Solar Panels for Commercial Buildings

Dean Emerick

February 16, 2023

The rise of solar technology in the modern age has been remarkable. In 1956, the very first solar array was put up for sale with an exceptionally high cost of $300 per watt which kept it out of reach for most people. However, over the years, the price gradually dropped and by 1975 had decreased to $100/watt. It has since seen an average reduction of 10% each year.It is currently under $3/watt, a one hundred fold decrease in original system costs.

commercial solar systems

Going with the technological boom, the use of solar panels for commercial buildings has become a popular way to cut down energy costs, reduce pollution and contribute to a healthier environment. Additionally, the reduced costs have made solar power more affordable than ever before, offering businesses the opportunity to enhance their reputation without breaking the bank.

In this blog post, we'll take a look at the benefits of commercial solar systems and explore their various types. We'll also analyze how these innovative technologies can positively impact your business operations in no time. Read on to unlock the potential of commercial solar systems and take your business to new heights.

Do solar panels work for commercial buildings?

Yes, solar panels are well suited to commercial settings due to their flexibility in application. They can be used in both large and small-scale projects, ranging from powering entire industrial and office buildings down to powering individual machines or security systems within those buildings. This offers businesses maximum control over their own energy supply.

Solar electricity systems can be easily installed in any building. Depending on the system's size, they can produce enough energy to cover up to 100% of a commercial building's energy needs. Plus, businesses can sell excess power back to the utility grid which helps offset their higher power bills.

Solar panels work by using photovoltaic cells (or PV cells) which convert sunlight into electrical current that serves as an alternative power source. The major benefit of using solar panels is their ability to reduce a business’s electricity costs over time. Solar panel systems have no moving parts and require almost no maintenance. As a result, they can produce clean electricity long after they are installed, 25-30 years on average.

Solar energy is now in competition with other forms of renewable energy, such as wind, tidal and geothermal energy sources, for usage in commercial applications. Therefore, commercial businesses have increasingly adopted solar energy for its sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Benefits of solar power for commercial buildings

The advantages of solar panels for commercial buildings are numerous, and the impact these renewable energy sources can have on a business is substantial. Here are only some of their top benefits:

1. Corporate Social Responsibility

When it comes to corporate social responsibility, investing in renewable energy projects should be an obvious priority. Practical steps such as installing solar panels on commercial buildings can prove a company's commitment to sustainability. This can help to reduce their carbon footprint while demonstrating responsibility towards the environment and the long-term viability of the planet. Such investments are invaluable when it comes to cultivating a reputation as a socially responsible and sustainable business.

2. Energy Independence

Using solar power allows businesses to become more independent in energy production. This reduces their reliance on external sources of electricity. They don’t have to rely on utility companies which can be costly and unreliable during peak times or outages due to natural disasters or other factors outside of the company’s control.

3. High reliability with low maintenance

Solar panels provide reliable energy with minimal maintenance requirements. There is no need for fuel refills or regular replacements like fossil-fuel-powered systems do. Solar panels are also resilient against extreme weather conditions such as high winds, heavy rains or scorching heat waves. This allows them to keep providing clean energy even when other methods fail.

4. Customer Attraction

Installing a solar power system in a commercial building can set a company apart from its competitors. It helps to stand out in the market and create a positive brand image. By investing in renewable energy sources, companies can position themselves as leaders in sustainability. They can attract new customers who are looking for environmentally friendly options.

5. Local Incentives

Many local governments offer great incentives for businesses to install solar panels. Depending on the location, these may include grants, tax credits, and even subsidized loans. These incentives can even help offset the hefty upfront investment for the business owner. It allows them to save money while also helping to reduce greenhouse gases from the environment.

6. Financial Savings

Solar panels can help commercial properties save money on energy bills by reducing their monthly electricity costs. As businesses typically consume more energy than residential properties, they are able to see greater savings from switching to solar energy.

7. No Operating Cost

Most solar panel systems have little or no operating costs beyond occasional maintenance or repair fees. This makes them an attractive investment when compared with traditional sources of electricity which typically require ongoing fuel and maintenance costs that can significantly add up over time.

8. Net Metering

Many utilities offer net metering programs where they provide credit for surplus power generated by a commercial building’s solar panels at retail electricity rates. This helps businesses offset their electricity bills more quickly. It can even result in negative balances being applied against future electricity charges if the required power is not generated during a billing cycle through the year. Excess power is often generated in the summer, with credits being applied to electricity bills during the winter months.

9. Return On Investment

The cost of installing a commercial-scale solar system has dropped dramatically in recent years due to advances in technology and the mass production of components used. Local incentives and financial savings further encourage businesses to invest in commercial solar energy systems, making it a very attractive proposition. This often results in a good ROI for businesses with a payback period of 5-10 years depending on their specific circumstances and requirements.

10. Enhances Property Value

Installing solar panels on commercial buildings enhances their marketability, as prospective tenants or buyers view properties powered by renewable energy sources as being ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability efforts. Studies show that adding solar panels to a property can increase its value by up to 4%, depending on location, size, and other factors.

Types of the commercial solar energy system

There are a variety of solar panels available for commercial buildings, including monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film amorphous silicon. They can be used in a number of ways:


One of the most popular types of commercial solar energy systems is roof-mounted systems, which use either polycrystalline or monocrystalline photovoltaic panels. These panels are installed directly onto the roof of the building, making them both efficient and unobtrusive.

Polycrystalline panels are made from crystallized silicon particles and use less material than monocrystalline panels, resulting in lower costs for installation and maintenance. Monocrystalline photovoltaic cells are composed of pure silicon, making them more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, but they also cost more upfront.


Ground-mounted solar energy systems involve installing large arrays of photovoltaic cells into the ground instead of on the roof. This type of system offers greater flexibility when choosing locations for installation. But it is also significantly more expensive than roof-mounted systems. This is due to factors such as site preparation costs, excavation costs, and additional wiring that may be needed to connect to the power grid or another electrical source.

Parking canopy systems

Parking canopy systems are an attractive option for businesses looking to incorporate solar technology into their business operations. This is without taking up too much space or looking too industrial in appearance. These canopies typically feature thin-film amorphous silicon modules that capture light from all directions during daylight hours. They provide shade along with power generation capabilities beneath them.

Solar carports provide an aesthetically pleasing way to harvest energy from the sun. They also offer protection from weather conditions like rain and snowfall where ground-mounted options may not be suitable.

No matter what commercial solar energy system you choose, committing to solar power offers plenty of advantages! With so many great reasons why commercial solar energy is worth investing in, it's easy to understand why this trend continues to grow each year!

How to calculate the size and output requirements of a system?

When it comes to installing a commercial solar energy system, it is important to understand the size and output requirements. This will help to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

The size of a commercial solar energy system depends on two main factors: your electricity needs and the available roof area or land space. The higher your electricity needs, the larger the system needs to be in order to provide an adequate amount of energy for your business.

In terms of roof area, if you have plenty of room, then you may opt for a larger system that can meet more of your company’s electricity needs. On the other hand, if space is limited, then you need to choose a smaller system that will fit onto your property without taking up too much real estate and use your available space more efficiently.

To calculate the output capacity of your commercial solar panels, you will need to know the following:

  • How much power (measured in watts) is your unit capable of generating during peak sunlight hours?
  • How many hours of sunlight exposure you will get each day on average?
  • An estimate of the cloud cover relevance for your area.

With this information collected, you can then multiply the peak generating capacity by the number of hours exposed to sunlight each day on average. Subtract the estimated reduction due to cloud cover. This total will give you a reasonable estimate of your solar power system's daily output capacity.

Tips to maximize your return on investment (ROI) with a commercial solar system

Investing in solar energy is an excellent way to secure future financial stability. With the right strategies and planning, you can ensure that you get the most out of your investment in a commercial solar system. Here are some tips to help you improve your ROI:

1. Consider incentives: As discussed in the benefits section, federal, provincial, and local governments often offer incentives to encourage businesses to switch to renewable sources of energy. Research available incentives in your area and decide if they're worth incorporating into your financial plan.

2. Carry out detailed research: Before making any major decisions about investing in solar power for your business, do thorough research. Understand the various types of technologies available and what would best suit your needs. Take into account factors like roof orientation, sun exposure rate, etc.

3. Find the right installer: It's important to find a reliable installer who can provide high-quality installation with quality materials at competitive rates. Read customer reviews online or let Solr Solvr help you find the best installers in your area who have been recommended by other businesses in the past.

4. Monitor usage data: Continuous monitoring of system usage will help identify areas where adjustments can be made. This will optimize performance and provide increased cost savings over time. Make sure that data is accessible through an online dashboard. This way you can review it easily whenever needed, without having to call up professionals every time something needs tweaking or fixing up.

5. Optimal placement: Solar panel arrays should be strategically positioned. This will maximize the amount of direct sunlight they receive, with minimal obstacles creating shade.

6. Don't oversize your solar arrays: It is important that you don’t oversize your solar array. Overestimating the needed power levels can put your budget at risk and reduce your potential savings. Assess your needs accurately to avoid wasting resources and money. Properly sizing the array for proper energy output over its lifetime helps protect your investment in solar panels.


Installing commercial solar systems can offer businesses numerous advantages, including reduced electricity bills and improved sustainability. By choosing the right size and system components, businesses can maximize their return on investment in the long run. Wise investments in solar energy technology will not only help businesses become more self-sufficient but also reduce their overall impact on the environment. Switching to renewable energy sources can save money and contribute to a cleaner planet for future generations.


What is the process of installing solar panels on an industrial building?

Installing solar panels on an industrial building is a straightforward process requiring a few steps. First, the building needs to undergo an energy audit to determine its exact energy requirements for both current and future use. Then, the experts will calculate the size of the system required and design a custom solar array that meets those needs. This will include optimal panel placement on the roof or land surrounding the structure. Next, all necessary permits, paperwork and inspections need to be obtained from local authorities prior to installation. Once approved, professional installers will mount and wire the panels in accordance with best practices. This will ensure a safe connection of panels to the power grid. Finally, after installation is complete, regular inspection should be planned in order to keep your system functioning at peak efficiency over time.

How to improve a solar electrical system's efficiency?

Improving the efficiency of a solar electrical system is an achievable goal. This can be done by:

  • Regular panel cleaning and inspection
  • Customizing the layout of the system for maximum sun exposure
  • Installing adequate batteries to store energy during peak times.

With attention paid to each of these areas, any solar-powered system will see improved efficiency.

Which solar panel is best for commercial use?

The best solar panel for commercial use depends on the energy needs and budget of your business. Generally, monocrystalline and polycrystalline models are the more efficient options due to their higher conversion rates. While thin-film panels can be a good choice if you’re looking to save on cost. It is also important that your commercial solar system includes top-quality inverters, mounting systems, racking equipment, and other safety measures such as anti-theft protection.

What is the difference between residential and commercial solar panels?

Residential solar systems usually come in sizes ranging from 3 kilowatts (kW) for smaller homes to 10 kW for larger homes. Commercial solar panels are generally bigger in size (starting from 25 kW commonly) so they can generate higher amounts of power. They also often have different installation processes, with additional requirements such as specific wiring and fire safety equipment.

What is the lifespan of a commercial solar panel?

Commercial-grade solar panels typically have a life expectancy of around 25 years with minimal maintenance needed over their lifetime. Their performance may decline with time due to aging materials but they will still produce usable electricity until they reach the end of life.

How many ACs can run on a 3 kW solar system?

A 3 kW solar system typically produces between 12 and 15-kilowatt hours (kWh) per day depending on where it is located. This means it can power multiple electronic appliances including air conditioners, with up to 4 standard window ACs running simultaneously. Additions like ceiling fans and LED lights could also be supported by such a system.

What are the 2 main disadvantages of solar energy?

The two main disadvantages of using solar energy are its initial high cost and reliance on weather conditions for optimal production levels.