How to set up solar panels in a commercial building, Photovoltaics save money and energy, Building PV electricity
How To Set Up Solar Panels In A Commercial Building
22 January 2024
Solar power generation has become a popular choice over the past few decades. Whether it’s for saving energy bills or increasing sustainability, people are getting interested in installing solar panels in their homes and offices.
Despite its popularity, most commercial offices are still relying on electricity to power the building. However, switching to solar power will not only save a lot of money for businesses, it will also significantly help to protect the environment.
Even though opting for solar panel installation on a commercial level isn’t really a simple choice for some people, but if you consider the benefits, it is surely going to make the decision easier for you! . Business owners must look into a lot of factors before installing solar panels that will power their office buildings, factories, warehouses, and more.
Let’s dive into this article that will help you learn about how you can set up solar panels in a commercial building and how it’s different from installing them in residential homes.
Guide to How To Set Up Solar Panels In A Commercial Building
If you’re planning to install solar panels for your business, there are several things you need to keep in mind. The following tasks will help you set up a successful solar panel in your office building.
Examine The Roofing System
Most business owners will think of the roof first while installing solar panels. Installing the solar panels on the roofs will make them more exposed to the sun than on the sides.
Before installing the solar systems, it’s crucial to consider the roofing system of your commercial building. Some roofs are flat, making it easier to hold the panels, while some may be slanted.
If your roof is the latter, you must add unique brackets to make the installation easier.
A proper inspection of the roof will find out if there are any cracks or faults that require some work before you install the panels. Besides, it will help you decide where to put the solar panels.
Make sure to get help from a professional for proper inspection to avoid further inconvenience.
Get A Professional Energy Audit
It’s crucial to understand how your building structure uses energy before installing the solar-powered system. A professional energy audit can help you see exactly how much fossil fuel and power your building is using so that you can decide how to cut energy consumption.
Pairing up energy-saving practices with solar panel installation will help you make a significant saving on your commercial building. The audit will tell you the initiatives you should take to save energy by analyzing your current consumption profile.
Make sure to install the solar system after improving the energy efficiency. Doing the opposite may create a risk of having an excessive system.
Review The Engineer’s Plan
Once you get your energy audit report, make sure to hire an engineer to review it. Solar engineers will use the information provided in the audit report to plan, design, and implement them on the solar energy project.
Hiring an engineer will also give you an idea about the project’s total cost, effectiveness, and safety. Besides if you have multiple commercial buildings together for a business, an expert engineer should tell you on which building you should install the solar panels.
For example, if you want to make easier installation on a large roof, access easily, and reduce the cost of construction, the solar panels must be installed on warehouses as they’re often an ideal place to install one.
Hire Certified Personnel
While installing solar panels, the first thing you should consider is the safety. Depending on someone unprofessional and inexperienced to do the installation may put the people in that building at risk.
That’s why you must hire a certified contractor. Personnel with authentic certification have the practical knowledge that they can use to plan and manage a successful solar energy system.
If you’re planning to install solar panels on your commercial building, make sure to hire a certified professional. However, do not forget to crosscheck the credentials provided by them to avoid any fraudulent activity.
Ensure That The Solar Design Meets State Regulations And Manufacturer Requirements
So, your audit is done and reviewed. Can you just hire a company and install solar panels on the rooftop of the building?
Installing solar panels on a building is an upgrade that must be approved by the local authorities. You must collect all the required approvals and permits before you start the installation process.
How long it will take to get the approval? Based on your local government, size, and complexity of the project, this might take hours or even months. Besides, if you have multiple commercial buildings, you should make separate applications for each of them since the building codes are different.
Consider Sunlight Exposure
The amount of sunlight your roof gets is an important factor to consider before solar panel installation. The more it’s exposed to sun, the less number of panels you need to install.
If the roof of a commercial building doesn’t get enough sunlight, more and more panels should be installed to get sufficient power, which is quite expensive.
For example, if your building is south-facing, instead of east or west, chances that it will get greater solar exposure, thus making sure you don’t have to go for a lot of solar panels.
Find High-Quality Solar Panels And Inverters
High-quality solar panels and inverters are a must to ensure the effectiveness of the systems and the safety of your building. You don’t want to save money by going for cheap products and putting everyone in that building at risk.
How can you determine if the solar panels you purchase are high quality? You can check for any certification mark from the provider, which ensures the product has been tried and tested.
Premium solar panels might be expensive, but they will provide safety and longer service, thus making sure you save a lot of money on electricity.
Consider The Commercial Building’s Electrical System
The solar panels you’re planning to install will be linked to the electrical systems of the building. That’s why you must check it and make necessary upgrades before the installation.
Don’t worry! You don’t need to do it by yourself. The professional you’ve hired to audit can evaluate the system and suggest to you what changes should be made.
Make sure the electrical system of your building is up to date since it will handle the output and voltage level of the solar panels. Also, do not forget to get a disconnect switch to turn off the connections in case of an emergency.
Factor In Solar Energy Storage Options
You may get a significant amount of solar energy during the day, but what about the nighttime?
Energies that aren’t used or stored are lost. And you may also need the energy if your business is running at night. In that case, having the proper storage solution is a must.
Make sure you get enough solar batteries from a reputed manufacturer. They will store the extra solar energy generated during the day that you can use during the night or on a cloudy day.
Install The Solar Panels
Now you’ve done with all the prerequisites, it’s time to install the solar panels. Based on the size and complexity of your project, it may take from two days to two weeks or longer to finish the installation.
The contractors you’ve hired for the project will drill holes into the rafters and install the solar panel mounts. Then they will place thin metal plates on the mount to avoid water leakage. Finally, they will join the rails to the panels and link the inverter to the solar panels.
Schedule A Final Inspection
You can’t start using the solar panels immediately after they are installed. You need to contact the utility or city building agency to schedule a final inspection.
The inspectors will check if you get the necessary permits and approval for the system and if the alterations are made by following laws. Doing so will make sure that the entire system is up to code and safe for everyone in that building.
Present A Utility Interconnection Request
Once everything is installed and ready to run, you need to contact the utility department and submit a request for interconnection.
Based on where the commercial building is located the waiting period, costs, and application format will vary.
Start A Monitoring Plan
Regular inspection and maintenance are a must to make sure the solar system of your building is running smoothly. While a standard grid-tied solar system requires very low maintenance, you still need to make sure the system remains clean and free of dust and debris.
Make sure to do regular assessments of the solar panels you’ve installed. Also, do not forget to take a regular report on how much money and CO2 have been saved from your system.
How to set up solar panels in a commercial building Conclusion
Installing solar panels on your commercial building can be a huge step towards saving energy and reducing the carbon footprint. While it may look a bit costly initially, you can save a lot of money, thanks to the reduced utility bills.
However, before you take the leap to invest in solar panels for your business, you need to understand all the components involved in the process. Doing so will ensure you get the right solar panels for your project and they are properly installed.
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