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What Is The Difference Between Commercial and Residential Solar Panels?

Photon Brothers Ground Solar Panels

Although the technology is the same, there are some key differences between commercial and residential solar panels. 

Commercial solar systems are typically larger and more powerful than residential systems, as they’re designed to meet the energy demands of larger buildings and facilities. On the other hand, residential solar panels are designed to be installed on rooftops or in the backyards of homes and are intended to offset the energy usage of a single household.

Whether you’re looking to install solar panels for your commercial outfit or you’re just doing some initial research, this blog will help you understand what sets commercial solar systems apart from residential ones:

Looking to take your business or commercial property solar?

Turn to Photon Brothers, one of California and Colorado’s premier commercial and municipal solar installers. Our team of solar engineers has more than a decade of experience installing high-performance solar systems for schools, vineyards, manufacturing facilities, and other large-scale commercial facilities. Plus, we’re well versed in regulatory requirements and meeting deadlines on time and on budget. 

Contact us for a free comprehensive estimate today. Or visit our commercial projects page and check out past solar installations, including notable figures like system sizes and projected 30-year savings.


Photon Brothers has installed commercial solar panel installations ranging from 50kW to 150 kW in size (e.g., office parks and other commercial buildings), all the way up to 1,000kW or more for industrial farming operations with ground-mounted systems.

Photon Brothers Ground Commercial Solar

Comparatively, the average American home only needs about 10.6kW of solar power, with most of our customers installing systems around 20 – 30kW. 

Clearly, the scale of commercial solar systems is much greater than residential, but that’s because they’re designed to meet greater energy consumption.

Photon Brothers Rooftop Panel


As solar technology progresses, so too does the durability of panels. Since they’re exposed to the elements, they need to withstand various conditions like snow, hail, extreme temperatures, clouds, bird droppings, dust, dirt, and, increasingly, ash from wildfires. 

That said, not all solar panels are created equal, so it’s important that commercial buildings choose high-quality panels that are designed for wear and tear. After all, the scale of the installation is much higher than residential, so you don’t want to risk choosing cheaper panels only to lose out on efficiency a few years down the road. 

At Photon Brothers, we proudly install US-made products and back up our installations with an outstanding production guarantee. After 25 years, we promise your system will still be performing at a minimum of 90% efficiency, or we’ll make it right! To get a free custom quote for your commercial outfit, contact us today.

Special Features

For code compliance, most American homes have slanted roofs to allow rain and snow to fall off, but many commercial buildings have flat roof systems to make it easier for maintenance workers to safely walk around. For this reason, commercial panels come with specialized mounting systems for flat roofs, including ground-mounted arrays.

Photon Brothers Silo Solar Panels

Additionally, commercial solar panels sometimes come with advanced monitoring and control systems that allow businesses to track their energy production and usage in real-time. This can be especially important for businesses that have high energy demands and need to closely monitor their energy usage and costs.


Commercial solar panel installations cost much more than residential systems. Not just for the increase in solar panels, mounting hardware, inverters, and other materials involved, but for the labor, engineering, project management, and permitting/​inspection costs too.

For example, because commercial solar systems are typically larger in scale, they come with more complex electrical systems and safety considerations. They may also require additional design and engineering work to ensure that the system is optimized for the unique energy needs and building structure of the business.

Furthermore, commercial solar projects often come with hefty energy and environmental impact goals, and they need to be overseen with careful planning and oversight. All of this comes at an extra cost. However, the return on investment can be worth it.

Return On Investment

When correctly designed and installed, the cost of any solar panel installation (be it residential or commercial) can be well worth the long-term energy savings. This is especially important for commercial buildings though, as the upfront investment is much greater. 

Take a Photon Brothers commercial case study, for example. We installed a 90.4kW solar panel system and 44kW battery storage system for AIS Industrial and Construction Supply. After just 6.4 years, they’ll reap the full amount of their installation costs, and over 30 years, their projected savings is $552,463 or 105.7% ROI on their electric bill. Given the rising costs of electricity throughout California and Colorado, this is a huge success story. 

All the more so given the environmental impacts. Commercial outfits use far more energy than residential homes, so by offsetting electricity and fuel costs with clean, renewable energy, they’re doing their part for the planet. A win-win for everyone!

Trust Photon Brothers for high-performance commercial solar installations.

Ready to go solar? Photon Brothers is a trusted commercial solar installer for California and Colorado businesses, farms, and organizations in need of large-scale solar and energy storage solutions. To get started, click below to schedule your free custom estimate. We’ll provide a comprehensive review of your property and long-term goals, and then design a custom solar system tailored to your needs and budget. We back up our work with a 25-year production guarantee, a 25-year parts and workmanship warranty, and we have scores of 5‑star reviews from happy customers.

Photon brothers John E Johnson

John E. Johnson

Denver sky

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