Solar panels that don’t ruin the view
The idea for this solar panel carport arose from something on our wishlist: powering our timber frame shop from renewable energy. Our roof has plenty of space for PV–so that’s exactly what we did:
Sometimes roof-mounted panels aren’t a viable option (roof too shaded, or north-facing), so a ground-mounted array is the only way to go. On the positive side, ground-mounted arrays, versus roof-mounted solar panels, are easier to clean (yes, solar panels need to be cleaned periodically), can be angled at the optimum angle for efficiency, and don’t have to accommodate plumbing vents. Downsides? Well, let’s just say they’re not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Oh, and that’s before the local building official requires a fence.
(There are two rules to remember about building officials: 1. The inspector is right. 2. The inspector is always right.)
That got us thinking. Could a ground-mounted solar panel array be made to look beautiful? To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail, so it’s probably understandable that our minds would turn first to timber framing.
The problem? Any timber frame or post and beam solar panel mounting solution is going to be more expensive than a ground rack or pole mount system.
But what if the supporting structure for the PV panels was a dual-use structure? Suddenly the economics change. A solar panel carport anyone?