Are solar carports worth it, and can you qualify for the solar tax credit?

Updated

solar carport

If your roof is not an ideal spot to install solar panels, or you do not have enough space to install a ground mount solar system, a solar carport is a great alternative. Solar carports can provide energy for your home while also charging electric cars via solar power. 

In this blog we will discuss the different types of solar carports, their costs, and whether or not they qualify for the solar tax credit.

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    What is a solar panel carport?

    A solar carport is a structure that sort of acts like a garage, protecting your car from rain and snow loads, with a solar-paneled roof that creates energy. You can use the energy to charge an EV or to provide electricity for your home. 

    A solar carport serves the dual purposes of protecting your car by acting as a shade structure, and providing a large surface area that can be covered with solar photovoltaic PV panels. 

    Solar carports can be added to a residential home’s driveway or to a commercial business' parking lot. For instance, solar carports are becoming a popular addition to business campuses to install over their parking spaces because they provide electricity to the building and allow for electric vehicle owners to charge their cars at the same time.

    How much do home solar carports cost?

    The price will differ, depending on how much power you want to generate and your geographic location. At a minimum, you will need a solar inverter, a steel frame, and purlin roofing system for the panels, as well as a professional installation. 

    As of April 2021, the cost of a single solar panel in the U.S. has decreased to around $2.85 per watt.

    Because solar carports will generally take up less surface area than retrofitting your entire roof to have solar panels (if your existing roof cannot accommodate them), building carports are less expensive. For example, a 5kW system will cost you, on average, $14,250. 

    However, that cost will be different based on your local utility rates and local and state solar incentives.

    Learn what size solar carport will make the most sense for your energy needs

    Will a solar carport system get you the solar tax credit?

    Yes, you will qualify for the federal solar tax credit when installing a solar carport on your home. However, commercial buildings do not qualify.

    The solar tax credit allows a federal tax deduction of 26% off of the amount you spend on installing a qualified solar energy system, including solar carports. That means that in the hypothetical example above, instead of spending $14,250, a solar carport would cost you $10,545 after the federal tax credit. 

    IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are thinking about building a solar carport yourself, check with a tax attorney before you start to make sure that you will still qualify for the tax deduction. In some cases, DIY solar projects do not qualify. 

    How do you get a solar panel carport installed?

    Most city and county governments require a building permit before you build a structure on your property. There is also paperwork to fill out at your local utility company. Once you have the government approvals in place and a carport design, you can hire a licensed electrical installer to start building your solar panel carport.

    Some manufacturers include Solar Carport Designs and Kern Solar Structures, but we recommend doing research to find local solar carport installers in your area. This way, if you ever need help or updates with your carport, help will be close by. 

    A red van and silver car are parked under a solar carport with a grey home in the background.

    Residential solar carports can be made to be aesthetically cohesive to the home while providing protection to cars. Image source: Blue Green House 

    Are solar carports worth it?

    Like many home improvement projects, the answer depends on your circumstances. If you are planning to move soon, then you will not have time to recoup the cost of installation through generated electricity. 

    On the flip side, the installation might increase the real estate value of your home so that you would make a profit when you sell your house even if you do move. 

    Learn more: How much do solar panels increase home value?

    It is important to note that a rooftop is the most convenient place for solar panel installations. But if your roof needs to be replaced soon, is too shaded, or is at an unsuitable angle for solar panels, a solar carport is a great alternative. 

    For a business, solar carports allow you to customize the size of your solar array so if your company needs a lot of energy, a large parking lot can be the best spot to utilize instead of the roof. 

    How long does it take for your solar projects to pay themselves off?

    If you want renewable energy production options and need space for EV charging, solar canopies offer both solutions in one. While the initial cost of installing solar panels might be challenging to commit to, the average time to payback solar panels is only 7.6 years.  

    The good news is you will begin to save on your electricity bills immediately after installing solar panels. Once they’re paid off, you can even begin to turn a profit if your state offers net metering benefits, which pay you for your unused energy.

    Solar carports are a great option for homes and businesses that wish to customize the size of the solar array needed while generating the most energy. If you install a carport in your home, the federal tax credit will help you save even more on solar installation costs and get you to savings quicker. 

    To get the most savings, it is best to work with qualified carport installation contractors, who you can get in touch with here

    See how much solar panels will cost for your home

    Key takeaways

    • You can qualify for the federal tax credit if you install a solar carport at your home.
    • Solar carports can save you money on your electric bill and are a great  alternative to a solar roof installation if your roof is not ideal for solar panels.
    • Solar carports can be installed in residential homes or commercial parking lots and can provide clean energy for electricity or charging electric cars.
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Ana Almerini

    Web Content Specialist

    Ana is a content specialist at SolarReviews. She uses her experience in marketing and knowledge from her master's in climate communications to research and review the solar industry.

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