Canada is a unique and growing market for solar power. Many homeowners are now deciding to invest in a solar system because of growing interests moving into Canada from the United States, and an abundance of open space and solar power resources.
Eventually, every homeowner starts to think about where they are going to put their system. The question that tends to cross the mind is along the lines of, “Should I put the solar system on my roof or on the ground?” This article will briefly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Ground-Mount Solar System
If the space is available in your yard, placing your solar system on the ground is generally the best option. This is the case for several reasons:
- You can set your panels to the optimal angle of 45°
- You can angle your panels to the optimal direction of South
- Your panels will be cooler because of free-flowing air underneath (panels are more efficient when cool)
For these reasons, a ground-mount system will generally produce a lot more energy over the course of a year than panels on your roof. This will give you a faster pay-back period and a higher internal rate of return.
But efficiency isn’t the only consideration. Several price aspects also need to be considered:
- This a ground-mount system you can effectively use string inverters, which are cheaper
But you may need to pay more for trenching a new line, for pilling, and extra racking
These extra costs explain why ground-mount systems tend to be more expensive upfront – but you’ll still get a better return on your investment because of the increased energy production over the lifetime of the system.
We often think of putting solar panels on the roof as the default option. And for many homeowners this is the only feasible option because of limited property space which is needed for a ground-mount system.
Putting a system on your roof may be beneficial for several reasons:
- Roof mount systems require less racking and materials (and are therefore cheaper)
- These systems also take less time to install and are often located closer to the installer (again, saving on costs)
For this reason, roof-mount systems are generally cheaper. But as discussed in the previous section, they are less efficient because the standard roof pitch is usually not the most optimal angle and often there is not sufficient space on the south-facing portion of the roof.
In summary, whether you decide to place your solar system on your roof or on the ground, each are beneficial for their own reasons. Available space is generally the most considered factor, but if you have adequate spacing for both – then you may want to consider whether smaller up-front costs (roof-mount) or better energy production efficiency (ground-mount) is your primary goal.