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. By installing both, companies can satisfy employees’ and customers’ needs for EV chargers while using clean and affordable solar power to help power them. 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 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 facility's loads, including your EV charging stations. 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, dual-tilt/inverted, and long-span.

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 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 canopies handle water, snow, and ice runoff the best, making them suitable for wet and cold climates. Dual-tilt/inverted 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 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 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.  

The Benefits of Combining Solar Parking Canopies With EV Charging Stations

Combining solar parking canopies with EV chargers is advantageous in terms of cutting company energy costs, keeping workers and patrons happy, and creating positive PR around corporate sustainability efforts. Solar parking canopies allow companies to generate emissions-free electricity on their property, on land that is already in use for parking. This energy is used to help power facility loads, including the EV chargers installed on site. By satisfying a significant portion of power needs locally with solar energy, reliance on the utility grid is limited and annual energy expenditures reduced.

Adding EV chargers to a commercial property provides employees and customers with a convenient way to replenish their electric vehicles while parked, which they’ll undoubtedly appreciate. Installing solar parking canopies over electrified parking spaces creates an added benefit for drivers by providing shelter from inclement weather, as well as preventing vehicles from overheating on hot, sunny days. Additionally, cars located under canopies don’t need to run their air conditioning as much to cool down, which saves drivers money on gas and reduces air pollution.

Finally, solar parking canopies combined with EV charging stations demonstrate to the public that you care about sustainability and protecting the environment. Not only are you supporting the adoption of electric vehicles by providing charging stations, you are also using emissions-free solar energy to help power them.

Successful Installations  

Below are 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 energy system at Cubic’s San Diego headquarters that included 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® (ALM) software, which balances charging demand in real-time while greatly reducing infrastructure upgrade costs and avoiding spikes in utility 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 renewable energy system for the Institute comprised of an 847-kW solar rooftop array and solar parking canopy, battery energy storage, and 50 EV smart charging stations.

Once again, PowerFlex’s ALM software enabled the installation of a large number of EV charging stations without requiring expensive electrical system upgrades or incurring peak demand charges. 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 Prebys will reduce its carbon emissions by nearly 700 metric tons annually.  

About PowerFlex

PowerFlex delivers commercial and industrial customers a full range of turnkey clean energy solutions: solar, storage, smart EV charging, microgrids, and energy management systems. Contact us today for a free assessment, and to learn more about how combining solar parking canopies with EV charging stations can supercharge your organization’s energy savings and sustainability efforts.