Solar carports transform your everyday parking spaces into sustainable power sources. These multifunctional structures not only shield vehicles against weather conditions but also harness solar energy, leading to monetary benefits. Catering to diverse needs, they come in a variety of designs, whether you’re considering one for a home driveway or a vast commercial space. Let us dive deeper into this blog and discover the varied types of solar carports available.
Types of Solar Carports
Solar carports have arisen as a forward-thinking option, transforming regular parking lots into energy-generating sites. The types of solar carport showcases structures with solar canopies that are designed to cover parking spaces and are becoming more common in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. It will help you generate power from existing areas, either for personal use or to sell back to the grid, while also shielding automobiles.
The types of solar carport are listed below:
1. Residential Solar Carport
Residential solar installations function as mini power plants, designed for diverse tasks from charging electric vehicles to powering household devices. These carports can be connected to the local power grid or run off-grid, constructed as free-standing structures, or as additions to existing structures.
Notably, these arrangements benefit owners of electric vehicles (EVs) by providing shade and charging stations while reducing carbon footprints. Charging EVs through solar energy generally proves more economical than relying on the grid or public charging spots. Any excess electricity can be used for household or transferred to the power grid in exchange for credits.
2. Commercial Solar Carport
Commercial solar carports, equipped with photovoltaic cells, can power adjacent buildings or act as standalone structures. This is one of the types of solar carport commonly seen at businesses, malls, and showrooms, they’re often positioned near main entrances for easy guest parking. When considering such carports, it’s essential to ensure they aren’t overshadowed by nearby buildings or trees, are placed away from pollution sources, and maintain a safe distance from power outflow sites.
Commercial carports are custom-built for each property’s specifics, producing clean energy and cutting costs. Additionally, they serve as powerful marketing tools, demonstrating a company’s dedication to eco-friendly practices.
3. Industrial Solar Carports
Industrial solar carports are roofed buildings that cover one or more parking spaces and have solar PV systems installed. These structures are designed for large-scale industrial environments, enclosing parking lots and housing solar PV installations. The electricity generated can be battery-stored for consistent supply, even without sunlight. Such carports provide numerous benefits to diverse businesses, emphasizing their significance in integrating renewable energy into their parking lots.
4. Long-Span Structures
Long-span carports are the types of solar carport that are ideal for double-row parking areas since they can be customized with EV chargers, lights, waterproof roofing, and a variety of protective coatings that fit your design preferences. Their design is adjustable; while retaining a 27-foot gap between columns on one side, they can extend over 100 feet on the other, optimizing area and solar panel coverage. For optimal performance, it’s advisable to maintain a minimal tilt angle for the panel, typically between one and three degrees, for maximum performance.
What are the Different Solar Carport Designs?
Solar carports, with their numerous benefits, have the potential to transform parking spaces into dynamic energy centers. These are the following solar carport designs available; select the appropriate one based on your space and requirements:
The L-shaped carport is recognized for its cantilevered design, commonly used for single rows of parking, often adjacent to buildings or at a parking lot’s end. The design aims to incorporate as many panels as possible while keeping the number of foundations to a minimum.
It holds modules in portrait, displaying a three-module tall design on one side. While the standard L-shape features a single cantilever, some variations have offset cantilevers. Because of the consistent sizes of the foundations and columns, this layout is typically more expensive.
The T-shaped structure features cantilevers on both sides of the center column. This design can support three panels on each side, south, and north, all of which are supported by column beams. The T-shape, oriented North-South, is ideal for modules tilted southwards, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. This T-shape is popular not only because of its mono-slope form facing south but also because of its cost-effectiveness.
The Y-shaped configuration focuses on columns that run north to south, with modules facing east-west. Six panels become prominent in this setting, evenly distributed on each side of the columns. The water runoff pattern is one distinguishing feature; water converges and drains towards the center column. This design is distinguished by a single-post, single-column configuration. In this case, the panels are facing each other.
The P-shaped is a notable design within the different types of solar carport. It’s commonly found in settings such as educational institutions or corporate offices where walkway coverage is required. This design allows additional modules – typically eight panels split across two beams of four panels each. This design is ideal for parking areas that need extra panels or have connecting pathways, offering greater structural capacity for specific parking needs.
Among the different designs of solar carport, the W-shape structure features a unique design that has been carefully planned and tested to endure the most severe weather conditions, ensuring both safety and robustness. The efficient rainproof capability of its design is not only practical but also inexpensive. Moreover, the design provides for better waterproofing throughout, which not only serves as a water guide but also improves the overall aesthetic appeal.
Nevertheless, in the solar carport design, the dimensions and placement of the carport are critical. If your business relies on the parking of large delivery trucks, it’s advisable to maintain a minimum ground clearance of 14 feet.
Additionally, check out 5 Benefits of Solar Carport: Is It Worth It?
How to Build a DIY Solar Carport Kit
After learning about different types of solar carport and their designs, let’s delve into the steps to build one. The following steps provide a comprehensive guideline on DIY solar carport kit, from gathering essential tools to the installation of solar panels. When choosing a timber framework, it’s crucial to understand each step to ensure your solar carport’s durability and effectiveness.
Step 1: Gather Necessary Tools & Components
A. Essential Tools:
- Power Screwdriver: For attaching timber to anchor bases and other installations.
- Paint Brushes: For the last finishing.
- Wood Sander: Used to smooth the wood before staining and sealing it.
B. Additional Equipment:
- Wheelbarrow and Spade: Used to mix cement and sand to make concrete. A spade will be needed to dig holes for the concrete footings.
- Bolts, Screws, and suitable fixtures: Gather these components based on your design specifications.
- 4×—4 Wood Fence Post Anchor Base: Used to secure timber posts to concrete.
- Rafter Anchors: These anchors help to secure the rafters to the beams, ensuring stability.
- Timber Source: Purchase timber from your local hardware store.
- Timber Posts: For a 12″ ×— 20″ carport, choose six 7ft 4″ ×— 4″ posts.
- Timber Rafters: The selection is determined by the size of the carport and the number of solar panels. For size recommendations, consult with local vendors or contractors.
- Timber Beams: Positioned on posts to support rafters.
- Concrete Footings: Purchase 60lb or 80lb bags of cement depending on your needs. For exact measurements, use a concrete calculator. Also, maintain a cement-to-sand ratio of 1:2 for medium-strength concrete.
- Solar Panels: 400w solar panels are recommended for their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
- Finishes: Select a color of wood stain that complements your surroundings. Also, wood sealer is a necessary component for preventing warping or rotting by waterproofing your timber.
You can also take a look at How to Roll Up a Solar Pool Cover.
Step 2: Design, Sizing, and Budgeting
1. Consider the size of your carport, taking into account the number of vehicles and the dimensions of your property.
2. When it comes to types of solar carports for DIY processes, there are two major materials to consider: timber and steel frameworks:
- Steel-framed carports have more structural strength, which implies that steel frames are your best option if you plan to create a larger carport.
- Timber frames are less expensive and still have enough structural strength to hold your solar panels.
3. Determine the number of solar panels required for your DIY solar carport based on the size of your carport and the associated expenditures.
Step 3: Laying Concrete Footings
- Before you begin, keep in mind that the foundation is critical for the stability of a solar carport.
- Select a location for your solar carport. Mark the precise position of each timber post, making sure they are equally spaced and in alignment.
- The depth of the footings should be approximately one-third the length of the timber post. This would be about 2.3ft deep for a 7ft post.
- With 4″ ×— 4″ posts, the footing width should be around 8″.
- Dig holes for the footings are required. Rough edges can be left since they increase friction between the posts.
- In a wheelbarrow, prepare the concrete mix. Maintain a 1:2:0.5 ratio of one component of cement, two parts sand, and half part water.
- Using gloves, pour the mixture into the holes. Finish this on the same day to guarantee consistency.
- The drying time can vary depending on the type of cement used. Regular cement might take up to a week to set, but quick-set cement takes roughly 48 hours.
- Keep the concrete moist for the first three days to avoid cracking. This can be handled by watering the footings every day.
Step 4: Setting up the Timber Framework
- Once the concrete footings have dried, bolt the anchor bases to the concrete.
- Sand your 4″ ×— 4″ posts properly before inserting them into the bases and securing them with screws.
- Check that the posts are properly vertical and stable. Consider utilizing additional braces if there is any movement.
- Although this step appears simple, accurately aligning posts can be difficult.
Also Read: What Are the Benefits of Solar Canopy?
Step 6: Beams and Rafters
- Before attaching beams to posts, make sure they are level. Mark uniform heights across all posts with a spirit level and string.
- If any posts are not level, correct them by sanding or cutting to the desired size.
- Attach the beams to the posts using timber casing allowing the beams to rest and firmly attach.
- Measure 0.15 inches from the top of a beam downwards for the roof’s slight slope, which assures rain runoff.
- Attach a string to the top of the opposite beam from this mark that acts as a guideline for the slight slope.
- Attach rafters to beams with rafter anchors. Place them 4 feet apart. Check that the top of each rafter aligns with the string.
- Apply stain and sealant after all timber components are in place and drilling is complete. Drilling into sealed wood may result in water infiltration.
Step 7: Installing the Solar Panels
- The last crucial step in building any type of solar carport is the installation of solar panels.
- Because solar carports use ground-mounted panels, consider particular installation guidelines.
- Keep in mind that the panels will be positioned on slanted rafters.
- After installation, connect the solar panels to your existing solar system.
Note: When it comes to the wiring of the solar panels, it’s highly recommended to seek assistance from a technician.
For a video guide on a similar DIY project, you can refer to this YouTube Link
Therefore, the procedure may appear difficult, but it ensures proper functioning as well as possible savings. However, if there is any doubt at any point, consult with an expert. Prioritise safety above anything else throughout the process.
Understanding the different types of solar carports is essential for optimizing energy generation and ensuring efficient construction based on the location’s requirements. Nevertheless, with the right materials, a comprehensive blueprint, and a passion for sustainability, assembling a DIY solar carport kit at home is certainly feasible.
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