Ground-Mounted Solar Systems

The type of mount system used for an installation will depend on the location of the solar panels. Most solar panels are installed on roofs because this layout does not require building additional structure to support the panels and is generally the least-expensive option.

In some cases, the roof of a building may not be well-suited for a solar installation. This could be due to the complexity of the roof, the roof’s integrity, shading, among other factors. In this case, a ground-mounted system is an alternative option. There are generally two different types of ground mount systems:  A standard ground mount and a pole mount.

ground mount example

Standard ground mount. This system uses a framework of metal arranged in a grid pattern.

Pole Mount A

Pole mounts: These are installations that mount the solar panels to the side or the top of the poles. The poles are either held in place by concrete or are driven directly into the ground.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ground Mounted Solar Systems

Choosing between a roof mount system and a ground mount system will depend on a number of factors including your roof, property and budget, among others. In general, a roof mount system is less expensive and easier to install, however a ground mount has a slight efficiency advantage.

Most ground mount systems are made out of a combination of aluminum and stainless steel metal, where the former is used for the bulkier components and the latter for smaller components like bolts and rivets. Some designs allow orientation of the panels to be adjusted manually or mechanically to increase energy production. However, the introduction of moving parts can result in additional costs and maintenance requirements

Advantages 

  • Ability to tilt & adjust panel orientation to increase energy production
  • Increased air flow around panels can result in cooler cell temperatures and slightly higher efficiency and energy production
  • Typically there is much more space on the ground than on the roof in rural settings, so larger systems can be installed
  • Cells are easier to clean and maintain

Disadvantages

  • Urban settings often do not have the available land space
  • Aesthetically more imposing
  • Solid foundations and concrete footings will need to be built to provide stability in storms and high wind
  • Typically more expensive to install due to cost of frame, foundation and footings
  • May be easier to damage and vandalize due to increased accessibility

**Information courtesy of  NABCEP PV Installer Resource GuideCircular Energy.com  and  Solarlarchoice.net