People ask us sometimes if we do ground-mounted solar panels. Solar photovoltaic systems can be mounted on traditional solar rails with engineered racking systems. And, YES, we install solar panels on ground racks. But NO, we do not recommend them in Southwest Florida.
Why You Should, Or Shouldn’t, Consider a Ground Mount
It might seem like a great idea at first. However, there are pros and cons to mounting solar panels on the ground. Among those are:
- No holes in the roof.
- Looks great, no need to consider aesthetics on the home.
- Perform great with excellent airflow and you get to choose the angle and orientatation.
- Serviceable – easy to keep clean and maintain if there is a problem.
- Expensive (very), particularly for smaller systems. Larger systems can be attractive but have a much lower return on investment compared to roof-mounted panels. The amount of concrete we need in Florida’s sandy soil and the steel substructure required for wind resilience is extremely costly, adding as much as 50% to a project. And often long trenched wire runs are required, and wire is not cheap.
- Space consuming – takes up extra space on your property
- Shading can be an issue from trees and structures that are close by.
- Wind loads – panels are especially susceptible to winds, as the array acts like a sail.
- Permanent – systems require lots of concrete and steel to be securely mounted in our sandy soil with high design wind speeds.
- Damage risk – possible increased risk of things like rocks thrown from lawn equipment, vehicles, and other hazards near the ground.
- Survivability – ground-mounted solar panels are far less survivable in a catastrophic wind event. Flush-mounted panels on a roof receive far lower wind loads.
Fort Myers Ground Mounted Solar Example
Here is a brief video showing a solar electric system ground mount under construction in Fort Myers, FL.
Most people stick to mounting solar panels on their roofs due to cost and the availability of suitable space. But ground mounts can be a good alternative if you have the space, budget, and need for a larger system. We will do everything in our power to convince you that a roof-mounted solar energy system is better. It’s better for cost, the environment, and survivability.
If you are interested in solar panels, whether on the ground or on your roof, give us a call today!
Note: Solar pool heaters require a solid substrate rather than a rack system, and the cost to construct a ground-mounted solar pool heater is prohibitive. This article pertains to solar electric systems only.