Over the past three years, solar carports have taken off. On a basic level, this structure has two design options: a metal carport fitted with solar panels on the roof that powers nearby buildings, thus cutting into the total cost of electricity, or charges a vehicle below. As electric and hybrid vehicles are gradually gaining popularity, solar carports are transforming into an even greater necessity.
A piece published by Northwestern University highlights the benefits of solar carports, particularly when compared to solar panels retrofitted to vehicles. Carports, with solar panels or not, offer their structural advantages, such as shade, ability to shelter multiple vehicles, and strength. In general, the carports have the upper hand for the following reasons:
• Solar carports retain a greater charge, which, in turn, gives the vehicle more power.
• Although such a structure is a significantly large investment up front, it pays itself off over time with savings, particularly when compared to the amount an individual spends on gas.
• When parked under a solar carport, the vehicle can charge overnight with the power accrued during the day.
• Solar carports are versatile. If multiple vehicles need to be covered, a larger structure can be purchased. This can be seen in the solar structures added to public parking lots near buildings or train stations.
• Solar panels added to cars only provide a small increase in voltage. The car, as a result, can only travel in a limited range.
• Solar panels do not always fit a roof’s shape.
But, even though solar carports are gradually growing into a necessity, especially as manufacturers like Audi continue to design electric or hybrid cars, owners of such vehicles must consider one significant drawback: the lack of charging stations.