Residential vs. Commercial Solar Projects: A Complete Guide

Residential vs. Commercial Solar Projects: A Complete Guide

Solar power is still on the rise in the USA, with 149 gigawatts of solar capacity installed nationwide.

Utility-scale Solar leads the way when it comes to installations. However, residential and commercial solar projects are on the increase too. 

Large-scale solar power offers several environmental benefits, plus a few conveniences for the man on the street. Yet, nothing beats a solar installation at your home or business when it comes to real savings.

Are you contemplating introducing solar to your home and business? It’s important to understand the difference between these types of installations.

Keep reading to find out more and discover the factors that impact your decision to join the trend toward solar power.

Commercial Solar Projects Are More Efficient

Commercial solar panels are larger than residential ones.

They typically have 96 cells, compared to residential panels’ 72 cells. They measure around 78 inches by 39 inches, while residential panels are 65 inches by 39 inches.

On average, these larger panels are also 2% more efficient than residential ones and also produce more power due to having more solar cells.

Their large size makes commercial solar panels impractical for all but the largest homes. Yet they’re ideal for the large, low-slope roofs of most commercial buildings.

Commercial Solar Installations Cost More 

Solar manufacturers and installers calculate the price of solar panels based on how much power they produce. So a 4 kW commercial solar system costs the same as a 4 kW residential installation.

However, commercial installations need to produce a lot more electricity than residential ones. So, you’ll pay a lot more overall when installing solar power at your business.  There are a few other aspects of a commercial installation that cost much more than you’ll pay for a home system.

For instance, it costs around $2,000 to upgrade your home’s electrical panel. A commercial installation usually involves upgrading the local transformer. This can cost as much as $20,000.

You’ll also need more battery storage to accommodate your business needs outside of peak sunlight hours.

Despite this, the cost per watt is often lower for commercial installations. That’s because there are a few set costs involved in both types of installations.

Commercial Solar Is More Technical

Solar installers use a bolted racking system to secure solar panels to all kinds of roofs. Due to the sheer size of commercial roofs, these installations take much longer than residential ones.

A residential installation usually takes a day to complete. Commercial installations may take as long as a month.

There are also more technical complexities involved in designing a commercial solar installation. It’s easier to identify any potential issues with residential installations, as there are fewer things to consider.

Commercial installers must consider things like planning for electrical equipment with a higher rating. This means the business might need to upgrade its transformer if local lines can’t handle the backfeed.

To ensure a streamlined transition, business owners must employ an experienced designer who’s well-versed in commercial projects. This will limit the potential for revisions and speed up the permitting process.

Permitting Is More Complex for Commercial Solar Installations

It takes between four and twelve weeks to install a residential solar system. This includes the permitting process.

With commercial solar installations, you could wait up to a year before installing your solar panels. That’s because the review process for commercial solar is a lot more involved and detailed.

It also varies widely from state to state.

For instance, Fresno solar companies use automated solar permitting systems to save time. Those in municipalities outside of California, Arizona, Connecticut, Texas, and Virginia don’t have this facility.

You must try to avoid any revisions when applying for a commercial solar permit. This will delay your application for months at a time.

An expert solar designer can help you avoid this by undertaking a comprehensive site survey. They’ll also help you answer every question on the permit application form. 

It’s More Difficult to Get Financing for Commercial Solar Initiatives

Not everyone can afford to pay cash for a solar panel installation, especially a large commercial one. So, you’ll likely need to apply for a loan. 

Residential solar loans are much easier to obtain than commercial ones. There are simply more options available.

You’ll need a good relationship with your bank if you want to apply for a commercial solar loan. There are very few other ways to get the money you need for this type of installation.

Things to Consider Before Installing Solar Panels

Solar panels are an expensive investment. Be sure to compare your current electricity bills against the monthly costs associated with paying your solar loan.

You should also make sure you get at least three quotes from reputable solar installers before you decide. The best solar contractors will visit your home or business to ensure you get the most bang for your buck when installing solar.

They’ll consider aspects like:

  • The pitch of your roof
  • How many hours of direct sunlight your panels will receive
  • Your electricity needs
  • The age of your roof

They can’t compile an accurate quote without considering these things.

In some cases, you may need to replace your roof before you can install solar. You might need to remove some trees casting shade on your roof.

All these factors will affect the efficiency of your solar panels. They’ll also impact how much you spend on your installation.

Always work with an established, well-reputed solar installer. These experts can help you streamline the permitting process by ensuring you follow the correct procedures for installing your solar system.

Maximize the Power of Technology in Your Daily Life

Both residential and commercial solar projects are eligible for excellent incentives. They differ when it comes to costs, efficiency, and complexity, though.

They also have extra benefits in common, like reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money. When you consider your options carefully, you always win when you install solar panels.

Would you like to discover more ways to improve your lifestyle with technology? Browse our website for all the latest information.

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