Ground Mounted vs Roof Mounted Solar Panels

Ground Mount vs Roof Mount Solar Panels

When considering the installation of solar panels, homeowners and businesses face a critical decision between roof-mounted and ground-mounted systems. 

Both mounting options harness solar energy, but they differ significantly in terms of design and suitability for different properties. 

Ground-mounted solar panels offer the flexibility to optimise sun exposure and angle, although they require adequate space and are generally more costly to install.

A great example of this type of ground-mounted solar panel is the Helio Motion sun tracking system. 

On the other hand, roof-mounted solar panels are a popular choice for those with limited land area or for maximising unused roof space. 

Installation tends to be less intrusive, taking advantage of existing structures, but these systems can be more challenging to maintain due to their elevated position and potential for shading issues. 

Each option carries its unique set of pros and cons, which must be considered alongside property-specific factors such as roof condition, space availability, and budget constraints.

Key Points:

  • GPS tracker ground mounted solar panels will help generate significantly more energy than roof mounted.
  • Roof mount solar will likely be cheaper to install and looks nicer if space is limited.

What Are Ground Mounted Solar Panels

Ground mounted solar panels are a type of solar array installed directly onto the ground as opposed to being installed to a building’s rooftop. They consist of solar modules held in place by frames or racks anchored to the ground. 

This installation style is particularly versatile as it allows the panels to be placed at the optimum angle and orientation for solar exposure, leading to potentially higher energy efficiency.

Ground mounted systems can employ tracking technology which allows the panels to follow the sun’s trajectory, further maximising the energy captured. 

These systems, while space-intensive, offer a solution when rooftop installation is not feasible due to structural limitations or poor roof orientation. 

They have gained traction among those with sufficient land who wish to capitalise on the sun’s energy without altering their home’s aesthetic or structural integrity.

What Are Roof Mounted Solar Panels

Roof mounted solar panels are a common solution for harnessing solar energy in residential and commercial buildings. 

They offer a space-efficient alternative to ground mounted systems and can be easily integrated into the existing structure of a property. 

Roof installations utilise unused space and can potentially increase the energy efficiency of a building by adding an additional layer of insulation.

Do Solar Panels Have To Be Roof Mounted?

Solar panels do not have to be roof mounted; there are several installation options available depending on the specific needs and constraints of the property. 

Ground-mounted systems and other alternatives like wall-mounted, pole-mounted or even balcony-mounted panels might be suitable in situations where the roof structure is not ideal for bearing weight, the roof orientation is not optimal for sun exposure, or where there is ample ground space available. 

Roof mounting remains a popular choice due to its typically unobtrusive placement and the direct use of space that would otherwise go unused.

What To Consider When Choosing Solar Panel Types

When contemplating solar panels, it’s important to consider the location and space available. 

For homeowners with limited roof space or obstructions such as chimneys, ground-mounted solar panels can be a more viable option. 

They afford easier access for maintenance and often present the option to adjust the angle for optimal sun exposure.

Another consideration is the cost associated with installation. While roof-mounted solar panels may involve fewer materials and labour, the underlying roof must be capable of supporting the additional weight. 

Ground installations, though potentially more costly upfront, may reap better efficiency rates due to cooler operating temperatures.

Lastly, the long-term energy savings need to be weighed against the initial investment. Factors like orientation, tilt, and shading all impact a solar panel system’s performance. For optimal sun exposure, a roof’s angle might be limiting, while a ground-mount system allows for more precise alignment.

In determining which solar panel type best suits your needs, these factors must be carefully evaluated.

Pros And Cons Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels


  • Optimised Exposure: Ground mounted solar panels offer the flexibility to be positioned and oriented at the perfect angle for maximum sun.
  • Ease of Maintenance: They are generally more accessible for maintenance and cleaning, reducing the risk of injury and making the process less laborious.
  • No Structural Concerns: Installation of these panels eliminates the risk of damaging the roof, as they require no penetration of roofing materials.


  • Space Requirements: The primary drawback of ground mounted panels is the considerable amount of space needed for installation, which may not be available to all property owners.
  • Costs: The initial installation can be more expensive due to the need for building a mounting system and potentially more labour.
  • Permitting Issues: They may face more stringent zoning restrictions or require additional permits compared to roof mounted systems.

Pros And Cons Of Roof Mounted Solar Panels


  • Cost-effective: Roof mounted solar panels are often less costly to install compared to ground-mounted systems. They require fewer materials for the racking system and can take advantage of the existing roof structure, making them an economical choice.
  • Space-efficient: Utilising the otherwise wasted space of a roof, these panels do not occupy any extra land, which is particularly beneficial in urban settings where space is limited.
  • Planning permissions: In many cases, roof mounted solar systems do not need special planning permissions, which simplifies the process and reduces the time from decision to installation.


  • Access for maintenance: Maintenance or repair can be challenging due to the height and angle of the roof. 
  • Effect on roof integrity: The installation process might require penetration of the roof, which can increase the risk of leaks or other structural issues over time.
  • Limitations: There may be constraints due to roof size, strength, and orientation, which can limit the potential solar energy output. Not all roofs are suited for solar panel installation, and some adjustments may need to be made to ensure maximum efficiency.

Is It Better To Put Solar Panels On The Roof Or On The Ground?

Deciding whether to install solar panels on the roof or on the ground involves considering several factors. 

Roof-mounted systems often require less space and can maintain the aesthetics of the property. They leverage existing structures, which could potentially reduce initial setup costs.

On the other hand, ground-mounted solar systems offer benefits like easier access for maintenance and the ability to optimise the panel orientation towards the sun. 

However, they may require more space and could lead to higher initial expenses due to the need for additional mounting structures.

Roof-Mounted SolarGround-Mounted Solar
Utilises existing space on the roofRequires dedicated open land
May be less expensive initiallyAllows precise orientation to the sun
Less accessible for maintenanceMore accessible, simplifying cleaning and repairs
Potentially aesthetically pleasingMay operate at lower temperatures, increasing efficiency

You should also consider the condition and space of the roof, local regulations, and whether the ground space is suitable for solar infrastructure. These factors will influence the decision and the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the solar installation.

About the author 

Ben Hardman

Ben is a professional writer and the creator of sustainable living website
It's here where he helps people to reduce their environmental impact through simple, everyday choices. Away from the laptop, Ben loves spending time in the natural environment with his young family and Murphy the cocker spaniel.

First Class BSc Biology degree (environmental and climate change focus)
Six years of working and writing in the environmental sector, including two years working at an international sustainability consultancy
Written for Ethical Consumer magazine, My Mother Tree, Unsustainable Magazine, Happy Eco News, Emission Index,
Commented in The Independent, The Guardian, GreenMatch. Also featured on Radio 1's environmental special 'Minute of Me'

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