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Solar energy for homes and businesses – what’s the difference?

 A closer look at how residential and commercial solar installations differ.

It goes without saying that the world’s number one priority today is to fight climate change, and one of the best ways to do this is by opting for clean energy sources. Interestingly, the best source of clean energy is also 100% free – the mighty sun!

For a country like Australia that gets ample sunshine throughout the year, it only makes sense to utilize this natural resource for running our homes and businesses. And while the basics of harnessing and generating energy remain the same there are a few key differences when it comes to installations. 

  1. Size

In this case size definitely matters, both in terms of the panels themselves and the capacity of the system. Commercial solar systems need a much larger energy output, hence not only do these systems use a larger number of panels, they are also larger in size as compared to residential panels. 

Residential systems usually start with a capacity of 4.4kW or 6.6kW while commercial systems start at 40kW. On average, a commercial solar panel measures 78″x39″, while a residential panel measures 65″x39″. A commercial setup consists of 96 cells, while a residential setup uses just 72 cells. 

2. Power efficiency

Commercial systems are also more power efficient with a19.6% efficiency rate, compared to an efficiency of 18.1% in residential panels. However, this difference does not affect the cost of the panels, since the cost is calculated based solely on the power produced by the cells.

3. Installation

While solar panels for both homes and companies are roof-mounted using a bolted racking system, commercial panels are easier to install. Since the roofs of commercial buildings are flat, the panels can be fitted using a non-penetrating ballasted system – a mounting system that doesn’t penetrate the roof.

Since many homes have pitched roofs, they need a penetrated racking system to mount the solar panels which requires more care. Installing solar panels in a commercial setup can take up to a month, while residential panel installation is generally done in a few days.

4. Additional options

Commercial systems have many extra options when it comes to installation. For instance, in addition to the roof, solar panels can be installed in parking lots or on the ground. These options are generally not available to homeowners due to restrictions of space or neighbourhood rules.

5. Special incentives

Companies and businesses can avail special incentives from the government for solar panel installation. In Australia, the Federal Government has expanded its list of businesses eligible for the instant asset write-off before tax. Eligible businesses can deduct up to 50% of the cost of a solar system installation, considering existing depreciation rules. 

A shift in the bright direction

Whether it’s homes or businesses, it is time we all made the shift to renewable energy like solar, to turn the tide on climate change and make the most of all the sun has to offer.

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