Solar power is now more prevalent than ever before. In the past fifteen years, solar power in the United States has increased from only .34 gigawatts in 2008 to being able to produce enough power for 18 million residential homes. Solar power isn’t only for residential buildings, however. Commercial buildings are also increasingly embracing solar power. But is installing solar panels right for you?
Why Are Commercial Buildings Embracing Solar Panels?
Businesses such as Target are expanding their usage of solar panels where possible. This is in order to meet sustainability goals. Target has created its first net-zero building in California, which was recently refurbished to have thousands of solar panels on its roof. The store was designed with the purpose of exceeding its energy needs with the solar panels.
Target plans to use the Vista, California store as an opportunity to test innovations that can then spread to other stores across the country after they’ve been perfected.
Benefits of Solar Panels for Commercial Buildings
A good place to start in determining whether solar panels are right for your commercial building is to look at the benefits they can bring to you. Solar panels can, over time, save you money on energy bills. Plus, they’re much more environmentally friendly.
Solar Panels Can Save Money
A major advantage of installing solar panels is that they save commercial building owners money. Once the solar panels have been installed, the energy they produce is free from the sun. Even if you don’t install enough solar panels to fully cover your energy bills, having even one solar panel can reduce your energy costs. If you have more than enough solar panels, you can earn money by selling excess solar energy to electric companies to help power the grid.
The energy savings and ability to sell excess energy to electric companies mean that solar panels can be an excellent return on investment for all sizes of businesses.
All Sizes of Commercial Building Can Use Solar Panels
Solar panel technology has improved greatly over the years. This means that it’s easier for building owners to install them on any size of building. Small businesses to large companies can all use solar panels. It’s just a matter of calculating how many solar panels are needed to cover your energy needs. Smaller buildings will of course require fewer solar panels to completely cover their energy needs than a larger building would. But larger buildings also have more roof space for the installation of more solar panels.
Solar Power Improves Company Branding
With the number of people concerned about the environment and climate change increasing, a business can improve its brand in the eyes of people across the globe by installing solar panels. Solar panels do help save money, but they also show a commitment to protecting the environment. This can increase sales with customers who feel strongly about the environment and reduce the effects of climate change. Many people choose to put their money behind their beliefs and would purchase from a company with solar panels over one that contributes to climate change.
Solar Panels Don’t Require a Lot of Maintenance
Commercial business owners have a lot to think about when it comes to maintaining their property. However, solar panels don’t add much to the maintenance checklist because they don’t require much. They do need to be cleaned and it’s a good idea to have them inspected regularly by a professional, but there isn’t a lot of maintenance for the building owner to do.
Solar Panels Are Quiet
Solar panels don’t have a lot of moving parts that can create noise. This means that even a lot of them won’t make a lot of noise that would disturb customers and staff members.
Downsides of Solar Panels for Commercial Buildings
While there are many benefits to solar panels, it’s also a good idea to know what the downsides are before you make a decision.
Solar Panels Depend on the Weather
If you live in a very sunny area like Central Florida, then solar panels can be a great choice. There’s plenty of sunlight throughout the whole year for the solar panels to absorb and convert to energy for your building. However, if you live in an area with cloudier weather, solar panels can still benefit your business, but the amount may not be as much.
Similarly, if your commercial building is located near a lot of trees, sunlight could be blocked from reaching the solar panels.
Solar Panels Have High Upfront Costs
While solar panels can help you to save money in the long run by reducing or eliminating energy bills, there’s still a higher up-front cost involved. Some solar panel companies may offer rental or leasing options that could make solar panel installation more affordable, especially for smaller businesses.
Solar Panels Require Professional Maintenance
While there isn’t a lot for building owners to do other than keep solar panels clean regularly, maintenance requires hiring professionals. Solar panels are complicated technology that can’t easily be maintained by an amateur. This means that maintenance could be more expensive than with other technologies that the building owners may be able to maintain themselves.
Solar panels do need to be kept clean as well. Dust and dirt that build up over time can prevent solar panels from working as well as they should. You’ll know that solar panels either need to be cleaned or need maintenance if they aren’t producing as much energy as you would expect.
Solar Panels Become Less Effective over Time
Solar panels decrease in effectiveness over time, usually by about 0.5% every year. This means that after a while, solar panels will need to be replaced once the amount of energy they produce is no longer covering the building’s energy needs.
Solar panel output image courtesy of Wikimedia