Does your home have an area of unused land? Is this area largely exposed to the sun’s rays? Well, ground mounted solar may be a cost effective and efficient energy solution for you.
Ground-mounted solar panels are solar panels which you are able to mount to any area of land that you deem fit, whether that’s along your driveway or within your garden. They can be a more efficient option compared with roof mounted solar panels, as it is much easier and more versatile to find the optimal angle to face the sun.
What is a ground mounted solar array?
Similar to a rooftop solar panel, a ground-mounted solar panel works and runs the same but instead of being attached to your roof, it is installed into the ground.
In terms of installation, there are two ways in which this can be done; through pole installation or mounted upon a metal frame. These installation processes do have one thing in common; they both involve being put into the ground or having a concrete anchor support to ensure they are stabilised.
When ground-mounted solar panels are mounted upon a pole, a tracking system can also be installed. This system allows the solar panels to move and track the sun’s position, working like a sunflower would.
Are ground mounted solar panels cheaper than roof mounted solar panels?
For the average UK home, a solar panel operating system costs around £7,800, with ground mounted solar panels costing about 25% more, equalling to around £1,950.
Due to the added materials and extra installation time taken into account, solar panels mounted to the ground do cost slightly more, but we are sure that over time these systems will put money into your pocket.
When installing solar panels on your roof, they are already supported by the structure; however, for ground mounted solar panels, this support needs to be built, hence the extra costs needed to be put into the construction of said support.
As ground mounted solar panels tend to be placed a little further away from a home electrical system, they need longer wires. Also, to ensure the wires safety and the occupant’s safety, these wires usually need to be led underground which also in turn increases the price.
So, to answer the question above, ground mounted solar panels aren’t cheaper than roof mounted solar panels. With that said, ground mounted solar panels can be more efficient in producing electricity as they can move with the sun and stay at the optimal angle throughout the day.
How much space do you need for ground mounted solar panels?
The overall amount of space needed is 50 m2 to allow for ground mounted solar panels to supply an average UK home with its electricity demands.
A three-bedroom house requires around 10 350-watt solar panels, requiring 20 square meters of space. Ground-mounted panels require an extra 5-10 meters of space to avoid falling under the house’s shade.
The distance from the house depends on factors like the system’s size and property height. Prior to the installation process, this assessment will be completed by the installers.
The exact distance depends on the size of the system and the property’s height.
How do you install a ground mount solar system?
There are two types of installation processes: standard ground mount or pole mount.
Standard ground mounts use multiple small anchors to support solar panels, with various types including concrete piers, driven piers, helical piles and concrete ballasts. The best anchoring method depends on ground conditions. These systems typically hold the solar array in a fixed position, with manual adjustment options becoming more popular.
Standard ground mounts are the easiest, most cost-effective and most popular ground installation solution.
A pole-mount solar system involves digging a deep hole in the ground to hold a large pole, which connects rails and solar panels. This method offers greater clearance from the ground, avoiding obstructions like foliage.
Pole mounts can also incorporate a single-axis or dual-axis tracking system, allowing panels to follow the sun throughout the day and produce more energy.
However, these systems have a higher cost per watt, making it more cost-effective to buy a standard ground-mount array with a larger number of panels.
Ground mounted solar panels planning permission, do you need it?
Ground-mounted solar panels larger than 9 m2, equivalent to 4 – 5 panels, do require planning permission. A 10-panel system would power the average UK home, which would take up around 20 m2.
Most homeowners who want to install a large solar panel system will need planning permission.
Listed buildings and properties in conservation areas or world heritage sites also require planning permission for their solar panels, regardless of the size. This applies to properties near highways and houses.