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For many homeowners and businesses, ground-mounted solar panels can be more efficient, easier to care for, and more productive than their roof-dwelling counterparts.
If you love the idea of going solar but hate the thought of installing solar panels on your roof, you are not alone. As the price of solar energy comes down and the importance of green power production continues to go up, more and more homeowners are considering solar conversions for their homes, only to run into the inevitable roadblocks.
For eco-warriors with older homes, for instance, the roof’s integrity can be a big deal or even a deal-breaker. Older roofs may not be strong enough to support the weight of all those solar panels, at least not without an expensive retrofitting process.
Other impediments can stand in the way of solar conversion, including problems with the home placement that can prevent total sun exposure. Once again, these problems can be deal-breakers.
The good news is that roof-mounted solar panels are not the only way to go green, and in many cases, a different design may be the better choice.
Pro: More Location Options
There are several obvious advantages to having your solar panels on the ground instead of the roof, starting with the fact that these panels can be placed virtually anywhere on your property.
If you own the ground they sit on, you can place your ground-mounted solar energy system just about anywhere, making it easier to optimize the amount of sunlight they capture and store.
You obviously cannot move your home, but you can optimize the location of your solar panels, but it takes an expert eye to find the right spot for your sunlight capture system.
It is a good idea to get several quotes and many opinions before deciding on the proper location for your ground-mounted solar panels.
Once they are in place, those ground-mounted panels, like your house, will be challenging to move.
The fact that you can place your ground-mounted solar panels virtually anywhere you wish is perhaps the biggest advantage, but there are some downsides as well.
Con: More Expensive
The cost of the ground-mounted system is probably the biggest impediment to the widespread use of these solar solutions; compared to a roof-mounted system, ground-mounted solar panels can be much more expensive.
More costs could mean a more extended payback period, even accounting for the increased efficiency.
In addition to the cost of the solar panels themselves, the installation prices are often higher since these ground-mounted systems may require additional expertise.
Homeowners may also have to pay for expensive permits, especially if variances are needed to allow for the installation.
The cost of the ground-mounted solar installation could be a deal-breaker for some homeowners, but it does not have to be.
There are also some significant advantages to be had, especially if you are building a new home from the ground up or plan to remain in your current property for many years.
Pro: Make Your Array As Large As You Wish
The fact that the solar panels are mounted not on the roof but on the ground means you can make your array as large as you wish – the only limits are the size of your yard, the vagaries of the sun, and your budget.
With a large enough ground-mounted solar array, you could not only power your own home but sell energy back to the grid, freeing you from monthly utility bills and even giving you some extra cash to spend.
You may be able to save significant sums of money with your ground-mounted solar panel array, but only if you can convince the neighbors that your choice of solar power solution is appropriate for where you live.
Many neighbors may have ascetic objections to the enormous piles of glass and metal taking up a significant portion of your yard, and you may even find that your municipality bans these types of installations altogether.
Before you go forward with any solar power conversion, whether roof-mounted or ground-dwelling, you will want to check with city, county, and Homeowner associations.
Not only will this help you assess the feasibility of your plans, but it will also allow you to obtain the necessary permits and get an estimate of how much the approval process might cost.
Pro: Easier Maintenace
If you find that the neighbors have no objection to your plans to install a ground-mounted solar energy solution, you could be in line for one more important benefit, one that will keep you on the ground and off the ladder.
Solar panels must be carefully maintained to function properly, with regular cleaning requirements that make ladders a necessity for roof-mounted installations.
When your solar panels stay on the ground, you can stay there as well. Compared to their roof-mounted counterparts, ground-based solar installations are easier and safer to maintain, making DIY cleaning far more feasible – and far less expensive.
The world has been going solar in a big way, which is undoubtedly good news for the planet. But before you begin your green energy revolution, you need to assess the possibilities carefully and choose the installation that works best for you.
Now that you know the pros and cons of ground-mounted solar, you can make an intelligent decision for yourself, your wallet, and the planet.