What is a Solar Canopy ?

A Solar Canopy Is an Outdoor Structure

  • A Solar Canopy is an overhead Roof or a overhanging structure over which a fabric or metal covering is attached, able to provide shade or shelter from weather conditions such as sun, hail, snow and rain.[1]
  • A Solar Canopy can also be a Solar Tent, generally without a floor

Solar Canopy Building Integrations

By offsetting the initial costs of Solar Installations

  • The use of photovoltaics in Solar Canopies and other outdoor residential and commercial structures is becoming more prevalent.
  • With new Thin Films and eventual use of solar textiles more opportunities have become available in the building processes allowing more complicated use of solar with commercial and residential applications.
  • Through use of construction integrations by way of either aesthetic or structural implementation, solar can now be used as a part or whole in the building process and more be affordable by offsetting the constructions cost with gains made by lower energy costs or sales of electricity to the grid 

The Types Of Solar Canopies are no longer restricted

  • Solar Panels can now be applied to many types of construction configurations.
  • Solid Solar Panels are now being more widely used as a structural component for roofing on wooden structures such as Canopies, Pergolas, Patios, Walkways, and Carports

The Costs of Residential Solar Structures are Dependent on the type of Solar System and the structure it is being applied to.

  • Tax Credits ! Check for solar tax credits first – Local ,State and Federal . These credits if available will offset total cost of solar canopy installation . 
  • The total cost of structure being used for the solar installation . 
  • Have an engineer approve architectural plans  with installed panels as part of structural integrity as panels weight and size may add needed reinforcement . 
  • Make sure structure is oriented towards winter sun -Solar Panel Azimuth and Zenith Orientation Alignment


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The Use of Solar Panels as a structural Component

  • Solar Panels in the past have been all built at predetermined sizes according to manufacturing specs due to limitations in production but will soon be made in residential and commercial structural  sizes and strength capabilities with entire walls and roof systems delivered straight from the factory in a prewired bolt together setup

Properly Aligning Your Solar Canopy to Sun

Solar Tracker (iOS) and SimplySolar (Android) use the gyroscope within your smartphone to ensure a solar panel is optimally aligned to gather the maximum amount of sunlight. You launch the app, place the smartphone on the panel and your phone will tell you which way to turn in based on your location. Solar Tracker also has settings for temporary setups, like campsites or when traveling.

Solar Pe-Pv APP

Proper Placement of Your Solar Canopy

Sun Seeker app
Sun Surveyor App

Check Your Local Variance Code

  • Two broad categories of variances generally are used in the practice of local land use planning: area (or bulk) variances and use variances.[1]
  • An area variance is the most common type. It can be requested by a builder or landowner when an odd configuration of the land, or sometimes the physical improvements (structures) on the land, requires a relaxation of the applicable regulations to avoid denying the landowner the same rights and use of the property enjoyed by owners of neighboring properties. A textbook example would be a house built on an oddly-shaped lot. If the odd shape of the lot makes it onerous for the landowner or builder to comply with the standard building setbacks specified in the code, a variance could be requested to allow a reduced setback. Another would be a house built on a sloping lot. If the slope of the lot makes it onerous to comply with the height limit—typically due to the way the municipality’s code requires height to be measured—then a variance could be requested for a structure of increased height because of the special conditions on the lot.
  • In the case of a Solar Canopy or Other Solar Structure , Pergola or Carport first check with your local building  department and submit plans to insure that you are not building said structure too close to neighboring property or above possible  height restrictions an example being the furthest point out from structure-“Typically the exterior fascia ” being too close or too high above neighboring property.
  • Also be aware that the same applies in said structure being too close or too high above your own house due to possible fire or local ordinance considering its location unsightly due to it being too close to the main house .
  • Check with your subdivision HOA before beginning any of project to insure compliance .
  • Have HOA – “Sign Off ” written statement that said structure complies with all HOA rules and is totally compliant.
  • Have local utilities come out and check for underground utilities whether wiring, sewage or other, even in your backyard.
  • A use variance is a variance that authorizes a land use not normally permitted by the zoning ordinance.[2] Such a variance has much in common with a special-use permit (sometimes known as a conditional use permit). Some municipalities do not offer this process, opting to handle such situations under special use permits instead. Grant of a use variance also can be similar, in effect, to a zone change. This may, in certain cases, be considered spot zoning, which is prohibited in many jurisdictions.
  • In either case, the variance request is justified only if special conditions exist on the lot that creates a hardship making it too difficult to comply with the code’s normal requirements. Likewise, a request for a variance on a normal lot with no special conditions could judiciously be denied. The special conditions or hardship typically must arise from some physical configuration of the lot or its structures. The financial or personal situation of the applicant normally cannot be taken into consideration. Under most codes governing variances, approval of the variance must not result in a public health or safety hazard and must not grant special privilege to the property owner. In other words, when a variance is granted, any other property owner with similar site conditions should be able to obtain a similar variance; this criterion is often addressed by citing precedent.


The Sizing Of Your Solar Canopy or Carport

  • Remember that when building a structure with a pitched roof the length of the roof “Grows” as the pitch increases.
  • If you have a solar canopy with 4 posts at 10 feet by 10 feet distance then the roof pitch increases the overall length of the roof rafters from post to post. If the roof were set to a flat roof then the length of the rafters would remain at 10 feet each and be the same distance as the post spacing but once you begin to raise one end of roof the distance increases as the pitch increases so new measurement must be taken into account if you want to have so many panels laid end to end or side to side and keep a uniform look overall , an example being in trying to match the amount of overhang on panels as far as the overall width  and keeping that overhang measurement the same on the roofs upper and lower end . This is primarily to keep a clean visual perspective to the solar structure.Another option is to space the panels accordingly to gain or lose lenght up the roof slope or the overall width
  • Also on the solar canopies layout keep in mind the overhanging rafter tails and whether you wish to cover these with the installation of the solar panels as well and if so then add more distance to the overall width to acquire a more modular look.

Roof Pitch Calculator for Solar Canopies

Use This Calculator to find the correct roof pitch for you solar canopy ,carport , pergola, or awning 

Roof Pitch Calculator
Roofing Calculator
Snow Load Calculator

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