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What are ground-mounted solar panels?

Is this alternative to rooftop panels right for you?

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    solar panels installed on the ground

    The sight of rooftop solar panels is becoming more common as homeowners seek to reduce their electric bills and support sustainable environmental practices. But sometimes the roof isn't the best location for panels — if your roof is too small, your house isn't in the sun or you don’t like the look of panels on your roof, ground-mounted panels may be an option.

    Ground-mounted solar panels work the same way as roof-mounted panels; the main difference is that roof-mounted panels are installed on an existing structure (your house), while ground-mounted solar panels require new structures to be installed at ground level.

    Ground-mounted panels may take up more of your property space and can be more expensive to install, but they’re often more efficient and customizable.

    Key insights

    • Ground-mounted solar panels are an option for homes with small or steeply pitched roofs.
    • Installing ground-mounted solar panels tends to be more expensive than installing panels on your roof.
    • You can make ground-mounted panels more efficient by installing a tracking system, which follows the path of the sun for optimal solar coverage.

    How much do ground-mounted solar panels cost?

    The cost of any residential solar energy system can vary significantly based on multiple factors, including the amount of power you need it to produce, the type of panels used, where you live and and permitting costs. Most solar power system installers provide free site inspections to provide the most accurate quote.

    The average cost to install a residential solar system ranges from $16,870 to $23,170, according to EnergySage. Because installing ground-mounted solar panels may require additional frames, expect these systems to fall at the higher end of that range in most cases.

    It's possible to buy DIY ground-mounted solar panel kits for less than $10,000, but most people lack the expertise to install these systems themselves.

    Types of ground-mounted solar panels

    Solar panels may either be mounted on a frame or a pole. The most common are frame-mounted solar panels, which are secured to the ground and can't move, so they need to be positioned at an angle that catches the most sun possible during all seasons.

    Ground-mounted solar panels installed on a pole come with a few advantages. This type of structure lets you install more panels in the same amount of space, and you can often install them at a higher elevation. Pole-mounted solar panels may also have single- or dual-axis tracking systems that let them follow the sun throughout the day.

    • Single-axis tracking solar panels follow the sun during the day. This allows them to capture more energy than fixed panels, but they're more expensive and require more maintenance.
    • Dual-axis tracking solar panels follow the sun on both its horizontal and vertical axes. This allows them to capture even more energy than single-axis panels, but they're also the most expensive type and require the most maintenance.

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      Pros and cons of ground-mounted solar panels

      There are several factors to consider when you’re deciding whether to install a ground-mounted solar array at home.


      • Room for more panels can mean higher output
      • Often more efficient than roof-mounted systems
      • Easier to access and clean


      • Typically requires a large property
      • More expensive to install
      • Not all companies install them


      Ground-mounted solar panels can be installed in a wider range of locations and aren’t limited by the size or shape of your roof, which is helpful if you have a steeply angled or small roof. These often make sense for people with large properties because they can be positioned away from the house, which is a positive for those who find roof-mounted panels visually unappealing.

      Mounting solar panels at ground level can increase their efficiency even without tracking systems. They can also be positioned to optimize their exposure to the sun, which can help if your roof faces the wrong way (ideally, solar panels should face south).

      This is particularly important in areas with long winter days and short summer days, because it ensures the panels are able to capture as much sunlight as possible. It’s also helpful if your roof is under a heavy shade canopy.

      Ground-mounted arrays are also easier to access, which is helpful if you intend to clean your solar panels yourself.

      Ground-mounted solar arrays are often more efficient but can cost more to install.

      Customers who chose ground-mounted systems for their home and left reviews on our site have been happy with the results. One customer from Connecticut commented that they “did not want panels on [their] roof” but that the ground-mounted panels “look great.”


      There are also some disadvantages to consider before installing ground-mounted solar panels. They take up a lot of space, so you need a reasonably large property to install them. A ground-mounted array also requires the installers to produce a structure to support them, which makes the overall investment more expensive.

      Some companies may also not offer ground installation, as one reviewer from New York discovered when his order for a solar energy system was canceled.

      “I finally was told they do not do ground-mount systems on Long Island, and they would not be convinced otherwise despite doing installations in Suffolk County, which is on Long Island and 15 miles from my location,” they said. “Now it is too late to get this year's rebate, and doing the system next year will cost me $1,600 more.”

      Solar installation companies typically evaluate your property to determine how suitable it is for solar. If you’re interested in using ground-mounted solar panels, be sure to ask the company’s representative during your site evaluation.

      ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
      1. EnergySage, “How much do solar panels cost in 2023?” Accessed Feb. 23, 2023.
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