Snow Load

As most of you guys know, SkyPower started a bunch of years ago as a commercial solar company. The reason for this was that the tax laws back in 2006 basically strangled residential solar with a $2,000 cap on the tax credit. It wasn’t until George Bush signed the TARP law in the middle of a November night back in 2008, that solar for homes really kicked in. Congress snuck in a provision to repeal the limit and solar for homes started in a big way.

That was fortunate for companies like SkyPower, because this happened at exactly the same time as the corporate world went into melt down and the profits we used to fund solar disappeared.

Fast forward two years and we find ourselves starting 2011 with new hope and optimism that small business solar is ready to gain traction while the residential side is just getting its big momentum.

Whoa! Nothing is easy and simple here in the Valley of the Sun. Well, nothing except crazy big sun day after day, that is. Folks have asked for years, “When I fly into Phoenix, I see zillions of warehouses and no solar panels. Why is that?”

Snow Load!

Snow load? Yes, snow load! Back in Chicago, no business could even consider moving into a building that couldn’t handle the weight of snow in the winter. A foot of heavy snow weighs a lot. You’ve shoveled it … you know. Imagine all that weight on the roof. The stadium in Minneapolis knows! Well, warehouses and business buildings in Arizona are not built for that. Why spend the money to handle weight that will never happen.

It makes sense … except for now that we want to put up solar panels and they weight something. Turns out that they weigh about the same as snow, maybe even a little less, but the roofs aren’t built to take the load. By the time you stiffen up the roofs to take the load, the cost of the project is too much, the ROI is out of line and the project dies a quick death.

What do we do about it? Nothing. We wait a little while until the scientists come up with solar panels that don’t weigh anything. It won’t be long. There are some now that might work and things are getting better all the time.

One other idea that might work now is covered car or truck parking. We call it Solar Shade™ and it’s great. Kill two birds with one stone. The car parking structures can be fabricated to take the loads and hold the panels. The business owner gets shade for their cars and electricity to run the plant. In the future, we can always add plugs to charge up the employees electric cars. It might actually turn into a profit center or corporate benefit. It’s all good.

So, not to worry. Solar today. Shade today. Electricity today. Electric cars tomorrow and snow loads are not a problem. Of course, nothing is stopping the corporate folks from building better buildings here in Phoenix … but we can always hope.


If you have any questions, please call Jay Leopold at 480-290-2040 or email Jay at

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