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Parking Lot Solar Canopy Installation

Solar canopies are an increasingly popular way to take advantage of parking and invest in solar power.

Parking lot solar canopy installations are an excellent installation option for malls, airports, hospitals and other facilities with large parking areas. Not only will you generate green power, but your employees and customers will appreciate the shade to protect their vehicles.

A wide range of installation options make parking lot solar canopies a strong aesthetic choice. At Empire, we can design a system that looks great, is easy to maintain and maximizes your power generation potential.

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Benefits of Solar Canopy Installations

With solar parking structures, your business can provide numerous benefits to everyone who parks on your premises. For customers and employees, a solar canopy provides shade and coolness for their parked vehicles, which can translate into reduced AC and fuel consumption. For businesses, the energy generated by the solar canopies often results in drastically reduced energy bills.

Parking Space

The four greatest benefits of solar parking structures include:

1. Better Usage of Current Space

A solar canopy will allow you to make better use of your commercial space. Contrary to popular belief, a solar canopy can be built above your pre-existing parking space as opposed to constructing a brand new building.

2. Reduced Energy Consumption and Electrical Costs

A solar canopy can reduce the amount of energy your building needs to operate. During peak sunlight midday, your building can run off the power generated by the solar canopy. When the amount of green energy collected exceeds the needs of the moment, that power is then saved to your system for later use.

Solar Canopy Parking Benefits

With solar canopy parking, the energy gained by the sunlight can be used throughout your power grid to power the lights, air conditioning, machines and electrical appliances in your building. The energy gained via solar rays will be credited to your building by your electrical company and the reduced monthly electrical consumption can add up significantly in terms of savings over the course of each year.

One of the most famous solar canopies appears on the grounds of FedEx Field football stadium in Hyattsville, MD. The stadium, which serves as the official stadium for the Washington Redskins, had its power consumption cut by 20 percent on game days thanks to the power generated by the solar canopy, which covers 841 parked vehicles. On days where no games are held, the stadium can draw all of its power needs from the carport.

When you consider that solar canopies have been able to generate enough power to light up entire stadiums, just imagine what a solar parking lot cover could do for a shopping mall, supermarket, or your business.

3. Shaded, Cooler and More Comfortable Cars

The cooling effect of solar parking structures is twofold. First, vehicles are covered from the impact of the sun when parked beneath a solar canopy. This protects cars and trucks from direct contact with the sun’s rays on hot, sunny days.

For drivers, the effects of this shielding is very comforting as it leaves cars cooler throughout the time that customers and employees leave their cars parked under the cover. The savings that this natural cooling can provide is exponential. According to a study conducted by, AC usage can reduce a vehicle's fuel economy by 25 percent — and much of this consumption occurs immediately after a driver re-enters a hot, parked car.

Second, the presence of a solar canopy also keeps the underlying pavement cooler, which can aid in the cooling of the area around a place of business. According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average city ground consists of anywhere from 35 percent to 50 percent pavement, roughly 40 percent of which is used as parking space. This contributes to a heated city environment, as pavement absorbs the heat of the sun on bright, warm days.

As more businesses build solar canopies, urban pavements will become more shielded from the sun and surrounding areas will become cooler in the process.

4. Usage of Green Energy to Reduce Environmental Impact

With a solar canopy, you can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions that stem from your business property. In doing so, your business will be at the forefront of the green revolution. As more people embrace green energy, a solar canopy can help you gain a better reputation among the public at large.

Empire has a longstanding commitment to alternative energy. In fact, many of our nearly 30 locations are powered by renewable sources. Empire’s engineers have helped clients take advantage of emerging technologies to harness the power provided by a variety of clean, renewable energy sources.

Call Empire today for a cost analysis of how we can perform a solar energy conversion that will suit your needs, no matter how large or how small.

Installation Options

There are two basic options when it comes to solar parking canopy design. Depending on the layout of your property and the location of your business, you might prefer an architectural solar canopy or a fixed-tilt solar canopy. The two options are best described as follows:

  • Architectural solar canopies: Under this design, cars are shielded from the sunlight by canopy panels that are tilted at specified angles. The tilt of the canopy can be customized to suit the location of the parking lot and its relation to the direction of the sun. On rainy days, the tilt of an architectural solar canopy can also direct water away from the vehicles underneath.
  • Fixed-tilt solar canopies: For some businesses, the more economical option is the fixed-tilt solar canopy, which consists of stationary parts that can either be tilted or set flat. Whether you need to have the canopy at a slight angle to best absorb the sun’s rays or would benefit most from a flat canopy, the option is yours. Fixed-tilt solar canopies demand only minimal maintenance and are often the preferred choice when it comes to large-scale solar panel installation projects.

Solar Parking Canopy Design Options

Your choice of whether to have a canopy tilted one way or the other should be based on the position of your parking lot in relation to the available sunlight. If the parking lot is directly exposed to the sun with no nearby obstructions, then a 10-degree westward or southward tilt would best maximize the effects of the canopy and absorb the highest quantities of green energy during peak hours of the day.

However, if a tall building or other obstruction prevents sunlight from directly hitting the parking lot during the early daylight hours, it would be most effective to have the canopy set at an angle that will absorb the most sunlight in the hours that immediately follow the sun's passage beyond the obstruction.

The professionals at Empire can help to determine the best type of solar panels for your specific application and the most beneficial placement.

Commercial parking lot solar canopies are most productive in sunny climates during daylight hours, but all climates can benefit from solar power.

Depending on the size of a solar canopy in relation to an associated building, the canopy might generate more energy than needed on a given day. On days that do yield excess green energy, the excess is stored within the building's power supply for later hours when the sun is down.

A solar canopy converts sunlight into energy with the following four components:

Photovoltaic Cells

    • Photovoltaic cells: These transform the energy generated by sunlight into direct current (DC) electric power.


    • An inverter: This converts the newly captured DC energy into alternating current (AC) electricity, which can power the associated building or arena.

Mounting Hardware

    • Mounting hardware: This activates the photovoltaic cells along the canopy.

Metering System

  • A metering system: This monitors the amount of green energy generated by the canopy and the reduced percentage of electrical consumption.

Parking Lot Solar Canopy Applications

For retail businesses, solar parking structures can offer a host of benefits to your customers, your employees and yourself.

A solar parking cover will draw power from the sun and convert the energy into electrical power to power your computers, lights, cash registers, HVAC system and any other electrical devices that run on your premises. Depending on how much energy your business consumes on average, you could have the majority of your electrical needs served by a solar parking structure.

A solar canopy will also be of great benefit to your staff and patrons who use the parking lot. Throughout the day, their cars and vans will not be left directly under the sun’s rays but shaded by the solar canopy.

In a typical parking lot, a car is subjected to direct sunlight exposure in the spring and summer months. If the temperature reaches 80 degrees or more, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly climb between 100 to 130 degrees according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The solar parking cover will allow them to return to their cars in comfort without the need to blast their air conditioners and burn excess fuel in the process.

The installation of a solar canopy will also establish your business at the forefront of the green energy movement. This could lead to more positive word-of-mouth and an overall better reputation within your market, as the public tends to respect businesses that take initiative to protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint.

Commercial Buildings

For factories, warehouses and office buildings, commercial parking lot solar canopies offer numerous benefits in terms of green energy and savings.

The benefits of commercial solar carports for different types of buildings are best described as follows:


At pressing plants and other industrial facilities, the power required to operate pneumatic equipment, conveyor belts and other forms of machinery leads to high monthly energy bills, and these costs are inevitably passed along the supply chain.

When you consider the amount of savings that stadiums can get with solar canopies – as seen with FedEx Field - the industrial sector stands to benefit considerably from this new green technology.

With a solar canopy over a factory parking lot, the factory itself can draw power directly from the solar rays above. When converted to electricity, this green energy can be used to power air compressors, pneumatic tools, conveyor machines, lights, computers and a host of other electronics.

Reserve Energy in the Evening

During the peak hours of the day, the canopy can generate huge amounts of energy — and any excess can be reserved for later in the evening when the sun is down. These savings are monitored by power suppliers and credited to the factory each billing cycle.

A solar canopy is also of great benefit to all the vehicles parked underneath on warm, sunny days. For the factory vehicles, the shade provided by a solar canopy makes the operating experience more comfortable. For example, a company truck parked in the sunlight is liable to store tons of heat on a hot day, and this can render the vehicle difficult to cool to a comfortable level. Commercial solar carports allow factories to save on the fuel costs associated with excess AC usage.


In terms of energy savings, comfort and convenience, parking lot solar canopies are also highly beneficial for warehouses. Warehouses consume 24.9 kWh of electricity and 9,200 Btu of natural gas per square foot per year according to E-Source, a research and advisory service that works with most of the 300 largest electric and natural gas utilities in North America.

Solar parking structures can help replace a fair chunk of that figure with solar-generated green energy, leading to substantial savings both monetarily and environmentally.

The energy generated by a solar parking structure can provide large amounts of power to the warehouse itself. With so many products stacked high and low across rows of shelves, it is crucial to maintain proper temperatures across the floor at all times, regardless of the time of year or outside weather. As the rays of the sun are converted to energy, the warehouse can drastically cut down on its heating and cooling costs, thus ensuring greater product quality throughout the seasons.

Solar-generated green energy can also power the lighting. This can amount to huge savings, since light accounts for one of the most crucial uses of electrical power across the floor of any warehouse, where products must be identified across long rows and high shelves throughout each day.

The energy generated by fixed-tilt and architectural solar canopies can also be used to power the computer systems of warehouses. The average warehouse has a large IT department with up to a dozen or more computers and even more peripheral devices. Overall, green energy makes it less costly to operate a warehouse.

In addition, a solar canopy can reduce heat across the parking area and be of great fuel benefit to customers’ vehicles as well as for the commercial vehicles. On-the-floor staff will enjoy the improved comfort of warehouse vehicles, which will achieve greater fuel efficiency thanks to the reduced need for air conditioning upon startup.

Office Buildings

On the premises of an office building, a solar parking installation provides numerous benefits to company personnel who commute to and from work in their own vehicles, as well as for the building as a whole.

The green energy produced by a solar canopy can help power a building's air conditioning system and computer network. For the companies that operate in office buildings, the benefits of green energy include added comfort for employees, reduced energy costs and a potentially great marketing tool.

On an annual basis, the savings generated by green energy will often reach into the five figures for large buildings. For example, the University of Colorado built a solar parking canopy at its Mountain Research Center that saving the university an average of $21,750 per year.

In addition to the HVAC system and computers, a solar canopy can power common machines and appliances, such as scanners, fax machines, copiers, microwave ovens, coffee brewers and refrigerators. Furthermore, the various forms of lighting that fill up an office building — from the overhead lights to desk lamps— can be powered by the green energy generated by a solar parking structure.

Canopy comfort and fuel efficiency

As with solar parking installations adjoined to other types of buildings, commercial solar carports are most beneficial to vehicles. From nine to five each working day, a canopy provides comfort and fuel efficiency to all the vehicles parked underneath.

In certain states, you can get tax breaks for having a solar carport installed over the parking lot of your business property. Furthermore, the allows you to use the solar energy as a write off. A five-year period of cost recovery is offered for select solar energy equipment.

Regardless of your industry, a commercial solar carport will make accommodations better for your work force and have a positive impact on your bottom line.

The Benefits of Working with Solar by Empire

The market for architectural and fix-tilt solar canopies is currently growing across the U.S., but the states that presently lead the trend are Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York: states that are among the sunniest or most populous — and in some cases, both.

In Arizona, Empire is a leading installer of solar panel systems. We have designed and installed renewable energy systems for parking lots around the Phoenix area and beyond. If a parking lot exists on the premises of your business, you could gain numerous benefits with the installation of a solar panel canopy system. Contact us today for a free quote.

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