Solar Earth Inc.

Ground Mount Solar Panels

A ground mount solar panel is secured to a rack structure that is connected to the ground with steel beams or another type of metal post. Ground mount solar systems can be installed in an open ground area or as a carport over a parking lot.

If you don’t have enough usable roof space or simply choose not to have panels connected to the roof, ground-mounted solar can be installed wherever the conditions are ideal for solar power.

Types Of Solar Ground Mount Solar

Standard Ground Mount Solar Systems

Commercial Solar System Installation

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ground-mounted solar panels is a typical ground-mount installation. To securely anchor the system, metal poles are pushed deeply into the earth using a post pounder. The supporting structure for the solar panels is then built using a framework made of metal beams.

The angle of conventional ground-mount systems remains constant throughout the day and year. The tilt at which the solar panels are put, which affects how much electricity the panels will produce, is a significant aspect. Production will also be influenced by the panels’ facing direction. Compared to north-facing panels, south-facing panels will get more sunlight.

A standard ground-mount system should be built to receive as much sunlight as possible and set at the ideal tilt angle to produce the most electricity. The geographic location will affect its angle.

Pole-Mounted Tracking System

solar-panel-trackers

Throughout the day and the year, the sun moves around. This means that a system that is dynamic and adjusts the tilt in accordance with the sun’s movement throughout the day and year will produce more energy than a system that is put at a fixed angle (standard-mounted system).

Pole-mounted solar systems can help in this situation. 

One main pole that is drilled into the ground is used by pole mounted systems, sometimes referred to as solar trackers, to support a number of solar panels. A tracking system is frequently fitted with pole mounts, which will move your solar panels during the day to maximize their exposure to the light and, consequently, the amount of electricity they produce. They can change the angle at which they’re inclined as well as the direction they’re facing.

While increasing your system’s productivity may seem like a win-win situation, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Tracking systems depend on additional mechanics and require a more complicated setup. This implies that installing them will be more expensive. 

Pole-mounted tracking systems may also cost more and need more upkeep. Although this is a well-established and reliable technology, tracking systems have more moving components, so there is a greater chance that something will go wrong or become misaligned. This is substantially less of an issue with a typical ground mount.

Depending on the circumstances, the extra electricity the tracking system produces can in some cases make up for the cost increase.

Carport Solar Systems

Carport-Solar-Systems

A solar carport is a unique ground mount installation. The panels are raised high enough to cover vehicles rather than being closer to the ground. 

Usually built over parking lots or in driveways, carports offer parked vehicles shelter from the elements as well as free and clean electricity for the owner. Solar carports can be a fantastic spot to install electric vehicle charging stations and can help optimize otherwise underutilized space. 

However, installing them will cost more because they need to be raised above the ground as opposed to a regular ground installation.

Things To Know Before Installing Ground Mount Solar System

Here are a few things you should know before installing a ground mount solar system:

More Efficient

A ground-mounted system might generate more energy per installed solar watt than a roof installation. The cooler it is, the more effective solar systems are. Less heat means less friction as energy is transferred from the solar panels to your house or place of business. 

Roof Mounted solar panels are mounted a few inches above the roof. Roofs that aren’t blocked by any kind of shade can warm up quickly on sunny days. There isn’t much room for airflow beneath the solar panels.

However, with a ground mount, there will be a few feet between the ground and the bottom of the solar panels. The solar system’s temperature is maintained by the unrestricted passage of air between the ground and the panels.

If properly considered, these elements may increase productivity compared to a roof-mount system, particularly if your roof is not well positioned for solar. Choose a location without any adjacent trees or structures casting shade on it, and ideally face the system south. Systems that face south will get the most sunshine all day. 

Additionally, the racking system can be tilted by your installation to the ideal level for your site. With a roof-mounted system, the roof’s pitch determines how far your solar system may tilt.

Required Land for the Ground Mount System

While ground-mount systems let you choose the location of your solar system that will produce the most power, you still need to set aside that space specifically for the solar system.

The size of your solar system will influence how much land is present. A 10 kW system would probably be required for a typical home with a $120/month electric bill. This sized system would cover around 624 square feet or.014 acres.

You would need a larger solar system if you owned a farm or business because your electricity costs are likely to be substantially greater. Using a 100 kW system, a $1,200/month electric cost would be covered. This system would cover approximately.2 acres or 8,541 square feet.

Solar systems have a long lifespan, and many high-quality manufacturers provide guarantees of up to 30 years. When deciding where your system will go, bear this in mind. Check to see if you have any future plans for that location.

losing up land means losing up revenue, especially for farmers. You may be able to install a ground-mounted system that is several feet higher off the ground in some circumstances. This can give the space needed for agricultural cultivation beneath the panels. However, there will be an additional expense, which should be compared to the revenue from those crops.

Rodman Lott, a crop farmer who put in a solar system

You will be responsible for maintaining any vegetation that develops around and beneath the system, no matter how much room there is beneath the panels. You might also want to think about installing security fencing around the system, which would take up more room. To avoid shadowing problems on the panels, fences must be put up safely far enough in front of them.

Ground Mounts Systems  Are Easier to Access

Over rooftop-mounted panels, ground-mounted ones will be simpler to access. This can be useful if you need to maintain or repair your panels. Ground mounts will be simpler for solar workers to access, which can reduce expenses.

However, ground mounts also make it simple for animals and unauthorized users to access your system. The depreciation of your panels can be sped up whenever there is significant pressure placed on them, such as when climbing on them or striking them. Curious animals may even nibble on the wiring.

To keep off unwanted visitors solar owners frequently build a fence around their ground-mount installation. In reality, depending on the size of your system and the local laws, this might be necessary. During the application procedure for permits or during the inspection of your installed solar system, the requirement for a fence will be assessed.

How Much Do Ground-mounted Solar Panels Cost ?

Solar PV System Type

Typical Cost per Watt

Cost of a 6 kilowatt (kW) System

Roof-mounted

$2.81

$16,860

Ground-mounted

$3.11

$18,660

Solar carport

$3.31

$19,860

Ground-mounted solar systems cost about 11% more than rooftop ones, and solar carports are 18% pricier due to their height. But if the ground system generates a lot more power, it can be worth the extra cost. Plus, all three options qualify for a 30% federal tax credit, and some states offer bonuses for solar carports.

PV systems work better when solar tracks move the panels so they face the sun. But they can be pricey; estimates say they could make the total cost of installing solar panels 40% to 100% higher. There are two main types of solar trackers available.

Dual-axis trackers can change both the tilt and direction of your solar panels so that they are in the best position to get the most sunlight.

Single-axis trackers can only change one of the solar panels’ tilt angles or their direction at a time.

Ground-mount systems demand additional resources and manpower. A roof mount still has a racking mechanism to keep the panels in place, but the roof itself serves as its primary support. With a ground-mount system, your installer must first construct the solid support structure using steel beams that are deeply embedded in the ground via drilling or pounding. 

However, just because it costs more to install than a roof mount doesn’t necessarily imply it’s the better choice over time. When using a roof mount, you are dependent on your roof, which may or may not be solar-friendly. Without reinforcements, some roofs might not be able to handle the added weight of a solar system, or your roof might need to be replaced. Furthermore, a north-facing roof or a roof that receives a lot of shade can significantly lower the amount of electricity your system produces. Despite the higher installation cost, these aspects can make a ground-mounted solar system more desirable than a roof-mounted system.

Should You Install a Ground-Mounted System?

For those that want to go solar, ground-mounted solar systems are a fantastic choice. Ground-mount systems may be a little more expensive than roof-mount systems, but they provide you more flexibility in where you may put the solar panels. Instead of being constrained by the pitch and orientation of your roof, they may be designed and placed for maximum production. 

Having said that, you need to be prepared to fence in and maintain the plants around the system and make sure there is a suitable-sized plot of land available for installation that receives plenty of sunlight.

Do Ground Mounts Cost More Than Roof Mounts?

In general, installing solar panels on the ground will be more expensive than installing a system of the same size on the roof. The structure on which the solar panels are mounted is partially to blame for this. 

The roof and the building’s structure support a rooftop system, therefore creating a supporting structure is not required. The panels are instead fastened to a racking system that is subsequently fastened to the roof. 

On the other hand, a separate structure will have to be built to support the panels in a ground-mounted system.  The framework will be composed of posts driven deeply into the ground for sturdy support, followed by the addition of cross beams, the racking system, and the solar panels themselves.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Roof Mount and Ground Mount Solar Systems

Here are the pros and cons of Ground-mounted and Roof-mounted solar systems.

Roof-Mounted Solar Systems:

Pros:

Space Utilization: Roof mounts use space that would otherwise go unused.

Lower Installation Cost: Usually cheaper compared to ground-mounted systems.

Preserves Land: Doesn’t take up land that could be used for other activities.

Security: Limits access to unauthorized visitors.

Roof Protection: Panels shield the roof from certain weather elements.

Cons:

Roof Penetration: Required for shingle roofs.

Potential Roof Repairs: Panels might need to be removed for roof repairs.

Weight and Support: Adds weight to the roof; additional support might be necessary.

Aesthetics: Some people think solar panels affect the look of a house.

Safety Concerns: Can be hazardous during installation.

Things to Consider Before Installation:

Roof Condition: Check if your roof can handle the weight of solar panels.

Warranty Impact: Understand how solar installation might affect your roof’s warranty.

Ground-Mounted Solar Systems:

Pros:

Flexible Placement: Can face any direction for optimal energy production.

Various Angles: Can be installed at multiple angles for efficiency.

Easy Maintenance: Simple access for maintenance and cleaning.

Carport Option: Provides shading and protection for parked cars.

Cons:

Higher Installation Cost: Typically more expensive than roof mounts.

Land Usage: Requires a significant amount of space.

Security Concerns: Easier access for unauthorized visitors.

Potential Damage: Increased risk of accidental damage from lawn mowers and other equipment.

Things to Consider Before Installation: 

Long-Term Plans: Consider your land use plans for the future.

Terrain: Assess the landscape of your property for suitability.

In the end, both options have their merits. If you have plenty of unused roof space and want a cost-effective solution, roof-mounted panels are likely your best bet. However, if roof space is limited and you still want to harness the benefits of solar energy, a ground-mounted system or a carport might be the way to go.

FAQs

Are ground solar panels worth it?

Yes, ground solar panels can be worth it, especially if you have ample space and want to optimize energy production.

What are the disadvantages of ground-mounted solar panels?

Disadvantages include higher installation costs, potential land use limitations, and easier accessibility for unauthorized visitors.

Are ground-mounted solar panels better?

Ground-mounted panels offer flexibility in placement and often higher efficiency, making them better for some situations, but it depends on your specific needs.

Is it cheaper to ground-mount solar panels?

Ground-mounted panels can be more expensive due to installation costs but might offer better efficiency, balancing the overall investment.

Can I put solar panels in my yard instead of on my roof?

Yes, you can install solar panels in your yard if you have the space and meet local regulations. It’s an alternative to rooftop installations.

How far can ground-mounted solar panels be from your house?

The distance depends on local regulations and site-specific factors. Generally, you can put up solar panels up to 500 feet away from your house, but you’ll need long, pricey wires to keep the power from going out. If you are less than 50 feet away, the voltage drop will stay at 2%, which is the safest level for current.

Solar Energy Contractors

Solar Earth Inc is one of the best ground mount solar energy contractors in California. Call us today for more info about Ground Mount or Roof Mount Solar Systems installation. Our skilled design and solar installation services, along with our 25-year warranty, make sure that you get the best products and services. It is possible to trust Solar Earth INC to give you the best solar panel options and solar funding.

Contact Us

Phone: (805) 691-8000
Email: michael@solarearthinc.com
Contractor License Number: B 900493

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