When considering whether to install solar, homeowners and businesses are faced with a fundamental question: Should I install rooftop solar panels or ground-mounted solar panels.
Sometimes the choice between rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels is obvious, such as if a homeowner has no land to install ground-mounted solar or their rooftop has too much shade or is too small. But the decision isn’t always that easy.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each and help you decide if rooftop solar or ground-mounted solar is best for you.
ROOFTOP SOLAR PANELS
Rooftop solar panels are what people normally think of when they hear solar energy. These solar panels are your traditional setup, placed on top of a house facing south, east, or west, and can be placed on both flat and angled roofs.
Here is a break down of the major pros and cons of rooftop solar panels.
Costs: Rooftop solar is the most commonly installed type of solar, and it’s often easier and cheaper to install. However, the roof structure and condition must be assessed first. If your roofing material (shingles, metal, tiles, etc.) are nearing replacement, it’s best to replace the roof before installing solar. This can be an additional cost. As well, if the underlying roof structure needs replaced or shored up, this can also add to the costs of your rooftop solar project.
Space: Rooftop solar is limited by the square footage of your roof, as well as any structures (chimneys, skylights, dormers) that could take up space and need to be designed around. However, if you don’t want to take up space on your lawn, or don’t have a lawn, rooftop solar might be your best option.
Aesthetics: Depending on where it is located, rooftop solar can be highly visible or hidden away. This will depend on where solar fits best on your roof and captures the best sun. For some homeowners or businesses, having their solar visible isn’t a problem and can even be a badge of pride. Others would rather the solar panels not be visible at all. With recent advances in solar technology, new black-on-black solar panels offer a sleek looking alternative to the traditional black-on-silver solar panel. Learn more about the different types of solar panels.
Positioning: The location of rooftop solar panels is restricted by multiple factors, including orientation of the roof (north, south, east, or west), structural obstacles (chimneys, skylights, dormers, etc.), and shading.
Cleaning and Maintenance: Cleaning and maintaining rooftop solar panels can be a bit challenging. Because rooftop solar is on a high surface that is not easily accessible, it can be dangerous to try and clean and maintain the solar panels yourself. It is highly recommended a professional be hired to clean and maintain rooftop solar panels.
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GROUND-MOUNTED SOLAR PANELS
Ground-mounted solar panels are less common than rooftop solar panels, but they are still very popular.
This type of solar panel racking provides greater flexibility than rooftop solar panels, but there are pros and cons to ground-mounted solar panels. Here is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of ground-mounted solar panels.
Costs: Ground-mounted solar often costs more upfront than rooftop solar because of the additional materials, time, and labor required. However, long-term costs can be smaller thanks to ease of access and not having to replace the roof in the future. Additionally, ground-mounted solar can be positioned to optimize performance, resulting in a more efficient and productive solar installation.
Space: Ground-mounted solar has fewer limitations on how big the solar array can be. Your ground-mounted solar can be as large as the amount of space you have in your yard or on your property.
Aesthetics: Depending on where ground-mounted solar arrays are installed, they can be very visible or hidden out of sight. Since ground-mounted solar is not limited to the rooftop, you could install the solar panels in the backyard, behind a shed, or even in your front yard. There are also creative options for ground-mounted solar, such as solar canopies and carports, that can serve greater functions while also generating power. To learn more about solar canopies and carports, click here.
Positioning: Ground-mounted solar is much easier to position as needed when compared to rooftop solar. Because its location is not dictated by a roof surface, ground-mounted solar can be placed at a specific location in a specific orientation and tilt angle to optimize performance. However, soil conditions and ground level might require extra considerations. To optimize performance even further, you also have the option of installing solar-tracking ground-mounted solar. Solar trackers can follow the position of the sun throughout the day, maximizing the amount of sunlight it absorbs. Read more about solar trackers here.
Cleaning and Maintenance: Because ground-mounted solar is often at ground level, these systems can be more easily accessed for cleaning and maintenance. Most of the time, ground-mounted solar arrays can be cleaned by hand, it is advisable to practice caution. Cleaning methods can potentially lead to damage if not done properly.
That’s just a short summary of the pros and cons of rooftop solar vs. ground-mounted solar. To learn more about the best solar solution for your home or business, contact Green Ridge Solar today.