Can We Put Solar Panels On The Pergola? Guide 2022

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In situations where a rooftop is either unsuitable or insufficient to meet a homeowner’s or business owner’s energy needs, solar pergolas are growing in popularity as a means of generating solar power. To achieve the best of both worlds, the solar array is elevated on a frame.

It is undoubtedly a very effective method for harnessing solar energy, and the best part is: that it will not ruin your home’s aesthetics. But can we put solar panels on the pergola?

Even though installing solar panels on their own is a wise choice, doing so in conjunction with a pergola gives your house advantage. Here is an extensive guide on solar panel pergola in case you’re still interested.

A Solar Pergola: What Is It?

Let’s first clarify this before moving on to a discussion of the solar pergola in general. For the benefit of the house, a pergola is an outdoor living area.

It is a building with a roof supported by four or more pillars. A pergola is typically regarded by home experts as a wise choice to provide shade for your outdoor space.

Here we return to our original query.

Solar pergolas are covered, weatherproof, and power-generating structures installed atop conventional pergolas. It is well known to be a more useful and advantageous option than a typical pergola roof.

Imagine them as a hybrid of traditional pergolas and solar-paneled roofs.

Similar to a traditional pergola, except that it has solar panels, is this solar-powered building. If you’ve ever been to Italy (or anywhere else), you are familiar with the appearance of a typical wooden pergola. It is typically made of horizontally stacked wood slats and is tall and narrow. When you want to escape the heat of the sun, you sit beneath it. Often referred to as “shade umbrellas,” “sun sheds,” or simply “pergolas,” these structures are described in this way.”

Pergola Solar Panels = Solar Energy + Pergola

Although solar energy has been around for a while, it has only recently gained popularity as a result of advances in photovoltaic cell technology and its capacity to produce electricity from sunlight. It turns into a useful combination of production and function when you install it in your house’s pergola!

By putting solar panels on their homes or places of business, homeowners can use this technology to generate free electricity. While this may seem like a great idea, you should take a few things into account before beginning your project.

Garden structures like pergolas have been around for ages. The word “pergola,” which means “canopy,” is of Italian origin.” They let light into the structure while also providing shade. Modern pergolas come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Some buildings even have glass roofs. Some pergolas can be collapsed, while others are fixed structures. Sunrooms, greenhouses, shelters, arbors, gazebos, playhouses, etc. are just a few examples of the many different uses.

Pergolas offer more benefits than just shelter, including privacy, protection from the elements, enhancement of the natural beauty of gardens, and the ability to spark conversation.

Important Questions To Ask

What supplies are required to build a solar pergola? Can we imagine repurposing any old pergola into a solar panel installation? And if so, how does it operate?

The actual pergola structure and the solar panels make up a solar pergola. The type of structure you want to construct—a freestanding one or one that is attached to another object, like a house—must be decided before you start.

When thinking about this project, you should start by taking its size into account. Are you looking at something that you can install quickly on your property? Or do you intend to erect a bigger version that will require assistance from professionals?

These are a few of the crucial inquiries you might want to ponder in advance of installing a solar pergola.

What Does A Solar Pergola Contain?

solar panel pergola does not deviate much from the standard pergola in its structure. In terms of roofing, it does differ somewhat. As a result, a solar pergola requires a lot of different components.

A full kit for a solar pergola typically consists of:

  • Solar panels
  • Pillar posts
  • Top slats
  • Support timbers
  • Installation hardware

The MPPT charge controller+, the inverter, and the batteries are additional items that are needed.

Pergola Materials

Determining the kind of material you want is another step that must be taken. You should search for alternative materials because wood rots over time. Although steel and aluminum cost more to buy and need maintenance, they have a tendency to last longer.

Unless you’re going for aesthetics, vinyl is probably not a good choice because it tends to bend rather than break. But it is very enduring and simple to maintain.

Could The Pergola Be Covered With Solar Panels?

A structure with a roof and four or more pillars are called a pergola. In some cases, it can be a smart idea to mount solar panels on that extra roof space, either to supplement household energy use or as an outdoor off-grid solar system.

The size and type of solar power system you install depend on what you want to do with it.

How Much Electricity Can Your Solar Pergola Roof Produce?

The average garden or home pergola roof size is 12 feet by 12 feet, so 144 square feet.

How many 100-watt solar panels will fit on 144 square feet? Let’s use a 100-watt panel’s 39-inch dimensions as a starting point.5 inches long by 26.5 inches wide.

12 feet is 144 inches, so we can comfortably fit 3 panels lengthways – and how many wide?

We get 5 when we divide 144 by 26.5 inches.4, so 5 panels.

The total number of 100-watt solar panels we can fit on a 12ft by 12 ft pergola roof is 3 x 5 = 15 panels.

How To Calculate Solar Power Generation

The amount of energy any solar panel can generate depends on how much of the sun’s energy falls on its surface. It’s called irradiance.

Although this value varies according to location, professional installers use an average value of 4 kWh/m2/day for estimating purposes.

Do Bicluster Solar Panels Work For Pergolas?

It is a great idea to install bi-facial solar panels on a pergola. More light will reflect into the backside of the modules if your surroundings are made up of light-colored materials.

In this situation, you might be able to achieve the rear-side solar power gain, which could increase the PV system’s capacity by up to 10%. Additionally, because they permit sunlight to pass through, bifacial solar modules have a more appealing appearance than conventional panels.

What Kind Of Energy Can A Solar Pergola Produce?

The quantity of solar energy that strikes the panel’s surface typically affects how much energy is captured from it.

Because of differences in location, this value frequently changes. However, many professional installers utilize four kWh/m2/day, an average estimated value.

Let’s say your pergola roof is the typical 12-by-12-foot size. This size of the roof can accommodate 6x400W panels (2 m x 1 m). Now, combine that with an average peak of 4 hours, and each panel can generate around 1600W-hours in a day.

To cut short, it simply means a 12-by-12 ft pergola with 2400W solar can provide about 9.6kWh in a day.

This is how solar pergolas work mathematically!

Which Type Of Controller Is Required For A Solar Pergola?

If charging batteries with your solar pergola setup, a charge controller is needed.

For my 300-watt installation, I’m using a 30A rated, up to 60-volt input controller for maximum power point tracking (MPPT).

The open circuit voltage (Voc) of my 100-watt panels is about 21 volts, so Simply run two wires to the input terminals of the controller, and I’ll connect them in parallel.

MPPT controllers are much more efficient than standard PWM controllers

For two reasons, I use MPPT controllers in the majority of my projects:

  1. MPPT controllers are up to 30% more efficient than the cheaper PWM charge controllers
  2. They produce more power when the solar panels may be partially covered with clouds, for example.

Pros Of Building A Solar Pergola

The majority of the design freedoms and flexibility associated with this mounting are available because a solar pergola is simply an elevated ground-mounted installation.

  • The potential for visual appeal is almost limitless. A range of materials, colors, styles, and sizes provide almost every option possible;
  • Because the solar pergola is essentially a mounted solar energy system, all associated costs are subject to solar incentives and tax credits, including being
    excluded from property tax;
  • They expand design and solar energy capacity options. Typically there is more design freedom in locating and sizing a solar energy system on adjacent land
    compared to a rooftop;
  • Not only is the living and entertainment space comfortable, but it is also essentially usable right away. Electrical outlets for homeowner use do not
    require any special cabling or conduit.

Cons Of Building A Solar Pergola

A solar panel pergola has some drawbacks, including the following: 

Not Ideal For Small Pergolas

Your pergola must be able to support a sufficient number of solar panels if you intend to install them. This limits the construction of smaller pergolas because the pergola should be large in size.

A New Pergola Costs Money To Build.

Additional materials are needed to install the panels because a solar panel pergola necessitates the panels serving as the roof. Because of this, new construction is quite expensive.

If You’re Working With An Old Pergola, It Needs To Be Modified.

The roof of your standard pergola will likely be flat if you intend to convert it. To gather the most energy, however, solar panels must be positioned at a 30-45 tilt angle. So, you’ll need to make some adjustments to the roofing system.

What Will The Price Be?

A basic 12×12-ft solar panel pergola should cost around $1500 (excluding the cost of installing the panels). This equates to about $10 per square foot, and this space is easily able to support about six standard-sized panels (400-Watts).

Now imagine that a panel costs $2.5 per watt, and the total expense, including labor, can cost around $6000.  

A monthly power bill savings of about $80 is anticipated from such a setup. When you add solar panel protection to that, the average ROI is around 8%.


Can solar panels be installed on a pergola roof without being too heavy?

The average weight of a commercially available 100-watt panel is between 17 and 20lbs, and for my pergola, that means the total weight would be 15 x 20 = 300 lbs.

Which solar panel types work best when mounted on a pergola?

For many applications, I use flexible solar panels instead. A 100-watt panel weighs about 5.5lbs instead of 20lbs, so quite a big difference. 15 solar panels at 5.5lbs weight are only 82.5lbs, so there’s a comfortable margin for safety.

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