It is not only individuals who are increasingly likely to embrace solar energy these days. More and more commercial enterprises are making the leap to power their buildings with electricity created via the free energy received from the sun. Not only does making the switch save money, but such companies are hoping they will be viewed more favorably if they are seen to be displaying a commitment to more environmentally-friendly energy sources.
The question though is, what's the difference between residential and commercial solar power systems?
The most obvious answer is the scope. While a home has only a small number of people using electricity, the amount of people at a commercial premises can easily number into the hundreds. Solar panels for residences are usually smaller, and generate less power. This is because the roof space of residential buildings is less than the roof space of commercial buildings, so while a residential solar energy panel typically has 72 cells, a commercial solar panel will be about twelve inches wider, and have 96 cells.
Solar energy is a black and white issue
Commercial solar panels are also like the Model T Ford – you can have any color you like, as long as it's white. While most residential homes who go for solar are happy to accept white panels, if you do not want your panels to be so apparent, you can go for black ones instead.
As commercial panels are also likely to be needed to generate more power, they are usually more expensive per panel, although the actual price for solar energy is calculated by the power that they produce, and not the size or efficiency of the panel. Therefore, a 4kW system for a residential system will cost exactly the same as a 4kW system for a commercial system.
Because commercial panels are larger than residential ones, they are more efficient at producing electricity. Commercial panels have an efficiency of just under 20 percent, making them two percent more efficient than residential panels.
A non-stalling installation
In the case of both residential panels and commercial panels, they are installed using a bolted racking system, but as the roof of a commercial building is more more likely to be flat than the roof of a residence, a mounting system using non-penetrating ballast can be used, making installation easier. This makes a commercial installation easier than a residential one, although because many commercial installations can involve upwards of one hundred panels, as opposed to between eight and sixteen panels for a residential system, a full installation at a commercial premises can take longer than a week, or even as long as a month.
It's worth noting that if you are a residential customer who has decided to install a solar panel system, there is nothing to stop you from installing commercial-standard solar panels, especially if you have plenty of roof space, and you are not too bothered about how your panels will look on your roof. These are just some of the slight but important differences between a commercial and residential solar energy system installation. There is one thing that both types of system will have in common though – they allow the owners of the system to save money by using the free energy supplied by the sun, and they will both help to prevent global warming from becoming any worse.