Solar panels can be an enormous boon to any household, reducing energy bills and your impact on the environment as a whole. However, if you've decided to have solar panels installed on your property, there are a number of key decisions you'll have to make before installation can begin. One of the most important choices to make is where you will site your solar panels -- while roof mounted solar panels are the popular choice, there are also a number of benefits that can be provided by ground mounted panels.
What are the advantages of choosing roof mounted panels?
Roof mounted panels tend to be the most popular choice for ordinary residential properties, and for good reasons:
- Space considerations: Ground mounted panels need to be placed in large, open areas of land that aren't excessively shaded by trees and other buildings, a difficult feat for many residential properties. Roof mounted panels can be placed on any roof large enough, and mountings are available for most roof configurations (including angled mounts for flat roofs)
- Availability: Because rooftop panels are the popular choice for residential properties, demand is high, and you will have plenty of options when it comes to shopping around.
- Ease of installation: Installing ground mounted panels involves a great deal of ground preparation and may involve digging extensive ditches and foundations to provide stability and aid installation of underground power wiring. In contrast, a rooftop solar array requires some simple reinforcing of existing roof structures and can be fully installed more quickly.
What are the advantages of choosing ground mounted solar panels?
More commonly seen on farms, commercial buildings and large residential estates, ground mounted solar arrays are more versatile than you might imagine and can offer a range of advantages over their roof mounted cousins:
- Orientation: In Australia, solar panels should be placed pointing north, to maximise the amount of sunlight they can absorb during the day. If your roof slopes in the wrong direction, or rooftop structures such as chimney breasts preclude north-facing installation, the efficiency of your panels can be dramatically reduced. Ground mounted solar arrays can be oriented in practically any direction for maximum sunlight exposure -- some high end models even rotate to track the sun, maximising efficiency.
- Visibility: Ground mounted arrays can be screened from view on their shaded sides and are not permanently on display like rooftop arrays. This helps you avoid the attentions of solar panel thieves.
- Maintenance: Maintaining, repairing and upgrading rooftop solar arrays can be difficult and time consuming, not to mention terrifying for acrophobics. Ground mounted arrays are much easier to reach and allow you to clean and maintain your panels more frequently to extend their usable lifespan.
- Economy of scale: The size of a rooftop array is obviously limited by the size of your roof, while ground based arrays are limited only by the amount of land you can build on. Larger ground based arrays can account for a large proportion of your heating and energy bills, and though they are more expensive to install, they will pay for themselves much more quickly.
For more information about these two options, contact a local solar installation company.