Solar Panels Mounted on the Ground
In the diverse world of solar panels, you have an enormous array of options at your fingertips if you’re looking to harness the energy of the sun and distribute it in your home or workplace. As you’re probably already aware, ground-mounted solar panels are one such option. If you’ve ever seen a large company making use of them, then you’ve probably noticed that they’re quite hard to miss!
Equally, if you’re already somewhat familiar with solar (or even if you aren’t), then you’ll also have seen roof-mounted arrays. Which begs the question of why there are different types and what the difference is. We’re now going to explain why ground-mounted arrays are beneficial, and specifically who they’re beneficial for.
What Is a Ground Mounted Solar System?
A ground-mounted panel is a sheet of silicon-based cells that have been attached to a fairly large frame (a few meters wide and long). This is then fixed in a permanent position that allows it to collect energy from the sun as effectively as possible.
The obvious difference between these panel types, and roof-mounted systems, is that they’re usually embedded into the ground using cement, and are intended as a permanent fixture to any property or land.
In regards to which type of cell array is best. This is all purely about which type you’re going to get the most use from, which in turn relies on the cells being placed in the best position.
Sometimes, the best position to place a solar array is on the ground. The same can be said about roof-mounted panels. It’s all about your property’s location, and any potential obstructions that may interrupt photon ray absorption (or block the sun).
Why May You Need Ground Mounted Solar Panels?
There are numerous reasons as to why you may need a solar panel on the ground as opposed to on your roof, your window, or anywhere else on your property. It’s all about sun access, and if you can’t access it properly with a roof panel, then it only stands to reason that looking at ground-based options as the solution.
Access isn’t necessarily the only reason either. If you’re trying to power an enormous facility (perhaps a factory, for instance), then it’s highly unlikely that you’d actually be able to fit the number of panels required in your array to meet your energy demands if they were all placed on the roof.
This can also be true of any property type. If you don’t have the available space for the number of cells you need to meet your demands, you’ll simply have to find another way.
Properties need to ideally be directly south or west-facing to maximize cell energy uptake, and if yours isn’t, then roof-mounted cells aren’t going to be very viable. This is where the enhanced flexibility on offer with ground-mounted solutions come into play.
You can position them in any direction you wish, which means that if your property isn’t ideally located, then all directional issues suddenly become irrelevant. You might also go for a ground-based installation for cosmetic reasons.
Not everybody likes to place panels on their roof, and it might just be that you have enough land to incorporate a solar array in a way that is more visually appealing to your eyes, and the eyes of others.
Types of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
There are many different types of ground mounted solar panels on offer, and you might even have encountered some during your travels without realizing it due to their subtle locations.
The most common variety, traditional ground mount arrays are featured as a standard part of many residential and business arrays. They’re fixed in a location that gives them the most optimal access to the sun, from which they effectively harness photon rays to redistribute as energy throughout your chosen location.
This is a tried and time-tested design that is in wide circulation all over the world, and realistically, even some of the more “exotic” types of ground-mounted systems are basically still just sub-varieties of a traditional system.
And speaking of sub-varieties, the floating ground-based options on the market exactly fall in line with that description. If you don’t want to start using your available land and you’re lucky enough to have a body of water on your property.
Then why not use a floating array of solar cells to meet your energy needs instead? Floating systems feature a ground-mounted solar array that has been placed on the top of a floating platform, in an optimal location. Following this, it is then linked to a building.
Canopy Based Systems
These incredibly inventive systems really emphasize the effective use of existing space to help buildings reach their energy needs via solar. Anywhere that you see a canopy, or a cover (like a car parking area roof, for instance), you’ve essentially got a great location for attaching solar cells, provided the structure is in an optimum location versus the sun.
This is a great way to either erect a standalone, large scale ground-mounted solar array or to top up an existing array by making excellent use of already available space. Either way, it’s a highly effective way of acquiring solar energy.
If you’re the type of person that wants the “best of the best”, then you can get ground-mounted systems that feature electronic tracking systems. These tracking systems allow the cell arrays to follow the direction of the sun throughout the day.
This also means that no matter where you place them, provided there’s enough open space, they can freely optimize energy production by tracking their source of energy around constantly. The enhanced effectiveness on offer here means that they’re a very financially viable option if you consider long term savings and efficiency.
Pros and Cons of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
Whilst a ground mounted solar panel presents an incredibly attractive option for those who perhaps don’t have an optimally located property, there are still several areas that you need to consider before making a purchase.
- You can make use of existing space that would otherwise have gone to waste
- They can be rotated for maximum efficiency
- With electronic tracking in place, they’re likely to be more effective than other systems
- You have much more freedom over where you can place them than other options, which is good for cosmetic reasons
- Usually more expensive than other options
- Much bigger and more noticeable than other options, which isn’t ideal from a cosmetic perspective
- Increased chance of being damaged due to accessible location
- Limits land use if it’s a large array
These are the main positive and negative elements you’ll need to weigh up before buying a ground-mounted array.
Ground Mounted vs Roof Solar Panels
The solar panels ground-mounted vs solar panels roof-mounted debate largely comes down to personal requirements, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to help you determine the best route forwards.
It goes without saying that if your property isn’t in an ideal location to optimize photon ray absorption with roof-mounted cells, then it only makes sense that you’ll need to consider a ground level array installation instead. But as you’re already aware, there are more factors.
Having the ability to electronically track the sun and optimize efficiency is likely one of the biggest advantages, but so too is being able to use otherwise wasted land or even water space.
Though ground-mounted systems cost more, some people also deem the freedom they have over cell rotation (whether manual or electronic) to be a “deal maker” if they’re looking to squeeze out every last drop of efficiency. The right option is the right option for you, based on the above information.
In summary, ground-mounted arrays can really be worth their weight in gold. either for those who want a higher degree of control and flexibility over their solar cells or for those in an unfortunate position where roof-based systems just won’t deliver the energy return that they need.
In some instances (enormous facilities or installations), you may have no choice but to go down the land-based route. But it’s certain that you’re not going to feel that any money has been wasted once you see the long-term return in terms of savings vs your initial outlay. No option is the wrong option when it comes to choosing solar.
Provided you opt for the best means of accessing energy based on your personal circumstances and preferences, then you’ve absolutely got what’s probably the best energy source on the planet at your fingertips, in the way that works best for you. And that’s a great position to be in.