Ground Mount vs. Roof Mount Solar Systems: Some Major Differences

Solar systems allow users to take advantage of clean and free renewable energy that can help them save a good amount in the short and long term. This is the best alternative to fast-depleting non-renewable resources.

If you’ve decided to install solar panels in your residential, commercial, or other building type, you need to determine which mounting system you should install at your facility. Should you go with a ground-mounted solar system for positioning freedom or roof-mounted solar to better optimize your space? Let’s find out the major differences between these two solar mounting systems to make the right decision for your solar project.

What is a ground mount solar system?

A ground-mount solar panel is connected to the ground and is simpler to access for installation. These panels are secured to a rack structure with steel beams or other kind of metal post on the ground of your real estate property. A ground-mount infrastructure consumes more space as it sits outside the facility it powers. 

What is a roof-mount solar system?

As the name suggests, roof-mounting solar systems are solar panels installed on the roof of a residential or commercial structure. These systems can harness as much solar energy as possible. These can be installed on slopes as well as flat roofs consisting of shingle, rubber, or metal materials. For a flat room, you can go with a ballast mount as these are secured by blocks responsible for weighing the components down.  

What is the difference between ground mount and roof mount solar systems?

The key difference between roof mount and on ground solar services is the area they’re placed. Ground mount solar systems require a separate land to prop the panels up from the ground, while roof mount systems can be placed on the roof of your home at a height much higher than ground mount solar panels. Ground mount system needs a bit more space and a significant amount of property towards the panel. Also, they’re comparatively easier for installation and repair.

Roof mount solar systems, on the contrary, are less expensive as they don’t need additional space for their installation. However, you may need precious property space if you’re limited to your existing space. Going for a ground mount system provides the freedom to orient the panels accordingly for maximum power production.

Advantages of a ground mount solar system

  1. Perfect alignment

For maximum power production, proper alignment is important to get as much sunlight as possible. And, this could be comparatively difficult for roof mount solar systems. Ground mount solar systems can face any direction you would like. You can align it accordingly at any optimal angle to provide more sunlight exposure. That’s the main reason, ground mount solar panels are considered in terms of maximum sunlight access.

  • Accessibility

Ground mounted solar provides immense accessibility in installation and troubleshooting associated accessories and panels. You can easily clean these types of panels and perform essential routine maintenance. You would not have to risk your safety to remove the dust, debris, pollen, or snow. Pole mounts are perfect for heavy snow regions and can be designed with adjustable tilt angles.

  • Beneficial for hillside and snow-covered properties

Since pole mounts are constructed with adjustable tilt angles, you can lift your ground mount solar systems higher off the ground using these mounts. It helps in keeping the array elevated above snow banks in the colder season. Ground mounted systems also work effectively on a hillside because pole mounts can be simply installed on steep hills.

Disadvantages of a ground mount solar system  

  • Need more cost upfront

Since more components need to assemble for the ground mount solar system, it needs more cost upfront and more labor work. You may have to construct a sturdy roof-like foundation to appropriately hold the system. You may need to dig large holes from the array to the panel and wiring at least 18” underground. Renting high-powered machinery will add to the installation cost.

  • Takes up precious real estate

As mentioned earlier, a ground mount solar system takes up a lot of space on your real estate. It might be the right choice for you if you have at least 0.25-0.5 acres of free space. However, if you live on a smaller piece of land, you may need to compromise on other essential home improvement features to let your solar system fit on that available space.

  • Difficult permitting process

Just like solar street light installation, ground mount arrays need a more complex permitting process because they’re regarded as new construction. Work with an experienced, qualified, and certified installer because permitting and approval can be a highly complicated process for ground-mounted systems.  

Advantages of a roof mount solar system

  • Take less space and less expensive

Installing a solar system on the roof doesn’t include any complicated tasks as you already have the best structure in place. There is no need to soil inspection, digging holes, buying costly materials, etc. You can install a solar system on your roof and use yard space for other purposes without requiring higher costs upfront.

  • Simple to permit

A roof mount system includes a simple permitting procedure. You just have to submit your home blueprints and ensure that electrical and wiring systems are connected according to the local code.

  • Prevent shading

By choosing a roof mount solar system higher off your ground, you can prevent the impact of shading from chimneys, nearby buildings, trees, and other things.

  • Added protection

A roof mount solar system protects the roof from rain, snow, wind, and UV (ultraviolet) rays. It also keeps the structure well-insulated.

Disadvantages of a roof mount solar system

  • Less efficiency

Roof mount solar systems are less efficient compared to ground mount systems because aligning an array of the current structure is difficult. You can’t always get your system facing north or south. For compensation, you would have to purchase some additional panels and match the efficiency.

  • Roof space constraints

Your rooftop space can be limited based on your roof shape and size, and the placement of air conditioning units, vents, and fire line setbacks. Adding on to the existing system would be impossible if you want to improve the power generation i.e. more than 5KW solar system.

  • Harder accessibility

Roof mount solar panels require proper safety components for installation, cleaning, and maintenance because they are hardly accessible. Go for annual cleaning at least one time to take off dust and debris that could affect energy production.

Which solar system is perfect for me?

Both of these solar mounting systems are good choices, however, the selection depends on your requirements and the availability of space in your facility. If you have the space to spare and want a more efficient solar power solution, then you must go with the installation of ground mount systems. If you lack large space and can’t afford the higher solar investment, then roof mount systems are surely your best bet.

The selection of the best solar panel mounting option also depends on the pitch, restrictive covenants and the facing of the roof. For more detailed information, request a quote at Megamax Solar working for many years in the solar sector.  

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