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Quick Comparison of Ground and Roof Solar Mounts

Because roof mounts use your current roof structure as a basis, they are less expensive. In addition, they take up less space on your premises. Ground mounts take up more room but are easier to install and maintain. They also provide you with more control over how your array is oriented, allowing you to get the most out of it.
 
After you’ve decided on solar panels, you’ll need to figure out which mounting solution is appropriate for your living area, budget, and energy requirements.
 
Roof mount and ground mount racking systems are the two types of solar mounting options available. Ground mount systems are built into a foundation at ground level, whereas roof mount systems attach to brackets on your roof.
 
Both have advantages and disadvantages and depending on your project specifications, both mounting solutions have worth it.
 
This article will go over why we advocate ground mount racking over roof mount racking to our customers.
 
But before, here’s a little recap:

Solar panels that are installed on the ground

Pros
Cons
Cleaning is simple.
Invests in real estate.
It is simple to access.
Installation is more costly.
Overall, racking is better.
Not everyone finds it appealing.
Troubleshooting is easier.
Installation necessitates more effort.
The system is not limited to the roof’s dimensions.
More components and parts are needed.
Higher energy output equates to cooler panel temperature.
If the roof is changed, there is no need to remove panels.
 

Solar panels mounted on the roof

Pros
Cons
Cost-effective
Errors are more difficult to diagnose.
Installation requires less materials.
Access is difficult, especially if your roof is steep or slick.
Takes advantage of unused space.
Water damage might result from putting holes in your roof.
The labor cost of installation is lower.
The size of the system is limited due to roof space constraints.
Lower panel output is associated with higher panel temperatures.
If you need to replace the roof during the panel’s lifetime, it can be a pain (might install the system twice)
 

Why Choose a Ground Mount System?

The Ideal Alignment

This is true regardless of the type of solar system you’re considering: every solar array operates best when it receives as much sunlight as possible.
 
Nigeria is in the northern hemisphere, as it is 690.93 miles (1,111.95 kilometers) north of the equator. As the Earth circles, the sun leans south. The most daylight will be captured, and the greatest outcomes will be achieved if your array is facing south. If you live south of the equator, such as in South Africa, it is more effective to face your system north.
 
Getting the right alignment for a roof-mounted system might be difficult. Your roof is unlikely to face directly towards the sun.
 
Ground-mounted systems can be pointed in any direction. You may set your system to point directly at the sun by aligning it at the right angle. Ground-mounted systems are the most efficient for this reason alone, as they optimize access to the sunlight that powers the array.

Consumers who are off the grid and those who are connected to the grid will both benefit.

Ground-mount arrays are more efficient not just because of the correct angle. Because your panels are elevated above the ground, they have greater airflow and cooling, resulting in more energy production.
 
Most solar panels are put to the test at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a typical sunny day but not too hot. When the temperature rises above this, the panels lose efficiency and produce 10 to 25% less electricity. The flow of electricity is more difficult for semiconductors. Consider squeezing the hose while it’s full of water.
 
Ground-mount racking has a distinct advantage in terms of airflow and cooling, which keeps your panels working at peak performance.

Providing you with space to develop

If you’re installing on your roof, you probably don’t have a lot of room to build the most efficient array feasible. It may be difficult to install extra panels to your current system if your energy needs alter in the future.
 
When you go ground-mount, you’re not limited in this way – if you have enough space in your yard. After the first installation, you can expand your array, and several ground mount racking solutions make it simple to add extra components.
 
This means that if you add on to your home and need more power, or if your current power source isn’t cutting it, you can add more panels as needed with minimal effort.

Accessibility

Accessibility is another significant advantage of ground-mounted solar. Solar systems necessitate a great deal of trial and error, particularly during installation. It’s inconvenient to have to climb onto the roof every time your system develops a twist.
 
If you’re looking at a system with microinverters and optimizers, this is much more of a selling feature. Each solar panel has a component with such accessories and replacing them on a roof-mounted system can be challenging.
 
What if one of the array’s microinverters fails? At get to the source of the problem, you’d have to remove a few panels in that case. It’s easier to troubleshoot panels and accessories when your system is on the ground rather than on the roof.
 
It’s also easier to clean and maintain solar panels when they’re mounted on the ground. It gives you additional piece of mind knowing that you won’t have to put your safety at risk every time you need to brush snow off the panels, wash off dust and pollen, or remove debris from beneath the panels. Pole mounts are also available, which are perfect for places with a lot of snow. Pole mounts can be built with various tilt angles to improve energy output while shedding snow easily in the winter.

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels Have a Few Disadvantages

Now, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of ground-mount racking.
 
In general, installing a ground mount is more difficult and expensive upfront. Roof mount solar panels may be the way to go if your major priority is getting the most out of your investment in solar panels. Ground-mount will take up more room on your property, which you might choose to put to better use.

More labor-intensive and necessitates More Expense Up Front

The system requires more parts to be built, which is why a ground mount costs more upfront.
 
Consider this: when you install a solar array on your roof, you are essentially completing half of the construction. When installing a solar array on the ground, though, you’ll need to construct a strong roof-like structure to keep the panels in place.
 
This procedure includes having your soil surveyed to ensure that it can support the system, drilling massive holes, and purchasing more pieces to construct a proper foundation for the panels.
 
Many of these expenditures are avoided with roof-mounted systems. Provided that your roof is in good condition and free of structural damage, it should be able to sustain the weight of the solar array. You won’t have to deal with the difficulty of laying a new foundation to support the panels.

Ground-Mount Takes Up Space

The final disadvantage of ground-mounted solar is that it consumes a significant amount of area on your property. When you install a system on your roof, it’ll be more inconspicuous, and you’ll have more area on your property to do whatever you want.
 
If you have a huge property, the space issue isn’t a major worry. People who live in the country are more likely to be able to locate room for a ground-mounted system that will not disrupt their daily routines.
 
If you have a smaller home, though, your rooftop may be the only option. A ground-mounted system isn’t always a possibility.
 
When space isn’t an issue, it’s usually a matter of preference. There are several artistic or innovative installation solutions out there for people that believe ground mounted solar to be an unsightly blemish on their land, such as the ones featured below.
 
People are proud of their solar arrays for the most part since they are cutting-edge technology that signals ultimate independence from the electricity company.
 
We appreciate it when people take pride in their systems. However, there’s nothing wrong with preferring one appearance to the next. When it comes to purchasers with the luxury of space, the choice is frequently between ground-mounted or roof-mounted systems.

Consider the following points:

If you want to simplify the maintenance / cleaning process while still maximizing energy output over time, go with a ground-mount system. To ensure that ground-mount will work for you, ask yourself the following three questions:
  • How much money do you want to pay upfront?
The installation of a ground-mount racking system necessitates more labor and parts. You may need to work with a contractor to complete the project.
 
However, consider this: after the panels are installed, the upfront cost will be covered by a more efficient energy output in the long run. If you need to re-roof, you’ll save money and time by removing the panels.
 
You’ll have to spend a little more money at first, but the effort will pay off in the long run.
  • What is the type of soil you have?
You might choose to put the panels on your roof if your property is on bedrock or if you know the soil will be tough to dig through. Ground-mount system installation costs might increase in hard soil. It’s not difficult but drilling into the ground will necessitate the rental of heavy-duty equipment.
 
There are a few ground-mount solutions that can be used as a workaround to keep the digging to a minimum. A ballasted system could be a viable option.
  • Do you think you’ll need to upgrade your system?
If you don’t want to live off the grid, a rooftop system will likely be sufficient for your energy demands. If you plan to go off-grid, however, the ground mount will allow you to add more panels as your energy needs vary over time, and you’ll benefit from a built-in tilt that allows you to face the sun more easily than your roof.

When is Roof-Mount Racking More Effective?

Neither mounting system is “better” than the other; the decision is made based on your budget, energy requirements, and lifestyle. Customers who:
  • want to get the most out of their investment
  • desire a system that is easier to set up
  • do not have a lot of room
  • want to save money up front
  • lower upfront costs due to fewer materials and labour.
One of the advantages of a roof-mounted solar system is that it takes less time and money to install.
 
The most complex portion of the framework is already in place when you install a solar system on your roof. You won’t have to dig holes, have the soil surveyed, worry about your property line, or spend money on poles or concrete.
 
The setup is perfect for grid-tied consumers who wish to save money by installing on the roof rather than on the ground.

Utilizes previously unused space

When there isn’t enough space for a ground-mount system in a residential location, a roof mount is frequently used. You could live in a condo or a densely populated suburb. What little yard space you do have could be better utilized for barbecues or a play area for the kids. Installing solar panels on the roof helps you to make use of space that would otherwise be wasted, allowing you to focus on the things that matter most.
 
Some people prefer to put solar panels on their roofs, even if they have a lot of room since they are more inconspicuous. It frees up space on your property for activities such as animal husbandry, farming, and outbuildings. Roof-mounted systems keep the clutter off your property, giving you more room to work.

Increased Insulation and Protection

A roof-mounted system has the added benefit of protecting the roof from damaging elements such as UV rays, wind, rain, and snow. It will also help to insulate your structure. If you live off the grid, this is a great technique to keep your home naturally warmer at night and cooler during the day.

The Disadvantages of Roof-Mounted Solar

What makes people hesitant to install roof-mounted systems? There are a few disadvantages to consider:
  • Inaccessible owing to their height
  • Less efficient, depending on the location of your property
  • More difficult to adjust and repair
  • Space limits on smaller rooftops

Troubleshooting Is Made Difficult by Accessibility

Anyone who has ever had to get up on their roof to place Christmas lights or clean their gutters knows how difficult it is. You may want to think about the accessibility of your roof based on your mobility and anticipated level of engagement in the installation process. You may not want to risk getting up on your roof, depending on the pitch and the type of material it is built of. Metallic roofing, for example, is slick.

Efficiencies are lower

Roof-mounted systems are rarely as efficient as those that are installed on the ground. Rooftop solar panels aren’t always able to face the sun directly. It’s far more difficult to position an array atop an existing structure in such a way that it consumes the maximum amount of energy during peak hours.
 
You’re limited by the roof’s built-in parameters, which means the panels won’t always face true south (above the equator) or north (below the equator). You may need to purchase a few extra panels to match the output of a properly aligned ground-mount system.

Restricted Space

A conventional medium-pitch roof in Nigeria has an average roof area of 1,500 square feet. Chimneys, vents, and other impediments will make some of this space unusable. There isn’t much room to work with anymore.
 
If you need to enhance your energy production after your system is installed, it will very certainly be hard to add to it. It may be difficult to add extra panels to adjust to increased energy usage if your family develops or if you add an addition to your home.

Consider the following points:

If you believe rooftop solar is the best option for you, keep the following questions in mind:
  • What is the age of your roof?
Because a roof and a solar system have similar lifespans, installing them at the same time makes sense. Solar panels will most likely fit on roofs that are less than 5 years old. If it’s older than that, you should at least think about replacing it at the same time as the panels.
 
If your roof is older, you should be concerned about damage, leaks, and structural stability. To support the weight of the solar array, it will need to be in good condition. Before you install your system, try to plan for roof repairs. Repairing your roof once the panels are installed will be a major pain in the neck.
  • What is the cost of your electricity?
Solar panels are a wonderful investment, but they demand a large upfront financial commitment and, depending on your energy use, it may take time to see a return on that investment. Your savings will be small if your energy consumption is small. A lot of your savings will be determined by your state and whether you reside in a rural place with high-cost electricity. So, while we are great fans of solar, it isn’t for everyone — it all depends on your primary objectives.

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