Ground Mount Solar Systems: A Cost-Effective and Environment Friendly Solution

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Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by admin

Ground Mount Solar Systems: A Cost-Effective and Environment Friendly Solution

The increasing demand for renewable energy sources has led to the widespread adoption of solar power as a clean and sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources. Among the different types of solar panel installations available, ground mount solar systems have gained popularity for their efficiency, flexibility, and easy access to solar maintenance. In this article, we will explore the benefits and features of ground mount solar systems, including different installation methods, such as ballasted ground-mount solar racking, and compare them with other solar panel installations, such as pole-mounted solar and standard roof-mounted solar. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of ground mount solar systems and their suitability for various applications.

solar panels

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Important Points To Remember:


    • The ground mount solar systems consist of solar panels that are planted on the ground using a concrete foundation.
    • Ground mount solar systems have mainly two types: standard ground mount and pole mount solar systems.
    • Tracking solar systems, floating solar systems, canopies and carports are the extensions of pole-mount solar systems.
    • Ground base solar panels can maximize energy absorption, require low maintenance, are easily expandable, and save your house from fire hazard incidents.
    • These ground mount racking solar systems have drawbacks like they need more space. Moreover, these panels can be easily damage and are quite expensive than rooftop solar panels.
    • The average cost of a residential solar panel system in the US is $2.58 to $3.38 per watt.

What is in This Article:

What is Ground Mount Solar Systems?

The ground mount solar systems consist of solar panels that are placed on the ground using a concrete foundation. These systems use the same photovoltaic panels as your normal rooftop solar systems. The main difference between rooftop and ground mount solar systems is that ground-mount solar systems are moveable in nature. This means that the adjustment of height and the angle of panels can be possible. The energy efficiency of residential ground-mount solar panels is slightly greater than that of rooftop solar panels. These panels have a slight edge over the rooftop solar panels. But the cost of ground-mounted solar panel installation is high due to the extra cost of labor and hardware parts.

How many Types of Ground Mounted Solar Racking Systems?

When it comes to solar panel installations, there are several options to consider, including pole-mounted solar, wall mount solar and standard ground-mounted solar systems. While both options involve installing solar panels, they usually differ in terms of their design, installation process, and suitability for different applications.

ground mount

1. Standard Ground Mounted Solar System:

Traditional or standard ground mount solar systems installation is just like rooftop solar panels. The panels are mostly fitted into the racking system or frame. This frame composition involves steel and is quite moveable in nature. This will ensure increase solar absorption by the ground base solar panels. These solar panels operate in larger-scale solar energy projects such as utility-scale solar installations, as well as in residential and commercial applications where there is ample space available for solar panel installation.

The standard ground mount solar systems come with two options. One is a concrete pier foundation and the second is a ballast system.

A concrete pier technique involves drilling several holes into the ground. In these holes, the placement of numerous poles takes place. On top of these poles, solar panels are placed. Afterward, these holes are filled up with concrete hence giving this technique its signature name.

A ballast system is just like a concrete pier except the concrete pouring takes place above the ground. This heavy concrete footing will hold the solar panels racking system in place.  On top of these racking systems, three to four solar panels are secured. A ballast system works best for both rooftop and ground mount solar systems. This system is a better option for those homeowners who do not want holes drilled into their rooftops and backyard.

One of the main advantages of standard ground mount solar systems is that they are more cost-effective than pole-mounted solar panels. These panels require less material and are easier to install. They also provide easy access for maintenance, cleaning, and repairs, as their installation is at a convenient height above the ground.

2. Pole-Mounted Solar System:

Pole-mounted solar panels, as the name suggests, involve mounting solar panels on poles, which are anchored onto the ground. This pole can uphold several solar panels at the same time. The maximum number of solar panels that a pole can hold is 24 panels.

Pole-mount solar panels can be driven pier or Helical pile. A driven pier is basically a large pole driven into the ground using a special mechanical set. Afterward, a metallic frame placement takes place on top of the pole which in turn will hold the solar panels.

In Helical piles instead of using concrete to hold the pole in place, a large screw is use. These screws keep the helical piles secure to the ground. While the need for the special machinery remains the same as the driven pier.

Based on setup pole mount can be of two types, the top of the pole setup and the side of the pole mount setup. The Top of the pole mount setup usually can take advantage of the tracking system while the side of the pole setup is excellent for smaller racking solar systems. They can easily carry up to three to four solar panels on one pole.

One of the main advantages of pole-mounted solar panels is that their installation takes place in areas with uneven terrain because pole adjustment can happen at different heights. They also provide greater flexibility in terms of positioning. These panels can be tilted to face the sun at the optimal angle for maximum energy production. Additionally, pole-mounted solar panels often operate in areas with high wind speeds as these panels are map out to withstand strong winds.

pole mount solar system

3. Tracking Systems:

As the name suggests these ground mount solar systems use motors to rotate the solar panels on the racking system. This rotation will help the solar panels to keep track of the sun. It will not only make the solar panels face the sun all day long but will also boost the energy efficiency of the ground-mount solar panels. Tracking systems have the capacity to significantly enhance the efficiency of a solar panel installation, by up to 25% or more. The installation of a tracking mount system usually takes place just like the standard ground mount solar panels. There are usually two types of tracking systems, Single-axis tracking systems and dual-axis tracking systems.

Single-axis tracking systems employ a horizontal axis to rotate the solar panels from east to west thereby tracking the sun’s movement throughout the day. This permits the panels to remain perpendicular to the sun’s rays, maximizing energy production. Single-axis tracking systems typically operate in utility-scale solar installations and large commercial solar projects, where optimal efficiency is critical. They are also suitable for locations where significant temperature changes are noticeable because these tracking systems can help mitigate the effects of such changes on the solar panels.

In contrast, dual-axis tracking systems utilize both a vertical and horizontal axis to track the sun’s movement throughout the day and its position in the sky throughout the year. This permits the panels to always remain perpendicular to the sun’s rays. This results in even greater efficiency than single-axis tracking systems. Dual-axis tracking systems utilization takes place in residential solar installations. In these places, there is a limit on available space and high efficiency is essential.

4. Carports and Canopies:

Carports and canopies are becoming increasingly popular as a means of harnessing solar energy while also creating valuable shaded spaces. These structures offer an excellent opportunity to take advantage of available outdoor real estate while reducing one’s carbon footprint

A solar carport is a covered structure with a roof made of solar panels. It’s typical supporting solar roofing material includes posts or pillars. Eventually, this amalgam creates a free-standing structure. The solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. This energy can power homes or buildings, electric vehicles charging, or sell back to the grid. Solar carports are ideal for businesses, schools, or residential properties with a large parking lot or open space.

In contrast, a solar canopy is like a solar carport, but its attachment takes place to the existing structure, such as a home or building. Solar canopies are design in a way to provide shade for outdoor areas, such as patios, decks, or pools and also renewable energy generation. They are an excellent option for homeowners or businesses that have limited outdoor space but still want to get benefit of solar power.

5. Floating Solar Panels:

Floating solar panels, also known as floating solar farms or floating photovoltaic (PV) systems, are a relatively new solar technology in the renewable energy landscape. As the name suggests, these solar panel installations take place on water bodies such as lakes, reservoirs, or ponds, rather than on land. This technology provides a unique solution to several challenges associated with traditional solar panel installations. Such as limited space, land use conflicts, and reduced solar panel efficiency due to high temperatures. A report by the World Bank suggests that floating solar farms have the potential to generate up to 400 GW of electricity globally, equivalent to about 10% of the world’s electricity generation capacity.

These systems can be installed on water bodies that are not suitable for other activities, such as fishing, boating, or swimming, making them an ideal solution for addressing land use conflicts. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that floating solar panels can produce up to 10% more energy than land-based solar panels due to the cooling effect of water. Research by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany suggests that floating solar panels can help reduce water evaporation rates, which is particularly relevant in water-stressed regions.

floating solar panels

What are Some Benefits of the Ground Mount Solar Systems?

Ground-mounted solar panel systems provide a plethora of solar advantages for homeowners who seek to minimize their environmental impact while also saving money on energy bills.

1. Maximum Solar Energy Absorption:

Ground-mounted solar panel installation takes place on the ground. This provides the ability to position them at the optimal angle for maximum solar energy absorption. Unlike rooftop solar panels, whose solar light obstruction might happen due to shading from trees or other structures, Ground-mounted solar panels are position in a way to capture the most sunlight possible. This results in an increment in solar energy production.

2. Elimination of Rooftop Solar Panels:

Ground-mounted solar panel systems offer a viable solution for homeowners who prefer not to have solar panels on their rooftops. These systems installation can take place in a variety of locations, such as a nearby field or yard. This allows homeowners to reap the benefits of solar energy without the presence of panels on their roofs.

3. Expandability:

One of the key advantages of ground-mounted solar panel systems is their scalability. This makes them a flexible option for homeowners who are looking to gradually increase their use of solar energy over time.

4. Low Maintenance:

Ground-mounted solar panel systems generally require less solar maintenance compared to rooftop solar panels. With ground-mounted systems, there is no need to climb onto the roof to inspect or maintain the panels, reducing maintenance costs and ensuring optimal efficiency of the system.

5. Fire Hazard Mitigation:

Another advantage of ground-mounted solar panels is that they can help to minimize the risk of fire hazards associated with rooftop solar panels. In the event of a fire, firefighters may be hesitant to access a rooftop with solar panels installed. With ground-mounted systems, there is less risk of fire hazards, and emergency responders can easily access the system in case of an emergency.

advantages and disadvantages

Does Ground Solar Panel Installation have any Disadvantages?

The ground-mount solar system comes with many advantages, but they also have some drawbacks to face. Some of the main disadvantages of these ground base solar panels include:

1. Needed Space:

Ground-mounted solar panel systems require a significant amount of space. The amount of space needed depends on the size of the solar panel system and the amount of energy required. In urban or suburban areas, finding enough space for a ground-mounted system may be challenging, and it could limit the amount of energy that can be produced.

2. Expensive Than Rooftop Solar Panels:

Ground-mounted solar panels are generally more expensive than rooftop solar panels due to the need for additional components, such as racking and mounting systems. Additionally, the cost of excavation and land preparation can add to the overall expense.

3. Aesthetics:

Some homeowners may find the appearance of ground-mounted solar panels less attractive than rooftop panels, which are less visible from street level. However, this can be mitigated by choosing a location for the ground-mounted system that is not easily visible from the street or by adding landscaping to the area.

4. Easier to Damage:

Ground-mounted solar panel systems are more exposed to potential damage from weather events, such as hail, wind, and flooding. It is essential to consider the location of the system and the type of equipment used to secure it to the ground to minimize the risk of damage.

5. Permitting:

Solar Permitting can be a bit difficult to obtain for ground mount solar systems. Similarly, many homeowners are still waiting to connect their panels to the power grid. So, the whole process of installing these panels can be very painful process.

How much does the Residential Ground-Mounted Solar Panel System Cost?

The cost of a residential ground-mounted solar panel system can vary significantly depending on various factors such as the size of the system, the solar panels brand and type of solar panels used, the type of mounting system, and the installation costs.

Moreover, the average cost of a residential solar panel system in the US is $2.58 to $3.38 per watt. This means that a 5 kW system would cost approximately $12,550 before any incentives or federal tax credits. However, the actual cost can vary widely depending on location, the complexity of the installation, and other factors.

When it comes to ground-mounted solar panels specifically, there are additional costs associated with the mounting system. A ballasted ground-mount solar racking system, which uses weights to hold the solar panels in place. These can cost around $0.10-$0.15 per watt more than a standard ground-mount solar racking system. Carport and canopy-mounted solar panel systems can also be more expensive due to the additional structure required.

It is important to note that many states and local governments offer incentives, rebates, and tax credits to help offset the cost of installing solar panels. The federal government also offers a solar investment tax credit that can provide a 30% credit on the total cost of the solar panel system. These incentives can significantly reduce the upfront cost of installing a residential ground-mounted solar panel system.

Frequently Asked Questions
How much do solar panel costs in 2023?

What do you put under ground-mounted solar panels?

Underground-mounted solar panels installation occurs on a stable and level foundation made of materials such as concrete pads, helical piles, ground screws, or ballasted racking.

Are ground solar panels worth it?

Ground-mounted solar can be a worthwhile investment, providing higher energy output and easy maintenance. However, they may require higher upfront costs, land requirements, and additional permits and zoning approvals. Whether ground-mounted solar panels are worth it depends on factors such as the available space, energy needs, and budget of the homeowner or business. It may be helpful to consult with a solar installer or energy expert to determine the best solar solution for your specific situation.

Is ground-mounted solar cheaper than roof mounted?

Is ground-mounted solar cheaper than roof mounted?

Ground-mounted solar panels are generally more expensive to install than roof-mounted solar panels, due to the need for additional materials and labor. However, ground-mounted solar panels can potentially generate more energy and may require less maintenance than roof-mounted solar panels. The cost-effectiveness of each option depends on factors such as the available space, energy needs, and specific characteristics of the property.

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