Man digging a trench for a ground-mounted solar panel system.

The Great Debate: Rooftop or Ground-Mounted Solar Panels

When it comes to solar panels, you have two installation options to consider: go high or go low.

While most people choose the roof-mounted application for homes, some prefer placing their solar array on the ground. No matter which way you go, you’ll benefit from lower energy costs.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type of solar panel set-up.

Understanding the Differences

The differences between ground-mounted solar energy systems and roof-mounts can help you decide on the most suitable option. The following factors will play a role in your decision.

Area and location: Yards offer areas in the back, front, or side of a home for ground-mounts, and open spaces can support extensive systems that generate more energy to lower utility costs. The roof limits the dimensions of a solar panel system, and its angle and structures can affect efficiency.

Appearance: Ground systems offer more visibility, and local municipalities may have regulations that restrict them.

Cost: The preparation of cement foundations for ground systems increases the initial cost of solar panels, and the installation requires more time, labor, and materials than rooftop panels. Ground-mounts need reinforcements that elevate the panels and control the tilt.

Upkeep: The convenient access to ground-mounted panel systems makes upkeep or preventive maintenance easier than rooftops that require professional workers to use ladders or rope networks. Do-it-yourself cleaning can void warranties.

Ground-mounted Solar Panels: Pros and Cons

Provided your yard has space, you have a choice of a standard ground mount or a pole-mounted array. A metal frame holds the panels at a fixed angle that allows adjustments as the seasons change. With poles that elevate the solar panels, the pole-mounted system can include a tracking feature that automatically tilts them toward the sun. At JP Solar & Electric, we offer the highest quality of solar panel systems for mounting on the ground or roofs.

Pros

  • Ground-mounted solar panels can work anywhere on open land, a feature that makes them easy to place.

  • The solar panel array isn’t limited to the size of your roof. Your solar panel system can be as large as your land allows.

  • The lightweight frame for standard ground-mounted systems facilitates movement when you want to relocate them.

  • No drilling into your roof.

  • Installing on the ground may offer more flexibility to orient the solar panels to maximize energy production.

  • While solar panels require only a little cleaning and maintenance, the ground-mounted system lets you access it without ropes or ladders.

Cons

  • Installation costs run higher.

  • Ground-mounted systems require a foundation to stabilize a solar panel array.

Rooftop Solar Installation: Pros and Cons

The most popular type of solar panel system, the rooftop installation frees up yard space and makes good use of the real estate that wouldn’t be utilized otherwise. Some reasons that homeowners prefer it include a lower initial investment, and it keeps the panels out of reach from unauthorized visitors. With access to advanced technology that delivers more power and capacity with aesthetic appeal, you can find a system that pleases you and meets your specifications at JP Solar & Electric.

Pros

  • The installation requires fewer materials, and the process needs less labor that helps lower the cost.

  • Building departments tend to grant permits more easily than ground-mounted systems require.

  • They are installed with minimal disruption to your property.

  • Your roof might be perfectly oriented to the sun for maximum exposure.

Cons

Some of the considerations that make a roof-mount less desirable than a ground-mount include access, orientation, and potential repairs.

  • The architectural design of a roof may prevent it from facing an optimal angle to receive the most energy from the sun.

  • Steep or slippery roofs make access difficult.

  • Panels that reach higher temperatures may produce lower output.

  • Complications can occur when a roof needs new shingles.


Bottom line: No matter whether you choose a rooftop system or a ground-mount, you stand to benefit from a plentiful source of energy from the abundance of the sun’s rays. Your choices depend on the size of your roof and yard, and personal preferences can further define the specifics of the design. Both configurations have benefits and drawbacks that can help you make a purchasing decision. The government-backed Energy Star program offers a significant tax credit for solar panels that applies to equipment and installation at your principal residence or second home. JP Electric & Solar (559) 464-6048.

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