How to install solar panels when your roof isn’t an option

08/24/2012 | By Jennie Morton

Want to add renewable energy but don’t have a roof that can support a solar array? Don’t abandon the possibility of solar energy if your roof isn’t an option. Look to unused areas of your property instead.

Solar panels can be placed on parking canopies or ground- and pole-mount units. These additional configurations can achieve the same output or greater as a rooftop installation.

The Limitations of Roof Arrays
There’s no shortage of reasons why a building owner would pursue renewable energy – lowering your electricity bill, earning a point toward a green building certification, slashing your carbon footprint, or making a public statement about your environmental commitment are powerful incentives for any facility.

Among the renewable energy options available to facility managers, solar is perhaps the most comfortable and trusted. Its years on the market make it a proven technology with consistent performance and a quantifiable payback and ROI. Though rooftop solar arrays are a common option, they aren’t always the best fit for a commercial building.

Some roofs serve as an architectural element and the addition of solar panels would be at odds with the building’s design. Others are unable to support the added weight of solar racks and even if they could, the roof itself may not offer enough square footage to effectively produce energy.

“Roof mounts tend to be limited in size. Module spacing is determined by the roof size, so system performance might be restricted because of physical limitations,” says Joe Thomas, CEO and president of MAGE SOLAR, a solar provider. “The orientation and pitch of a roof will also determine what a system can ultimately yield because architectural and physical boundaries come into play.”

For other facilities, it’s not the right timing to add solar panels. Because the average life of a commercial roof and PV panels is 25 years, it’s best to add solar panels immediately after a roof replacement. But if you are in the middle of your roof life, you may not want to wait 10-15 years to secure solar energy.

Visibility and accessibility are also sacrificed with a rooftop array. Most arrays are hidden from public view, making it difficult to display a commitment to sustainability. And with PV panels tucked away on the roof, installation and maintenance can be a hassle.


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See how professionals like you are taking advantage of the highest performing precision cooling system for their computer rooms and data centers, and why Data Aire is fast-becoming the number one choice for facility managers and building owners looking to decrease their energy consumption. 

Data Aire understands how digital technology and data gravity is rapidly impacting and transforming businesses. That’s why they developed ultra-efficient cooling technology to support the most modern (and not-so-modern) data centers.  Learn how One Wilshire in Los Angeles, one of the most advanced carrier hotels today, is surpassing California's strict energy efficiency requirements with Data Aire’s purpose-built system, which provide full-economization for 260 days – almost 72% of the year. That’s a measurable savings! Furthermore, the projected PUE on an annual basis for a full load is at or below 1.2.


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