Ground-mounted solar panels: If you have the space, go for it

Don't have a good roof for solar? You might be able to use your yard instead.

Edited by: Emily Walker
Updated Jun 5, 2024
9 min read
Ground-mounted solar panels for your home

Not all roofs are great for solar. Whether yours is too sloped, only has space on the north side, or isn't the right material, you might not be able to get rooftop solar. If your roof isn't a good fit, but you also have large, sun-drenched yard, a ground-mounted solar could be a great alternative.

Ground-mounted solar panel systems usually cost about 10% more than rooftop solar. You need a lot more equipment, which adds up. But ground-mounted panels also let you dial them into exactly the right direction and angle to maximize sun exposure, which can increase your electric bill savings over time. You can even install tracking systems so your solar panels follow the sun throughout the day. 

Even with a big yard, ground-mounted solar setups aren't for everyone. They take up a lot of space and require specific soil conditions. We'll go over the details to help you decide if they're right for your home.

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Key takeaways

  • Ground-mounted solar panels operate like a typical rooftop system but are generally more efficient. 

  • Ground-mounted solar panel installations cost about $37,660 after the federal tax credit. They're usually more expensive than roof-mounted systems but can maximize your renewable energy production depending on your roof's orientation and shading.

  • Standard ground and pole mounts are the two most common types of ground-mounted solar system installations.

  • Your available space, the system cost, and electricity consumption are all important considerations when deciding between a roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar installation.

As the name suggests, ground-mounted solar panels are mounted to the ground, rather than a roof. In most cases, it's easiest and most cost-effective to get a rooftop solar system. But if rooftop solar won't work for your home, ground-mounted systems offer some clear benefits.

Based on thousands of quotes from the EnergySage Marketplace, the average home ground-mounted solar panel system costs about $53,800 before incentives. Because most homeowners qualify for the 30% federal tax credit, you should expect to only pay $37,660 upfront for a ground-mounted system. Interest rates will increase the price tag if you choose to finance your system with a loan.

This number assumes a system size of 16 kilowatts (kW), the average we see for home ground-mounted systems on EnergySage. It's also based on the average cost-per-watt of home ground-mounted systems, $3.36/W.

Check out our guide to all your solar financing options

There are two basic types of ground-mounted solar panel systems:

Standard ground mounts use metal framing driven into the ground to hold your solar panels up at a fixed angle. Operators can manually adjust some standard ground-mounted solar panel systems a few times a year to account for seasonal shifts of the sun.

Pole-mounted solar systems support multiple solar panels on a single pole and elevate panels higher off the ground than a standard ground mount. Pole-mounted solar often incorporates solar tracking systems, which automatically tilt the solar panels to capture the optimal amount of sunshine.

Tracking systems can increase the production of your solar panels by 25% or more. If you add trackers to your ground-mounted solar array, you can choose either a single- or dual-axis system. Single-axis tracking systems move your solar panels to follow the sun as it moves through the sky. Dual-axis tracking systems can also adjust based on seasonal variations in the sun's position.

Standard ground-mounted vs. pole-mounted solar power systems

(Click to sort ascending)
Standard Ground-Mounts
Pro #1Typically less expensive than pole-mounted systemsTracking allows pole mounts to rotate, maximizing exposure
Pro #2Easier to install and maintain than pole-mounted systemsTracking system tilts panels according to time of day and season
Pro #3Can use alternative mounting if the ground is too hard for polesTakes up less surface area on your property
Con #1Fixed tilt angle limits how much sunlight panels can absorbOften cost more due to the tracking system and complex setup
Con #2Standard mount systems don't work well with areas prone to snowTend to require more maintenance
Con #3Possibly a higher risk of damage due to wildlife or vandalismThe electricity needed to operate the tracking system may not be worth the added benefits

You should meet some basic requirements to add a ground-mounted solar array to your property. Before starting the installation process, consider your available space, soil type and geology of your land, and financing options if you need them:

Ground-mounted solar panel systems are great, but rooftop solar panels often make more sense. The type of system you choose will depend heavily on your property and roof, and your financial situation.

If your roof works for solar and can fit enough solar panels to meet your energy needs, it's usually best to choose rooftop solar panels. if you need a really large system that won't fit on your roof and you have enough open land, opt for ground-mounted panels.

Pros of ground-mounted and rooftop solar panels, compared

Pros Of Ground-mounted Solar Panels
Pros Of Rooftop Solar Panels
Often produce more electricity due to ideal orientationTypically cost about 10% less
Usually easier to install a big systemCan be easier to finance with a loan
Easier to remove debris, dust, and snowLess prone to damage from vandalism and wildlife
Don't require any roof workDon't take up valuable land

Whether you're looking for a ground-mounted solar system or rooftop solar, you'll want to compare quotes from installers. On the EnergySage Marketplace, you'll receive up to seven quotes from vetted installers in your area, helping you to find a system that meets your needs at the right price. Register your property today and speak with our expert team of Energy Advisors who will help you go solar with confidence.

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2024
Please enter a five-digit zip code.
  • 100% free to use, 100% online
  • Access the lowest prices from installers near you
  • Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help
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