When you’ve decided to switch to renewable energy like solar, you might start wondering about the real differences in system designs and how they’ll affect your future energy use. The benefits of solar panels are consistent no matter what structure they’re attached to, but there are a variety of solar system designs because each offers unique advantages. Two common structures are rooftop solar (solar panels installed on top of a home or building) and ground-mount solar (solar panels installed on the ground). Many people considering solar think of rooftop structures because they’re familiar, but you shouldn’t automatically disregard ground mount systems!
While rooftop solar is common for homes and businesses alike, sometimes rooftop systems are not ideal. A roof needs to meet multiple physical requirements in order to practically support a solar system. If a roof is too small or congested with too many chimneys, vents, or skylights, then it may be an impractical solar site. Other issues such as tree blockage, or unfavorable directional orientations, might cause a system to lose some of its potential efficiency. And finally, there are some roofs that have to be fixed or fortified, adding unexpected costs. In a lot of cases, a ground mount is the better option.
Advantages of Ground-Mounted Solar Systems
If your property has a lot of land, you can install a larger solar energy system. Typically, there isn’t as much restriction in space as there would be with a rooftop solar panel system. You might even consider building on more to expand the system in the future. The performance of a ground mount is better than a rooftop array simply due to the nature of the installation. For a rooftop system, the angle of the panels is limited because it’s based on the slope of the roof. However, ground mount arrays aren’t bound by this and can align to the perfect angle to get as much sun as possible.
Ground mounts also benefit from having more airflow to cool the solar panels. There is a direct correlation between cooler temperatures and higher efficiency. When the panels are cooled by better airflow underneath, efficiency and electricity production goes up. Panels on a roof are generally inches from the surface, meaning that there isn’t much room for circulation to cool the panels. So ground mounts have an efficiency advantage. The placement of a ground mount system also makes them much easier to access for maintenance or cleaning when necessary.
And finally, a ground mount system does not require penetrations in the roof. It’s important to note that even though rooftop arrays actually help protect the shingles from wear and tear and extend the useful life of a roof, penetrations would cause more precautions to be taken during the installation. Dedicated teams like ours do our best to minimize any problems with solar panels and potential for issues such as leakage, but with a ground mount array there are no roof penetrations at all and therefore less complications to consider.
Advantages of Rooftop Solar Systems
Rooftop solar is an excellent option for smaller properties that don’t have land to spare for a ground mount system. Roof designs utilize space that usually goes unoccupied, so there’s no worry over losing active areas on your property. Ground mounts on the other hand, might take up land that could be used for recreational activities. But the distant placement of rooftop solar also prevents the system from enduring any additional direct damage such as an impact from sports equipment, or even debris like rocks and sticks that become dislodged during lawn maintenance. Solar panels can withstand hail the size of a golf ball striking the glass at 50mph but it’s important to reduce the risk of damage as much as you can.
There is also less financial cost with a rooftop array. While both types of systems require a supportive framework, ground mounts call for some extra landscaping. Ground processes include digging the holes for the metal supports, the trenching for the wire, and stringing the wire a greater distance from the building in relation to a rooftop array, which is mounted directly over the power’s destination goal. So the cost of a ground mount is generally a little higher and should be taken into consideration.
Making the Right Decision for Your Property
Each type of solar power system has its pros and cons, so choosing the right one depends on your energy needs and property details. Utility, efficiency, maintenance, and aesthetics are common factors that determine which design is better for you. At YellowLite, our team makes sure to consider your priorities while preparing design options. We want you to be able to confidently move forward with your solar investment.