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Ground Mount vs Roof Mount Solar Cost: Which one is Better for Your Facility?

Ground Mount vs Roof Mount Solar Cost: Which one is Better for Your Facility?

By Vanessa Peng

Installing solar panels at your facility is no-brainer. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems allow you to take advantage of free renewable energy so you can save energy and money at the same time. 

The question, though, is what type of commercial solar system should you install at your facility? Is a ground mount or roof mount option better for you? Read below as we look at ground mount vs roof mount solar cost and the benefits and drawbacks of each so you can decide which is best for your facility.

What is roof mount solar?

A rooftop solar system is the installation of a solar PV system on a house or commercial building. A roof mount solar array requires solar racking, which is used to safely fix a solar system to a rooftop. Solar racking is usually made of aluminum. A rooftop system can be installed on different types of roofs, whether they are flat or sloping.

What is ground mounted solar?

Ground-mount solar installations are solar panel installations that are installed on the ground without a rooftop. These types of installations also include racking, but don’t have your building’s roof as a starting point. Ground mount solar systems are a good option for your facility if you don’t have enough space for a rooftop mount or you want to have easier access to the solar panels.

Ground Mount vs Roof Mount Solar

Here is a quick list of the pros and cons of each:

Ground Mount

Image of a ground mount solar panel array with description of the pros and cons of the ground mount solar as opposed to roof mount solar.

Pros

  • Higher energy production. Ground mount solar systems are free and open and not blocked by obstructions of any kind like a rooftop system can be. Solar panels receive maximum sun exposure, thus allowing you to generate more energy.
  • Flexibility. Ground mount solar panels can be placed in any position or direction and potentially in multiple locations on your site. Not only does this allow you the freedom to choose how you want to lay out your array, but further expands on your opportunities to generate more solar energy; i.e. the panels can be adjusted to different heights and angles for ideal sun exposure.
  • Better access. Ground mounts are much more accessible than roof mounted solar panels. This access makes them easier to clean, maintain, and troubleshoot.
  • Easier installation. Ground mounts tend to be easier to install than rooftop mounts.
  • Your roof cannot be replaced without removing the panels. If you ever have to renovate the roof or remove heavy equipment, such as HVAC units, from your roof, you won’t need to figure out how to remove the panels.
  • Gives you the option of a solar carport. A carport install is an extremely popular option for commercial facilities due to its additional benefits of shade and protection for cars.

Cons

  • Ground mount solar systems are usually more expensive than rooftop solar installations.
  • Installation labor costs are more costly due to the extra work involved.
  • Takes up space on your site.
  • Ground mount solar systems are more susceptible to damage due to their accessibility by unwelcomed individuals and exposure to the elements.
  • Have a more difficult permitting process than roof mount installations.

Roof Mount

Image of roof mount solar on a commercial building with text that describes the pros and cons of roof mount solar as opposed to ground mount solar.

Pros

  • Tends to be less costly than ground mount installations. Roof mounted solar isn’t as costly because it doesn’t require starting from scratch. Your roof already provides some of the foundation for the solar array.
  • Installation labor costs are usually cheaper than ground mount systems. Since rooftop solar installations aren’t as labor intensive as ground mounts, the labor is cheaper. 
  • Unauthorized access to panels is minimized. Only people who have access to your rooftop can get to your solar panels.
  • Utilizes unused roof space. With a roof mounted solar system you can put all that unused roof real estate to use, instead of letting it absorb the sun’s heat, which eventually make its way down into the building. 
  • Permitting process is easier. The permitting process is much more simple. You’ll deal with less hassle and your rooftop solar project will likely be completed quicker than a ground mount project would.
  • Doesn’t take up an area on your site that could be used for something else. A full ground mounted solar array needs space, which you may not have or cannot spare.

Cons

  • May call for holes in the roof, which can cause damage to your roof over time and leaks.
  • Size of the solar array is limited to available roof space.
  • Panels are harder to access for maintenance and repairs.
  • You may need to replace the roof prior to installation.

Is ground mounted solar cheaper?

No, ground mounted solar systems typically cost more than roof mounted solar systems. Rooftop solar panels are much easier to install and require less parts.

A ground mounted array requires installation crews to start from scratch, whereas a rooftop mount already has part of the structure in place.

Should you choose ground mount or roof mount solar panels?

When deciding which set-up to go with at your facility, there are many factors to think about before making a final decision.

For a rooftop solar energy system, you’ll have to consider how much rooftop space you have, the health and age of your roof, and what types of obstructions you have in the way, such as skylights or vents.

When it comes to installing a ground mount system, you’ll have to consider the type of location and space available. Will the ground be able to withstand large holes and be able to hold ground mount panels racking in place? Do you have enough ground space or the right space for a ground mount?

Both are good options, it just depends on what your ultimate goals and priorities are with your solar panel system and how much you want to invest. Either way, whether you go with a roof mount or perhaps a carport ground mount installation, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of generating solar energy on your site.

Solar power is the ultimate renewable energy source. No matter what type of mount you choose, you will benefit from cheaper utility bills, a reduced carbon footprint, and the opportunity to move away from complete reliance on the grid – especially when paired with an energy storage system, among other perks.

If you’re looking for more information or guidance on how to get a commercial solar installation on your site, reach out to us, usenergyrecovery.com, or drop us a line: (800) 834-8737.

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