around your array of any trees. We suggest installing a microinverter or power optimizer inverter to maximize output from the unshaded areas of the array if the trees cannot be removed or if the building is casting shade.

  • Clean them often

Dust buildup on solar panels can reduce their efficiency over time. Dust accumulation can slowly decrease your array’s performance by as much as 7%, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

You may simply use a garden hose to clean your panels, though stubborn dirt may require scrubbing with a soft brush. Think about maintenance needs and how often you’ll need to clean the fixture before deciding on a place. Use a soft brush or sponge, along with mild soap and water, to gently clean the surface of the panels. Stay away from abrasive substances and harsh chemicals that could damage the panels.

Financing Commercial Solar Panels

Here are the ways to finance commercial solar power systems:

  •       Available incentives and tax credits

There are a number of rebates and tax credits available to businesses that install solar panels to generate electricity for their operations. Tax credits, subsidies, refunds, and renewable energy certificates are some examples of these incentives. Businesses that want to reap the full financial benefits of switching to solar power should investigate and become familiar with their region or country’s various incentives.

  •   Financing options for businesses

To make the initial outlay more reasonable, businesses should look into financing solutions designed exclusively for commercial solar panel installations. These possibilities include loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs). Loans provide financing for businesses to purchase and own commercial solar energy systems outright, allowing them to benefit from long-term electricity cost savings. 

Leases and PPAs, on the other hand, enable businesses to receive solar energy without making a large upfront investment. Under a lease, a third party owns and takes care of the solar system, and the company pays a fixed amount each month for the lease. PPAs are contracts where the solar energy made by the system is bought at a price that has already been set. Both solutions give firms flexibility and can be tailored to meet their financial objectives.

Finance a commercial solar panel installation for your house or company with the help of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). To help cover the initial outlay for the system, the local government provides the business owner with funding through PACE. An additional special assessment on the owner’s yearly property tax bill covers the cost. A lien is placed on the property to guarantee repayment of the loan.

  •       Cost savings and returns on investment

Investing in a commercial solar power system generates significant long-term cost reductions and a return on investment (ROI). Businesses can significantly reduce their electricity costs by generating clean and renewable energy, particularly as utility rates continue to rise. The actual savings will depend on variables such as the scale of the solar system, the amount of electricity used, the amount of available sunlight, and the local electricity rates. 

Over time, the savings from reduced energy bills can offset the initial investment and generate a positive return on investment (ROI). A thorough financial analysis should come before installing a commercial solar power system in order to determine the payback period and overall economic benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the size of commercial solar panels?

Commercial solar panels are typically larger and more powerful than their residential counterparts. These panels can range from 72 to 96 cells per panel, with wattages exceeding 400 watts and sometimes reaching up to 500 watts or more. The larger size allows for greater power output per panel, making them suitable for meeting the higher energy demands of commercial buildings and businesses. Commercial solar panels are often installed on rooftops or ground-mounted arrays on larger commercial properties

  • How long do commercial solar panels last?

Business solar panels usually last between 25 and 30 years, but this can change based on how well they are taken care of, how good they are, and how the environment is.

  • Can commercial solar panels power a whole building?

Yes, commercial solar panels can power a whole building, depending on the size of the commercial solar energy system and the energy needs of the building. Large-scale solar system installations may require additional panels to meet the demand.

  • Do commercial solar panels require a lot of maintenance?

Commercial solar panels generally require minimal maintenance. Regular cleaning to remove dirt and debris, occasional inspection for damage, and ensuring optimal performance through monitoring are typically sufficient to keep them functioning efficiently.

  • Are there any government incentives or tax credits for businesses that install solar panels?

Yes, many governments do give companies that install solar panels incentives and tax breaks. Depending on where you live, these benefits can include grants, rebates, tax credits, and feed-in tariffs, among other things. Businesses should look into local rules to see if they qualify and if there are any possible financial rewards.

Wrapping Up

Understanding which of the three types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film commercial solar panels, your company needs is essential. Each type has unique perks that might meet your business’s energy and financial goals. 

Businesses can minimise their carbon footprint and get long-term financial benefits by investing in industrial solar solutions. In order to maximise energy output and enjoy the benefits of clean and sustainable power, businesses should adhere to good maintenance practices for their commercial solar panel installations

Consider your unique situation, talk to solar energy professionals, and then make a calculated move to make your company go green.

Ray is an avid reader and writer with over 25 years of experience serving various domestic and multinational private and public energy companies in the USA.

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