The generation of solar energy brings several benefits and is becoming more and more embedded in society, expanding into various sectors. Among the innovations brought by this technology is the solar carport, a roof capable of generating photovoltaic energy. But what is it?
What is a solar carport?
The term «carport» comes from the French porte-cochère, which originally referred to a covered doorway at the entrance to houses and establishments through which vehicles passed and which served as a sheltered place for passengers to disembark.
From the 1930s onwards, the term came to be used for covered car parks without side walls. This model provides better ventilation compared to a conventional carport.
The solar carport is a vehicle shelter that has no roof tiles or other conventional roofing on its roof, but photovoltaic modules that capture solar energy. Thus, while protecting vehicles from the sun, this type of carport produces electricity through solar panels.
These panels capture sunlight and convert solar energy into electrical energy, which can supply the user’s instantaneous demand or be fed into the grid if generation exceeds consumption, generating energy credits that are then used to reduce the amount of the electricity bill.
Another important benefit of the solar carport is that it offers a protection function for the vehicles against damage caused by exposure to the sun. At the same time its photovoltaic panels are able to capture sunlight and produce electrical energy. The canopies make much better use of the area that would be used for a regular car park by generating photovoltaic solar energy, which not only saves money but also reduces carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is one of the main pollutants emitted by cars. With the help of carports, it is possible to generate clean energy and reduce the volume of emissions, helping to mitigate the greenhouse effect and global warming.
At the same time, data shows that a photovoltaic system, as in the case of a solar carport, avoids the emission of hundreds of tons of CO2 during the 25-year lifetime of the solar panel. In other words, with a solar carport it is possible to offset almost all of the pollutant gases emitted by vehicles and obtain savings over 25 years equivalent to the value of several cars.
In this type of installation, structures, which can be made of various materials, are used to support the photovoltaic panels, similar to ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, but with a greater height, as the solar carports must be high enough to accommodate the cars.
These support structures provide a good anchorage for the panels and a good position with respect to the sun, optimising the collection of sunlight.
In addition, they require low maintenance, involving cleaning of the panels and mechanical and electrical maintenance of the equipment, perhaps twice a year. This is due to the fact that photovoltaic technology is highly resistant, especially when we are talking about a carport, where the support structures are of high quality and have several certifications.
The solar carport is also a differential that attracts the attention of customers and investors. In the case of the sale of a carport or other type of development that depends on the system, the property value can increase considerably when the carport is already installed and working properly.
Why choose a solar pergola?
Solar pergolas have recently become one of the most popular energy solutions, as they are customisable and have many advantages. Here are some of them:
-Versatility in use:
Thanks to their diversity, their functionality is not limited to commercial or industrial use, but is also a good solution for residential consumers, especially those who are interested in buying an electric car. Pergolas can also be used in parks, bus stops or car parks. We will talk about them below.
Nowadays the variable cost of energy is one of the problems that most concerns society. Solar pergolas can help protect against skyrocketing energy costs, reducing bills and making them much more affordable. In the same way, a solar installation can ensure stable energy costs for both a residential consumer and a business, which is especially important in the latter case. The savings can be converted into an opportunity to be used in other areas or projects of the company.
-Reduction of the carbon footprint:
By installing a solar carport you can generate sustainable operations that benefit the environment and the community. A sustainable business can foster an environment of high employee engagement and morale. In addition, consumers tend to value businesses that are committed to sustainability.
-Efficient use of space:
To install a canopy, no additional space is needed, but rather an existing space can be used to maximise efficiency and increase the comfort of employees, customers and visitors. A canopy can shade vehicles from the sun to prevent overheating and protect them from rain and snow. By providing shade to prevent cars from overheating in the sun, solar canopies can actually improve the car owner’s fuel economy.
A pergola with solar panels can be adapted to the needs of any project. Its adaptability is very wide: the design, style or size of the pergola can be chosen with the aim of integrating it into the environment in which it is inserted. At the same time, there are different solar panel solutions.
In a house, this concept is particularly important, because in this case it is important to combine energy efficiency and aesthetics. And this is no problem.
At FreeLight we design and install customised solar pergolas, for all types of locations and with a wide range of materials.
At FreeLight we work with a wide range of solar carports. We have installed them in car parks and residential homes. In both locations we have prioritised the concepts of efficiency and sustainability, as well as aesthetics and integration into the environment. These are some examples:
If you are interested in installing a solar pergola, do not hesitate to contact us.
Despite the fact that electric vehicles are slowly making their way into car fleets, yet there is still a great lack of knowledge about all that this technology entails. It is very important to know the types of chargers for electric cars that exist on the market. As anyone who has bought an electric vehicle (or is thinking about it) will probably know, just a small thing like trying to know what type of connector is appropriate can be a headache in itself.
In recent times, something has changed in the automotive industry and there have been several events that have been game-changers: the de-incentivising of diesel, the new anti-pollution protocols in large cities, the harsh measures of the European Union to reduce emission limits and a heavy process of electrification of cars that has only one goal: the transition from the combustion engine to the electric one.
The electric car is, however, a reality now and several countries have already set an expiry date for combustion engines, with the restrictions on the latter in many cities. In addition to all this, there is currently a great deal of confusion about electric, hybrid, LPG and CNG vehicles, which is one of the reasons why the vast majority of users are particularly confused at this time of transition towards a more ecological and sustainable mobility solution.
How many types of electric car charging are there?
To understand electric cars a little better, it is necessary to know what types of charging electric car chargers have, since the time it takes to recharge the batteries varies according to their speed. Five types can be distinguished:
Still experimental in electric cars tested with supercapacitor-type batteries. Its charging power is very high and a full recharge can be achieved in about 5-10 minutes.
Designed for service stations offering electric charging, as well as their normal services. It uses direct current of up to 600V and 400A and can reach 240 kW of charging power, allowing 80% of a battery to be charged in 5-30 minutes. With alternating current at 500V, up to 250A charging , 220 kW can be achieved and in 10 minutes it can achieve 80% charge capacity.
This is typically single-phase 230V, 32A and 8-14 kW taking 1.5-3 hours, or three-phase 400V AC, up to 63A and 22-43 kW taking about 30 minutes. It is designed for charging points on public, semi-public and private roads.
This is usually carried out at low power with Schuko-type domestic sockets, lasting between 6-8 hours with single-phase alternating current at 230V, 16A and with 3.6 kW maximum power. A variant of this uses three-phase alternating current at 400V, 16A with 11 kW of charging power and fully charges within 2-3 hours.
Super slow charging
This is used when the current intensity is limited to 10A or less due to the lack of a recharging base with adequate protection and electrical installation. It can take up to ten to twelve hours.
Connector types for electric car chargers
One of the problems with connector types is that, due to the multitude of manufacturer formats, there is no worldwide standardisation and thus there are different plugs with different sizes and properties.
With a diameter of 43 mm and five terminals, it supports two levels of AC charging: one of 80 amps for fast charging and another of 16 amps for slow charging. Although it is a Japanese standard, it is the one adopted by the American market and accepted in the European Union, compatible with some models of Kia, Toyota, Ford, Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Opel.
It has seven terminals and a choice of two types of current: single-phase at 16 amps for slow charging and three-phase at 63 amps for fast charging. Of German origin, it is compatible with Renault, Tesla, Volvo, Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen and BMW models.
Used in small electric cars, it allows semi-fast charging with alternating current, although it is not very widespread. It has 5 or 7 terminals, depending on whether the current is single-phase or three-phase, and includes earth and communication with the mains in both. It admits up to 32 amps.
Another of the most widely used types of chargers for electric cars. It allows fast charging with direct current and supports up to 200 amps. Its 10 terminals make it the largest diameter on the market and it is the Japanese standard par excellence, used by Subaru, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Nissan.
It is intended to be the standard solution in both the American and European markets and supports both slow and fast charging modes. With five terminals, it is compatible with Porsche, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Audi.
The Schuko plug (from the German Schutzkontakt, literally «protective contact») is the standard domestic plug. It is used in almost all European countries, with the exception of the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and others. It comes as standard in most electric vehicles and is fitted with terminals and grounding, withstanding currents of up to 16 amps for slow charging and without integrated communication.
Five advantages of owning an electric car
The electric car is already an reality in the European car market. Day by day these vehicles are gaining ground over combustion engine cars, mainly because they offer a series of advantages over traditional petrol or diesel cars, which may help to tip the balance if you are considering the purchase of an electric car.
- Zero emissions
100% electric cars emit absolutely no polluting gases during operation, so if you really care about the environment, this should be an advantage to be taken into account.
- Goodbye to fuel price fluctuations.
Logically, the electric car does not consume any liquid fuel, so we do not have to fill up the tank or worry about consuming more or less. This means a significant saving in fuel, as the electric car can be charged overnight in the garage at a cost of approximately €1/100 kilometres. If you make use of a photovoltaic installation, the cost will disappear.
- You will be able to drive in cities without restrictions
During high pollution episodes, some cities restrict the circulation of vehicles in the city centre, but electric vehicles are not included in such restrictions. In addition, they are allowed to use the special lanes; which saves time and improves traffic flow in large cities.
- Fewer mechanical breakdowns
Electric cars, as they have neither a conventional engine nor a gearbox with a clutch, have a breakdown rate of close to 0%, as they have few moving parts exposed to wear and tear.
- Convenience and comfort
One of the great advantages of electric cars over combustion cars is that they are really quiet when driving, due to the absence of moving parts with no explosions in the combustion process and no exhaust system. They are also very smooth and pleasant to drive as they have no clutch or gearbox.