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Solar Fabric Canopies: Solar Powered Carports

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A new solar canopy uses flexible solar panels made from fabric to create a canopy that generates electricity.

Solar Fabric Canopies- Solar Canopies That Are Quick and Easy To Install

  • Solar fabric Structures, Buildings made from integrating solar fabric and building materials, can now be used to create solar canopies, carports, and other utilitarian outdoor structures.
  • With plenty of smaller locations available outside commercial business and residential locations, these will prove to be the perfect symbiotic relationship between small scale solar and small outdoor structures.
  • Up until recently, all Solar was deemed too important to use on small scale installations but with recent and continued drops in per Watt pricing smaller installations are becoming more “price-efficient” and cost-effective.

 

How Solar Fabric Canopies are Built

A solar fabric installation starts with an idea. Facilities professionals who know they want a rooftop-usable-space outdoor hangout space with flexible solar panels will work with manufacturers like Pvilion to customize the project to the conditions on the site. This will account for:

  • Where the site gets the most sun
  • Local code, including wind ,rain,and snow load requirements
  • How to engineer the structure so that the fabric is kept taunt in storm sand inclement weather
  • Once the project is designed, thin film solar panels are laminated to sturdy fabric that can handle adverse weather conditions. The fabric is then mounted on a frame, pole or other structure.
  • The solar space can be grid-tied or grid-independent and typically generate 10-15W per square foot of panel . Many structures can be erected in a few hours or less – most of the work is done ahead of time, with just structure-building and basic wiring required on-site.

“We just did a few installations in parks in Atlanta that are basically benches under a beautiful arching canopy that provides shade in the summer and rain protection, and there are USB ports and AC outlets there for you to charge your phone or work on your laptop,” Touhey says. “Outdoor solar canopies are a hot topic right now. At Google’s headquarters, we did some outdoor juice bars – a café juice bar but in an indoor-outdoor space where you’re protecting it, making it waterproof and providing solar shading.”

  • The solar fabric is also ideal for open parking lots that are exposed to the elements all day.
  • Solar Carports can use the flexible fabric or a more rigid panel solution to offset the electrical demand of parking lot lighting or to charge electric vehicles.
  • What to Know About Solar Fabric Architecture
  • This application of flexible solar panels may be new, but the maintenance is the same as it’s always been. A simple semi-annual cleaning with soap and water will make sure the panels can harvest the maximum amount of energy from the sun. A good rule of thumb is to clean the panels whenever you need to clean the solar fabric.

“If the white is getting dirty, the panels are as well. They’re just not as visible,” says Touhey. “But the panels are still going to work – you just want them to look nice.”

 

More On Solar Fabric Canopies

 

  • This application of flexible solar panels may be new, but the maintenance is the same as it’s always been. A simple semi-annual cleaning with soap and water will make sure the panels can harvest the maximum amount of energy from the sun. A good rule of thumb is to clean the panels whenever you need to clean the solar fabric.

 

(Photo: Capital Cascades Park in Tallahassee, FL, features a solar-powered pedestrian bridge that uses flexible solar fabric. The panels on the fabric power the park’s lighting. Credit: Pvillion)

Solar Tax Credits For Your Solar Installation

Solar fabric installations often qualify for investment tax credits, adds Touhey, so any financial discussion around investing in this new solar technology should take incentives into consideration. Pvilion’s clients are typically already interested in adding a solar-powered amenity, but the federal incentives make it easier to justify the upfront cost.

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