Rooftop solar is likely to be what people think of when they consider installing solar. However, most people don’t realize that ground mount solar panels are available in the case your roof isn’t ideal for a regular rooftop panel installation. In addition, it’s actually much simpler to install ground mount panels, and frequently more cost-effective. We’ve put this article together to help you understand your options when it comes to ground mount solar panels.
The difference is in where you put the panels. You can mount solar panels into the ground instead of being placed on a rooftop. Rather than stressing about roof replacements or if your roof faces direct sunlight, it makes more sense for some homeowners to place their solar installation adjacent to their home.
For installation, support beams are placed in the ground using steel supports secured with concrete. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are then mounted on top and an electrician runs the connection to the home. During installation, the whole setup is oriented towards maximal direct sunshine year-round. Just like with rooftop solar, you can use a ground mount solar with grid-tie or off-grid systems.
This is the best solution for homeowners with a challenging roof orientation. Particularly, if your roof does not face south or west then a lack of direct sunshine can reduce electricity generation. Therefore it would take longer to make up the cost of the system through savings. With ground mount solar, panels are always oriented in the best possible direction for higher output.
Likewise, you don’t have to choose between going solar and living under a canopy of trees. With professional planning and installation, you can locate your locate quite a ways from the house- wherever the sun shines.
Do you live in a snowy region? Rooftop PVs can be repeatedly covered in snow and ice. In contrast to rooftop solar, ground-mounted solar is easier to clean. Of course, clean panels produce more electricity.
Larger properties have more space for a solar array. Ground-mounted solar can require several hundred square feet of space, but there are a number of benefits that make it well worth it.
With maximum sunshine and easy maintenance, a ground mount install is the best option for those with enough space. Without having to compromise with your roof angle, ground mounts are always installed at the best possible angle for direct sun. Therefore when the weather is right, your system will be generating energy at the best efficiency possible. As a result, fewer panels will be needed to provide the desired electrical output, saving money on installation costs.
If you ever need maintenance, accessing your panels will be easier when they are on the ground.
With rooftop solar, a key consideration is the quality of the roof structure under the panels. Replacing a roof when panels are bolted on can be a daunting obstacle. With ground mount panels, it is no longer an issue.
On the other hand, ground-mounted solar is not for everyone. Homeowners with limited space will have a hard time giving up their yard. For homes with a new roof that faces the sun, a rooftop installation makes more sense if space is limited. If your soil is mostly large rocks or bedrock, it may be too costly to excavate for proper ground mounts.
However, while a ground mount can be more expensive to install in some situations it is still cheaper than installing a new roof plus rooftop solar.
Is your roof orientation less than ideal for direct sunlight?
Do you have abundant sunny land for solar panels?
Do you live under a canopy of trees?
Does it snow often where you live?
Is your roof structurally less than perfect?
Is your soil fairly easy to excavate?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, ground-mount solar may be right for you.
Yes! In some cases, they are even safer than rooftop solar. All electrical connections are secured professionally, keeping your family safe from exposure to high voltage. While all solar installations are rigorously tested for fire safety, a ground-mounted array can be safer. With no live wires on your roof, the already extremely low risk of a fire is even lower.
Battery storage for homegrown clean energy is becoming very popular and more cost-effective. Indeed, you can still pursue energy storage with ground-mounted solar panels. In fact, ground-mount PVs typically generate more electricity than rooftop setups, providing even more energy for your battery storage.
Standard ground-mounted solar systems use metal scaffolding anchored into your yard to support your panels at an optimal incline to the sun. You can adjust some ground-mount solar systems with a swivel to maximize sun exposure across the seasons.
Pole-mounted ground mounts hold the entire system on one pole versus the conventional scaffolding style of standard ground mounts. Some pole mounts commonly incorporate mechanical tracking systems (more on this below).
Overall, it comes down to your climate and budget. Pole-mounted installations cost significantly more since a larger pole requires more excavation and concrete. For the extra money, you can have the ability to adjust the height for cleaning and add a swivel feature for tracking the sun. However, it’s more affordable to add more panels than it is to pay for pole-mounts in a residential installation.
We think it’s not worth the extra cost. In addition to costing over 50% more to install, tracking systems can need costly maintenance. To recover your expenses in less time through savings, consider sticking to a fixed-angle for optimal sunshine or adding more panels for the less additional cost than a tracking system.
We work with a number of highly-respected installers in the ground-mounted space. Our partners can guide you through consultation, pricing, permitting and understanding what’s best for your unique needs.
Check out your potential savings with the solar calculator.
We can get you multiple competitive quotes for ground-mount systems from the most reliable installers in the business, ensuring you receive the highest quality at the lowest prices.