Quantify Savings with Solar Canopies for your Customers

Have your clients ever asked you, “How much money will I save with a solar canopy?

As a solar installer, one of your key roles is to recommend cost-saving energy solutions to your customers to maximize their potential returns on investment over time. You may also already know that the process of selecting solar canopies and panels is unique to each customer, particularly when it comes to costs, the number of solar panels needed, and the payback period they can expect from their systems.

The exact number of solar panels each of your customers’ needs will depend on their average electricity usage, any future expansion plans, and the size of their home. These numbers can fluctuate and vary. However, some simple calculations will allow you to obtain a relatively accurate estimate of a client’s needs to recommend the best solar canopy for their homes or commercial facilities.

There are a few essential details you will need to quantify the potential energy bill savings your customers can expect to enjoy when they purchase a solar canopy. These include the client’s electricity bill with at least one year’s worth of power consumption information; if you cannot secure this information, you can use 400 watts per panel as a baseline for your calculations.

If your client has requested a specific type or model of solar panel, use the specific wattage listed on the panel for a more accurate savings evaluation. Read on as we explain how to use this data to work out an estimate for your client.

Understanding Variability in Solar Savings

Before we delve into the process of quantifying savings with solar canopies, it’s important to note that the number of solar panels your client needs is going to depend on a range of variable factors.

These factors include:

      • General electricity consumption rates
      • Geographical location
      • Local weather patterns
      • The unique specifications of their preferred solar panels for their metal solar carport

A client based in an area that gets less sun on average compared to other parts of the US may require more solar panels to achieve the same level of power output. For example, a client in Massachusetts may require more solar panels than a client in Arizona if they want to benefit from consistent power production. Clients with high power consumption rates may also need additional panels, as will clients who opt for solar panels with lower wattage.

Calculating Your Client’s Solar Panel Needs

It’s possible to calculate the number of solar panels a client needs by dividing their annual electricity usage by the production ratio of their system. The resulting number should then be divided by the client’s solar panel power output to identify the number of panels to install on their solar pergola.

In essence, the formula for the calculation is as follows:

Size of solar system / system production ratio / solar panel wattage = number of solar panels required

So, if the solar system in question has a size of 10,000kWh divided by an area production ratio of 1.4, divided by a 400W solar panel wattage, the resulting number would indicate a need for between 17 and 25 solar panels.

The production ratio of a solar system refers to its estimated energy outputs over time measured in kWh, relayed in proportion to its true system size in watts. It is affected by the number of hours of sunlight the system will be exposed to. For instance, a 10kW solar system that produces 15MWh of power annually will have a production ratio of 1.5. Production ratios of solar systems in the US vary between 1.1 and 1.6 according to local climate factors in respective areas.

When it comes to energy consumption, data from the US Energy Information Administration suggests that the average household in North America uses just over 10,000kWh of electricity per year—10,791kWh, to be precise. You can use this number as a starting point for your clients’ calculations, but using their specific annual power consumption rates will produce a more accurate estimate, which would effectively offset 100% of their power usage and associated expenses with clean solar energy.

Considering Solar Panel Costs

Quantifying your clients’ savings will require you to factor in the cost of a solar canopy and their panels as well.

Solar panels in the US cost around $2.88 per watt on average, and professional solar canopy installation costs can vary widely. These costs may be reduced by federal solar tax credits, depending on the client’s location. Installation expenses may also be cheaper in warmer climates as they require fewer solar panels in many cases, compared to customers in colder areas requiring more panels and potentially paying higher installation expenses as a result.

Specific solar system sizes may also need exact numbers of solar panels to meet specific electricity output needs.

  • For a system size of 4kW, an average of 10 solar panels will be needed to produce 6,000 kWh of power per year.
  • An 8kW system may need 20 panels to produce 12,000 kWh annually.
  • A 10kW system may need up to 25 panels to produce 15,000 kWh.
  • A large 14kW system could need as many as 35 panels to produce 21,000 kWh of power in a year.

These numbers are estimates based on the use of 400W solar panels and a 1.5 production ratio. They will need to be adjusted using customer-specific data to achieve an accurate result.

Solar panel installation costs need to be considered, too. These expenses include not only the costs of the panels themselves but the expenses of required hardware such as inverters, aluminum solar carport models and wiring, and labor expenses, which you will set as an installer.

The formula you will need to calculate the true cost of your solar panels is:

Number of panels required * solar panel wattage * cost of solar panels per watt = true cost of panels

Labor expenses typically cost between 10% and 20% of the total price of the solar panel system and should be factored in during your potential payback period calculation, as you will see below.

Calculating Potential Payback Periods Using an Example

Let’s use the example of a Brooklyn Solar Canopy Co. A-Frame canopy to demonstrate how you can calculate a customer’s potential cost savings and payback period. In this example, a client has selected an A-Frame canopy and 3×7 panels for a total of 21 solar panels.

The price of a solar carport of this nature will be around $11,000 to $12,000, depending on the client’s delivery location and preferred canopy finish. We will use the higher estimate of $12,000 for this advantage of solar carports calculation.

Using the general estimate of $2.94 per watt for solar panels, the average anticipated expense of a single 400W solar panel is $1,176. This means that, on average, 21 solar panels could cost around $24,696. We will also assume that the client lives in a high production ratio area – in this case, California – and will connect their 21 solar panels to an 8kW system to meet their electricity needs. You could refine your figures by taking the California-specific cost of solar panels at $2.86 per watt, meaning that the price of a 21-panel setup will be around $24,024.

The average electricity cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) in California is 26.72¢. Assuming this client currently uses 12,000 kWh per year of grid electricity as a large residence, their average annual electricity expenses will come to around $3,206.40.

Combining the $24,024 cost of the customer’s solar panel setup with the $12,000 cost of their solar awning, you get a total cost of $36,024. Let’s say that you charge 20% labor on the cost of the system as an installation fee; this would amount to $7,204.80, bringing your customer’s total costs to $43,228.80.

By calculating the cost of the solar pergola installation as a percentage of the average annual power expenditure, you can estimate that the cost of installing a solar system that meets the client’s needs will be covered by the projected cost of paying their annual electricity bill in just 13.48 years!

After that, the customer would technically be enjoying cost-free electricity output after this payback period, save for the costs of periodic maintenance on their solar system. This estimate does not include tax rebates, which can lower the cost of the solar installation even further! Making it even more financially appealing for your clients to adopt renewable power systems.

Payback Periods with Tax Rebates

Let’s do the calculation including tax credits for solar canopies. The total cost of the installation is $43,228.80 – and a 30% tax rebate would amount to $12,968.64, bringing the total down to $30,260.16.

Divide the total installation price of the system with the client’s annual expenditure on power, and you get a 9.44-year payback period, after which solar power generation will be ‘paid off’ in comparison to the client’s electricity bill. Thereafter, it will generate true returns on investment – all while producing a steady supply of clean electricity at no additional cost.

Offering Solar Canopy Benefits for Home Energy Savings with Solar Carports

Solar canopies can pay themselves off within just a few years and bring significant returns on investments to your clients – and the aforementioned calculations can help you to clearly demonstrate this.

Use these formulas and guides to accurately assess each customer’s needs, select the correct number of solar panels for their energy demands and locations, and explain exactly how they can benefit from investing in a Brooklyn Solar canopy. By highlighting their projected solar canopy ROI, you’ll give them even more reason to invest in your services.

Contact our team today to learn more about our solar canopies to get a quote for a solar canopy, and discover how we can make your next customer’s solar canopy work!