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Janet Richardson

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Updated on

Jul 11, 2024

Read Time : 5 Minutes

Ground Mounted Solar Panel Systems UK

You will most frequently find ground-mounted solar panels on solar farms and this is likely to be the first thing that you associate ground-mounted solar panels with. After all, when we think of solar power for our homes, the first image we get is panels that are mounted on rooftops. After all, it is seen as the best and most effective way of generating solar power for your home.

Not everyone lives in the perfect location for solar panels. So, if you live in a chocolate-box thatched cottage, don’t have a south-facing pitched rooftop, or live in the shadow of other buildings or trees this section is for you. 

There is good news too. An imperfect location doesn’t mean you have to go without solar panels. Instead, let’s look at alternative places to install them. Ground-mounted solar panels can be just as cost effective, easy to install, and efficient, as their roof-mounted counterparts. 

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What is Ground Mounted Solar in the UK?

The phrase ground-mounted solar is a bit of a catch-all term for any solar array that’s not fixed to a roof.  As the name suggests these, panels are ground-based often situated in gardens, fields or courtyards.  

Ground Mounted Solar Panel System

Why Ground-Mounted Solar Panels are a Good Idea in 2024

In many cases, the best option is a ground-mounted solar array for your home. While the rooftop solar panels are the most common choice for homeowners, there are actually quite a few reasons you should take the time to consider a ground-mounted solar panel system instead.

Typically speaking, ground-mounted solar panels will cost around the same amount as rooftop solar panels when it comes to the price per watt. If you find that your property isn’t suitable for a rooftop solar array because the roof cannot support it, or is too small, then a ground-mounted array could actually end up saving you money in the long run.

Rooftop solar panel systems are ultimately restricted by the characteristics of the roof on which they are installed. If your roof is not set at the right angle (such as not facing south), or is obstructed by things like shade and chimneys, your solar system will be much less productive. Ground-mounted solar panels, however, can be located anywhere on your property – so you get the best locations.

If you live in a home that uses a lot of electricity, your roof may not actually be large enough for a solar system that can meet your energy requirements. However, purchasing and installing ground-mounted solar panels could be an excellent solution to matching your energy consumption without any restrictions.

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Types of Ground Mounted Solar Panel

There are two main types of ground-mounted solar system available. They are as follows:

Rack-mounted. These use metal framing that is driven into the ground to hold your solar panels up at a fixed angle. Some of these arrays can be adjusted manually several times a year, allowing you to account for the seasonal shifting of the sun.

Pole mounts. These support multiple solar panels on a single pole, as well as elevating panels higher off the ground than a standard ground mount would. These usually have tracking systems incorporated. These allow the solar panels to tilt automatically, capturing the optimal amount of sunshine throughout the day. Tracking systems are a great investment. They can increase the overall production of your solar panels by 25%, or possibly even more. If you decide to add a tracking system to your solar array, you will be given the option of a single-axis or dual-axis system.

The former of these tracking systems moves your solar panel over the course of the day, following the sun as it moves through the sky. The latter of the two tracking systems can do the same as the single axis, but is also able to adjust itself based on the seasonal variations in the sun’s position.

Rack-mounted pros:

  • Simple to install
  • Can be cheaper than pole-mounted
  • Easy to maintain than roof-based and pole-based

Rack-mounted cons:

  • More expensive than roof-based solar
  • Takes up more space than pole-mounted solar 
  • Can be less efficient than pole-mounted panels
  • Comes with fewer optional extras like solar trackers 

Pole-mounted solar pros:

  • Takes up less space than rack-mounted solar
  • Can be more efficient than rack-mounted solar thanks to devices like automatic trackers
  • Easier to upgrade with devices like trackers 

Pole-mounted solar cons:

  • More expensive than rack-mounted solar panels
  • You may find it harder to add more panels later
  • More difficult to maintain than all other types of solar arrays

Other factors apply to both ground-based solar systems equally, like the fact both systems are obtrusive and expensive to install. Plus, your choice may come down to personal taste. Some folks prefer the more traditional rack-mounted systems, while the sci-fi chic of a pole-mounted system could be your jam. So, before you consider installing either system, here is some food for thought.

Environmental impact

While installing solar is an environmentally sound act, opting for a ground-based system may involve removing healthy trees and plants. 

Planning and permission

While a ground-mounted system can be a workaround for listed and heritage buildings, remember you’ll need approval for essential concrete foundations and generally, any ground-mounted solar panel system larger than 3x3m.  

Neighbours

It’s always a good idea to consult anyone living near you if you’re considering a solar installation. They may not appreciate a great glass display in your garden. Worse yet, you might find their designs on that apple tree could deprive you of power in a few years.  

Maintenance

Ground-based solar should be easier to look after than panels on your roof, but at the same time, they’re more prone to damage. 

How Much do Ground Mounted Solar Panels Cost in the UK?

It may surprise you to learn that ground mounted solar, and pole-mounted solar systems in particular, are more expensive to install than a roof-based system. The added costs stem from the increased materials needed to mount the panels, and the fact that ground-based solar is still the outlier. You can also add-in some additional costs for any trench work that needs to be dug for the cables.  

As of August 2023, the average price of a standard ground-mounted solar system in the UK varies between £8-15K. However, you can expect to pay a bit more if you want a pole-mounted system or any upgrades.

How Much Space do you need for Ground Mounted Solar Panels?

Ground-based solar panels and in particular rack-mounted arrays, require more space than you might think. You may have to give up more of your garden or yard than you expected and that can be a hard trade to make. To give you a ballpark figure, you're looking at around 25-35m2 for a 4-5kW system. Ideally your proposed site will need to be open from east to west through south with no shade. It's not a problem if the site is sloped slightly, just as long as it's not sloped too much east to west through north. 

Upgrades and accessories

Both ground-based systems are customisable to a degree. Both practical and aesthetical mods can be found to improve the efficiency and the look of your array.  Devices like automatic tracking can work with both systems, but you may find them easier and cheaper to install for pole-mounted arrays than rack-mounted systems. Trackers feature little sensors and motors designed to ensure your array literally tracks the sun as it moves across the sky.
 

The Benefits of Ground Mounted Solar Panels

The great thing about ground mounted solar arrays is that they are beneficial to all homeowners. Even if you are an eligible candidate for a rooftop solar panel system, there are many benefits to selecting a ground mounted solar array instead.

Firstly, the ground mounted solar systems are incredibly easy to place. This is due to that fact that they can be placed on open land. No drilling into your roof is required at any stage, and the bracings that are used in these systems are easy to remove as well as lightweight. In the pole mount system, the bracings tend to be a little heavier and more securely installed.

Secondly, the ground mounted solar system is able to be more productive and efficient per panel than a typical rooftop solar array. This is because they are not dependent on your roof. Instead, they are set at the perfect angle to optimise energy production. This means that it is possible for you to generate more electricity than a roof system of around the same size, and it will also lead to you saving more money in the long run.

Finally, the ground mounted solar systems are much easier to access than their rooftop counterparts. If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow in the winter, being able to easily sweep the snow off your rooftop solar panels can be a dangerous inconvenience. Ground mounted systems, make this much easier, as well as safer.

Getting Ground Mounted Solar Panels Installed in the UK

Most installers will be able to offer you a ground-mounted solar array as an installation option in the UK. One of the great things is that the price for this system is actually around the same as a rooftop solar array. If you decide to install the tracking features, you will have to pay a larger initial cost upfront, but the resulting increase in electricity production can make a tracking system much more cost effective for a large number of homeowners.

When you go to look into your ground mounted solar system being installed, the best thing for you to do is make sure you get a few quotes from different suppliers. This will also help you to determine what you want from your new energy supplier.

Want to Know More?

Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.

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