Timber, Steel or Aluminum, Which is right for your Patio?

Are you looking forward to enjoying the sunshine but worrying about the damage UV rays? It might be time to DIY carport patio covers if you find yourself looking out the backyard that’s looking bare. It not only values your home but also provides shade all year round.
Before starting, you need to find out what building material you want for your patio cover. There are some options for your reference.

Keep it Classic with Timber

Timber is still a popular choice for being cheaper and conveniently available materials though there are some newer building materials for your patio cover.
However, rain and air humidity damage the wood patio, making it even rotten and collapsed. It’s not suitable for the windy area. One key point you should notice is that timbers need regular maintenance to protect it from the elements and rot. Some tips on timber maintenance for your reference:

  • using a premium, heat resistance paint to reduce heat and UV damage.

  • cleaning your patio frames with bleach to prevent mold growth during damp months.

  • repainting the timber at least every five years to ensure the timber is in optimal condition.

Provide that you don’t want to paint your patio frame regularly and want your patio with a natural look, treated timber is recommendable.

Stay Safe with Steel

Compared with timber, steel patio is stronger and more durable required less maintenance. Certainly, heavy steel frames could be more expensive than timber and difficult to deliver and install. Besides, it might be not harmonized with your garden or veranda.

For the maintenance of steel patio, the primary thing to consider is rusting and corrosion. It is essential that the steel frame should be coated in 100% zinc coating( also called galvanized steel) or in zinc-aluminum combination.

For the galvanized steel, there are two surface treatment ways normally. One is Hot-dip galvanizing which is a chemical treatment(the electrochemical reaction).Another is Cold galvanizing.It is the physical address, just brush the surface layer of zinc, the zinc layer is easy to fall off.Hot-dip galvanizing prevent steel against rust and co orison for several years while cold galvanizing only keep for half a year.

Beauty and Utility with Aluminum

Aluminum material is widely used as outdoor structure material. Recognized as one of the most energy efficient and sustainable construction materials, the aluminum material is widely used as the patio cover, carport etc.
Why choose Aluminum Patio?

  • When used for construction, aluminum structures can weigh 35 to 65 percent less than steel, while providing equivalent strength. It is easy to deliver and assemble your patio. 

  • The best thing of the aluminum frame is maintenance-free. Using the anodized aluminum and electrophoresis surface finish, prefab patio cover could be matched the color and styles of your home. Instead of powder coating, electrophoresis treatment could keep the aluminum color fresh and non-fading.

  • What’s more, aluminum patio with sun-resistant polycarbonate roof must be the best choice. The heat protection PC roof lets the sun through but blocks out more than 70% heat and 98% UV rays. It could protect your indoor carpet, window coverings and patio furniture from any weather.

Whatever your choice of material, at the end you’ll have a new outdoor area ready for use all year round, for that get started now to make the most of your backyard and veranda.

Most Practical Cleaning and Maintenance Methods of Sun Room

Sun Room- Sun House - Sunshield Shelter

Sun house likes a glass-built palace, gorgeous and noble. It can be a sheltered platform, expanding the use of the indoor area. Thanks to the modern construction, it keeps cool in Summer while warm in Winter.

It can be a studio, a greenhouse suitable for plant growth, a quiet field that makes you live in a natural but no noise, a space that connects the room with nature etc. In hotel & commercial, it could be freestanding pool dome, patio enclosure, cafe shop and outdoor dinner enclosure. What’s more, sun house also uses in industrial place such as cleaning rooms, transient spaces, machine enclosures. These adaptive structures provide safety and privacy while locking out sound, dust, dirt, dangerous gasses and production debris control.In short, it does not just have a beautiful appearance, more intrinsic value.

Three season sunroom - Enclosed Porch - Retractable Sunhouse - Blue Sunroom enclosures- Sunshield Shelter

Thus, how to clean and maintain the Sun house?

Tips 1: Push and pull the windows or doors light.

You need to rule out the problems and do not pull or harsh hard when finding problems. Fouling and deformation are the main reason for the difficulty of push and pull, hence keep doors and windows clean. Besides, you can use a vacuum cleaner to suck the tank and seal the top of the fouling.
Certainly, provided that you have Auto Retractable Sun House, you don’t require worrying about problems of windows and doors because of pull excessively.

Tips 2: Do not let the aluminum frame as support when clean doors and windows of Sun House.

Tips 3: Use neutral detergent (such as detergent, shampoo, shower gel, baby cleaning).

Do not use ordinary soap and detergent or decontamination powder, toilet and other strong acids clean agent.

Tips 4: Wipe wet glass and window frames in time after rainy days; pay more attention to wipe the water in the chute.

Besides, you could add some oil or wax in chute and gear while the friction would increase after long-term use.

Tips 5: Always check the sun house connection parts, tighten the bolt in time and replace the damaged parts.

Often check vulnerable parts of aluminum doors and windows; regularly add lubricants keeping them clean and flexible.

Tips 6: Often check the combination of the Sun House and doors, it would be some deformation of the framework if it loose in a long time. It would affect the normal use of Sun House’s doors and windows.

Tips 7: Glass plastic seal and frame seal ensure the insulation of sun house. So repair or replace them in time if seal fall.

More and more people build a beautiful and stylish sun room in their balcony or garden, adding a taste of life.At the same time, commercial buildings also prefab glass sun room thanks to modern design with low cost and short construction time.

Solar Carports: How Do They Work and How Much Do They Cost?

solar-carport-car-shed-00While a typical carport or patio cover provides shading and is undoubtedly a value-add for a home or automobile owner, its one-dimensional simplicity is a missed opportunity. If you’re a PV fanatic following emerging technologies in the solar industry, you may have already spotted the solar industry’s solution: solar canopies, also known as solar carports .

What is a Solar Panel Carport?

Solar carports are overhead canopies built to cover parking areas, and are distinct from panels installed onto a preexisting carport structure. Solar carports have many things in common with ground mount solar panels, which are angled panel modules installed on the ground rather than on a rooftop.

Both ground mount solar and solar carports eliminate the need for a surface on which the panels could be mounted. The primary difference between a solar carport and a typical ground mount installation is that carports are taller in order to make space for a car to park. Otherwise, the two are quite similar and each offer the benefit of allowing installers to orient the panels at the most optimal angle for sunlight exposure.

The great advantage of solar carports and solar patio covers is that they don’t require additional land the way ground mount does. As a result, solar panel carports offer a more efficient use of space than ground mounted panels. Certain states, like Massachusetts, even have incentives for solar canopy structures over ground mount. If you are concerned about efficient use of space, you should consider a solar carport over a ground mounted system. Overall, solar panel carports have less restraints or conflicts than ground mounted solar, and  and can be considered preferable under many circumstances.

Comparing Commercial and Residential Solar Carports

To date, solar carports are much more popular in the U.S. commercial sector than in residential markets. Many businesses have embraced the idea of installing massive solar canopies for corporate parking lots. For example, Whole Foods installed over 325 kilowatts of solar to cover one of their biggest locations in Brooklyn, New York just two years ago.

When it comes to commercial and residential solar canopies, there are a number of different layouts and sizes available. Dependent on the number of rows of parking required, a photovoltaic carport are typically one, two or three rows wide. Solar parking lots, by comparison, can be large enough to span dozens of rows of parking. Installing a solar canopy can power your home, or it can turn a wide open stretch of pavement into a major electricity generator.

Other than a solar carport’s size, the main way that solar carport construction varies is in the angle of the panels. The panels will either be angled upwards in one direction (Figure A), angled and curved in one direction leading to a flat surface (Figure B)  or very slightly angled to the point of appearing flat (Figure C), typically in order to provide shading and coverage for a larger number of cars.

Figure A
Figure B
Figure B
Figure C
Figure C

GTM Research forecasts that by the end of 2016, the solar carport sector will be valued at $843 million, with the majority of installations in the commercial sector. However, industry stakeholders believe it is the residential sector that will see growth pick up in years to come.GTM also forecasts that the cost of solar carport installation could drop as low as $2.50 per watt by 2018 after dropping from $7 per watt in 2010. Their research focuses on reduced cost of labor as a primary reason for this continued cost plummet.

One reason why residential has an advantage over com

mercial when it comes to canopies and carports is the materials used for construction. Commercial solar carports will almost always need a steel metal foundation, which adds a significant expense to total installation. By comparison, smaller residential carports have flexibility around structure material and design – a homeowner could choose a larger carport layout or a smaller patio cover to host a modest solar system.

How Does a Solar Carport Compare to a Rooftop Solar Panel Installation?

As with ground mount solar, it is often assumed that versatile solutions like solar carports and ground mount are only meant for homeowners who did not qualify for rooftop solar panels. However, the reality is that these alternative options can often make more sense for homeowners due a number of factors.

Issues with roof angle, orientation and size are eliminated with a carport because the panels will serve as the “roof” of the structure, and the supporting metal poles can be situated as necessary once the optimal array size and angle is determined. With rooftop solar, homeowners often run into issues installing a big enough system because they may not have suitable roof area. Space constraints are eliminated with ground mount solar and are rare with solar canopies and carports.

In order to compare and contrast the various array types (carport, ground mount, rooftop) for yourself, check out the table below. This table contains average U.S. dollars per watt, system size, most popular solar panel brand and percentage need met (referring to what percentage of electricity needs the array supplied on average) based on data from the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. The table will help to answer possibly the most important question to homeowners curious about solar carports: regardless of how convenient or efficient solar carports are, how do they compare to rooftop solar on bill savings and cost?

Residential Solar Comparison by Mount Location

Solar Carport Rooftop Solar Ground Mount Solar
Dollars per watt $3.99 $3.58 $3.86
Average system size 8.2kW 7.3kW 8.9kW
Percentage need met 88.5% 90.6% 96.8%
Leading panel brand SolarWorld LG SolarWorld

Source: EnergySage Solar Marketplace quotes for systems under 15 kW

There are many insights from the above solar array comparison, but the first clear takeaway is that solar carports are a viable option for homeowners in 2016, even when compared to rooftop and ground mount solar. Though the dollars per watt figure from this data set is slightly higher than ground mount and significantly higher than rooftop PV, it’s clear from GTM’s research that the cost of carport is expected to fall faster than either of its counterparts in the next two years.

The comparison also shows that there are significant parallels between solar carport and ground mount solar systems. Both options allow for bigger system sizes than rooftop (likely due to a lack of space constraints), and both are more conducive to a less efficient but more affordable panel brand (SolarWorld) than what an average rooftop system needs (LG).

How to Get Your Own Solar Carport Installation

Because solar panel carports are still a new and growing product offering in the U.S. solar industry, it may not be obvious as to how to get one for your home. However, the majority of installers who work with ground mount arrays should also be able to install solar carports.

We always recommend that customers educate themselves about solar and get more than one quote in order to compare options, pricing, savings, system size, etc. To get started, register your home on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace and specify in the “add details” section that you are looking for a solar carport installation. If you are building a carport from the ground up for this project, drag the pin to your driveway or the area where you would like the carport to be built.

What is next for the solar industry? Executives share their thoughts

What is next for the solar industry? Executives share their thoughts

Get a group of solar industry leaders on a stage in 2016, and all discussions tend to veer into the existential. This is our takeaway from this year’s Solar Power International conference, which took place in Las Vegas, Sept. 12-15. Obviously everyone on those stages agreed that solar power should be the way of the present and is the way of the future, but the path to that future is the main subject of debate. How do we get there? Is it net-metering? What role do utilities play there? What is the collaborative solution?

The bad news is no one has the final answer on those questions, but the fact that these are questions in the first place is good news because it means the solar industry has a crucial role to play in the world going forward. We just have to pick a path. Here are some routes to get there, according to voices on stage during the general sessions over the course of three days.

From left: Jeffrey Ball, Stanford University; David Crane, Pegasus Capital Advisors; Nat Kreamer, Spruce Financial; Steve Malnight, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

what-is-next-for-the-solar-industry-executives-share-their-thoughts (2)

Misalignment of interests

California is the world’s sixth largest economy, and the success of its solar industry should be instructive to the rest of the country and world. But as Nat Kreamer, president and CEO of Spruce Finance, pointed out, you can’t draw a straight line from California policy to every other state in the union. In places like Nevada, there is a misalignment of interests in the utility business model and public policy that instead leads to lines drawn in the sand.

“We ran monopolies to utilities to serve the public good. In California, they changed their business to serve the public good, but in a way to attract investment capital,” he said. “In New York, it’s shifting but almost everywhere else it’s not true. So what it means for distributed generation and residential solar is a fight.”

Does the business model for solar need to evolve? Several panelists thought so. Kreamer placed the industry’s missteps to this point in this context: “We have this really great technology and value proposition that people want to take, and it saves money and the planet, is good for community, has really long cash flows — we took that fun, exciting thing, and we sold it to people as an equity in a way that loses money.”

Without the benefit of hindsight though, distributed generation got its start in many places the way it had to, considering it wasn’t price competitive, noted David Crane, senior operation executive at Pegasus Capital Advisors. In retrospect, too many companies went public too early and hurt the industry’s ability to be nimble.

“Having run a public company … the public market doesn’t like divergence in strategy,” he said. “They want something predictable. I think it would have been better for the business model to evolve in nonpublic companies.”

“We were still so small as part of the energy mix that we could push the product out in a way that was inconvenient, but people were so motivated they would find their way through it,” said Craig Cornelius, president of NRG Renewables. “Being a supply-push industry, we put a lot of inconveniences on the customer or the electricity system that we inhabit. We now have to take those inconveniences upon ourselves.”


Changing hearts and minds

The other battle that panelists continued to bring up was for the more nebulous concept of the hearts and minds of consumers. Is there a tipping point for solar panels to be the “next iPhone” or a part of a similar shift in the way people live?

Getting there is a challenge. As Crane put it, simply, “customers want cheaper rates to charge things.” But as Kreamer put it: “We need a change in behavior. You will fail if you only focus on price.”

As the industry has shown getting to this point though, changing prices are somewhat integral to changing behavior. To Lynn Jurich, CEO at Sunrun, the goal right now is almost to stay that same course, just work to reduce the complexity of everything — so, changing behavior through simplicity.

“From the consumer perspective, there needs to be more certainty and longevity in rate structures,” she said. “They want to know ‘what’s my bill before and what’s my bill after?’ Attempts for demand charges to complicate a bill halts all of this adoption. It is complicated to explain.”

But on the other hand, maybe adding all of this distributed generation to the grid involves too much complexity. That’s at least the utility side of the story. Ron Nichols, president of Southern California Edison, noted the sheer amount of customers they are trying to serve: “Just to meet load changes we had to make 122,000 changes short and long term. We have to make all of that work in a harmonious system that works every second.”

“When we look at solar, it’s a no brainer, but we look at it as its own entity instead of looking at it from the utility perspective,” said Michael Maulick, CEO of SunLink. “They are providing a great service, so how do we look at their problems with retiring coal-fired plants and make solar a viable alternative?”

“What we’re talking about is fundamentally upending the way power is generated, served and distributed. It’s going to be complex,” said Kenneth Munson, president and co-founder of Sunverge Energy. “How we bridge that is going to be driven by devices within the home that are going to be meant to interpret these complexities in real time to provide the solutions. We don’t necessarily have to have all the answers today.”