Everything You Need to Know About Ground-Mounted Solar Panel Installation

If you are exploring sustainable and renewable energy options, ground-mounted solar panels can be a great solution. These systems are easier to install than roof-mounted systems and come with a host of benefits that make them an excellent alternative to traditional electricity sources. Weighing the pros and cons of ground-mounted solar panels requires careful consideration. Factors like location, available space, budget, local ordinances, and personal preference will play a significant role in your decision-making process. Fortunately, this guide serves to provide the essential insights and factors you will need to take into account when deciding if ground-mounted solar panels are the right choice for your solar power needs. The shift to renewable energy can be a big step, but it’s one that comes with long-term benefits for both you and the environment.

What are some considerations when installing ground-mounted solar?

 

Understand Your Site Conditions 

When it comes to installing ground-mounted solar systems, an in-depth evaluation of your site conditions is essential. These systems are installed directly on the ground, meaning you need to thoroughly examine the surroundings where you plan to place the solar panels. Ensure that your site is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate the size of the solar system you are planning. Generally, one solar panel needs 18 square feet of space. The more panels you want to install, the larger the required area will be.

In addition to space, consider the shade levels of the proposed site. Areas with high levels of shade may not be ideal as they can limit the efficiency of your solar panels. Evaluate the sunlight exposure throughout the day to fully understand how shade could affect your panels.

It is also important to assess whether constructing a ground-mounted system will disrupt local wildlife or affect the existing ecosystem. You might need to consult with environmental experts or local authorities to ensure your solar installation will not have unwanted ecological impacts. In most cases, you will be helping the environment more than you are hurting it, but it is still important to consider ground-mounted solar panels could affect the area.

Calculate Your Total Cost and Potential Savings

The installation cost for ground-mounted solar panels tends to be higher than that of rooftop panels. The panels themselves already include a significant upfront investment, but with ground-mounted systems, additional costs come into play. Ground-mounted solar panels require a sturdy frame so the system is supported. This framework is an additional expense that roofing systems do not require. It can become expensive to build this new structure, especially if your site requires specific design adaptations or reinforcements.

However, it is key to remember that solar panels represent a long-term investment that can yield significant savings over time. Numerous incentives are designed to help offset the initial cost of solar panels, ranging from federal tax credits to state and local rebates and incentives. With solar panels, you are effectively producing your own electricity. This means you can reduce or even eliminate your utility bills, translating to substantial savings in the long run. Ground-mounted solar panels, often boast higher efficiency levels than roof panels due to their optimal positioning and potential use of solar trackers. This means they can generate more energy, leading to greater savings and a potentially higher return on investment.

Your Location

Your geographical location can significantly impact your solar panel system. Different states offer varying incentives for solar power, affecting the overall cost-effectiveness of your installation. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with your state’s specific incentives to properly estimate the costs and benefits of your new system so you can have an accurate estimate of the total price.

When opting for a ground-mounted system, you also need to navigate local regulations and permit requirements. Erecting a new structure for your solar panels often requires permission from your local municipality. It is critical to understand and comply with these requirements to avoid potential issues and delays with your project.

If you live in a community governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), they have their own set of rules and regulations you will need to follow. Some HOAs have restrictions or prohibitions on such installations, and failing to adhere to these rules can result in fines or other penalties. Reviewing their rules regarding ground-mounted solar systems can help ensure that you are in compliance with your HOA’s guidelines before embarking on your solar panel installation.

What are the pros and cons of ground-mounted solar panels?

 

Pros of Ground-mounted Solar Panels

Higher Efficiency Compared to Rooftop Panels: One of the significant benefits of ground-mounted solar panels is their superior efficiency when compared to rooftop panels. Thanks to the flexibility in their placement and orientation, ground-mounted solar panels can be strategically placed at the optimal angle to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. They can be positioned to align perfectly with the sun’s path across the sky, maximizing their sun exposure and subsequently, the amount of electricity they produce.

Easier Installation and Maintenance: When it comes to installation and maintenance, ground-mounted solar panels offer clear advantages. The risks associated with maintaining rooftop solar systems — such as falls or damaging the roof structure — are entirely mitigated. Installers can work on a flat surface, which simplifies the process and enhances safety. Furthermore, any necessary maintenance or repairs can be carried out more efficiently on the ground level, without the need for specialized equipment or safety precautions associated with rooftop work.

Preserve a Home’s Aesthetics: Ground-mounted solar panels do not change the way your house looks since they’re not directly installed on your roof. For homeowners who want to invest in renewable energy but are concerned about altering the aesthetic appeal of their homes, this presents a fantastic alternative. Solar panels, though functional, might not align with everyone’s design preferences, so having them mounted on the ground allows you to reap the benefits without changing your home’s appearance.

They Can Be Hidden: If you are not fond of the look of solar panels, ground-mounted systems offer the advantage of concealment. You can opt for a lower tilt, allowing the panels to blend more naturally with their surroundings. This discreet positioning does not significantly affect the electricity output and is a customization option that’s not usually feasible with roof-mounted panels.

 

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Cons of Ground-mounted Solar Panels

Higher Installation Costs: While ground-mounted solar panels can deliver greater benefits, they do come with higher upfront costs. This is primarily because the ground does not offer the built-in structural base that a roof provides. Constructing a sturdy, reliable frame to support the panels can be an added expense, leading to higher overall upfront installation costs. However, the structure can also be eligible for deduction by utilizing the ITC tax credit. 

Potential for Shade Obscuration: Ground-mounted solar panels, especially in yards with numerous trees or tall structures, are more likely to become obscured by shade. You can relocate your panels to another area of your yard if space allows, but in cases where movement is not possible, rooftop panels may have an advantage due to their elevated positioning.

Increased Vulnerability: While the accessibility of ground-mounted solar panels simplifies installation and maintenance, it also leaves them more exposed. There is an increased risk of vandalism or accidental damage, as well as potential harm from wildlife. Additional measures might be necessary to secure and protect your solar panels.

Limited Feasibility: Ground-mounted solar panels require sufficient yard space for installation. This can be a limiting factor for those living in urban or certain suburban areas where land is at a premium. Obtaining the necessary permits and approvals for ground-mounted systems can be more challenging, particularly in regions with stringent zoning regulations or Homeowners Associations that prohibit such installations. 

Are energy incentives and utility credits still applicable with a ground-mounted solar panel system?

Absolutely! In the eyes of the government and utility companies, there is no difference between solar panels installed on a rooftop or those positioned on the ground when it comes to qualifying for energy incentives and utility credits. The primary purpose of these incentives and credits is to encourage the use of renewable energy, regardless of the specific type or location of the solar panel system. Therefore, the moment you make the transition to solar energy, you become eligible for these benefits, whether your solar panels are roof-mounted or ground-mounted.

Energy incentives can come in various forms such as federal tax credits, Florida rebates, local incentives, or performance-based incentives. The federal solar tax credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), allows you to deduct a portion of the cost of your solar energy system from your federal taxes. Florida and local incentives vary widely depending on your location, but they can significantly reduce the overall cost of the solar energy system. Performance-based incentives are rewards you get over time for the energy your solar system produces. The amount you save from these incentives and credits can vary widely. Several factors can influence the total savings you receive. These include your overall electrical usage, the energy output of your solar panel system, the specific Florida and local incentives available to you, and the net metering policies of your utility company.

 

Are there different types of ground-mount solar systems?

Yes! Ground-mount solar systems can primarily be classified into two types: standard ground mounts and pole-mount solar panels. Both types have their own unique characteristics and advantages, which can make them more suitable for different environments and specific needs.

, The Complete Guide to Ground-mounted Solar Panels in 2023
, The Complete Guide to Ground-mounted Solar Panels in 2023

Standard Ground Mount

  • Connects to the ground in multiple places, like a tent. 
  • Creates an angled frame that the solar panels will be placed on. 
  • Holds the solar panels in a fixed position.
  • The easiest, most cost-effective, and most popular solution for a ground install.

 Pole Mount Solar Panels

  • Connects to the ground in one place.
  • Solar panels are placed on a box-shaped frame that is near the top of the pole.
  • Offers greater clearance from the ground.
  • Can utilize a tracking system to follow the sun throughout the day.

What kind of special surveys or permits are needed for ground-mount solar panels?

The requirements for surveys and permits can differ considerably based on your exact location, as local laws and regulations dictate these requirements. The process for installing ground-mounted solar panels is typically more involved than that for roof-mounted panels, primarily due to the need for a specialized support structure. Roof-mounted solar panels leverage the existing structure of your home or building – essentially, they utilize a pre-built base. However, with ground-mounted systems, there is no such ready-made foundation. Instead, a dedicated frame has to be constructed to securely hold the solar panels. This additional construction work often necessitates extra permitting and surveying, which is not typically required for roof-mounted solar panels.

The specific steps you will need to undertake largely depend on the regulations and requirements put forth by your local municipality or county. Although these may vary, they generally involve a few common stages. A geographic or site survey is usually the first step. This survey involves assessing various factors that could impact the installation and operation of your solar panel system. For instance, the health and stability of the soil are extremely important, as they will determine the system’s stability. An unstable or unsuitable soil condition could potentially threaten the safety and efficiency of your solar panel system. Additionally, any natural habitats, wildlife, or vegetation present on the site could be affected by the installation process. In some areas, you might need to carry out an environmental impact assessment to ensure your solar panel installation will not adversely affect local plants and animals.

Following the site survey, you will need to obtain the necessary permits before starting the construction work. Permit requirements vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Some local governments may have stringent zoning rules or building codes that limit the size, location, or type of solar installation. It is essential to check with your local permitting office or municipality to understand the exact requirements. After obtaining the necessary permits, the next step involves preparing the site for installation. This could involve a range of tasks, such as clearing the land, excavating for the solar panel frame footings, and pouring concrete to form a sturdy base for the frame.

While installing a ground-mounted solar panel system involves several additional steps compared to a rooftop installation, the benefits often outweigh the initial work and effort. To simplify the process, consider working with an experienced solar installation company that can navigate the permitting process and ensure a successful and efficient installation.

Check Out Our Recent Ground-mount Solar Installations in Florida

Glades RV Resort Solar Farm

Project specs:

  • Four acres of solar panels

  • Single-axis tracking ground mount

  • 2400 – Trina 400w panels

  • 7 – Chint 3 phase 125KW inverters

  • 960 Total kW

, The Complete Guide to Ground-mounted Solar Panels in 2023
, The Complete Guide to Ground-mounted Solar Panels in 2023

Nasa Kennedy Space Center

This project is scheduled to commence in 2023 and will cover 10 acres

City of Mt Dora, FL

Project Specs:

  • 2 Ground mount systems

  • 5,079.36 Total kW

, The Complete Guide to Ground-mounted Solar Panels in 2023

How is solar panel installation different with SEM Power?

Whereas our competitors might compromise quality or overcharge you, at SEM Power, we care about you, your wallet, and the quality of your solar panels. Don’t take a gamble. In terms of the importance of solar panels, it’s not up for debate, we need clean, green energy for a stable future. That’s why SEM Power wants to make things affordable and easy for you because we know how important solar panels are for everyone. When you install solar panels, you’re working towards creating a better future for yourself, your family, and everyone else who inhabits the world. However, we know that installing solar panels is still a substantial decision, so here’s why you should trust SEM Power:

  • We never subcontract our work. When you choose us for your solar panel installation, you can rest assured that the entire process will be handled by our in-house team of skilled professionals. We do not believe in outsourcing our labor, because we do not have to. This approach allows us to maintain strict quality control and ensures that every step of the installation is carried out to our high standards. Our team comprises the best people in the industry, we do not settle for less than the best because we understand the trust our customers place in our work.

 

  • We are licensed engineering, procurement, and construction experts. You should not have to do more work than you already have to do. That is why we do the work for you. Our team of highly skilled professionals is equipped with the necessary licenses and qualifications to handle every aspect of your project. We handle the permitting, installation, and logistics of interconnection, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the finished product. SEM Power is not like the other guys. We take the pressure off our customers so that you can enjoy your optimum solar panels, without the stress that comes with the installation process.

 

  • We handle projects of all sizes. At SEM Power, we take pride in our ability to cater to projects of all sizes. Whether you are looking for a small-scale residential installation or a large-scale commercial or industrial project, we have the expertise and resources to meet your needs. Our team of skilled professionals is experienced in handling a diverse range of solar installations, ensuring that each project is executed with precision and attention to detail. We understand that every project is unique, and we work closely with our clients to develop tailored solutions that align with their specific requirements. If you want solar panels installed, SEM Power is here to help.

 

 

  • We offer free solar installation quotes.
    At SEM Power, our commitment extends to serving all of Florida, including your own neighborhood. We take pride in offering unbeatable prices and exceptional service that sets us apart from the competition. That’s why we provide complimentary solar installation quotes, ensuring transparency and peace of mind for our customers. There is no need for you to question the price or logistics of your project. Contact SEM Power today to get your free quote.  

Find the Right Panels for Your Needs

Making the switch to solar power offers numerous advantages, and opting for a ground-mounted solar system can significantly increase these benefits. However, as with any significant decision, it is crucial to consider some additional factors. These considerations will help determine whether ground-mounted solar panels are the right fit for your specific circumstances and your property.

The good news is that you do not have to navigate this decision-making process alone, SEM Power is here to lend a hand every step of the way. Our team of dedicated professionals is well-versed in all things solar and is ready to assist in addressing any questions or concerns you may have.

 

, The Complete Guide to Ground-mounted Solar Panels in 2023

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