Solar Carports & Canopies:
Solar Carports & Canopies
Most solar carport and canopy vendors offer pre-engineered standard models as well as customized designs, such as this custom Solar Support Structure by Baja Construction.
Florian Solar developed and installed this residential solar canopy on St. John's in the US Virgin Islands. The array’s bifacial modules are Prism Solar Bi60s.
Blue Oak Energy selected M Bar C for this tee-style carport project. The painted steel columns and beams, and the clean array wiring present a professional end product.
Quest Renewables commercialized its QuadPod canopy system in 2014. Georgia Tech Research Institute developed the product’s 3-D truss system under the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.
Some carport designs, such as this structure by S:FLEX installed for General Electric in Anaheim, California, allow module prepanelization to minimize the amount of time installers need to spend...
Solar carports and canopies range from utilitarian structures that get the job done to aesthetically beautiful additions to parking areas.
Solar carports and canopies range from utilitarian structures that get the job done to aesthetically beautiful additions to parking areas.
Inside this Article
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Solar carports and canopies have proven to be a successful and marketable approach to PV system siting and deployment. In addition to generating power, these structures add significant value to frequently underutilized parking areas, providing shade during the sunny months and protection from precipitation during the wet ones. This article provides system designers, engineers, and procurement and sales teams with overviews of 17 companies that offer solar carports, canopies or awnings in their product and service portfolios.
Many of the companies profiled have long business histories working with steel structures. As the solar industry gained momentum and entered new geographical markets, these vendors optimized their designs to integrate with PV arrays. As evidenced by the substantial number of companies profiled, a competitive market has developed for solar carports and canopies, driving the designers and fabricators of these structures to advance their designs. Today, project developers, integrators and EPC firms have an impressive range of solutions in this product class with a high level of optimization and refinement.
Headquarters: Tempe, Arizona
Contact: absoluterv.com • 877.833.3237
Arizona Storage, a privately owned company that also does business under the Absolute Steel brand name, was founded in 1999. At its production facilities on company-owned properties in Arizona and Texas, Absolute Steel fabricates a selection of steel-frame solar-ready carport systems that range from small canopies with two parking spaces to large carport designs suitable for commercial applications. Its showroom in the metropolitan Phoenix area displays its steel buildings, carport systems, barns and storage sheds. Absolute Steel supports customers with site evaluation, structural engineering, on-site management and training, and domestic and international shipping services.
Headquarters: Martinez, California
Contact: bajacarports.com • 800.366.9600
In operation since 1981, Baja Construction is a privately owned and vertically integrated design and construction firm with an in-house engineering department as well as its own construction crews. The company specializes in prefabricated, pre-engineered, high-tensile light-gauge steel structures that include solar carports, ground mounts and electric vehicle charging stations, as well as nonsolar carports, and RV, boat and self-storage facilities. Its engineering services and custom designs enable Baja to develop structures that meet site-specific wind load, snow load and geotechnical requirements. The company operates regional offices in Fontina, California; Dallas; Holbrook, New York; Las Vegas; and Phoenix.
Baja’s product line includes four standard configurations. Designed to cover a single row of parking spaces, its Braced Single Post carport includes flat, upslope and downslope options. Full Cantilever offers the same slope configurations, with the carport posts located along one of the structure’s eves. Full Cantilever T covers two rows of parking spaces, with posts located along the structure’s centerline between rows, and is available in flat and sloped array options. Finally, Single Post Back to Back couples two single-post configurations installed adjacent to each other to create a common flat or sloped array surface that covers two rows of parking spaces. All four of these configurations allow for customer-specified design requirements such as eve height, array tilt angle and purlin spacing based on module dimensions, and facilitate both portrait and landscape module layouts.
Headquarters: Oxford, Michigan
Contact: carportstructures.com • 800.442.4435
Carport Structures has been providing covered parking solutions and structural steel canopy products for commercial applications for more than 40 years. The privately owned and operated fabrication and construction company specializes in the design, manufacturing and installation of structural steel products such as multi-housing carports, walkway canopies and covers, shade structures, park shelters and RV carports.
In recent years it has developed solutions for commercial and utility PV applications, offering a range of services that include project quoting and presentation, site analysis, regional building code review and analysis, structural design, foundation design and layout, project management, foundation excavation and construction, steel structure erection and field fabrication, field painting, and PV racking and module installation. In addition to creating custom designs, it offers 11 standard carport products including single-column cantilever configurations, two-column configurations and louvered configurations that set each individual module row at a customer-specified tilt angle. All carport solutions are available for single-, double- and multiple-lane elevated structures.
Envision Solar International
Headquarters: San Diego
Contact: envisionsolar.com • 866.746.0514
Envision Solar International is a San Diego–based technology company with solar solutions for electric vehicle charging, media and branding, and energy security systems. Founded in 2006, the company went public in 2010 (ticker: EVSI). Envision Solar offers two specialty solar canopy lines: the EV ARC and the Solar Tree. Designed for stand-alone PV-powered electric vehicle charging, the EV ARC line includes several models, such as the EV ARC 3, which has a 3.4 kW canopy-mounted array coupled with 22.5 kWh of energy storage, and the EV ARC 4, which has a 4.1 kW array and 30 kWh of energy storage. Both models are equipped with dc chargers for plug-and-play electric vehicle charging. The EV ARC Digital model combines the EV ARC 4 with an outdoor-rated screen for advertising and branding. In addition, Envision Solar developed the EV ARC Bike/Moto, for electric bike and motorcycle charging. Like the EV ARC products, the Solar Tree line handles stand-alone power generation and vehicle charging. The Solar Tree DCFC (DC Fast Charger) is a compelling option for sites where customers desire fast dc charging for electric vehicles but utility power is not present or is expensive to access.
Headquarters: Georgetown, South Carolina
Contact: floriansolarproducts.com • 800.356.7426
Florian Solar is a designer and manufacturer of integrated solar structures including sunrooms, greenhouses, canopies, awnings, skylights, and residential and small-scale commercial carports. The third-generation privately owned company was founded in 1947. It partnered with Sanyo, an early manufacturer of glass-on-glass bifacial modules, to develop its first line of solar structures in 2007. Florian’s product line features designs with a high level of aesthetic appeal that fill a niche market in the solar industry; for example, its sunroom and awning systems can completely conceal module interconnect and homerun conductors. While Florian can integrate most module types into its integrated structures based on customer preference, it frequently utilizes bifacial modules from Prism Solar Technologies and Sunpreme. Its structural designs do not shade the back side of installed modules, enabling the back-side generation potential of these products to be harnessed.
Headquarters: Boulder, Colorado
Contact: lumossolar.com • 303.449.2394
Established in 2006, Lumos Solar is a privately held company that designs and manufactures two lines of frameless, glass-on-glass modules, as well as integrated rail systems and wireways that conceal conductors, protecting them from damage while improving the visual aesthetics of the array in the built environment. Integrators commonly deploy Lumos systems in solar awning, canopy and carport systems. The Lumos in-house design and engineering team assists customers with conceptual renderings, PE wet-stamped engineering drawings and packages to streamline project permitting.
Lumos Solar developed the LSX and GSX module and rail systems for integration with elevated solar structures, both of which integrate with most third-party solar carport and canopy structural array support systems. The LSX system includes frameless, glass-on-glass 60-cell modules rated at 265 W, 270 W and 275 W at standard test conditions. These modules integrate with the LSX Rail 1.1 system, which includes an integrated wireway. The recently launched GSX Bifi system uses 60-cell bifacial GSX modules rated at 300 W STC for front-side power production and a combined front-side and back-side rating of 330 W per IEC bifacial measurement standard (IEC 60904-1-2 TS). Its mounting and racking system conceals the module junction box and creates a waterproof array surface.
M Bar C Construction
Headquarters: San Marcos, California
Contact: mbarconline.com • 760.744.4131
MBar C Construction is a family-owned and -operated manufacturing and construction firm. The company was founded as M Bar C Carports in 1975 and began developing and installing carports for solar applications in 1997. In 2005, it reestablished itself as M Bar C Construction. The company specializes in both light- and heavy-gauge steel prefabricated and custom parking lot and structure canopies for large-scale projects. It incorporates elevated steel structure design, manufacturing and installation, as well as commercial and industrial electrical services through its M Bar C Electric division. In addition to manufacturing structural steel elements for carports and canopies, M Bar C Construction has developed the SOLAR F.I.T. (Fast Install Track) SYSTEM, which uses a channel system rather than top-mount clamps to secure modules to a substructure. This approach allows installers to mount modules from below and eliminates some of the OSHA safety concerns associated with typical top-mount systems. M Bar C Construction primarily serves the Western US, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon. Approximately 90% of its installations are design-and-build projects.
Orion Solar Racking
Headquarters: Commerce, California
Contact: orionsolarracking.com • 310.409.4616
Founded in 2009, the privately owned Orion Solar Racking develops and manufactures solar-mounting solutions for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and utility-scale projects. Orion Solar offers three standard product models for carport systems: KRONOS, LETO and TITAN. The KRONOS model is primarily intended for single-parking-space residential systems and is available with clearance heights from 8 feet, 5 inches, to 11 feet, 5 inches. Custom colors are available. Its galvanized steel, curved single-post design supports six or eight modules in portrait orientation at tilt angles of 0°, 5° or 10°. The LETO carport system is a steel double-column single-cantilever carport designed to span two parking spots for a total of 18 feet. Intended for commercial applications, LETO structures allow side-by-side installation to shade larger areas. The system’s columns and beams are available with galvanized or primed finishes. Orion Solar’s TITAN carport system is a double-column, double-cantilever tee-style carport designed to cover four parking spots in a two-by-two parking configuration. The LETO and TITAN systems are available with an array tilt angle of 0°, 5° or 10° and feature purlins that allow slide-in module mounting. Options include area lighting under the canopy and electric vehicle charging stations. Orion Solar also offers custom-designed solar carport solutions.
Contact: questrenewables.com • 404.536.5787
Quest Renewables is a privately owned company launched in 2014 to commercialize solar racking products developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute under the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The company’s QuadPod Solar Canopy uses steel top and bottom chords connected with a series of tubular web struts to create 3-D trusses, which support elevated-structure solar arrays such as carports and canopies. This design can handle 60-foot spans between piers, 30-foot cantilevers and array capacities of 30 kW per pier.
The QuadPod’s modular design streamlines shipping costs and provides flexibility on-site. Installers assemble the truss components using bolted hardware, and they then secure and prewire modules on-site at ground level. They use a crane to lift the completed assemblies atop the piers’ tubular support columns. This pick-and-place approach minimizes overhead work and improves jobsite safety. Quest Renewables offers an east-west configuration of its QuadPod system that enables a 15% higher power density than south-facing QuadPod canopies provide and that allows integrators to optimize inverter capacities when sizing for east-west array production curves.
Powers Solar Frames
Contact: powerssolarframes.com • 888.525.0180
Powers Solar Frames is a division of privately owned Powers Steel and Wire, a manufacturer of steel structures, lintels, masonry products, rebar and solar racking systems. The solar product line includes driven-pile and ballasted racking systems for commercial, industrial and utility-scale projects, as well as solar carport frames. Powers Solar Frames’ carports use galvanized structural elements (columns, rafters and purlins) that do not require on-site painting. In addition, all structural members have bolted connections that eliminate field welding and weld inspections.
Power Solar Frames offers two carport designs, its semi-cantilever box-beam model and its tee box-beam model. Both systems use 10-gauge 16-inch-by-8-inch galvanized structural members for the carport’s columns and rafters. The tee box-beam model’s rafter can span up to 39 feet. Both carport models permit modification for tilt angle, clearance height and site-specific requirements such as snow load, wind load, and geotechnical and seismic requirements. Power Solar Frames’ carport structures feature its patented steel Super Purlin. The purlin’s profile creates a channel that allows installers to slide in modules from the carport system’s gable ends. This approach eliminates top-down module-mounting hardware and fall hazards associated with working above the array plane. Each module requires four UL 2703–certified gator clamps that install from the underside of the array to secure the module to the adjacent purlin.
Contact: rbisolar.com • 513.242.2051
RBI Solar designs, engineers, manufactures and installs solar mounting systems for commercial and utility-scale solar projects. The privately owned company operates US offices in Atlanta; Temecula, California; and Washington, North Carolina. It completed two notable acquisitions in 2014, including PV carport manufacturer and installer ProtekPark Solar, and Renusol GmbH and its subsidiary, Renusol America. RBI Solar’s services include design, engineering drawings for all 50 states, project management and nationwide installation.
RBI Solar offers pre-engineered solar carport structures, including single-slope, gable, inverted and full-coverage designs. It typically utilizes the two-slope gable configuration for north-south orientation with panels sloping 5° on the east and west array faces. This inverted design provides increased clearance at the structure’s eaves while promoting water and snow movement toward the center column row of the structure. RBI Solar also offers a full-coverage design suitable for protecting large parking areas, including the drive aisles between parking rows. Typical applications for the full-coverage carport configuration are parking garages, drive-throughs, and bus or truck loading and unloading zones. RBI Solar carport systems do not require field welding, drilling or other on-site fabrication. The company offers customized designs as well as numerous options including galvanized and epoxy-coated finishes.
Headquarters: Shelby, North Carolina
Contact: schletter.us • 888.608.0234
Schletter GmbH has a 40-year history in the design and manufacture of steel and aluminum products. The privately owned company founded its US subsidiary in 2008 with the launch of a sales and manufacturing facility in Tucson, Arizona. Its solar product portfolio includes mounting structures for carports, roofs and ground-mounted PV applications in the utility, commercial, industrial and residential markets.
Schletter’s Park@Sol carport line includes three standard configurations that accommodate single and double rows of parking. Its carport structures do not require on-site welding or cutting. Multiple foundation options are available, such as cast-in-place concrete ballasts, concrete pillars and micropiles. The micropile foundation, which allows a streamlined foundation design, uses a hollow metal rod that the construction team installs to an engineered depth to minimize concrete requirements while meeting high wind- and snow-load requirements. Schletter has an in-house staff of engineers and geotechnicians to assist with site-specific carport system engineering. It offers multiple options for its Park@Sol structures, including cable management, subdecking, inverter mounts, custom designs and color options, and branding solutions.
US Headquarters: Denver
Contact: sflex.com • 303.522.3974
With its global headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, privately owned S:FLEX GmbH was founded in 2009. S:FLEX’s product lineup includes solutions for pitched and low-slope rooftops, ground-mounted systems and solar carport applications. Its standard carport products include full cantilever, partial cantilever, and tee upslope and downslope configurations, as well as an inverted configuration that channels precipitation runoff to the structure’s center. S:FLEX carport systems provide several module-row configuration options and are compatible with both framed and frameless modules mounted in portrait or landscape orientation. Standard array tilt angles of up to 15° are available
While S:FLEX engineers its column spacing and spans based on site-specific wind, snow and seismic load requirements, designs typically space columns at 27 feet on center and place them between every three parking bays, creating individual parking spaces that are 9 feet wide. Its carports are compatible with multiple foundation types, including spread footings and foundations with embedded helical piers. Carport options include integrated electrical grounding and industrial painting of steel structural components. S:FLEX supports carport projects with project-specific design and engineering, as well as installation support.
Headquarters: Gilbert, Arizona
Contact: skylinesolaraz.com • 480.926.0122
Skyline Solar is a division of Gilbert, Arizona–based Skyline Steel. Founded in 1983, Skyline Steel designs, manufactures and installs commercial covered parking structures. It recognized the added value that solar offered many of its carport customers and entered the solar industry in 2002, establishing Skyline Solar in 2009.
Skyline Solar offers products for solar applications including carports; large-area canopies for parking garages; bus and truck parking; RV, boat and self-storage facilities; electric vehicle charging stations; and commercial and utility-scale low-slope–roof and ground-mount structures. A design-build firm, Skyline Solar typically provides products and services to integrators, developers and EPC firms that are responsible for the installation and commissioning of solar power systems. Its services include project estimating and management, conceptual project renderings, structural plan sets and certifications in all 50 states, foundations, steel construction and erection, and PV module installation.
Skyline Solar offers a wide range of standard solar carport and canopy models as well as custom designs. Its prefabricated one-column SkyTree shade structure, supporting array capacities of up to 18 kW at a tilt angle of 5° or 10°, is well suited for small covered-parking installations. For large-scale projects, Skyline Solar offers single- and double-cantilever tee designs that support modules at tilt angles of 5°, 10° or 15° in portrait or landscape orientation. Its dual- and multiple-post solar canopies are intended for large parking areas, garage tops, school playgrounds and bus parking lots, and they allow module-mounting options including flat canopy, 5° canopy or louvered module installations at tilt angles of 5°, 10° or 15°. Skyline Solar also offers fastener solutions such as its SkyBite clip (ETL certified to UL 467), which permits installers to secure and electrically bond modules to the carport or canopy structure’s purlins from underneath the array.
Headquarters: Sarasota, Florida
Contact: solarcarportsllc.com • 941.702.2342
With manufacturing facilities in California and Virginia, Solar Carports specializes in the design and installation of structural canopies to support solar power systems. It offers several pre-engineered designs as well as custom carport and canopy designs. Standard models include partial cantilever, full cantilever and tee upslope and downslope configurations, as well as inverted configurations. Options include galvanized and painted finishes, watertight canopies, gutters, downspouts, and LED canopy under lighting. Solar Carports’ affiliate, Sarasota-headquartered Region Solar, provides full EPC and project management services for installations deploying Solar Carport’s structures.
Contact: structuralsolar.com • 708.275.9030
Structural Solar provides solar carport and canopy design-build and contract manufacturing services to solar developers, integrators and EPCs based on site-specific and project-specific requirements. Its services range from solar structure design and engineering to fully manufactured and installed structural systems in locations nationwide, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In addition to providing carport and canopy designs, Structural Solar offers waterproof structures for frameless glass-on-glass bifacial PV module installations.
Headquarters: San Jose, California
Contact: us.sunpower.com • 800.786.7693
Publicly held SunPower designs, manufactures and deploys high-efficiency PV modules and systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale projects. Founded in 1985, SunPower announced its initial public stock offering in 2005 (ticker: SPWR). In 2015, SunPower acquired Solaire Generation, a well-established solar carport and canopy design, fabrication and installation firm founded in 2008.
Solaire by SunPower’s product line includes patented solutions for large-scale parking lot and garage-top applications. Its carport configurations include single-column, single-cantilever and double-cantilever tee designs on a single incline; dual-incline inverted designs; and dual-column long-span designs. For example, its Long Span 360 product covers two parallel parking rows and an internal drive aisle with one contiguous PV-covered canopy that has an array inclination angle of 1°–10°. Another example is its 360 D model, which has a dual-incline configuration that safely directs snow and ice to the center of the structure. It features a standard minimum drive aisle clearance of 13 feet, 6 inches, and is available in widths of 34 feet to 41 feet, column-to-column spacing of 18 feet to 32 feet and inclination angles of 1° to 15°.
In 2015, SunPower launched its highly integrated Helix PV system platform for commercial and industrial low-slope rooftop, carport and tracked PV systems. The system is standardized but configurable. It incorporates five major value-engineered component groups: modules, mounting hardware, cable management, power stations and energy analytics. Several configurations of the Helix Carport Structure are available, and all feature the Helix platform’s integrated approach. Components and features include high-efficiency SunPower panels, a mechanical mounting and electrical system, a column-mounted plug-and-play inverter power station, SunPower EnergyLink Monitoring hardware and software, and LED lighting. Design options include painted columns and beams, snow guards, and decking and branding solutions.