Ground and Rooftop Solar Panels Comparison

A solar power system can have solar panels mounted on a rooftop or fixed to frames on the ground, there are advantages and disadvantages in both type of systems. The solar panels used in ground or roof mount systems are the same, the only main difference is the racking system setup.

In most cases, a ground-mounted solar power system will cost less to install as there is no need to move all the components on to a rooftop, and in some cases, the roof may be very high adding to the cost.

A rooftop solar power system will not need any extra land area, and being higher up shading by nearby trees or structures is less likely.

Roof Mounted Solar Panels

Rooftop systems are almost always installed in the suburbs and cities by businesses and homeowners as ground space is very limited in urban areas. Also with today's high real estate prices, there are more lucrative ways of using land than for ground mounting solar panels.

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A robust technical advantage a rooftop panel has over a ground mounted system is that is installed high above the building and other nearby buildings they will have far less shading problems. Shading is one of the most important factors when it comes to the productivity of any system, and can also effect payback times significantly.

Security and safety is another favourable aspect of a roof-mounted system. Photovoltaic technology, solar power system components, wiring, connections and power inverters should only be accessed by qualified and trained personnel, with a roof mounted system the likelihood of unwanted hands like children, for example, tampering with the equipment is far less likely.

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels

Ground-mouted solar power systems have a lower installation cost when compared to a roof mount system. The best scenario for gong with the ground mount option is when losing land area is not a problem, as is the case with most rural properties and farms or even a large urban block that has land not being used for any other purpose.

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Most renewable energy companies that have their business set up for energy generation and nothing else will opt for a ground mount system. These installations can be extensive, the Greenough River Solar Farm, for example, is a is a 10 megawatt (MW) solar power system located in Walkaway, Western Australia in operation since 2012.

Photo by Greenough River Solar Farm 2018

Ground mounted solar panels can be easily tilted and adjusted to gain maximum exposure to the sun, fixed in one position a rooftop panel is, therefore, it is essential to get the orientation right at the beginning. Ground installations are more compatible with solar trackers, as most rooftops are not strong enough to bear the additional load of tracking equipment.

Some commercial solar panel installations may have a mix of both ground and roof mount as the business owner may have no concern with where the panels are installed as long as they get the power and the panels don't interfere with the operation of the business.