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  • Skylar Ross

3 Things to Know Before Starting Your First Commercial Solar Project



As the solar industry grows, commercial solar viability is a huge factor to providing renewable energy for more businesses. Many business leaders are looking into solar as an investment to lower costs and provide clean energy to their ventures.


Due to the scale of commercial solar projects, installation requires more due diligence to be successful.


If you're a residential solar installer looking to break into the commercial solar industry, there are a few tips to keep in mind.


1. Is the Electrical System Compatible?


Before you start installing panels on a building, you need to do a site visit. This means going to the site of the install and checking a variety of different things, including making sure the electrical system of the building is compatible with your solar panels. This is called an engineer visit and is the first step of any installation. You might have an engineer working for you, or you can hire an independent contractor using GreenLancer.


2. Consider the Age of Your Roof


The ideal situation for any business owner looking to install solar panels on a commercial building is for the roof to be nearly the same age as the panels.


Most solar panels have a life expectancy of around 25 years, so if the roof is much older than that it could be troublesome for the building owner in a few short years. Installing a new roof once solar panels have already been installed is a huge hassle so the younger your roof, the more suited it is for new solar panels.


Never install panels on a visibly damaged or decrepit roof. Doing so can put you at liability if disaster should strike. You’ll also need to make sure that the size, angle, shading, and type of roof are suitable for you to complete the install. This is all assessed during what’s known as the “site visit”.


3. Explore Other Areas for Solar Installation


As stated above, the technology behind solar panels has improved vastly in the past ten years. As such, it’s now viable and even advisable to consider solar installation in areas other than, or in addition to the roof. Window shades, solar canopies, parking lots, and covered walkways are all great places to put solar panels.


Putting solar panels in a parking lot with batteries is one way of designing an electric-friendly lot with spots for electric-vehicle charge. You can install solar panels on or near architectural grilles, and work them into the exterior of a building with tilt up wall construction as well.


There are multiple inspections that need to take place before the system can go live, however, so be sure to let the client know that these inspections by the local government and electrical company can take up to 3 weeks to pass.


Solar Panels Work with Almost Any Commercial Building


Whether you’re looking to install solar panels on a metal shake roof or any other type of roof, and/or your customer is considering installing solar canopies, solar window shades, solar-covered walkways, or a solar parking lot, GreenLancer can help with your permit design and engineering needs.


Solar panels are still a new topic to most business owners, so it’s important to inform your customer of everything that goes into the process before having them sign on the dotted line.


Skylar Ross is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Skylar is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.