Ground-Mounted Solar Panels
If you’ve considered installing solar panels to help power your home or business then you likely have had to decide between a ground-mounted system and a roof-mounted solar system. The advantage to this type of mounting system is that they can be installed in areas to maximize the energy you can capture and they are a great option if your building has limited roof space or too much shade.
In most cases, a ground-mounted solar panel system can generate more electricity than you would get with rooftop solar panels. These mounting systems can also be designed to follow the sun throughout the day at the optimal angle which can further increase energy production. These panels are also easier to access for any maintenance and cleaning to keep your solar panels running efficiently.
What Is a Ground-Mounted Solar System?
Ground-mounted solar panels are solar panels that are installed on the ground level, rather than on a building's roof.
Types of Ground-Mounted Solar Panels
There are several types of ground-mounted solar panels but the most common ones are:
- Standard Ground-Mount
- Solar Trackers
A standard ground-mount system is the most common type and consists of a metal frame that is anchored to the ground and holds the solar panels in place.
A pole-mounted system is similar to the standard ground-mount but uses a single pole to hold the panels in place and requires less racking.
A solar tracker system is a more advanced type where it will use sensors to track the sun’s movement and will adjust the panels accordingly to maximize energy production.
Benefits of a Ground-Mounted System
The main benefit to a ground-mounted solar array is that it can be installed in areas where rooftop panels are not feasible. These are the perfect types of systems for any off-grid solar systems that aren’t tied to the grid.
For example, if your roof is too shaded or too small, such as a smaller cabin, to accommodate a solar panel system then this type of mounting may be your best option.
The second best benefit is that ground-mounted panels can be installed at an angle that maximizes their exposure to the sun which will increase their efficiency saving you money in the long run.
The final advantage to a ground-mounted solar array is that they are easier to maintain than rooftop panels. You can easily access them for any cleaning or maintenance. These types of panels are also less likely to be damaged by severe weather, such as hail or strong winds.
Installation of Ground-Mounted Solar Panels
The installation of solar panels or an entire solar system should be left to professionals, such as Peninsula Solar. There are a lot of complexities that come with installing an electrical system like this and having a master electrician on staff can make the installation process very smooth.
If you’re working with a solar installation company then you’ll want to become familiar with some of the terms and the process.
The racking system is the backbone of a ground-mounted solar panel system. It is responsible for holding the solar panels in place and ensuring that they are angled correctly to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. There are two types of racking systems: pole mount and concrete foundation.
Pole-mounted solar systems use a single steel pole to support the solar panels. This type of racking system is ideal for areas with rocky or uneven terrain.
Concrete foundation racking systems, on the other hand, use a support structure made of metal framing driven into the ground to hold the solar panels up at a fixed angle. This type of racking system is best suited for flat areas with good soil conditions.
Before you can install ground-mounted solar panels, you need to obtain the necessary permits. The permitting process can vary depending on your location and the specific regulations in your area. In general, you will need to submit a structural design plan for your solar panel system, including the racking and tracking systems, as well as the wiring and orientation of the panels.
The permitting process typically involves an inspection of the installation site to ensure that the ground is suitable for the installation of a solar panel system. You will also need to ensure that the wiring is done correctly to prevent faulty wiring, which can cause damage to your solar panel system and potentially pose a safety hazard.
The installation company you’re working with should be able to walk you through the permitting process and many even handle the permits for you to make sure everything is above board.
Cost of a Ground-Mounted Solar Panel System
The initial investment for a ground-mounted solar panel system typically includes the cost of the panels, the inverter, the mounting system and the installation labor costs. According to EnergySage, the average cost of a ground-mounted solar panel system is between $3 and $4 per watt, which means that a 5-kilowatt system would cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
However, the cost of a ground-mounted solar panel system can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the system, the type of panels used, and the complexity of the installation.
There are federal tax incentives to help cover 30% of your installation costs for a new solar installation.