Ground-mounted vs Roof-mounted solar systems
Residential Solar systems are now a common sight on Australian roofs; this means that when most people think about solar, we imagine panels mounted on roofs generating energy for the homeowner. However, there are some cases where individuals cannot install solar panels on their roofs or have access to a substantial amount of property and want to mitigate a sizeable solar bill. In this instance, it may be worth investigating a ground-mounted solar system. Both of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and today I’m going to touch on both so you can make the most informed decision when deciding what solar solution is right for you.
In the last decade, solar panels have been appearing on homes all over Australia. This is for good reason as PV systems are quick and relatively easy to install and require very little upkeep from the homeowner to keep producing power all year round. These solar panels vary hugely in make and quality but are all installed in the same way by mounting racking to roofs and placing the panels on top of the brackets.
Roof-mounted solar systems have three essential components that allow for the production of electricity. The first is solar panels that capture sunlight by utilising silicon wafers, which take electrons from photons and run them through a circuit. The second is the inverter which converts DC into AC, allowing for its use throughout the house. The final part is the racking which the panels are mounted on as well as the screws which secure them to the roof of the property. These parts must be rated to Australian conditions as any products that are not will be unable to survive both our wild weather and ever-changing climate.
This type of system is so much more common than ground mounts because they are much cheaper and utilise space that would otherwise be predominantly unused. A ground mount system requires a large amount of land and is much more labour and material intensive, meaning that it is impossible for every consumer.
Ground-mounted solar systems
Ground-mounted solar systems are solar systems that are positioned on racking that is attached to the ground. These systems are significantly more expensive but are not limited by the size of a roof like traditional PV systems meaning that they allow for vast amounts of production, which is how solar farms are made.
A few key things need to be considered when choosing a position to install a ground-mounted system. This system needs to be installed on a flat patch of land with a maximum of a 5-degree tilt. This area should be unaffected by shade and on a patch of land that is solid enough to support the required concrete foundations but not too hard as to need pre-drilling. It can also be beneficial to install this system near pre-existing electrical infrastructure to avoid additional expenses associated with trenching and cable runs.
The planning and installation of one of these systems is a much more involved process than a standard PV system. These systems are much more exposed to the weather and require a greeted degree of engineering to withstand the Australian elements. This includes wind and water-resistance as well as positioning that avoids potential flooding and heavy dusting. Ensuring that proper planning is put into this design is essential to the continued production of solar power. There is also the option to install ground-mounted systems or a swivelling axis, allowing most panels to face the sun all day. This technology is still in its infancy, however, and is almost wholly utilised in commercial projects.
When you talk to one of our solar specialists, it is more than likely that your ideal solar solution will be a roof-mounted PV system. They are much cheaper and can produce a significant amount of electricity thanks to the increased efficiency of solar panels in recent years. However, suppose your home contains appliances that require a considerable amount of electricity, and you have a suitable patch of land. In that case, it may be worth pursuing the option of installing a ground-mounted solar system. If you are having trouble finding a solar solution that provides enough power to handle your production needs, please contact one of our solar designers below!