An interview with John Frederick, VP of sales and marketing, Poly-Tex
Solar carports are becoming an increasingly popular choice for commercial customers that may not have the roof space for solar. Parking lots and parking garages are underutilized areas perfect for solar generation. We talked with John Frederick, VP of sales and marketing for Poly-Tex, a Minnesota-based solar carport manufacturer, about his company’s background and the latest trends in solar canopies.
Poly-Tex has been in business for over 30 years. The company’s historical (and current) product lines include greenhouses and shade structures. Solar carports looked like a natural fit for our engineering and manufacturing capabilities so we started addressing these solar structures several years ago.
What type of solar canopies/carports do you produce?
Poly-Tex provides a number of different designs that cover rows of single or double parking spaces. We also have designs that can cover an entire parking lot including the driving lanes.
What type of customer generally looks into solar carports?
Carports are becoming more popular nationwide. Many retail and commercial business owners are looking to make their commitment to sustainability more visible to the public. They may also have rooftops that aren’t well suited to solar, and carports are a good alternative. Cities are becoming more interested in putting solar on underutilized assets such as public parking lots and parking garages.
What are the pros and cons of single cantilevers and dual cantilevers?
A single cantilever carport is used to cover a single row of parking stalls. A dual cantilever carport is used to cover two rows of parking stalls. Typically a dual cantilever carport will be more cost effective.
What are the installation requirements with tilted plane arrays?
For parking lot applications, the installation requirements are similar to other types of carport structures. The biggest difference comes from the ability to also cover the drive lanes (as well as the parking stalls) with solar panels. This allows a developer to maximize the amount of solar production on a particular parking lot or garage.
How do you handle foundations in parking garage installations?
Parking garage installations are unique because the vertical supports for the carport structure must align with the support structure for the parking garage. This typically requires a 60- to 70-ft clear span distance. Poly-Tex created the Tri-Plane Truss design to cost effectively address the long clear span requirements. Poly-Tex’s modular approach (no individual component is over 25-ft long) reduces crane operation time and addresses potential garage weight restrictions.
What trends are you seeing with carport installations?
We are seeing a trend to cover the entire parking lot or garage with solar panels. This provides better protection for vehicles and better economics for the project. This does drive the need for longer spans to accomplish this.