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How can solar contractors improve the appearance of solar carports?

Originally published July 18, 2016 Emily Wild, Solar Power World Magazine
For potential customers interested in installing solar carports, visual appearance is a major concern. Customers are usually looking for a structure that blends with the subtle of their preexisting buildings and landscape.
“Unlike traditional solar arrays, a carport is part architecture, part engineering and always show-stopping,” said Christopher Fortson, marketing director at Osceola Energy. While rooftop solar is barely visible for people at ground-level, solar carports can be seen from a mile away.
Fortunately, there are many ways that solar contractors can improve the appearance of carports from all angles. From a distance, it is easy to enhance the aesthetic through a simple coat of paint or by adding details such as lighting features, integrated artwork or trim additions. Neat wire management can improve the view from underneath the carport. At ground-level, inverter casings, conduits and electronics can be custom painted so they are less noticeable, Fortson said. OSCEOLA_ENERGY_SOLAR_CARPORT_SAGC
But just how much do these visual improvements cost? Daryl Zeis of Baja Construction said a coat of paint is an addition of about $0.55 per square foot. Other details might make a more significant impact on the total cost, but the numbers can certainly be legitimized.
“It’s important to remember that a solar carport can add value to a property in addition to reducing energy costs,” Fortson said. “Just like any outdoor renovation, the return value is only as good as its curb appeal.”
Fortson mentioned several examples of attractive solar carports constructed by Osceola Energy. One is a 250 kW solar carport system at the Santa Ana Golf Club in Bernalillo, New Mexico. It features aesthetics inspired by the Southwest that complement its picturesque background. A custom paint job, LED lighting and Spanish-style corbels create a visually appealing and functional piece of solar architecture.
Osceola Energy also built a residential project for a customer who wanted a solar carport to atch the rustic appeal of the customer’s home. Developers color-matched the steel of the carport to the existing fencing and incorporated a traditional Southwestern snake design into the structure at the customer’s request.Osceola energy residential solar carport rendering
Fortson and Zeis can agree that the simplest aesthetic upgrade a solar contractor can make to a solar carport is color.
“Never underestimate the power of a simple coat of paint,” Fortson said. “A custom palette can transform a bland, cold steel structure into a work of art.”
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