• Sonny Rivers

Ground-based Solar

Ground-based solar arrays have several advantages. They can produce more energy than a roof system (because they can be oriented to an optimal position), they stay cooler in the summer (improving efficiency), and are easily accessible for snow removal. Ground-based systems are especially ideal for off-grid systems and winter optimization.

In addition to those benefits, however, ground mounts require excavation and concrete for the structure, and a trench for running the power line to the building, adding to installation costs. Ground-based solar arrays also need clearance from trees, power poles, and buildings to avoid shading, and often not an option in urban areas.

Ground-based structure come in two basic types. The preferred option is typically depending on the terrain, wind-load, and ground hardness.

A multi-pole structure option is assembled using steel pipe or beams as piers. Alternatively, a mono-pole system uses one large steel post with a structure on top (up to 16 panels each).

Multi-pole systems:

  • Pro: lower cost of materials

  • Pro: shorter lead-time

  • Con: fixed tilt cannot be adjusted

  • Con: not as compatible on a slope

Mono-pole systems:

  • Pro: aesthetic appeal

  • Pro: adjustable tilt

  • Con: higher material cost

  • Con: longer lead time