Ground-Mounted Solar Arrays (and solar trackers)

Solar Homeowners Lauren and Nate Zike in front of their 5.83kw solar electric array. Their solar array will meet close to 100% of their energy needs, allowing them to control their energy costs, all while helping reduce strain on the local energy grid and reducing pollution from fossil fuel sources.

Solar Homeowners Lauren and Nate Zike in front of their 5.83kw solar electric array. Their solar array will meet close to 100% of their energy needs, allowing them to control their energy costs, all while helping reduce strain on the local energy grid and reducing pollution from fossil fuel sources.

For all those situations where a roof-mounted system is not viable or wanted, another option is to install solar panels on the ground.

Due to the need to survive decades of punishment from harsh winters, ground-mounted solar arrays must be built particularly tough in the Northeast. The footings and wire management system must be able to handle hundreds of freeze/thaws, and the panels must be able to withstand uplift from the wind, multiple feet of snow, and pummeling from rain and hail.

Historically, that has meant that ground-mounted systems in the northeast involve heavy excavation to pour large concrete footers to support the solar array. The concrete work is not only CO2 intensive and disruptive to the site, but costly. As a result, ground-mounted solutions have historically commanded a significant premium over roof-mounted projects of a similar size.

A member of our newly-formed Solar Foundations Division driving a groundscrew into place with our Pauselli 900 pile driver.

A member of our newly-formed Solar Foundations Division driving a groundscrew into place with our Pauselli 900 pile driver.

Our engineering team, not to be deterred by the challenge of marrying absolutely perfect product performance with a need to reduce costs and gain efficiency, has evaluated hundreds of racking and foundation solutions over the years. In 2016, we made an investment that significantly improves our ability to install ground-mounted arrays: a Pauselli 900 solar pile driver, which allows us to install pile-driven posts or ground screws for solar arrays without the need for any concrete.

What used to take hours can now be done in a matter of minutes, and with far less disruption to the site!

With the new equipment in play, our premium for installing a ground-mounted solar array has dropped by over 30%, to the point where in some instances the ground mount solution will be comparable or cost-competitive with roof mounted installations.

Some advantages of ground-mounted arrays compared to roof mounts are:

  • System can be oriented at perfect angle and shade-free area, no need to accept imperfect home orientation
  • Array can be located in less conspicuous area than on the roof
  • Array not hindered with on-roof obstructions like dormers, skylights, and plumbing vents
  • No rooftop work required, so certain parts of the installation go much more quickly

We also are still fans of and installers of AllSun Solar Trackers, a dual-axis, GPS-driven tracking system that allows a solar array to harvest roughly 40% more electricity in a given location than a traditional, fixed-axis system.