Why It’s Smart to Combine Solar Parking Canopies With EV Charging Stations


Installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on commercial properties has become critical as more drivers adopt zero-emission cars. When EV charging stations are combined with solar parking canopies, which are solar panels installed over parking lots and parking garages, clean energy benefits can be maximized. Read ahead to learn more about solar parking canopies and why installing them alongside EV chargers makes for a winning combination.

What Is a Solar Parking Canopy?

A solar parking canopy (also called a solar carport) combines the concept of a carport with a ground-mounted solar array. It consists of a steel frame that supports solar panels that generate electricity to help power your operations. They can be erected above a parking lot or on the top level of a parking garage. PowerFlex offers three types of solar parking canopies:

Single-tilt solar parking canopies are the most affordable to install. Since they only need a single post for each canopy and fewer structural reinforcements, they use less steel, which keeps their price low. Single-tilt solar canopies are titled at one angle toward the sun, collecting the most solar energy per module out of the three options.

Single-tilt solar parking canopies | San Diego, CA

Dual-tilt/inverted solar parking canopies handle water, snow, and ice runoff the best, making them suitable for wet and cold climates. Dual-tilt/inverted solar canopies have a higher energy density than single-tilt, meaning they accommodate a larger number of solar panels. They also offer the best driving lane convenience. Both ends are tilted upward, giving large vehicles more room to maneuver in your parking lot.

Long-span solar parking canopies can be installed over entire parking lots or parking garages and house the most solar panels per square foot of space among the three types of solar canopies. Since the modules cover the whole parking area, they provide full weather coverage for your customers and employees.

Long-span solar parking canopy | Boston, MA

It’s key to work with an experienced company like PowerFlex who can determine which kind of solar parking canopy is right for your property and energy needs. But no matter the installation type, solar parking canopies can provide significant financial and operational benefits to your organization.

Benefits of Combining Solar Parking Canopies With EV Charging Stations

Combining solar parking canopies with EV chargers allows you to leverage the advantages of both technologies at the same time.

Solar parking canopies generate emissions-free electricity on land that is already in use for parking. This clean energy is used to help power building loads, including the EV chargers installed as part of the carport. By satisfying a significant portion of power needs locally with solar energy, you can reduce your annual energy costs as well as your carbon footprint.

Commercial EV chargers support employees and customers who drive electric vehicles while also encouraging drivers of gas-powered cars to switch to electric. Installing EV chargers underneath solar parking canopies creates an added benefit for drivers by providing shelter from inclement weather, as well as preventing vehicles from overheating on hot, sunny days. This improves employee and customer satisfaction and helps position your company as compassionate and eco-friendly.

EV chargers can also provide an additional revenue stream for your business. If your property hosts visitors throughout the day, charging a nominal per-kilowatt-hour fee is a great way to generate return on investment.

What’s more, there are big benefits to installing a solar parking canopy with EV chargers in terms of logistics and project financials. When both technologies are installed together at the same time, ground only needs to be broken once. Design, permitting, and interconnection with the utility can be streamlined as well to speed up the project.

How to Transform Your Parking Lot With Solar Parking Canopies and EV Charging Stations

The first and most important step to implementing a solar parking canopy with EV charging stations is partnering with an expert in the field like PowerFlex. We work in lockstep with you and your internal teams to plan, develop, and install a solar carport solution while avoiding disruption to your day-to-day operations.

We begin by conducting a thorough site analysis to understand the amount of sunlight your site gets throughout the year, your annual electricity usage, parking lot dimensions, and other data points that factor into the design of your solar carport and EV charging system. From there, we handle all other aspects of the project — from permitting to construction to asset management.

Most of all, PowerFlex has value-engineered our offering to optimize performance while minimizing costs and construction timelines. When integrating EV chargers into solar carport projects, we can save customers nearly 40% on charger installation and reduce the overall project schedule by 30%.

Successful Solar Parking Canopy Installations  

Now let’s take a look at two real-world examples of how PowerFlex helps clients achieve their financial and energy goals by combining solar parking canopies with EV charging stations.

Cubic Corporation

Cubic Corporation is a transportation and defense company that works with the U.S. military. PowerFlex installed an integrated clean energy system at Cubic’s San Diego headquarters that includes a 960-kW solar parking canopy, a battery energy storage system, and 61 Level 2 EV charging stations.  

PowerFlex was able to install a large number of chargers thanks to our patented Adaptive Load Management®, which balances charging demand in real-time while greatly reducing infrastructure upgrade costs and avoiding costly peak demand charges.  

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, located in La Jolla, CA, is a non-profit medical research institute focusing on cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. PowerFlex installed a clean energy system for the Institute consisting of an 847-kW solar rooftop array and solar parking canopy, battery energy storage, and 50 EV smart charging stations.

The addition of a battery energy storage system along with rooftop and carport solar grants Sanford Burnham Prebys even more cost savings by allowing the facility to strategically store and dispatch surplus energy during times of day when utility rates are highest. By generating clean energy on site to help power its facility and EV chargers, Sanford Burnham will reduce its carbon emissions by nearly 700 metric tons annually.

Contact PowerFlex to Install a Solar Parking Canopy With EV Chargers

At PowerFlex, we maximize value for our solar parking canopy customers by leveraging relationships with top-tier vendors to get the most competitive materials and pricing. And with our turnkey installation services, we’re able to save time and money when combining solar carports with EV chargers. Reach out today to see what’s possible for your property.