Rooftop vs. Carport: Choosing Where to Mount Solar Panels on a Commercial Property

by | Nov 11, 2022

When you invest in a solar program for a commercial property, should you mount the solar panels on the roof or a carport?  Or both? Rooftop and carport programs have several differences that could be the determining factor for the placement of the solar panels. We break down the case for both in apartment, office, and retail spaces.

The Case For Rooftop Solar Panels

Rooftop solar panels are typically ideal for large commercial properties, particularly for retail properties. Retail spaces are usually a single story, have a large flat roof area to work with, and are less likely to have a large amount of clutter (HVACS, skylights, etc.).

Rooftop units also work well for retail spaces because they don’t obstruct signage. Rooftop solar panels are often not visible from the ground floor at all. For owners that want to invest in a solar program to maximize the earning potential and minimize the impact on the aesthetics of a property, rooftop solar is the way to go.

For owners that want to invest in a solar program to maximize the earning potential and minimize the impact on the aesthetics of a property, rooftop solar is the way to go.

Rooftop panels cost less to install. Using the existing roof space eliminates the need for the additional cost associated with carport roof construction. Generally, panels placed on carports require additional structural support, so even if you have a carport in place there will be additional costs. This gives rooftop solar an immediate cost advantage.

In short, rooftop solar could be the right fit for a property if it has available roof space, if curb appeal is important to the property, and if cost is a determining factor in the decision-making.

A King Energy rooftop solar program in California

The Case For Carport Solar Panels 

Commercial carport covers can be free standing units or attached to buildings. They provide protection from sun, rain and snow and can be a great value ad for office buildings or commercial spaces in the continental US.


Carport solar can provide protection from the elements in addition to generating energy

Carport solar panels may pique the interest of office and apartment building owners for a number of reasons. Office and apartment buildings are more likely to be multi-story with pitched roofs, large shade trees, parapets, roof decks, skylights and other characteristics which make the building look nice but reduce the usable roof space relative to the number of tenants in the building. In addition, they are more likely to have multiple cooling units and HVAC systems cluttering up the smaller roof area. In this case, carports are an alternative that may work well for implementing a solar program.

As an added bonus, carports create shaded parking spots which is good for tenants who park their cars by adding protection from elements such as heat and debris. In a situation where cars stay put all day, a solar carport becomes an attractive feature.

In a situation where cars stay put all day, a solar carport becomes an attractive feature.

Which One is Right for a Commercial Property?

Rooftop units are more likely to be the winner for large retail buildings with available roof space and a need to keep signs visible to passers-by. In contrast, carport units are a fantastic option for office buildings and apartments without large roof areas and signage, and where the benefits of shade matters.

The costs can vary substantially in both instances depending on the specifics of the property, so you’ll need a professional installer to help you finalize the economics.

King Energy only does multi-tenant buildings.  So if you’re thinking about solar but are unsure of the economics give us a call.  We will rent your roof, pay for everything, and manage the program without any risk or expense to you.  

Contact King Energy today!