Buyer’s Guide: Can I Put Solar Panels on My Pole Barn in Sioux City?
Many folks in the Sioux City area turn to post-frame construction not only because it’s cost-effective, but also because it’s sustainable. As they’re thinking of sustainability, another thought often comes to mind: what if we installed solar panels? Can a post-frame home or pole barn even support solar panels or solar lighting for sheds? Based on our experience, the answer is yes — with a few caveats, of course.
Solar Power, Post-Frame Building Maintenance, and More.
Key Considerations For a Solar-Powered Pole Barn
Every home or business owner who seeks to install solar power has their motivations for doing so. Some are concerned with their impact on the planet. Some seek self-sufficiency. Others, in turn, just want a bit more predictability in their monthly energy spending. No matter what your reason, Koskovich & Murphy can help, but we’ll also make sure you’re considering all the right things.
How much power will you be using? Your needs will be different if you’re looking into solar lighting for sheds than they’d be for an electric garage door and a handful of power tools, or a home with all the modern conveniences. Furthermore, do you expect your solar system to enable you to live off-grid, or simply to act as a supplement to, or backup for, the electricity you’re buying from a local utility? Those expectations will dictate the kind of installation you explore, the number of panels you need, and even where those panels will go.
Insolation refers to the amount of inbound sunlight that hits your solar panels. It won’t be nearly as high in Iowa or Nebraska as it would be in Arizona or Southern California, but it may surprise you to find out that it’s still enough to generate a fair amount of power.
As a corollary to the above, we do suggest having a backup battery onsite. These aren’t inexpensive, but they’re helpful when the days are shorter, or a stretch of bad weather limits how much light your solar array receives.
Build Quality and Building Condition
Although solar panels have gotten thinner and lighter in recent years, they’re still heavy — especially if you have a larger array designed for higher output. That weight places structural stress on the roof and its supports, so these should be inspected before installation to ensure they’re capable of handling the added load atop the existing stresses of snow and wind, especially in older structures. That’s true whether you’re installing solar panels on a carport, a commercial post-frame building, or simply to power the lights in your raised center aisle barn.
Financing, Rebates, and Incentives
You have a few ways to finance solar panels. If you’re purchasing, the conversion may qualify for energy incentives; what’s more, some utilities allow you to sell back surplus power. Some companies allow solar panels to be leased or will offer a power purchase agreement (PPA), whereby they’re effectively leasing roof space and selling you electricity from the solar panels they install, albeit at a reduced rate. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages — which can, in turn, easily take up an article of their own — so weigh your options carefully.
Pole Barn Design for Solar Power
There is a significant advantage to building a custom post-frame building over trying to retrofit a pole barn for solar. Namely, it can be designed from the ground up to maximize solar. A post-frame building contractor like Koskovich & Murphy Developments will ensure not only that it’s structurally sound, but also that other key systems — like your electrical, heating, cooling, and lighting — are optimized to work well with a solar installation.
As a bonus, we’re also engineering and building for better insulation and optimal use of windows to make your home energy-efficient in other ways, too. To understand the process, or to get started on your barndo, call us today!