The majority of home solar installations are rooftop mounted panels. Roofs offer a practical and ready location to install solar cells on most occasions. But on some occasions the rooftop is just not suitable, or optimal. In this situation the alternative is to have your solar PV system mounted on the ground. This article will outline what, why and the pros and cons of ground mounted solar PV installations.
What is a ground mounted installation?
In a ground installation a frame is built for your solar cells that tilts them up to an optimal angle (usually 30 degrees) and faces the correct way (North in Australia). The frame can be built out of galvanised steel or aluminum, and is attached to the ground via a concrete foundation. In many cases the frame will be a rigid half A frame like structure.
A rigid half A-frame ground mounted solar PV installation
Where achieving the maximum possible efficiency is an aim (such as in commercial or very large installations) it is possible to have half A-frames that are manually tilt adjustable, so that in winter when the sun is lower in the sky the cells can be tilted up for greater exposure.
An adjustable tilt ground mounted solar PV frame
Sun tracking installations are also available (where the cells rotate slightly throughout the day to follow the sun) and these are generally mounted on a vertical pole or beam (like a lamppost) to allow rotation.
A sun tracking ground mounted solar PV installation
Why would you ground mount your solar PV system?
- Lack of available space on your roof
- Poor roof orientation (the optimal roof orientation in Australia is facing North at a tilt of 30 degrees)
- Poor sun exposure on your roof due to shadows
- You wish to install a large system
- You wish to install a sun tracking system for maximum sun exposure
- You have good availability of sun exposed land
Advantages of ground mounted solar systems
- More scope and lower cost to install a sun tracking system
- Ability to operate a manual seasonal tilt adjust system
- Typically there much more space on the ground then on the roof in rural settings, so larger systems can be installed
- Cells are easier to clean and maintain
Disadvantages of ground mounted solar systems
- Urban settings often do not have the available land space
- Aesthetically more imposing
- Solid foundations and concrete footings will need to be built to provide stability in storms and high wind
- Typically more expensive on installation due to cost of frame, foundation and footings
Depending on your circumstances a ground mounted installation may more suitable for you. If you would like to receive further advice on what installation suits your needs best, please contact one of our sales consultants.
Solar Energy Consultant
Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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