Ground Mounted Solar Panels (Are They Worth It?)

Everything You Need To Know About Ground Mounted Panels

Disclosure: Some posts contain affiliate links, which earn us a commission if you make a purchase through them.

Typically, the average person will think of large solar panels that coat the rooftops they drive by. However, those in rural areas or are near commercial properties with a lot of land may notice ground-mounted solar panels.

What Are Ground Mounted Solar Panels?

This type of solar panel is mounted into the ground and will absorb sunlight and solar power throughout the day without the need to be mounted on top of a roof. These are great if you have a lot of space outdoors or already have your roof covered in solar panels.

Like other solar panels, ground-mounted solar panels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and may be designed for different conditions.

Click here to check out Amazon’s range of ground-mounted solar panels.

Types of Ground Mounted Solar Panels

In general, you’re going to find two different types of ground-mounted solar panels. They are:

  • Fixed scaffolding ground-mounted solar panels
  • Pole-mounted solar panels

Both of these types of ground-mounted solar panels will be effective but deciding which one is right for you will depend on several different factors.

Fixed Scaffolding

Fixed scaffolding ground-mounted solar panels are ideal for holding a large number of solar panels. They’re anchored into the ground by scaffolding and can hold a large amount of weight.

If you’re wanting to use a lot of ground-mounted solar panels and have an open space with plenty of room, fixed scaffolding panels can be a great idea.

It should be noted that the type of foundation that will be required depends on the soil.

If you’re considering using a fixed scaffolding ground-mounted solar panel, you’ll want to have your soil assessed by a geotechnical engineer to figure out the best way to install it.

Pole Mounted

Pole-mounted solar panels are just what they sound like – solar panels mounted on a pole to be slightly elevated off the ground. One pole may hold one, two, or even a small group of solar panels. Multiple poles may be used to house a large system.

The major benefit to pole mounts is their ability to use sun trackers.

These are motorized systems that will orient the solar panels to always be facing directly toward the sun. This means that your solar panels will be performing optimally for a longer period each day.

Another benefit is that they’re slightly more flexible than fixed scaffolding solar panels. Because they are positioned off the ground, you may be able to put them in areas that aren’t as open as a fixed scaffolding system of solar panels may require.

While these are often the more efficient f the ground-mounted solar panels, you should know that they come with their host of issues.

Because they’re motorized, they have an increased likelihood to need repairs and maintenance over the years. You also have an increased possibility of outright failure if one of the parts becomes damaged due to its delicacy.

How Do Ground Mounted Solar Panels Work?

How can solar panels be mounted on the ground? Don’t they need to be located on the roof to work effectively? Not.

Ground-mounted solar panels, regardless of type, all work about the same. They’re attached to a structure that is mounted into the ground to hold them down during in-climate weather and day-to-day activities. This is done by anchoring the foundation of the ground-mounted solar panel to the earth using steel beams or ground screws.

If the soil is clear of most debris, steel beams are the preferred option. If the ground has too much debris, ground screws are used to ensure the ground-mounted solar panel will remain in place.

If ground screws are used, the installation process will take longer so you can expect labor costs to go up. Because of this, try to pick an area on your property that has appropriate soil for steel beams.

Once these solar panels are mounted into the earth, they’ll absorb the sunlight each day and transfer it through its systems to create electricity.

Pole-mounted solar panels will have the additional benefit of being able to utilize sun trackers. These trackers will follow the sun as it moves through the sky.

This will increase the amount of time your solar panels are performing optimally. This is a major benefit over traditional solar panels located on the roof.

If your property has enough space, ground-mounted solar panels can be the superior option when comparing them to roof-mounted solar panels.

Code Requirements for Ground Mounted Solar Panels

Code requirements for ground-mounted solar panels will vary depending on where you live. However, there is a standard set of permits you’ll likely need to obtain. They are:

  • An electrical permit
  • A dedicated solar photovoltaic permit, if you’re using PV
  • A building or structural permit
  • It should be noted that in some areas you won’t need a building permit for ground-mounted solar panels. Rather, you’ll be required to participate in a land-use review.

Beyond standard permits, you’ll need to have a solar inspection before you install your systems as well as after. This is done to ensure everything is up to snuff as far as the government is concerned.

Finally, your utility company will need to be informed and will likely want to check your system once it’s been installed.

Once this inspection is complete, you’ll be allowed to turn on your solar power system as you’ll be granted permission to operate.

Minimum Height for Ground Mounted Solar Systems

Typically, ground-mounted solar systems are installed at a height of three inches. However, ground-mounted solar panels that are poled mounted may be lifted to up to six inches for optimal performance.

Check with your local city government on specific height requirements, although the standard usually lies around three inches.

Are Ground Mounted Solar Panels Right For You?

Ground-mounted solar panels and roof-mounted solar panels typically perform at about the same level. However, knowing which one is going to best for you is important.

If you find that you have a small roof, or there is a lot of shading that covers your roof, ground-mounted solar panels can be a great option for you. This is because you can adjust the location of the ground-mounted solar panels and place them where sunlight will be received optimally.

If you find that your roof isn’t suitable for receiving optimal sunlight, ground-mounted solar panels can be ideal if you have a lot of space on your property.

Pros Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels

  • It can be the optimal option if your roof isn’t appropriately sized, facing an awkward direction, or is covered by shading.
  • You’ll be able to utilize sun-tracking if you use a pole-mounted solar panel.
  • You can orient these solar panels to face whichever way is most optimal.

Cons Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels

  • They can be quite the eyesore if you’re worried about reducing the aesthetic value of your property.
  • They’re typically more expensive than rooftop panels.
  • Installation can be difficult depending on the type of soil you’re wanting to mount your solar panels on.

Are Ground Mounted Solar Panels Cheaper?

Ground-mounted solar is only cheaper if your conditions are right. The initial investment for solar power will be higher if you’re going the ground-mounted path, but the increase in efficiency can easily make up for the increased cost if conditions are appropriate.

Look to see how efficient solar panels on your roof will be. If you find that you have a drastic increase in efficiency by having solar panels mounted on the ground, they’re going to be cheaper n the long term.

On the other hand, if you find that both ground-mounted solar panels and rooftop solar panels are going to perform the same, rooftop solar panels will be cheaper to initially install.

Building a Solar Ground Mount

Building a solar ground mount doesn’t have to be as hard as you think it is. There are many videos available online that demonstrate how to effectively build a ground mount without breaking the bank.

Building a solar ground mount is typically done by purchasing a ground mount solar panel kit. These are available through many sellers via the internet.

There are various solar ground mount kits. Some are designed to be easily installed by the user and some more complex systems may require installation by a licensed professional.

Regardless, if you’re willing to commit the extra time and effort, building a solar ground mount can be an affordable way to reduce the costs of installing a ground-mounted solar panel.

More Stories
Mission Solar Panels Review: Worth It In 2020?