The Differences Between Residential and Commercial Solar Systems

Residential and commercial solar systems have significant differences. Before you jump into the solar energy craze, know what makes these solar products so different and how each system can benefit your home or business. The following are the primary differences between residential and commercial solar systems.

Energy Production

A solar panel’s energy production refers to the amount of energy it can produce in relation to the solar energy it receives. Commercial and residential solar panels produce different amounts of energy.

A commercial solar installation will likely generate more electrical energy than a residential installation due to the larger size and higher number of cells in the commercial panel. The commercial cell’s physical characteristics allow it to generate more energy.

Residential cells are smaller in size and need fewer of them to power the whole house. Installation of commercial cells happens in huge numbers to produce enough electricity for a commercial power complex.

Commercial solar panels are more effective than residential units. Commercial solar panels have 19.6 percent efficiency, while residential solar panels have a lower efficiency of 18.1 percent.


Commercial solar panel systems are typically white, whereas residential systems are black or white. Black solar panels are less effective than white panels. Although black panels absorb more Sun’s thermal radiation, the dark color prevents sunlight from reaching the back side.

The white panels allow the use of solar energy on both sides, but black panels look better on a building than white ones. That is why most small residential projects install black panels rather than white.

Installation Process

In commercial projects, engineers must assess the facility to design the layout of solar panels. The business owner, the facility manager, the landlord, and even the government must all approve the design. Since commercial projects are large investments, business owners consider the long-term benefits. They anticipate an investment return after several years. To maximize profits, solar engineers must ensure the project’s efficiency.

Residential solar projects are much simpler. The solar company will only need the house owner’s approval. The installation time is also much shorter than in commercial construction.


Residential solar projects need 16 to 20 panels with capacities ranging from 1 to 10 kW. Commercial solar projects require about 400 solar panels. If you expect the project to generate between 10 and 100 kW, you can classify it as a medium commercial. If it exceeds 100 kilowatts, it is a large-scale commercial project.

A residential solar panel is less efficient than a commercial solar panel. Residential properties might not have enough space to install larger commercial panels because they are larger and heavier. But if you have a large roof or backyard, you may want to install commercial panels to boost efficiency.


Solar companies commonly install solar panels on the roof of a complex or building. But with technological advancements, you can install solar panels in a variety of creative spaces.

You can install solar power systems in commercial parking lots. There is plenty of space in such complexes for you to put solar panels wherever you see fit. Residential solar panels do not allow for this. Because there are few places to install them, you often have to mount them on the roof.

Commercial solar systems are not simply larger-scale installations of residential panels. There are several more distinctions between the two options. They include size and efficiency, available options, and the installation process. If you’re considering installing solar panels, understand both options before you begin the process.

Harmon Solar┬« is a well-known Arizona-based second-generation company specializing in custom solar systems for commercial and residential properties. We offer competitive pricing and strive to exceed our client’s expectations on each project we undertake. Contact us today to get free estimates.