Could Ground-mounted Solar Panels Be Right for Your Home?

By Gabriela Covay | The Latest Solar Energy Information

Are you excited about installing solar panels but unsure whether your roof is the best place for them? Maybe you’d just rather keep yours out of sight. Fortunately, solar mounting systems give you plenty of convenient options. Ground-based installations let you do more with unused space and still enjoy the benefits of a solar home.

Ground-mounted solar panels perform the same work as the rooftop kind, but there are some important differences to consider. Here’s how these home solar panels might improve your property’s value and your system’s return on investment.

The Anatomy of Solar Panel Ground Mounts

Most PV cells are mounted and framed on rigid surfaces that operate best when they’re directly facing the sun. To work properly and last as long as possible, they require stable support structures that can keep them at the optimal angle to absorb light and stop them from flexing too much.

Rooftop panels use the natural angles and structural strength of roof surfaces to create the ideal base for fragile PV cells. On the ground, however, you’re not limited by the roof’s shape. This means that you can choose your system’s angle to receive the ideal amount of sunlight for the longest portion of the day. To take advantage of these benefits, you’ll need a system that includes

  • A steady foundation that minimizes movement using buried cement footers or heavy, above-ground ballast blocks, and
  • A racking structure that supports and stabilizes the panels.

Many solar panel ground mounts also have features that improve their power efficiency. For instance, some include motorized tracking systems that let them follow the sun during the day. These systems can self-adjust by moving many solar panels together or shift individual cells for more precision.

Ground-mounted panels also include buried connections to your home or other building, so your installer has to dig a trench. When solar panel ground mounts are further away from the electrical service panels they supply, you need to dig more and lay additional insulated wiring. If there’s concrete or rugged terrain nearby, trenching may be more expensive.

The Advantages of Ground Mounting

Why do so many Californians install solar ground mounts? These systems have many unique benefits, such as their

  • Larger surface areas than most roofs allow,
  • Customized positioning at the perfect angles for absorbing sunlight even if your roof is at the wrong angle,
  • Ability to follow the sun and generate more consistent output,
  • Dual-purpose functionality, such as their use in solar carport canopies, and
  • Ease of cleaning and maintenance since your technician can access the panels without climbing up on the roof.

Of course, roof-mounted solar panels also have their advantages. For instance, they may be cheaper to install. It’s always wise to consider the pros and cons of using specific systems on your property.

How to Install Ground-mounted Solar Panels

Good planning is a big part of placing solar panel ground mounts. Your installer should choose a location that receives the ideal amount of daily sunlight and uses space effectively. If your lawn has a natural bare patch or an old concrete slab, for instance, then these might be ideal spots.

Installing ground-mounted solar panels for your home always starts with building a stable base. For single-pole setups, this can just be a poured concrete foundation that’s hefty enough to minimize motion. Some installations may need many smaller foundations or above-ground ballast blocks spaced at regular intervals.

Once the foundation is ready, you can begin building pole mount systems and metal framing to hold the panels and other components. Preferred installers, such as Sandbar Solar, use in-house prefabrication along with on-site fitting, welding and positioning to speed the whole process along and guarantee consistency.

After building a frame and checking our work, it’s time to install the panels themselves. This process is similar to the final stage of roof installations: Our experts carefully position the panels and attach them with purpose-made hardware. Finally, we wire the panels to the inverter, dig a trench and bury the connections between the system and your property’s electrical panel or solar home battery.

Are You Going to Install a Solar Ground Mount?

Ground-mounted solar panels help raise property values, protect historic buildings, minimize your maintenance costs and deliver clean, efficient energy. Roof mounting is great for some situations, but solar power enthusiasts can also benefit from keeping their green energy systems closer to Earth.

Your Project’s Outcome Depends on Your Choice of Installer

Sandbar Solar offers Central Coast consumers and business property owners the best in solar mounting system options and complete installations. Over the past 13 years, we’ve become a clear leader in innovative Monterey, Santa Cruz, Bay Area and San Jose solar design, fabrication, equipment sourcing and support.

We can’t wait to help you explore ground mounting and other eco-friendly home solar power options. To learn more, talk to one of our specialists.

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