Ground-mounted solar panels: What you need to know

Freestanding solar arrays installed on the ground with a strong metal frame or atop a single pole make up a ground-based solar system. When a roof-mounted system isn’t an option, a ground-based alternative may be installed instead. Each has advantages over using fossil fuels to generate power that is more substantial. Solar panels aren’t a good fit for every roof. On the other hand, ground-mounted solar panels need more room, which is not always available.

Ground-mounted solar panels essentials

Solar panels may be placed anywhere from several inches to a few feet above the ground, depending on the mounting method you choose. While quick shutdown requires module-level power electronics to be linked to the panels, other system components, such as string inverters and solar batteries, may be placed in a more temperate environment, such as a basement. Although rooftop systems are often limited to smaller and lighter 60-cell panels, ground-mounted installations can be used with solar panels of any dimension, including huge ‘commercial’ modules comprising 72 cells, 144 half-cells, or even more.

Various ground-mount solar system configurations

Ground-mounted solar panels mounted on the ground might be one of many variants:

  • Ground-mounted, fixed-tilt. This design constitutes the mainstream of ground-mounted solar systems. The solar panels are installed on a permanent frame at an optimal angle for light collection. Keeping the angle constant maximizes energy output throughout the year.
  • Mounting the ground-based single-axis tracker. By tracking the sun’s motion across the sky, ground-mounted solar panels may increase their output by as much as 25% when using single-axis trackers. The panels’ inclination during the day is maintained by a tracker that is positioned on a single axis, usually east to west.
  • The ground-based, dual-axis tracker. By enabling solar panels to move in both the east-west and north-south directions, dual-axis trackers may boost energy output by as much as 40 percent. Although more costly and difficult to set up than single-axis trackers, these systems have the potential to generate more power in certain conditions.
  • Mounting on a pole. In situations where the terrain is too uneven or unsuitable for traditional ground-mount systems, pole-mounted solar panels may be put on a single pole. The cost and space requirements of these systems make them a less common choice for ground-mount installations.
  • Mounted on the ground and weighted down. Ground-mounted solar panels that are ballasted need no holes to be drilled during installation. Instead, heavy objects like concrete blocks are used to anchor the solar panels to the ground. Rooftops and other places where the soil or rock is too hard to drill through are common places for this kind of installation.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each kind of ground-mount solar system. Space availability, regional climate, and financial constraints are all important considerations when deciding on an installation type.

The benefits and drawbacks of ground-mounted solar panels

There are advantages and disadvantages to using ground-mounted solar panels. Let’s explore them in detail.

Pros of solar panels installed on the ground

  • More effective. Compared to rooftop solar panels, ground-mounted arrays are more efficient because they may be oriented to receive maximum sunshine.
  • Simple repair work. Solar panels installed on the ground are less of a hassle to keep clean and serviced than those installed on rooftops.
  • Improved adaptability during set-up. An excellent alternative for places with limited roof space or bad roof conditions, ground-mounted solar panels may be erected on a wide range of terrains, including uneven or sloping ground.
  • Enhanced longevity. As compared to rooftop panels, the lifetime of ground-mounted solar panels is often greater since they are less vulnerable to environmental hazards and animal damage.

Ground-mounted solar panels cons

  • Costs to set up are higher. Installing solar panels on the ground is a more involved operation, which may drive up the cost of the system initially.
  • Land use. It may not be possible for households with limited outside space to install ground-mounted solar panels instead of rooftop panels.
  • Possible light blockage. Trees, buildings, and other obstacles in the way may diminish the effectiveness of solar panels installed on the ground.
  • Aesthetics. The visual appeal of ground-mounted solar panels may be lower for some homeowners than that of panels mounted on the roof.

How to understand if ground-mounted solar panels are suitable for your property

panels are suitable

Consider your available space, the quantity of sunlight your property gets, the slope of your land, and your financial constraints when deciding whether or not ground-mounted solar panels are ideal for your house. Ground-mounted solar panels may be a suitable choice if your land is big enough, there is enough open, unobstructed area, and your house gets plenty of sunshine throughout the day. In addition, ground-mounted solar panels may be the ideal option if your property has sloping or uneven terrain, or if your roof is not suited for solar panels. It’s worth noting that the extra materials and work necessary to install solar panels on the ground might make them more costly than panels put on a roof. Nonetheless, they may have a greater potential for energy production and be more convenient to service and clean.

The number of ground-mounted solar panels necessary to power an average household

On average, a household needs 17 ground-mounted solar panels. The rough calculations leading to this sum are as follows:

  • Assume a panel is 350 watts and the area receives 5 hours of direct sunlight every day. Each solar panel has a daily output of 1,750 watt-hours (1.75 kWh).
  • The typical family consumes 900 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power every month, which is equivalent to 30 kWh per day.
  • To fulfill typical energy needs using solar panels, you would need at least 17 of them (30 kWh / 1.75 kWh = 17).

Obviously, your home’s power use and sunshine availability could be different from the average.

Ground-mounted solar panels: last remarks

Solar panels installed on the ground can provide more benefits than those installed on a roof. Its high initial cost may be justified by the additional energy they generate. However, it’s best to talk to a solar installation or contractor, who can assess your home and provide suggestions based on your unique requirements, before making any final choices.

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