Ground Mounted Solar Panels: Are They Right For Your Business?
When you think of solar panels, you probably envision them on the roof of a home or office building. But, ground mounted solar panels are a viable, often overlooked option for solar panel installation. Ground mounted solar panels are a system of solar panels that are mounted on the open ground area or parking lot of a property. Ground mounted panels are most often installed in open fields, unused farmland, or parking lots.
Many commercial customers who are looking to switch to commercial solar power but don’t know where to begin should take the time to find out their electric bill costs, and their city/state regulations for solar panel installation. An installation company will be able to determine how much a company can save with ground mounted panels, and how to comply with local regulations in the installation process.
The actual cost of the installation of a ground mounted solar design, and how much it will help organizations to save money in the long run, depends on a few key factors. We’ll break down the ins and outs of ground mount solar as we continue below.
What Are Ground Mounted Solar Panels?
Ground mount solar panels consist of a system of solar panels that are mounted on the ground. In contrast to the more common scenarios when solar panels are installed on your roof, this system of solar panels is placed on the empty ground space on your property.
At times, some find they do have the extra ground space with no surrounding shade. That’s precisely when ground mount panels are the most viable option. This option can also work for business owners who want the construction to stay off of the roof. Typically, ground mount solar systems work the same—systems are installed and anchored to the ground and are designed to support several stacked panels.
Types of Solar Panel Ground Mounts
Before you can decide on mounting your solar panels on the ground, you must consider the various types of mounts that are available to you.
Standard Ground Mount
A standard ground mount is the one that everyone thinks of when they envision mounting solar panels on the ground. Several poles are placed in the ground and a racking system will be placed on top to hold the panels in place. These systems can be custom made to suit your needs.
Installing this type of mounting system is much of the same engineering that goes into putting a fence together. You would begin by digging several holes that are a few feet deep. Next, you would set the poles in place and fill them with concrete. This will create a strong foundation for your mounting system.
Standard ground mounting systems cause the panels to be locked into a “fixed” position. The tilt angle and direction of the panels will be permanent. There are many benefits to this type of mounting. It is easy to install and is very cost-effective. However, the downside is that you will not be able to adjust your panels, and it is not a good solution for areas that receive a lot of snow.
If you do not wish to pour concrete to hold in your poles there are alternative foundation options, such as ballasted, driven piers, and helical piles. These types of foundations are typically used for commercial or utility installations. They also may be good alternatives for those who are dealing with soil that is hard and rocky, which will not easily allow you to drill into it.
- Ballasted Solar System – A standard ground mount with the addition of concrete footing that sits just above the ground.
- Driven Piers – These mounts look like huge poles, which will be pile-driven deep into the ground with specialized equipment.
- Helical Piles – These are sometimes referred to as “earth screws”, as they look like massive screws. These types of mounts will also require special equipment for installation. These are similar to the equipment used for driven piers.
If you are looking to utilize one of these special foundations it is best to work with a professional installation service to ensure mounts are correctly placed. These options are not ideal solutions for those using a solar system as a DIY project.
Pole Mount Solar Panels
Pole mounts are very popular if you want to mount a few solar panels. These types of mounts are built in a similar way as the standard ground mounts – however, rather than digging several holes, you would only need to dig one large hole to house a large pole.
The solar panels will be mounted on the top of the pole and have a tilt and swivel feature. This will give you the ability to adjust your panels manually. In addition, you would have the option to set up an automatic tracker to help improve the solar output. The main point of consideration for a pole mount is the cost per watt.
The benefit of a pole mount is you gain the ability to adjust your panels, and the panels will be high off the ground. If you live in snowy climates and are looking into ground mount solar, then the pole mount could be the best option for you.
Just be aware that pole mounts tend to be one of the most expensive options when it comes to mounting solar panels. It will require a large amount of concrete and a huge pole to be set. Pole mounts are typically not a good option for those looking to do their own solar installation.
Pros of Ground Mounted Solar
Ground mount solar power has many benefits. If you do not have access to an ideal roof but you do have access to a wide-open space with plenty of sunshine, then ground mount solar is perfect for your transition to commercial solar power.
It’s commonplace to find corporate businesses that have more land area than the roof space. Ground mounted solar panels are beneficial because of the extra land. Businesses can take advantage of a larger energy source without the extra costs. Also, ground mounted panels are much easier to access, cleanse, and maintain.
Ground mount solar panels are often more productive than a rooftop system because they aren’t dependent on the angle of a roof. Their potential for optimization will boost clean energy production, which saves money in the long run. Finally, they’re much easier to access for cleaning and maintenance compared to roof mounted solar systems.
Cons of Ground Mounted Solar
As with anything, there are a few disadvantages to ground mount solar panels. The biggest disadvantage of considering ground mount panels is that they are more expensive to buy and to install than roof mounted solar panels. Ground mounted solar panels also require a certain amount of land/open space for construction, which can be very hard to come by in more dense, populous areas like cities.
While they remain most popular in solar farms in commercial or unpopulated areas, ground mounted solar panels aren’t the most visually pleasing option in front of a busy street. Also, something to keep in mind when making your decision – a lengthier permit process is almost always necessary for ground mounted panels installation.
Ground Mounted Solar Panels Versus Roof Mounted Solar Panels
Ground mounted solar panels and roof mount solar panels are the two types of solar mounting options. Pros and cons arise with each solar power system type, so depending on your property specifications and energy requirements will factor in with which you’re picking the one that fits best. A few common factors that will determine which would be a better fit for your needs include aesthetics, utility, maintenance, and efficiency.
Ground Mounted Solar
When you install ground mounted solar, you don’t have the restrictions that accompany roof mounted solar panels If you decide you want to increase your design after the primary installation, the option of many ground mount choices can allow you to embed new additions easily. There are three types of ground mount solar panels; they are fixed tilt systems, single-axis systems, and dual-axis systems.
The last two options are considered tracking systems. Tracking systems work by setting up panels to move and follow the sun throughout the day, which optimizes the angle that panels receive solar radiation. In the installation stage, solar systems demand much experimentation. So, accessibility is another important benefit to ground mount panels. For a professional estimation of your property regarding solar installation, you can sign up for a quick and professional quote.
Roof Mounted Solar
Empty rooftop space is a feasible location for solar panels. There are three types of roof mounted solar panels. They are standing seam, shingle roof, and flat roof. Generally, roof mounted systems are attached to struts that are fitted on your roof.
You may find that you have limited space for the most efficient system when it comes to roof installations. That can be a challenge if your energy needs change in the future, especially additional panels need to be supplemented. It can be a pain to get up on the roof every time something goes haywire. Roof mounted solar systems are far more prevalent on residential homes, though they may be the best possible option in many commercial applications as well.
How Much Will I Save Over Time With Ground Mount Solar?
The purchase of the panels and the ground mount solar panel installation make up the brunt of the upfront expenses. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, a commercial size solar panel system requires $2-4 per watt. That means a 200-kW commercial system will cost $400,000-$800,000 up front before any savings.
Solar panels will last for at least 20 years in stable climates with a consistent amount of electricity produced each month. Frequent maintenance is not necessary for most solar panel systems. With state rebates and the federal tax credits that are available, the return on investment of a commercial solar panel system improves annually. The average ROI’s are between 5-8 years.
How Much Does Installation Cost?
Generally, solar panels generate power and are such an attractive option because they can reduce or eliminate your monthly electric bill. More sun means more energy production and the potential to save more money with solar power. Whether ground mount panels save you money depends on several circumstances, including:
- Your business’s location and climate
- Your office’s parking lot/outdoor total surface area
- The property’s orientation toward the sun
- Local and state regulations for solar installation
All of these circumstances can affect a solar panel system’s savings and output. You can assess the energy effectiveness of solar panels in your region by using the Solar-Estimate calculator.
Professional Installation Over DIY Ground Mounted Solar
Many bold business owners see the benefits of ground mounted solar panel installation. Solar remains a large investment and presents business owners with alarm due to high upfront costs. Along with the upward trend and new information, entrepreneurs are also beginning to look into “DIY solar panels” – the idea of constructing a solar panel system on your own.
It’s not a surprise that business owners are weighing their DIY options just to save money. But as you probably know, there is a lot more nuance in the installation process than just purchasing materials and following a few directions. A foolproof way that CEOs and executives can protect their investment is to enlist the help of those who professionally install ground mounted solar panels.
DIY Provides Limited Options
We understand that it’s tempting to assume full control of the installation project yourself for maximum savings. But with a professional service, you do not have to worry about waiting or wondering if installers will do a high-grade job. Buying a DIY solar kit can be less expensive per watt. However, you may not receive the same quality that licensed solar panel installers can offer.
If something breaks down, the entrepreneurs who choose to DIY must resolve their own breakdowns, since there’s no manufacturer warranty with a DIY installation. The general public doesn’t have access to the proper equipment for a long-lasting installation. High-quality equipment distributors for solar panel installations only sell to contractors or licensed tradesmen.
Effective Planning and Installation Requires Training and Experience
Most entrepreneurs need to hire licensed solar panel installers to install your ground mount solar panel system. Your solar installer can help you file and complete the applications and permits necessary to have a fully functional solar panel system. Their experience can consist of knowledge of financial incentives for solar energy that are available for savings.
One thing to remember is that installers carry warranties for their installations, and some warranties will be honored by manufacturers only if a licensed installer installed the equipment. So, how comfortable are you with gambling with your business or your home’s electricity? A solar panel installation company will take all of the hassle out of your hands and guarantee effective results – check out just how many of our customers have been pleased with our installation services.
Ground Mounted Solar Installation: Planning Permission
Are planning permissions for ground mount panels easily accessible? The short answer: it depends. It is determined by your state legislation, local licensing councils and administration licenses, and your region or county’s governance rules.
In many states, the government preserves your right to place solar on your property. Here’s a helpful database that includes incentives and rebates by each state. This helps because obtaining permissions and incentives can help promote the expansion of solar energy. The state registration can also appropriately balance funds to other development priorities in the community.
Shopping Tips for Your Solar System
If you’re on the market for a solar panel system, the range of companies and options offering services can become quickly overwhelming. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping around for your solar system:
- Get Multiple Quotes – It is a fact that those who take the time to get multiple quotes on their solar system will save 10% or more on their entire system. It pays to check with multiple companies and see what each has to offer you! In addition, this will help you from paying inflated prices. On average, homeowners who received 3 or more quotes were able to save between $5000 to $10,000.
- Don’t Blindly Trust Big Name Installers – Just because a company is highly rated doesn’t mean they offer the best prices or customer service. It will pay you to check with smaller installers to see what their prices are. Chances are, they can save you thousands of dollars on the cost of installing your solar system.
- Equipment Options – Be sure you get a full list of what you will need for your solar system. Many places will offer package deals, but you will want a break down in cost. This will let you see what you are paying for each item and determine if it is cheaper to get these items from another solar vendor. Never just take a quote without seeing the line item cost. Some people will hide higher prices on specific items within a quote.
Ground Mount Solar: Top 3 Advantages
When researching a ground mount solar system installation, there are a few things to consider. Here are three advantages we’d like to highlight – to help you decide if ground mounted solar panels are perfect for your transition to commercial solar power:
1) A ground mount system is easier to access and doesn’t interact with your roof. This means you won’t have to worry about damaged roofing, potential water leaks, or moving panels when it’s time to replace your roof.
2) Ground mounts maximize sun exposure, so they’re able to generate the most electricity possible. Unlike roof-mounted panels, ground mounts don’t rely on the pitch of your roof and aren’t affected by a roof that stays shaded for much of the day. Ground-mounted panels can be pointed in the best possible direction, without having to rely on your roof for an optimal position.
3) You can install as many ground mounts as you need providing you have space. Rooftop panels are restricted by the size of your roof, so once you run out of the south or west-facing space, then the amount of solar energy you’ll be able to create will drop. With ground mount solar panels, you’re only restricted by the size of your lot.
Contact Harness Power Today!
We at Harness Power specialize in the installation of ground mounted solar systems – from the Midwest to Puerto Rico, we have served over 15 states and continue to expand our reach. So, the most effective way to find the best fit for your property is to assess quotes with different materials and various financing offers. If you are looking to get a quote from one of our local, specialized solar contractors, don’t hesitate to contact us via phone or email today!