Astrum Solar Blog

Ground-mounted Solar vs. Rooftop Solar – Which Is Better?

By: Austin Brentley   |  02/10/15

Ground-mounted Solar vs. Rooftop Solar

When you decide to go solar, you can choose where to install your photovoltaic (PV) panels:

  • On top of your property (i.e. rooftop installation)
  • In the front, side, or back yard (i.e. ground-mounted installation)

But between rooftop and ground-mounted solar, which option is best?

It really depends. Let’s explore some of the benefits of these 2 different solar installation arrangements.

When Rooftop Solar Is the Better Option

Advantages of Rooftop SolarThere are several important advantages of rooftop solar installations, including:

  • Aesthetics—the panels fit seamlessly with your pre-existing rooftop for a more streamlined appearance.
  • Space optimization—with rooftop solar, there’s no need to clear away extra land. You can still install that pool or deck that you’ve always wanted.
  • Fortification—your solar panels protect your roof from weather and wear and tear. This, in turn, increases the lifetime value of your property.
  • Speed—rooftop solar is usually easier and faster to install than ground-mounted systems.

When Rooftop Solar Isn’t Ideal

Although rooftop PV systems are the most common installation type in the US, there are times when this arrangement isn’t ideal:

  • Spatial limitations—some roofs are too small or have too many obstacles in the way (chimneys, vents, antennae, etc.).
  • Shading—if your roof is surrounded by trees, a ground-mounted system can help you capture more direct sunshine.
  • Orientation—solar panels work best on south-facing roofs. If your home has a different orientation, you may be better off with a ground-mounted system.
  • Pre-installation upgrades—older roofs may need to be fortified before they can accommodate solar panels. This can add to the total installation cost.
  • Neighborhood restrictions—some homeowners associations prevent residents from installing panels that are visible from the street. Ground-mounted solar solutions might be the only option.

Now let’s explore why you might want to consider ground-mounted PV installations instead.

When Ground-Mounted Solar Is the Better Option

Advantages of Ground-Mounted SolarAlthough ground-mounted systems are less common, they offer important benefits, including:

  • Installation size—if your property has a lot of unused land, you can install a much larger PV system and generate even higher savings.
  • Orientation—for properties without south-facing roofs, ground-mounted solar installations allow you to maximize your energy generation potential.
  • Shading—you can set up your solar panels in the sunniest regions of your yard to avoid shading.
  • Fewer upgrades—no changes to existing rooftops are necessary with ground-mounted systems.

When Ground-Mounted Solar Isn’t Ideal

For properties with smaller rooftops, ground-mounted systems offer many more options. But they’re not perfect in all situations. Below are a few reasons why you may want to avoid ground-mounted PV systems:

  • Less land—when setting up solar panels in your yard, you lose some recreational space. Ground-mounted installations may require putting off that pool project for a while.
  • Aesthetics—this is largely subjective. Some customers think ground-mounted PV systems are unsightly. Others view them as green badges of honor.
  • Time—ground-mounted installations require underground wiring and additional digging to stabilize the panels. This trenching adds both time and money to the installation process.

So Which Solar Installation Type Is Best for You?

From our experience, there is no single “best.” Both of these solutions have important benefits, and the “optimal” arrangement ultimately depends on personal preference and property type.

If you’re not sure which solar installation option is best for your home or business, contact us today for a free consultation.  We can help you select the most suitable arrangement after analyzing your energy goals and the layout of your property.

To schedule your free Astrum Solar appointment today, click here.