Rooftop solar panels are very popular in Australia, but what happens to households, and even businesses, that can’t accommodate them? That’s where the ground-mounted solar system comes into the picture.
What is a ground-mounted solar system?
Simply put, this type of solar system is free-standing and mounted on the ground. It is installed on the ground with a racking system that is customised. For example, its height varies depending on your needs.
You can have a ground-mounted solar panel that is tall enough that will enable you to walk underneath them comfortably. On the other hand, it could be low enough to give just enough ground clearance.
Ground-mounted solar panels are common in solar farms due to several reasons. One, the area that the solar panels are built on doesn’t serve other purposes; hence, there aren’t any roofs available.
On the same note, there’s no reason to install them in high areas to avoid shade because there really is not much going on in solar farms. Often, solar farms are located in vast, open spaces.
In communities, homeowners rely on rooftop solar panels mainly to save space. Another reason is that there is the shade to consider, whether on their property or in their neighbour’s.
What you need to know before you install ground-mounted solar systems
The space where you plan to install ground-mounted solar panels is crucial, and there are several requirements you need to consider.
As much as possible, the space should be flat or gently sloping. There should also be no shade or nearby trees that could compromise the efficiency of the solar panels. Next, the area should be close to existing electrical infrastructure.
It’s also important that a geotechnical study is completed before the installation of ground-mounted solar panels. This will determine which mounting structure to use and confirm the system warranty.
The different types of ground-mount solar installations
There are two types of ground-mount solar installations:
- Standard ground mount: This uses ground anchors that can hold up a racking table to support the solar panels on rails. Concrete piers are most common here, but there are other options as well. Typically, this type of installation holds the panels in a fixed position. It is the most cost-effective and easier ground-mount solar installation.
- Pole mount: If you’re looking for more clearance from the ground, then a pole mount installation is the right choice. In this case, one big hole must be dug into the ground; then, a large pole is set into it that will connect the rails and mount the panels. This installation also allows space for a single-axis or dual-axis tracking system* that will enable the panel to follow the sun throughout the day. As a result, the panels can generate more energy.
* A tracking system can help your solar panels generate around 25 per cent more energy. Single-axis tracking systems move the panels throughout the day, whilst dual-axis tracking systems may be adjusted based on seasonal sun position variations.
What are the advantages of a ground-mount solar panel?
There are many benefits to a ground-mount solar panel. One of its most significant advantages is that it’s ideal for anyone with issues with their roofs.
For example, a roof that is made from certain materials, such as wood and slate, are not ideal for solar panels. This is because they are brittle for installers to walk on. Also, this means that they won’t be able to carry the additional weight of the panels. The only way around this would be to do a full roof replacement, which can be costly.
Another advantage is that it can be placed at a better angle, which will likely result in higher energy production.
Finally, it’s easy to clean and maintain. Therefore, you won’t have to think so much about its maintenance. Once it’s there, there’s only minimal maintenance required.
What about the disadvantages?
Of course, ground-mount solar panels could be better and come with their downsides too. One is that they are more expensive compared to rooftop solar systems.
This is because ground-mount solar panels require more work, whilst rooftop solar panels already have that serves as a foundation for the solar array. In the case of a ground mount solar, additional work is involved in setting the foundation. This also calls for additional materials that add up to its overall cost.
Other downsides to the ground-mount solar system are that it takes valuable real estate and affects the property’s aesthetic.
How do you know if it’s right for your property?
It’s important to determine if your property has the right conditions to know if ground-mount solar panels are right for you. To get the most out of your ground-mount solar panels, they should be placed in a location where they can get the most exposure from the sun.
Additionally, if your home has a lot of open space, you can install this type of solar system. It is also ideal for homes and properties that use a lot of energy.
How to determine the number of solar panels you need?
An average home will need approximately 20 ground-mounted solar panels. However, you can get the exact number of solar panels you need for your home should match your home’s energy usage.
Are ground-mounted solar panels worth it?
Overall, ground-mounted solar panels can make a huge difference in power production and will pay off for themselves in many years to come. You can look forward to getting the most out of them before replacing the panels. In short, they are an excellent investment.
Energy Matters has over 17 years of experience in the solar industry and has helped over 40,000 Australian households in their journey to energy independence.