Roof vs. Ground Solar Installation
From reduced monthly electricity costs to increased property values, going solar has some major benefits. One of the most significant decisions property owners make is between ground- and rooftop-mounted panels.
At Speed Solar, we’re the Midwest’s leading distributor of high-quality solar modules and associated equipment for residential and commercial properties, professional installers and do-it-yourselfers. We have a passion for solar energy, and our team wants to help you select the best solar energy system for your situation.
While both ground- and rooftop-mounted solar panels harness sunlight to generate electricity, each system type offers unique benefits that could make more sense to certain applications. To simplify the decision-making process, we’ve outlined the differences between the two system styles.
Ground-mounted solar energy systems
Ground-mounted solar panels can be installed anywhere on your property. Common installation locations include front, side and back yards. Characteristics of ground-mounted systems include:
In general, ground-mounted panels can sometimes cost more upfront than roof-mounted systems because they require additional materials, time, and labor. Usually, cement foundations or reinforced pole structures are installed to ensure panels are off the ground, tilted at the proper angle, and correctly wired.
Those with large yards can install a more extensive ground-mounted system compared to a rooftop-mounted system. This gives you the opportunity to generate more energy, which helps cut utility bills further. If your property has a smaller footprint, however, the roof may be the best place for solar panels.
Ground-mounted solar modules often sit near the ground, contingent upon location and the mounting system. This type of solar system might be more visible than a comparable rooftop-mounted one, especially when placed in a tiny yard or urban environment. Some homeowners associations or building management groups might have policies against obtrusive or overtly visible solar panel installations.
While solar energy systems don’t require much upkeep, they might need cleaning or preventative maintenance at some point. With ground-mounted modules, maintenance and repairs are simple and more cost-effective than rooftop-mounted ones. Modules mounted to a roof often require ladders or rope systems to access.
Rooftop-mounted solar energy systems
The most commonly installed solar energy collection method is rooftop-mounted solar modules. The solar racking used to hold the panels in place is installed directly on a flat or sloped roof. Features of rooftop-mounted systems include:
Because you don’t spend a lot of time on top of your home or business, rooftop-mounted solar modules don’t take up usable space. The size of your roof, however, limits how large of a system you can install.
Rooftop-mounted systems are generally less noticeable, which means they don’t distract from the building façade and landscaping like ground-mounted systems.
Roof construction type, angle, and direction can impact the installation and performance of rooftop-mounted solar systems. Also, objects such as chimneys, skylights, trees, or buildings can cast shadows on rooftop panels, which cuts into their overall production.
Upkeep of roof-mounted solar modules often involves more preparation and a careful approach. While some owners have no issue climbing ladders to reach their panels, others might feel more comfortable cleaning with a broom or pressure washer. Those actions, however, may void the warranties. To be safe, it’s generally best to hire a professional cleaning and maintenance service.
There’s no such thing as a one-system-fits-all approach when it comes to solar energy. Both ground- and rooftop-mounted systems can help you move toward energy independence while protecting the environment, and each of them offers unique benefits. Additional things to consider when selecting a solar energy system include:
- Homeowners association or building management requirements
- Roof type and age
- Space constraints
- Terrain type of property
- Long-term plans for the property
The best solar system for you ultimately depends on your goals, property type, and preferences. At Speed Solar, we are here to help you pick the right solar energy system for your application.