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Ground-based Solar

Updated: Feb 9

Ground-mounted solar systems offer an alternative to roof-mounted arrays. They boast several advantages, including the ability to optimize positioning, increased efficiency in hot temperatures, and easier maintenance in snowy conditions. These systems are particularly beneficial for off-grid setups and maximizing winter performance. Solar ground mounts are also suitable for bi-facial solar panels to achieve even higher performance.

Ground-mounted solar arrays also have additional requirements and costs compared to a roof-mount.

  1. The installation requires excavation, concrete foundations, and a trench for the power line.

  2. A large clear space around the panels is crucial to avoid shading such as by nearby trees, buildings, and power poles.

  3. Electrical code authorities may require the installation of a fence or barrier to limit accessibility to the solar panels.

Choosing the type of ground-mount structure is influenced by the ground (rocky or soil), slope, wind exposure, expandability, preferred aesthetic, and if adjustability is needed.

Mono-pole (Top-of-pole) mounts are individual steel structures on a single, 6- or 8-inch diameter steel post. These are typically configured for 9-, 12- or 16-panels each, though many options are available in multiples of 3, 4, or 5 including continuous assemblies using more than one pole. They are constructed with steel, painted, and durable enough to withstand winds at a high tilt setting.

  • Pro: adjustable tilt (hand crank)

  • Pro: can be tilted to a high angle

  • Pro: can be built tall for additional ground clearance

  • Pro: more aesthetically pleasing

  • Pro: works well on sloped ground

  • Pro: can be used as a canopy/carport

  • Con: higher material and installation cost

Mono-pole (or Top-of-pole):

Multi-pole mounts are built using 1-1/2-inch galvanized steel pipe. In open areas exposed to wind, they are typically installed in multiples of three (three-high) in landscape orientation, but in protected areas can be taller (four-high).

  • Pro: lower cost of materials

  • Pro: option to install on a concrete pad

  • Pro: can be a continuous, unbroken assembly

  • Pro: reduced height

  • Con: less adaptable to east-west sloping ground

  • Con: limited pitch (typically 35 degrees)

  • Con: pitch is not adjustable




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