What you need to know about ground-mounted solar panels

Probably the first place that comes to mind when you consider solar panels is the roof of your home. They always go there, isn’t that right?

Well, maybe not always. Solar panels can be deployed in a variety of locations and ways, however rooftop installations are the most popular. Of the several choices, the most popular one is a ground-mounted configuration.

In this article, we’ll define ground-mounted solar systems, go through their benefits and drawbacks, and discuss whether you should use one for your house.

What is a ground-mounted solar panel system?

A ground-mounted solar power system is exactly what it sounds like: a system of solar panels put on your property’s ground, as opposed to the roof of your home.

Any location on your property with enough open space and decent sun exposure is suitable for the installation of ground-mounted solar panels. Depending on how the racking system is set up, the panels can be positioned anywhere from a few inches to a few feet from the ground. A solar inverter, which is either mounted on the mounting system behind the panels or within the home, receives power from the solar panels.

Similar to home rooftop solar systems, residential ground-mount solar installations are frequently constructed utilizing 60-cell solar panels. Larger, 72-cell solar panels are typically employed in ground-mounted systems that are used in solar farms and other large-scale applications.

Backyard solar panels, free-standing solar panels, and ground-mount PV systems are other names for ground-mounted solar panels.

What are the different types of ground-mount solar installations?

different types of ground-mount solar installations

You can use either a standard ground mount, which fixes the panels in one place, or a pole mount, which puts them higher off the ground. 

Standard ground mount 

Standard or conventional ground mounts support a racking table that holds the solar panels on rails using ground anchors. Your particular ground conditions will determine the specific form of anchoring; concrete piers are the most popular choice, although driven piers, helical piles, and concrete ballasts are also viable possibilities.

The solar array is normally held in a fixed position by conventional ground mount systems, while alternatives for manual adjustment are becoming more and more common.

The most popular and practical option for a ground installation is the basic ground-mount system. It is also the simplest and least expensive.

Pole mount 

A pole-mount solar system is constructed by digging a single, large hole into the ground as opposed to multiple smaller ones as with a conventional ground-mount. You attach your rails and mount your solar panels to a substantial pole that is buried in the ground.

Pole-mount systems provide more ground clearance, which is advantageous for avoiding vegetation or other ground impediments. They can also be utilized to create room and cover for animals to graze beneath them. A single-axis or dual-axis tracking system, which enables the panels to track the sun throughout the day and so produce more energy, is another benefit of pole mounting.

On the other hand, pole mounts with tracking systems are more expensive per watt, thus most customers decide to install a ground-mount array with more basic solar panels because they are more affordable.

What are the pros and cons of ground-mounted solar panels?

Here are some things to think about if you’re considering of installing solar panels on the ground.

Table. Ground-mounted solar panel benefits and drawbacks

Great way to bypass any roof issues, existing or potential (limited space, structurally weak roof, etc.)More expensive than a rooftop solar system
Higher energy production, as you can position your solar panels in the optimal direction and angleTakes up valuable real estate
Easy to clean and maintainAffects the home’s overall aesthetic
 Harder installation process

The main benefit of ground-mounted solar panels is that you have more control over the direction and angle of your solar panels. For the most direct sunlight, solar panels must face either south or southwest. Unlike on a sloped roof, you may install solar panels anywhere on the flat ground to get the most sun exposure.

Due to this benefit, ground-mounted solar panels frequently receive more sunshine, which enables them to produce more solar energy and reduce your energy costs.

Additional obstacles on your roof, such a skylight or chimney, can make it challenging to put panels there. In general, there is more room to install more solar panels on the ground than on the roof.

The aesthetics of your property may be more negatively impacted by panels on the ground than by those on the roof, though. Ground-mounted solar panel installation is often more expensive than rooftop installation and requires a lot more time and effort.

However, if your ground-mounted system is also able to generate more energy, this additional expense will eventually be made up.

Are ground-mounted solar panels right for my home?

Ground-mounted solar panels can be a better option for you if your home consumes a lot of electricity. This is especially true if your land is spacious and you can install more solar panels there than you can on your roof. By installing a bigger system, you’ll be able to produce more power and more effectively satisfy your needs.

Of course, if your yard is small, you might not have the space to install all of the panels you require. Installing solar panels on the ground will also leave little to no area for your lawn, flower gardens, or other landscaping if you don’t have the extra space. Rooftop panels might be a better choice if it matters to you.

I should also note that, if your roof is unsuitable for solar panels, you do not just have the option of a ground-mount solar system; you may also think about a solar carport, as well as a solar patio, gazebo, or pergola.

How many ground-mounted solar panels will I need?

A typical home needs roughly 20 ground-mounted solar panels.

Here are the quick calculations that were done to arrive at this number.

Assume that 300-watt solar panels are being used in an area with five hours of the sun’s peak exposure per day. During that period, each solar panel will generate 1.5 kWh (1,500 watt-hours) of electricity each day.

The average household uses roughly 900 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power every month, or 30 kWh per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Since each solar panel generates 1.5 kWh of electricity per day, we can install 20 solar panels to equalize the average daily usage of an American home.

Use our complex solar calculator below to determine the precise number of solar panels you would need to match your home’s electricity usage in your area, or request a free quotation from a nearby solar installation business.

What are the best ground-mounted solar panels?

The top five suppliers of ground-mounted solar panels are shown below.

  • Panasonic: Panasonic has one of the best reputations in the industry for being high-quality and inexpensive.
  • LG Solar: One of the best rates for converting solar energy into electricity is found in LG panels.
  • Canadian Solar: One of the best values for solar panels
  • Trina Solar: dependable all-around performance for a reasonable cost
  • SunPower: Their finest solar panels have a conversion rate of 22.8%, making them the most effective panels on the market.

Can I perform a DIY installation using a ground-mount solar kit?

Yes, several homeowners have installed ground-mount solar panels themselves with success.

The procedure consists of a number of processes, including designing the system, obtaining approvals, purchasing a solar panel kit, and carrying out the installation.

Many online sellers of solar panel kits either provide ground-mount kits or can convert rooftop kits to be used as a ground-mount system by exchanging the mounting & racking hardware.

DIY ground-mount installations are typically thought to be more difficult than DIY rooftop installations since they need to be anchored with concrete and/or excavators.

Final thoughts on ground-mounted solar panels

Compared to typical rooftop panels, ground-mounted solar panels can offer a number of benefits. They may be well worth the cost due to the additional energy they can generate. Find out how ground-mounted solar panels can best help you meet your home’s energy needs by conducting your own research and speaking with your neighborhood solar installer.

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