Have you found yourself wondering if you can add solar panels to your pergola?
Perhaps you are looking to reduce your energy bills and want to know if solar panels on your pergola are a good way to do it?
Whatever your question might be, we have the answer for you! When it comes to pergolas, there are so many variations out there.
Whether you bought a pergola or made one yourself, you are sure to find a funky design that matches your existing decor.
But can you put solar panels on them? It seems like a good way to save some money and generate energy of your own.
So you start searching for the answer, but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to find it.
Disheartened, you resign yourself to a life without solar panels on your pergola. Well, no more!
Today we are here to lift your spirits and give you the answers that you need.
Just keep reading to find out if you can fit solar panels to your pergola and get some design inspiration that is sure to elevate your pergola to the next level!
Can You Put Solar Panels On A Pergola?
Let’s get straight into it! Yes, you can put solar panels on a pergola!
For those that need reminding, a pergola is a structure made from a roof and at least four pillars supporting it.
The extra roof space can be a fantastic place to fit solar panels and produce your energy.
However, as with everything in life, some factors need to be considered before you start installing solar panels on your pergola.
But have no fear, we are here to walk you through the entire process, answer any questions, and transform you into a fountain of knowledge for pergolas and solar panels!
How Many Solar Panels Does My Pergola Need?
First, you are bound to wonder how many solar panels your pergola needs. This depends on any task you might require from your solar panels.
If they are going to recharge batteries for example, then you can use the following formula to work out how many solar panels your pergola needs:
First, work out what your battery capacity is when it needs recharging, let’s use 50% here, giving us 1200Wh (watt-hours).
Next, we need to establish the wattage of the solar panels you are going to use and how much energy they generate every day.
For this formula we are using 100W solar panels that can generate 400Wh a day (based on 4 hours of peak sun reaching the solar panel a day).
Finally, we will calculate how many solar panels are needed by dividing your battery charging needs and the power your solar panel generates (1200/400Wh = 3).
Here we can see that to charge one battery, you will need 3 100W solar panels.
Remember, this number will vary depending on the number of batteries you have or other tasks you want your solar panels to power.
For example, if you want them to power any outdoor lights or appliances in an outdoor bar.
Wattage And Size Of Pergola Sun Panels
Once you have established how much energy you need your solar panels to produce or how many solar panels you require, your next question is bound to be, is the roof of my pergola big enough?
Most 100W solar panels are 39.5 inches x 26.5 inches (1005mm x 670mm), giving you an area of 7.25 square feet, or 0.673 square meters.
You will now want to measure the roof of your pergola.
Once you have this measurement, you can divide it by the square footage of the average solar panel to see how many you can fit onto your roof.
We like 100W panels as they tend to be easy to handle, but they aren’t your only option out there.
So we have a size chart coming up for you to help you decide what wattage and size your solar panels should be!
Solar Panel Wattage And Size Chart
|Wattage||Length (inches)||Width (inches)||Weight (pounds)|
Now, you might want to have less solar panels, but opt for larger ones that will fill the space and work with a higher wattage, or lots of smaller solar panels.
Here the choice is entirely yours!
Be sure that before you order any panels you have double-checked your measurements, the last thing you want is to order too many solar panels for your pergola roof!
How Much Power Can I Generate From Solar Panels On My Pergola?
The amount of power you can generate from solar panels on your pergola will vary depending on the size of your pergola’s roof and the number of solar panels you have on it.
On average, pergolas in gardens have a square footage of 144 (12 feet x 12 feet).
To work out how many solar panels you could fit on a roof this size we will be working with the average size of 100W solar panels.
They tend to be 39.5 inches long and 26.5 inches wide. This means we can fit three panels lengthways and 5 panels widthways.
If we multiply those numbers together (3 x 5), we get a total number of 15 solar panels that we can fit onto a pergola roof that is 12ft by 12ft.
To do this calculation on a roof of a different size you will want to measure the length and width of your roof.
You can then repeat the process we walked you through but swap out our roof measurements for yours and the size of the solar panels you want to use.
Working Out Solar Power Generation
Once we have worked out how many solar panels we can fit on a pergola, we can calculate how much power these solar panels can generate.
Again, here we can only offer an average, but this should help you work out what you can expect from your solar panels.
First, we need to work out the irradiance. This is the amount of energy from the sun that will hit the surface of your solar panels.
This will vary depending on your location, but on average, you can expect 4 kWh/m2/day.
This is the average that professional installers use too when working out how much power you can expect!
As we mentioned earlier, you could fit 15 100W solar panels on a 144 square foot roof.
To work out how much power these solar panels could generate, we will multiply the number of watts all the solar panels can generate, by the 4 hours of average peak sun hours you can expect.
- 1,500W solar panels x 4 = 6kW per day.
This calculation shows us that we can generate 6kW a day from our solar panels on a pergola.
Now, use the table below to see the different sizes of pergolas and how much energy generate on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. Remember, these are averages only!
|Pergola Roof Dimensions (feet)||Energy generated per day (kWh/day)||Energy generated per month (kWh/mth)||Energy generated per year (kWh/yr)|
|20 x 20 (400sq ft)||16.5||501||6022|
|18 x 18 (324sq ft)||13.5||410.6||4927|
|17 x 17 (289 sq ft)||12||365||4380|
|15 x 15 (225 sq ft)||9||273.75||3285|
|14 x 14 (196 sq ft)||8||243.3||2920|
|13 x 13 (169 sq ft)||7||213||2555|
|12 x 12 (144 sq ft)||6||182.5||2190|
|10 x 10 (100sq ft)||4||121.6||1460|
|8 x 8 (64sq ft)||3.5||106.5||1277|
Are Solar Panels Too Heavy For A Pergola?
Before attaching anything to the roof of your pergola, you will need to ensure that the pergola can support their weight.
On average, a 100W solar panel weighs between 17 to 20lbs.
If we are adding 15 of those to the roof of the pergola, the total weight of the solar panels would be 300lbs.
So you will need to ensure that your pergola can support 300lbs of added weight to its roof.
On average, pergolas can support 250 to 300lbs, meaning that installing 15 solar panels and their mounting equipment would take us to the top end of this limit.
Another option here would be to use flexible solar panels. These weigh a lot less, at 5.5lbs per solar panel.
If we swapped all 15 of our solar panels out for flexible panels, their total weight would come to 82.5lbs, well below the maximum weight for a pergola!
These flexible solar panels will cover the same area as traditional solar panels and have the same efficiency rating too.
They are a few millimeters thinner, reducing their weight and making them a good choice for those trying to keep the weight low.
You can secure them in place with some aluminum frames that aren’t too difficult to build yourself!
What Controller Do I Need For Solar Panels On My Pergola?
If you are planning on using your solar panels to charge batteries, then you will need a charge controller.
The controller you need will vary depending on the number of batteries you want to charge.
We do recommend opting for an MPPT, Maximum Power Point Tracking controller.
These controllers are up to 30% more efficient than PWM charge controllers and are able to produce more power, even when solar panels are covered by clouds!
Although they can be expensive, if you have the budget they are absolutely worth investing in!
You can often purchase solar panels that will come as a kit with a controller too.
These can often be a more affordable option for those on a budget, so be sure to check those out when you are doing your research!
What Can My Pergola’s Solar Panels Power?
If your solar panels are stand-alone, off-grid systems, then you can power most garden lights, lawnmowers, swimming pool lights, and water pumps.
If you have a larger number of solar panels and controllers, you could power larger appliances and recharge batteries.
Of course, you will want a controller when doing this to ensure that the power is constant and that there are no overloads.
If you plan to use the solar panels on your pergola to power your home, you will want to add micro-inverters to your setup.
These will connect to each solar panel and convert DC to AC. Doing so at the panel level helps to minimize any power loss and keep your home powered.
How Much Will It Cost To Add Solar Panels To My Pergola?
The cost of adding solar panels to your pergola will vary depending on the wattage of the solar panels, how many you purchase, and how you choose to install them.
You can do this on a budget, it all does come down to the size of your solar panels and how many you order.
You will also want to factor in any installation costs if you cannot do the work yourself.
To help you calculate a budget and work out a rough cost, you can use this list below to see what you need to pay for:
- Solar panels
- Solar charge controller
- Junction boxes and cabling
- Aluminum for solar panel frames
- Any labor costs
- Micro-inverters if the panels are powering your home
- AC isolating breaker and cabling
- Any batteries you might need
This list and the cost of the items will vary from person to person, so it’s hard to give one cost that fits all!
However, if you do the installation work yourself, you could install solar panels on your pergola for $500 or less.
And there you have it, you can indeed add solar panels to your pergola!
The number you add and the power of them will vary depending on the size of your pergola and your budget, but it can be done, saving you money on your energy bill in the long run!
Before you leave us today, check out our brief FQS section to get any last-minute questions answered!
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out our FAQ section below!
Can I Put Solar Panels On A Patio Cover?
Yes, you can put solar panels on your patio cover!
It will need to be well-constructed and able to hold the weight of the solar panels for you to do this though.
You will need to check the weight, or use flexible solar panels that are lighter.
If these solar panels are going to power your home, we suggest adding a string inverter to convert the DC to AC, or add microinverters to each solar panel.
It’s up to you which method you choose!
Why Shouldn’t I Put Solar Panels On My Roof?
If your pergola roof isn’t sturdy, then we do not recommend adding solar panels.
The last thing you want to do is cause any structural damage to your pergola!
You also don’t want to add any solar panels if your pergola is in a shaded area that doesn’t get much sunshine.
The solar panels only work when they are absorbing your sun, so if there is no sun above them, they aren’t going to work!