Ground Mount vs Solar Panel Roof Mounting Systems: A Comparison

solar panels on house roof

So, you’ve decided to join in on the effort against depleting nonrenewable resources. Or, you’ve figured out how much money you can actually save in the long term by going solar.

The next step is to determine which mounting system is right for you.

Contrary to conventional belief, not all solar panels go on the roof. Some work from the ground.

However, the mounting system that is right for you depends on your property’s specific conditions and its location.

Read on to find out whether solar panel roof mounting systems or solar panel ground mounting systems will serve you best.

What Is A Roof Mount?

Roof mounts are the most common type of mounting system for solar panel installation.

As the name suggests, roof mounting systems lay solar panels across the highest point of a residential or commercial structure: the roof.

At this position, solar arrays have an unobstructed view of the sun and can capture as much energy from it as possible.

The mounts we use at West Bay Energy have their own underlayment that sits on top of your existing roof and provides a tight self-seal to the surface. This helps prevent leakage and damage to your panels and roof.

What Is A Ground Mount?

A solar panel ground mount is a method of installing solar panels that sit on the ground of your real estate.

This method requires building a separate infrastructure that will prop up the solar panels at an angle from the ground. This allows for optimized capture of solar energy at a lower elevation point.

A ground-mount infrastructure sits outside of the residential or commercial structure it powers and takes up quite a bit of land.

This method is best for those who have real estate to fit an entire second infrastructure for their PV solar panel installation.

What is the Difference Between A Roof Mount And A Ground Mount?

The main difference between a roof mount system and a ground mount system is where the solar panels are placed.

Roof mount systems place solar panels on the roof of existing structures, at an elevation point much higher than ground mount systems.

Ground mount systems need a separate infrastructure to prop the solar panels up from the ground.

There’s no difference in how the panels will work to power your residential or commercial building. So long as there is nothing obstructing your solar panels, your panels will work perfectly to capture solar energy.

The Drawbacks Of Each Mounting System

Despite no considerable difference in operation, roof-mount and ground-mount solar panel systems each have their own drawbacks that might make it the wrong system for you.

Here are the cons of each system to help you decide which mounting system is better for your property.

Cons of A Solar Panel Roof Mounting System

  • Roof may require replacement before solar installation
  • Panels may have obstructed access to the sun
  • Roof may limit the size of the panel system
  • Mount system makes roof repairs difficult
  • Mount system is harder to clean and maintain

Cons of A Solar Panel Ground Mounting System

  • Costs more money for materials and labor
  • Mount system requires more space and real estate
  • Stands out more than on a roof
  • Prone to damage from yard maintenance
  • Base requires regular upkeep to keep panels clear

When Are Solar Panel Roof Mounting Systems Better?

Solar panel roof mount systems are the better option if your roof is in good enough condition to support your solar array.

Depending on the material of your PV system, your roof may or may not be able to support the weight of all the panels your system requires. Even with the lightest materials, the general ballpark weight for each panel is about 40 pounds each.

Solar panel flat roof mounting systems need a sturdy enough foundation to hold up the PV system.

This method of solar installation is generally cheaper because you do not need to build a separate foundation for your solar array. The foundation already exists on top of your house or commercial building.

However, if your roof is over 10 years old or cannot support a large weight, we recommend getting the roof replaced prior to installation. 

This avoids having to get your roof replaced after installing your solar panels (at least for the next 25 years), and ensures that your roof can withhold the weight of the PV solar panel roof mounting system.

When Are Solar Panel Ground Mounting Systems Better?

Solar panel ground mounting systems are the better option if you have land to use and don’t mind spending a little more money.

Because this mounting system requires building a separate infrastructure, the entire solar installation will take up quite a bit of space. Building the foundation for this mounting system also costs more money for materials and labor.

This is on top of the cost to install solar.

If you have a wide enough space on your land, don’t care about its visibility, and have money to spend, a ground mounting system may not be a bad idea.

There are a few perks you can enjoy with this specific mounting system.

Its lowered position on the ground, as opposed to your roof, allows for easier access to your solar panel system.

This makes cleaning and maintaining your panels a lot easier. In the case that you would like to upgrade your panel system, your ground mounting system allows for easier access, too.

You may also choose to adjust the angle of your solar panels because they are not limited to the angle of your roof. This helps to optimize your panels to capture as much energy as possible.

Find The Right Mounting System For You

Solar panel roof mounting systems tend to be a better option for residential and commercial properties outside rural areas. They don’t require as much space or money to install a new PV solar panel system.

This tends to be the case in central and west Florida, in the larger Tampa, Florida area where we serve.

West Bay Energy is a proud, family-owned solar company with an unmatched solar installation service in Tampa.

We offer the highest quality products and expertise to help you go solar without breaking a sweat or breaking the bank.

If you have any questions about solar or are looking to take advantage of the federal solar tax credit, contact us today!